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RE: [ANE-2] Elephantine Aramaic Papyri

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  • Lisbeth S. Fried
    Dear Robert, I cannot accept your definition of Jewish. Jewish is a translation of the Hebrew yehudi, and that designates a member of a people, the people of
    Message 1 of 33 , Oct 5, 2011
      Dear Robert,

      I cannot accept your definition of Jewish. "Jewish" is a translation of the
      Hebrew yehudi, and that designates a member of a people, the people of

      This is how the community of Elephantine designates itself when writing to
      other members of the community, although in contracts written by non-Judeans
      they are usually stylized as Arameans because of their language.

      If you want to respect the texts, as I'm sure you do, then you have to take
      these people at their word.

      They are Judeans, even though they may not have lived in Judah for some 200

      So, are they YHWHists or Pseudo-Yahwists, as you style them? They have built
      and maintained a temple to YHWH from the time of their arrival at the time
      of Cambyses, according to their own words. They went into mourning for three
      years and abstained from meat, from sex, from washing themselves, after the
      destruction of their temple to him.

      You seem to think that there was some "normative" Judaism that they weren't
      following, and therefore they aren't Jews. I don't know what that
      "normative" Judaism is, or when you think it took effect. You say that they
      didn't follow the mitzvoth? Is that what makes a Jew? Am I not Jewish
      because I don't keep the Sabbath? Because sometimes I sneak a cup of coffee
      to make it through Yom Kippur? You complain that they did not follow the
      "oral law." When did these "laws" come about, do you think?

      You deduce from the Passover Letter that they weren't keeping Passover and
      didn't know about it. What I deduce from it is that they weren't allowed to
      sacrifice the Passover Lamb, since that alone is not mentioned in the
      letter. They are permitted to abstain from work, and eat unleavened bread,
      but not to conduct the main act which absolutely defines the Passover

      You complain also that they worship other gods, so they can't be "real"
      Jews. What is the evidence for that? They took oaths on other gods? Does
      that mean they worshipped them? I know of Jews who took oaths on a bible
      which contained the New Testament. Does that make them non-Jews?

      You state that they took up a collection for other gods? Our synagogue has
      taken up collections for various churches in the past when those churches
      suffered from fire, vandalism, etc. Does that make us not YHWH worshippers?

      I think that you define a Judaism, i.e., the culture and behavior of
      Judeans, that never actually ever existed.

      Liz Fried

      Lisbeth S. Fried, Ph.D.

      Department of Near Eastern Studies

      and the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies

      University of Michigan

      202 S. Thayer -- Room 4111

      Ann Arbor, MI 48104

      www.lizfried.com <http://www.lizfried.com/>

      I sent (too much) rain on one city, and sent no rain on another city;
      and still you did not return to me, says YHWH. (Amo 4:7-8 )

      -----Original Message-----
      From: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com [mailto:ANE-2@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of
      Sent: Tuesday, October 04, 2011 6:34 AM
      To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [ANE-2] 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

      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

      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.

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • R. Lehmann
      The 10th Mainz International Colloquium on Ancient Hebrew (MICAH) will take place October 2011, friday to sunday 28th-30th, at the
      Message 33 of 33 , Oct 10, 2011
        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
        Academic Director
        Research Unit on Ancient Hebrew & Epigraphy
        FB 01/ Faculty of Protestant Theology
        Johannes Gutenberg-University of Mainz
        D-55099 Mainz
        Subsidia et Instrumenta Linguarum Orientis (SILO):
        10th Mainz International Colloquium on Ancient Hebrew (MICAH):

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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