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Tension between Jews & Am Haretz

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  • David C. Hindley
    ... its usage during the time of Jesus. I have become fascinated by the unusual ways this term has been used, to the point where I have almost starting
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 6, 2000
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      George X. Brooks wrote:

      >>I am very intrigued by your raising the issue of the term "Jew" and
      its usage during the time of Jesus. I have become fascinated by the
      unusual ways this term has been used, to the point where I have almost
      starting writing "Judaoi" in my personal notes, instead of Jew. The
      term Jew, to the ear of the modern audience, is too quick to mean it
      in "ethnic" terms, instead of purely religios ones.

      Even in the New Testament, there seems to be a sound use of other
      terms to refer to the "ethnic" "Jewish" population in Palestine: "a
      son of Israel", references to the seed of Abraham, and the like. But
      sometimes I hear a sub-text "echo" with some uses of the word
      "Jew/Judaoi" which seems to be purely in contrast with the "Am
      Haretz".... something akin to - - if you are a Sadduccee, Scribe,
      Pharisee, or Essene, THEN you are a "Jew". Otherwise, you are just a
      resident in Palestine, of the Am Haretz, a "sinner", or what have you.

      I started thinking along these lines while studying the Maccabees in
      conjunction with some DSS scrolls.


      And, with complete predictability, once the victories have been won,
      and Jewish independence has been secure, the schisms and divisions
      emerge within this "School or House of Judah". The emergence of the
      Sadducees with their interests, countered by the less elite, but more
      numerous Pharisees. They all emerge out of this "possible" House of
      Judah tradition. They are ALL
      Judah-ites, even if they are now called Sadducees, Scribes and

      And those "of the land", the Am Haretz, who never signed-on zealously
      to the Judah-ite agenda, and just tried to stay out of trouble, they
      are "sinners" from the point of view of the men and families of men
      who risked their life and blood for the sake of God's Temple, and

      To take this in another direction, have you read vol 2 of the Harvard
      Semitic Monographs, _The Samaritan Pentateuch and the Origin of the
      Samaritan Sect_ (James D. Purvis, Harvard U. Press, 1968)? It offers
      the suggestion that the Samaritans diverged from Judaism (and I use
      that term loosely for the moment) after the destruction of their
      Temple on Mt Gerezim by John Hyrcanus about 128 BCE.

      You can take into consideration the accounts of class divisions
      between the returning Judahites who ruled the province of Yahud as
      Satraps, and the indigenous "People of the Land" who were snubbed by
      them, in the accounts of Ezra-Nehemiah and contemporary prophetical
      and historical passages in the OT. In spite of this snub, the people
      of the land and Samaritan Yahwists adopted the Pentateuch presumably
      brought to Yahud by the returning Judahites. There may have been
      unresolved tension between these groups, and Hyrcanus' destruction if
      the sanctuary of the rival Samaritan cultus produced a split.

      I toy with the idea that the Maccabean movement represented a period
      where Judahites reidentified themselves (and their view of their past
      history), producing the part of the corpus of the Writings (Daniel,
      Ezra-Nehemia, Chronicles). This identity was intensely nationalistic
      to the exclusion of other expressions. The Samaritans, in another
      province, could reject this reidentification within decades of its
      creation. The people of the land, alas, could not escape it. Adherence
      to the new definition's strict application of legal tenets was ignored
      in preference to a more relaxed application, perhaps reflecting actual
      practices prior to the Maccabean redefinition.

      So, another wildly speculative hypotheses to mull over. Sorry. <g>

      >>Granted, this is a huge amount of speculation. And I accept this
      criticism. But I thought I would paint a mural of a particular
      depiction of what might have going on with "the Jews" (the Judaoi, or
      Judah-ites), and let people who are so inclined blast huge holes in
      the worst part of the mural.<<

      Are you *sure* you do not agree with me that history is to some degree
      the *art* of fiction? <g>


      Dave Hindley
      Cleveland, Ohio, USA
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