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"And All Israel and Judah Loved David": King David's Story in the Bible

His thesis is that, thanks to the Biblical authors and figures like Ezra and Nehemiah, the defeat of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah ultimately fostered a more resilient and enduring national identity that was able to sustain the loss of territorial sovereignty. The Bible presents procreation and education as the ultimate strategies of Jewish survival. Listen to the interview to understand this tremendous, brilliant Bible scholar and his unique contributions to Jewish thought.

You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account. You are commenting using your Twitter account. You are commenting using your Facebook account. Notify me of new comments via email. Notify me of new posts via email. Skip to content Home Interview with Jacob L. Share this: Twitter Facebook. Like this: Like Loading The reason is that their objectives differed from those of modern scholars concerned with composition history.

Stated most simply, teaching Tanach is about Jewish communal identity formation, while teaching academic Bible is about assessing historical origins and impact. Nevertheless, these students usually know how to set aside, pragmatically, their personal religious convictions in order to create a space conducive to discussions with their colleagues who come from different backgrounds and have different commitments. In addition to teaching PhD students of Hebrew Bible and occasional courses in the college, I work with seminary students who are preparing themselves for service in churches and Christian communities.

In this capacity, an instructor cannot expect his or her students to bracket personal faith commitments. To the contrary, these commitments are integral factors of the classroom experience.


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The discussions pose many challenges for an outsider. Yet I have always found them to be enjoyable and enriching.

Ezra and Nehemiah -- Return and Rebuild! (for children)

Indeed, I think it is condescending and disingenuous not to be forthright in this regard. In my experience, most observant Jews are eager to learn about the fascinating research conducted in biblical studies. We have to impart to children and students a freedom to evaluate thoughtfully all claims and show them that Jewish observance need not be determined always by historical facticity. After all, the biblical authors and the rabbis were much more sophisticated on these matters than many of the reactionary apologists who have addressed the issues of critical scholarship in modern times.

There is most certainly a value in trying to understand the Torah as an integrated whole. In doing so, we are attempting to make sense of what the biblical authors themselves were after. They had a reason and rationale when they, for example, demarcated the Torah with the death of Moses in the Transjordan and lopped off the description of the Israelite conquest of the Promised Land, which appears to be the older conclusion to the exodus account Exodus 2 — Joshua Of course, some integrated readings may find meanings in the text that were never intended by their authors.

Yet instead of dismissing integrated readings altogether, as some source critics do, we should acknowledge that those responsible for the final shape of the canonical Torah had very concrete messages they wanted to communicate via the whole, not solely its parts.

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I am honestly not too interested in the next great archaeological find. Sensational finds in archaeology, at least in the archaeology of Iron Age Levant, are more often than not unsensational finds that are presented to the media with a lot of silly hype. The archaeology of ancient Israel is, after all, a highly competitive field. The attempt to link all kinds of finds to this figure betrays an impoverishment of the historical imagination. The biblical account represents a thoroughly simplified historical construction, with a pronounced political message and theological-didactic function.

In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi

Careful research on both the biblical materials and the archaeological record reveals a much greater diversity of polities, which gradually coalesced into the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. Khirbet Qeiyafah, which has been in the news for the past few years, is an important site, but it is likely part of a smaller local polity, with no appreciable connections to Jerusalem. Fortunately we are blessed with a wide selection of wonderful excavation projects e. Bal Tashchit, the prohibition of gratuitous destruction. A few years ago I wrote an essay on the origins of this first written law of war found in Deut I argued that it is not formulated, as many scholars claim, as a polemical response to the practices of the Assyrian imperial armies of the eighth and seventh centuries BCE.

Instead, in my view, it grew out of a discourse among wisdom teachers on acceptable martial conduct for native armies. As much of the oldest legal material in Deuteronomy, this prohibition is an example of a wisdom teaching that has been reformulated as a legal injunction.

Whatever the case may be, this mitzvah is particularly relevant as we witness all kinds of wanton ruination perpetrated in our own societies. This guy gets a bad rap, both from the rabbis and modern scholars. He repeatedly draws attention to his own good deeds, punctuating his memoir with demands that God remember him for his achievements.

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More than that, he lived in a post-heroic age, when Judahite men could no longer seek a name and fame through martial valor on their battlefields. Yet instead of relinquishing all ambition, he concentrated his efforts on rebuilding—both the physical ruins of Jerusalem and the spiritual foundations of Judah. Despite his many nemeses, he sought to find commonalities that could unite deeply divided and apathetic communities. Finally, as was true of many other great figures of the post-exilic age, he appears not to have had children of his own.

Jacob L. Wright, at The Blogs

Perhaps that is why he devoted so much of his energies to the wellbeing of his people. The day is never long enough to finish all that I set out to do in the morning. Torah Portion. This Week's Torah Portion. Genesis Exodus Leviticus Numbers Deuteronomy.

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