The Release and the Injunction to Give Loans in the Frame of the Social Laws in Deuteronomy
The law of release and the injunction to give loans belong to a series of social laws extant in Deuteronomy. The series comprises the following laws: Deut 15:1-6; 15:7-11; 15:12-18; 23:20-21; 24:12-13; 24:14-15. All of them present similarities of style, contents and purpose. They aim to establish a wide Israelite fraternity, headed and supervised by the Lord. Probably they had originally belonged to an independent collection; later they were incorporated into the Deuteronomic law collection and were arranged according to the associative principle.
The law of release originally contained verses 15:1-3 only. It did not prescribe a remission of debts, but rather a one year moratorium. The wording of the law, as already construed by Rashi, favors this interpretation which is also in line with the realistic tenor of the said series. The injunction to give loans is extant in 15:7-8. At first it was not intrinsically related to the law of release in the seventh year.
Two additions are present. The verses 15:4-6 are clearly out of place. Their late origin is betrayed by their similarity to the late passage in 19:8-9 (a late expansion of the law on the cities of refuge). Verses 9-11 too are a late expansion; they connect the injunction of vss. 7-8 to the release law. They include a warning against a wicked thought. This kind of prevention of opposed opinions shows in Lev 25:20-22 and Deut 18:21-22 – two accretions that were introduced in the different legal collections when they were gathered to constitute one Torah.
The original laws should be considered as belonging to the D1 layer while the homiletical expansions pertain to a secondary stratum, D2.
What Did Cain Say to Abel? An Exploration of the Traditional Commentaries
The focus of this article is an examination of how the traditional commentaries, including the Aramaic targumim, contend with the challenge of filling in gaps and making sense of the larger picture in scriptural literary units, using the story of Cain and Abel in Genesis 4:6–8 as a case study.
Much has already been written of the story in general, and of one of its verses—verse 8—in particular. Our intent is to consider the approaches found in traditional commentaries to the lacuna in that verse. It is this unfilled gap between the initial clause—"Cain said to his Abel, his brother"—and the subsequent murder that calls out to later generations for elucidation, whether through emendation, filling in the gap, or else finding some other way of reading the verse that will provide the missing logical link.
This article brings together five different problem-solving approaches exhibited in the traditional commentaries and Aramaic targumim, ranging from the assumption that the verse is defective and must be supplemented to the view that it is a complete unit lacking nothing.
2Kgs 3: A Historiographical Reading
The story of Jehoram's campaign against Moab (2 Kings 3) is perceived in biblical scholarship as a legenda, or as a miraculous-prophetic story based on a debated historical core, aimed to glorify its hero, Elisha. This perception is not satisfactory, though, since 2 Kings 3 significantly deviates from the rules of the genre for several reasons, notably
the fact that Elisha's prophecy of smiting Moab, seems to become a failure due to the puzzling withdrawal of the army at the end of the story. This article attempts to prove that 2 Kings 3 is an historiographical narrative, containing distinct historiographic attributes, while the most prominent of them is the theological judgment of the story's heroes, namely Jehoram and Israel, in accordance with their sin of idolatry. This sin threads the chapter from its beginning to its very end, explicitly or tacitly, thus sheds new light on the story as a whole – and along the way allows the suggesting of a new solution to the ancient problem of the enigmatic relation between Mesha's sacrifice and the great wrath that came upon Israel, leading the campaign to its end.
"Fruit of Goodly Trees": The Beginning of Citron Cultivation in Israel and Its Penetration into Jewish Tradition and Culture
D. Langgut, Y. Gadot and O. Lipschits
Fossil pollen grains of citron (Citrus medica) were recently found in the royal Persian garden (5th‒4th century BCE) at the site of Ramat Rahel; they mark the citron‘s earliest appearance in Israel. Citrus medica, which later acquired a symbolic role in Judaism, is not native to Israeli flora but was most probably brought to the region from Southeast Asia via Persia by Persian emperors as part of their royal extravagancy. Although it is used on the Feast of Tabernacles as one of the four species, the citron is not specifically mentioned in the Bible; Leviticus (23:40), refers to it only as פרי עץ הדר, translated as "fruit of goodly trees". Based on textual and visual evidence, this paper establishes that the association between the citron and the "fruit of goodly trees,” was made in the first century CE. The paper therefore suggests that the citron probably slowly pentrated into Jewish tradition and culture from the Persian royal gardens.
"Six Hundred Thousand on Foot" (Exodus 12, 37; Numbers 11, 21) - "on Foot" as an Integrating Concept in the Desert's Tales
Amichai Nachshon and Netanel Simchah Nachshon
The present paper deals with the concept of "on foot" and its military meaning in the tales about the wandering of the people of Israel in the desert. Since the status of "on foot" is usually confronted with the higher status of "horseman", it was suggested that the former concept means social equality within the military. As one of the major themes of the desert tales is solidarity and equality within the military, the concept of "on foot" seems highly important. Specifically, it is proposed that the meaning of "on foot", which appears twice in the desert tales within social and military contexts, be interpreted as follows:
1. The people of Israel who are getting out of Egypt constitute an integrated military body ("about six hundred thousand on foot that were men"; Exodus 12, 37).
2. According to Moses, meat may not be allocated to some of the people, as was the custom in the Ancient East, but rather should be equally distributed among all ("six hundred thousand footmen, and thou hast said I will give them flesh"; Numbers 11, 21).
Psalm 83 is a national supplication uttered at a time when the People of Israel faced total annihilation by a coalition of many enemies. Scholars agree that the psalm’s contents fall into two halves. Verses 2 to 9 describe the enemies’ desire to destroy Israel, while vv. 10 to 19 express Israel’s plea for salvation from their enemies.
Some further division into sections has been suggested based on parallels in contents and language between parts of the psalm. However these parallels are not consistent throughout all parts of the structure, and their significance for understanding the psalm’s main burden is unclear.
In this study we have adopted Koster’s proposal, made as early as the 19th century, to divide the psalm into four parts according to their contents (vv. 2 to 5; 6 to 9; 10 to 13; 14 to 19). We show how the recurring expressions and synonyms used in the psalm lend it a consistent and systematic structure from which its meaning emerges.