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Twelve Tribes

Did Israel Always Have Twelve Tribes?

The Bible presents Israel as having twelve tribes from both northern Israel and southern Judah. In older northern lists, however, the southern tribes do not appear, and the full list seems to have developed in Judah, after the destruction of Israel. Moreover, the idea that the tribes are descended from Jacob developed even later.

Dr.

Andrew Tobolowsky

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Moses’ Blessing Through the Eyes of a Karaite Poet and Commentator

Aaron ben Joseph (ca. 1250–1320), a Karaite exegete from Constantinople, wrote poetry for each Torah reading. His poem for Moses’ blessing of the tribes, in conjunction with his prose commentary, Sēfer ha-miḇḥār, offer a glimpse into the world of Byzantine Karaite biblical interpretation.

Dr.

Joachim Yeshaya

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Do Biblical Laws Reflect a Tribal Society?

Was Israel ever a tribal society? Although some scholars accept the Bible’s depiction of Israel’s pre-monarchic society as a confederation of tribes, others have dismissed this as ahistorical. Can a study of biblical law help us resolve this question?

Prof.

Rami Arav

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The Flowering Staff: Proof of Aaron’s or the Levites’ Election?

The story of the flowering staff in its current form and context, confirms YHWH’s previous designation of the Aaronides as priests. Originally, however, the story presented YHWH’s selection of the tribe of Levi as his priestly caste.

Dr. Rabbi

David Frankel

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Dating Deborah

The Song of Deborah (Judges 5) is often seen as an ancient text, perhaps one of the oldest in the Tanach, but analysis of its language and contents suggests that it is a later Deuteronomistic composition.[1]

Dr.

Serge Frolov

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How the Israelite Family Was Put Together: The Twelve Sons of Jacob

The older Northern version of the Jacob story was heavily supplemented by later Southern authors, yielding more sons of Jacob, new explanations of their names, and a much more fecund Leah.

Dr. Rabbi

Tzemah Yoreh

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A Tale of Twelve Brothers

Historical Symbolism and the Position of the Tribe of Benjamin

Dr.

Yigal Levin

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A Parasha Pregnant with the Past, Present, and Future of Israel's Protagonists

Three distinct themes in Parashat Vayetzei are intertwined: Jacob’s encounter with God at Bethel, the birth of Jacob’s sons, and Jacob’s departure from Haran. 

Prof.

Zvi Ben-Dor Benite

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