Elephantine Aramaic Papyri
- Discussion on Elephantine has strayed a long way from David Hall's original question where he puts his finger on a crucial, so far unanswered question, about Passover: "Shouldn't they have already known about this observance for generations?"
Firstly it is quite wrong to talk about a Jewish Community on Elephantine. They are better described as pseudo-Jahwehists and their religion cannot be equated to the Jewish version in Israel of the 5th and 6th centuries. There were many fundamental differences in their beliefs and practices that differentiated them from normative Judaism. For example, they allowed the charging of interest, women had dissolution rights in marriage and property ownership rights, members of the community married non-believers from outside, and their worship was a form of Jahwehism in conjunction with Astarte, based on the Egyptian concept of `Maat'.
They did not follow and were not aware of the Oral Laws, nor did they appear to celebrate Passover. The reason for this anomalous situation is, in my view, because the Elephantine Community were not `diaspora' or mercenary Jews, and they did not know about what had been going on in Israel because they had never been part of the Exodus.
I have written extensively on the subject in my previous books and will expound further in another book on 'Black Holes in the Dead Sea Scrolls' being published next year.
A close study of the form of worship at Elephantine was made by E. Maclaurin, in 1968, at the University of Sydney, Australia. He concluded: ` that it was of a form which could not have existed in a Hebrew group which had been exposed to the influences of Sinai and Canaan after the settlement.'
A number of theories ascribe the origins of the colony to the Dispersions of 722 and 586 BCE the periods of Assyrian and Babylonian conquests of the Northern and Southern Kingdoms
of Israel. For numerous reasons these ideas do not work. Even the eminent historian Sir Martin Gilbert, to make the point, has to place Elephantine 550km further north than it really is in his Atlas of Jewish History.
A German/French team has been excavating at the site for a number of years and there is good evidence that the Colony came into existence many hundreds of years before the Greeks arrived. The layout of the buildings and the Temple they built are further clues to the real explanation for the origins and existence of the colony.
Robert Feather, Institute of Materials, London.
- The 10th Mainz International Colloquium on Ancient Hebrew (MICAH) will take place October 2011, friday to sunday 28th-30th,
at the Johannes-Gutenberg-University of Mainz, Germany:
Topics cover the Ancient and Classical Hebrew, i. e. Epigraphic and Biblical Hebrew, as well as adjacent languages and epigraphics,
as for instance Phoenician & Punic, Old and Imperial Aramaic, and the ancient Transjordan languages.
The program schedule is online now:
For participation, we request a fee of 30 Euro, which is due onsite. This includes the conference binder, abstracts, badge, free WLAN access onsite, and refreshments. We are sorry that because of misuse by certain alien cadgers at the last meetings, these benefits will only granted to those who wear an authentic conference badge.
For proper preparation, we request a simple pre-registration e-mail to micah@....
Looking forward to meeting you in Mainz soon.
Reinhard G. Lehmann
Dr. Reinhard G. Lehmann
Research Unit on Ancient Hebrew & Epigraphy
FB 01/ Faculty of Protestant Theology
Johannes Gutenberg-University of Mainz
Subsidia et Instrumenta Linguarum Orientis (SILO):
10th Mainz International Colloquium on Ancient Hebrew (MICAH):
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