Study the Torah with Academic Scholarship

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Wilderness, Travels

Navigating the Torah's Rough Narrative Terrain into the Land

The route the Israelites take through the Transjordan in Numbers 21 is choppy: They are in the Negev then suddenly they are back in the Transjordan; they are moving south and suddenly they are north; they are in western Moab then suddenly they are in the eastern desert. Though traditional commentators attempt to tease out an overall route, it seems more likely we are looking at a palimpsest that includes contradictory versions of the story.

Dr.

Angela Roskop Erisman

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Ironing Out Israel's Itinerary Through the Transjordan

The itinerary notes in Numbers 21 is a hodgepodge of styles and directions. Nevertheless, once we isolate each style, we find three separate itinerary lists, each from one of the standard Pentateuchal sources. 

Dr.

David Ben-Gad HaCohen

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Why Deuteronomy Has an Account of Aaron's Death in the Wrong Place

Bewildered, Rashi asks why Deuteronomy records Aaron’s death at Moserah (not Mt. Hor) and why it does so in the middle of Moses’ description of his (second) forty-day stay upon Mount Horeb. Academic biblical scholarship sheds light on these questions.

Dr.

David Ben-Gad HaCohen

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Reimagining the Israelite-Edomite Encounter

Did Israel Cross or Circumvent Edom? Deuteronomy versus Numbers.

Dr.

David Glatt-Gilad

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Israel's Development as a Nation: Form, Storm, Norm, Perform

The Torah often uses the repetition of certain terms and wordplay to underline important themes. Numbers uses the terms נשא (nas’a: “to carry”) and נסע (nas‘a; “to travel”) to highlight the development of Israel from independent clans to a nation in a way that fits well with the model of group formation first suggested by psychologist Bruce Tuckman.

Dr.

Shani Tzoref

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Recounting the Census: A Military Force of 5,500 (not 603,550) Men

Exploring the possibility of reading the wilderness census in a way that is historically plausible. 

Prof.

Ben-Zion Katz M.D.

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When and Where the Israelites Dwelt in Sukkot

Dr.

David Ben-Gad HaCohen

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