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Re: [ANE-2] Origin of Judaism

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  • victor avigdor hurowitz
    Dear Robert, Your depiction of the Jews of Elephantine is quite amusing. I would think you may be describing American Reform Jews, or even not a few Orthodox
    Message 1 of 5 , Jan 4, 2010
      Dear Robert,
      Your depiction of the Jews of Elephantine is quite amusing. I would think
      you may be describing American Reform Jews, or even not a few Orthodox
      Jews. They speak English, intermarry with Americans of all origins, demand
      equal marriage rights for women, maybe have a Hanukkah bush in their
      house, and are ignorant of their traditions. So why not look at the
      positive rather than the negative, namely that they call themselves
      YHDY', the worship a God named YHW and maintain contacts with the
      religious establishment in Jerusalem and want to know something about
      Passover. I don't know whether the chief Rabbinate of Israel would
      recognize them as Jewish, but quite a few of their correligionists would
      have no problem with it whatsoever.
      As for not mentioning Israel, what's wrong with YHD instead?
      Victor Hurowitz
      BGU



      On Mon, 4 Jan 2010, featherrobert wrote:

      > The idea that the Elephantine Papyri can provide evidence of Jewish-style practices at Elephantine Island that can be extrapolated across to Canaan is extremely speculative. The form of `pseudo-Judaism' being followed on the Island was radically different from what we know of Judaism for the periods concerned. In fact you cannot call the people at the Settlement at Elephantine `Jewish' at all. They spoke Aramaic, intermarried with Egyptians, allowed the charging of interest, gave women equal and sometimes superior marriage rights, appeared to be polytheistic, and had no knowledge of the Exodus, or Passover protocols.
      >
      > The information we have about the form of Judaism at Elephantine cannot be used to push self identity in Canaan forward, as their form of Judaism was completely detached from that country until the Persians arrived.
      >
      > Russell Gmirkin talks about 'multiple temples' at Yeb. Where does he get this idea from? Of course there were other pagan temples on the Island, but only one at the Settlement in question. There is strong evidence from the Papyri and from recent excavations by a team from the German and Swiss institutes working on the site since 1969, that there was one temple at the Elephantine settlement but no- one seems interested in why they built a temple in the first place, or when they arrived there. The confusion on this matter is illustrated by people like Sir Martin Gilbert, who is thoroughly confused about the geography and timing of their arrival. Liz Fried is almost certainly correct in her dating of the Settlement as existing in the 7th century BCE, but I would say this date is conservative. For example they used 18th dynasty seals on some of their letters. We do not know if they celebrated Passover. They asked for information on how to celebrate it, when they came into contact with Canaan, which implies they had no knowledge of the festival, or about the Exodus. As Liz Fried points out, the name of Israel never appears in the correspondence.
      > Robert Feather, London
      >
      >
      >
    • featherrobert
      Dear Victor, I don t doubt the people on Yeb followed a form of Judaism and worshipped YHW, in association with other associates, rather reminiscent of the
      Message 2 of 5 , Jan 4, 2010
        Dear Victor,
        I don't doubt the people on Yeb followed a form of Judaism and worshipped YHW, in association with other associates, rather reminiscent of the Kuntillet Ajrud phenomena. The real point is – can you use what we know of their experience to correlate experience in Canaan? I think only to a limited extent. To say they `maintain contacts with Jerusalem' is not strictly true. Both Reuven Yaron, of the Hebrew University, and G.W.Anderson, University of Edinburgh, conclude we just don't know when or how the original Aramaic speaking settlers came to Elephantine. When Cymbyses and the Persians marched into Egypt, c525 BCE, they found a long-established priestly colony that worshipped YHW and Astarte – the Egyptian version of Anathbethal. They also followed Egyptian legal, fiscal, and social precedents which conformed to Egyptian practice of many centuries earlier.

        Prior to 419 BCE they appear not to have celebrated Passover. How do you explain this?

        We have to be very cautious about using evidence of their practices as even sub-streams of mainstream Judaism. The common denominator between the streams of modern Judaism you mention is that they all believe in only one G-d. E. Maclaurin's extensive study of their form of worship concludes it `could not have existed in a Hebrew group which had been exposed to the influences of Sinai and Canaan after the settlement.'

        Robert Feather , London.
      • victor avigdor hurowitz
        Dear Robert, All this is beside the point. Do you know of any other group besides people from Judah and Israel who worshipped YHW(H)? Who cares where the
        Message 3 of 5 , Jan 4, 2010
          Dear Robert,
          All this is beside the point. Do you know of any other group besides
          people from Judah and Israel who worshipped YHW(H)? Who cares where the
          original settlers came from, but some of them called themselves yhdy' and
          I can hardly think of any other place more suited to these people's origin
          than Judah. I don't know what "mainstream" Judaism was then, but you are
          talking like an Orthodox Jew who thinks that anything but Torah True
          Judaism as interpreted in the Art Scroll Siddur and Torah Tidbits is not
          Judaism. It's amazing how truly orthodox critical scholars can be in
          denying diversity. As I said, you should be focusing on what unites these
          people
          and not what divides them. As for Maclaurin's statement cited here, I must
          confess that it is incomprehensible to me. And why do you say with
          certainty that prior to 419BCE they appear not to have celebrated
          Passover? Is the so-called Passover papyrus so well preserved and so well
          understood that we can make such a definitive statement? You're demanding
          too much of these people and reading too much into what we don't really
          know.
          Victor Hurowitz
          BGU



          On Mon, 4 Jan 2010, featherrobert wrote:

          > Dear Victor,
          > I don't doubt the people on Yeb followed a form of Judaism and worshipped YHW, in association with other associates, rather reminiscent of the Kuntillet Ajrud phenomena. The real point is – can you use what we know of their experience to correlate experience in Canaan? I think only to a limited extent. To say they `maintain contacts with Jerusalem' is not strictly true. Both Reuven Yaron, of the Hebrew University, and G.W.Anderson, University of Edinburgh, conclude we just don't know when or how the original Aramaic speaking settlers came to Elephantine. When Cymbyses and the Persians marched into Egypt, c525 BCE, they found a long-established priestly colony that worshipped YHW and Astarte – the Egyptian version of Anathbethal. They also followed Egyptian legal, fiscal, and social precedents which conformed to Egyptian practice of many centuries earlier.
          >
          > Prior to 419 BCE they appear not to have celebrated Passover. How do you explain this?
          >
          > We have to be very cautious about using evidence of their practices as even sub-streams of mainstream Judaism. The common denominator between the streams of modern Judaism you mention is that they all believe in only one G-d. E. Maclaurin's extensive study of their form of worship concludes it `could not have existed in a Hebrew group which had been exposed to the influences of Sinai and Canaan after the settlement.'
          >
          > Robert Feather , London.
          >
          >
          >
        • Clark Whelton
          ... Interesting. What else is known about this practice, and/or about the seals themselves? Clark Whelton New York
          Message 4 of 5 , Jan 4, 2010
            Robert Feather wrote:

            >>>>>>>...Liz Fried is almost certainly correct in her dating of the
            >>>>>>>(Elephantine) settlement as existing in the 7th century BCE, but I
            >>>>>>>would say this date is conservative. For example they used 18th
            >>>>>>>dynasty seals on some of their letters...




            Interesting. What else is known about this practice, and/or about the seals
            themselves?



            Clark Whelton
            New York
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