Study the Torah with Academic Scholarship

By using this site you agree to our Terms of Use

Yahwist (J)

Weighing Pharaoh’s Heavy Heart

According to ancient Egyptian belief, a person’s heart was weighed after death to determine whether they are righteous or wicked. By referring to Pharaoh’s heart as heavy, the exodus story originally expressed the extent of his guilt.

Rabbi

Daniel M. Zucker

,

,

Where Do Isaac and Rebecca Live When Jacob Leaves Home?

Isaac and Rebecca live in Beersheba (Gen 26:23), Beer-lahai-roi (Gen 25:11) and Kiryat-arba (Gen 35:27). When Jacob sets off to Laban’s house, where is he leaving from?

Dr.

David Ben-Gad HaCohen

,

,

The Mesopotamian Origin of the Biblical Flood Story

In the Gilgamesh epic, Utanapishti tells Gilgamesh the story of the great flood and how he survived it. Scholars have often held that this story lies behind the biblical account of Noah and the flood. However, a good case can be made that an even more ancient tale, the Atrahasis epic, on which the flood story in Gilgamesh draws, is the source of the biblical flood story.

Prof.

John Day

,

,

If Jacob Is Returning to Canaan, Why Send Messengers to Esau in Seir?

Traditional commentators have grappled with why Jacob risks Esau’s wrath by sending him a message that he is on his way. Understanding the history of the text shows that in an older version of this story, Jacob had no choice: he was heading to his parents’ home in the Seir region.

Dr.

David Ben-Gad HaCohen

,

,

Hosea’s Characterization of Jacob

As part of a complaint by God against Israel and Judah, Hosea 12 mentions several stories about Jacob, intended to serve as a model for behavior. But is Jacob a good or bad role model?

Noam Cohen

,

,

Noah, Hero of the Great Primeval Famine

Noah's name expresses his father's hope that Noah will bring comfort from the pain of the curse of the land, and before he plants his vineyard, he is called "a man of the land" (איש האדמה). These and other verses point to an older core narrative which spoke not of a flood but of a primeval famine that Noah brings to an end.

Dr.

Idan Dershowitz

,

,

Jacob’s Multiple Death Scenes

Bringing Parashat Vayechi to Life

Dr. Rabbi

Zev Farber

,

,

Documentary Hypothesis: The Revelation of YHWH’s Name Continues to Enlighten

When God reveals the name YHWH to Moses in Exodus, he says that not even the patriarchs knew this name, yet they all use it in Genesis. Critical scholarship’s solution to this problem led to one of the most important academic innovations in biblical studies in the last three hundred years: the Documentary Hypothesis.

Dr. Rabbi

Zev Farber

,

,

The Unknown Yet Known Place of Moses’ Burial

On a mountain, in a valley, no one knows – the three traditions about where Moses is buried in Deuteronomy 34 stem from three different sources.

Dr.

David Ben-Gad HaCohen

,

,

Locating Beer-lahai-roi

When geography makes or breaks a storyline

Dr.

David Ben-Gad HaCohen

,

,

Did Jacob Meet Yhwh by the Stairway to Heaven in Beth-El?

On his way to Haran, Jacob stops at a place, later named Beth-El, and sees in a dream angels going up and down a staircase to the gateway of heaven. In the story, Jacob also notices Yhwh standing beside him and and Yhwh speaks to him. Examined closely, this short story is beset with literary difficulties that suggest it is composed of two independent narratives.

Prof.

Baruch J. Schwartz

,

,

Israel's Departure from Egypt: A Liberation or an Escape?

The oldest layer of the exodus story has the Egyptian people, panicked by the plague of darkness, force the Israelites out under the king of Egypt’s nose. The story is later revised to credit the exodus to God's smiting the firstborn sons, and then drowning Pharaoh and his army in the sea. The final, Priestly editor added his signature theological innovation: God forces Pharaoh to give chase by hardening his heart.

Dr. Rabbi

Tzemah Yoreh

,

,

Noah's Four Sons

Does the Supplementary Hypothesis explain the existence of a fourth son that found his way back into Pirkei de-Rabbi Eliezer and the Quran?

Dr. Rabbi

Tzemah Yoreh

,

,

The Source of Jacob’s Two Blessings

Project TABS Editors

,

,

Encountering the Documentary Hypothesis in the Joseph Story

The Joseph story provides a compelling case for the use of source-critical methods for unraveling intertwined stories in the biblical text.

Ben Sandler

,

,

Mourning for Jacob at Goren ha-Atad

Why was Jacob’s funeral procession across the Jordan?

Dr.

David Ben-Gad HaCohen

,

,

No items found.