Religious Studies 015
Notes from Week 2 (21-13 January 2003)
by Daniel Farkas and Michael Grosack

While Genesis and the first part of Exodus contain stories (narrative), much of the rest of the Pentateuch consists of laws, which while sometimes seeming unexciting reading, provide important clues to various types of activities: e.g. proper instructions for conduct within the designated worship contexts (tabernacle, temple)

The Temple:
--Term "Temple" for our purposes, refers to a fixed location in Jerusalem and should not be confused with the local "synagogues" that develop later.
--The Temple in Jerusalem did have rival offshoots from the Israelite tradition, such as the Samaritan Temple on Mount Gerizim (north of Jerusalem).
--Exiled Jews also founded a temple in Egypt in the city of Heliopolis, or Leontopolis, during the time of political unrest that produced the Maccabean revolt (around 168 bce).
--The Temple of Jerusalem is also known as the Temple of Solomon (AKA, the First Temple, ~960 BCE), which was later destroyed by the Babylonians in 587/6 BCE.
--The Temple was eventually restored in 516 BCE (The Second Temple) after 70 years of exile; this reconstructed Temple would last until 70 CE. No Temple was restored after this because the Romans became fed up with what they perceived as Jewish rebelliousness. In place of Solomon's, they built a temple for Zeus.

Israel/Jews Terminology
--Ancient Israel and Israelites, functionally different from "Jews" because Judaism as we know it did not develop until the Second Temple period.
--Term "Jew" derived from the tribe Judah, one of the 12 sons of Jacob (grandson of Abraham). The 12 sons = "tribes/clans" except Levi as progenitor of the cultic leaders (priests, etc.). The other 11 tribes (since Levi had priesthood) get allocations of land. Joseph's two children (Ephraim and Manasseh) plus his ten brothers constitute the twelve tribes (Joseph does not get a territory of his own, nor does Levi).

Historical Sequence of Jewish Scriptural Period

Period 1: The Patriarchal Period: Abraham - Isaac - Jacob - 12 Sons
-- Jacob is often referred to as "Israel" or "One who has seen God." Therefore Israel becomes a name that applies to the whole, at first, but later to different entities, especially the "northern" kingdom after Solomon.
-- Abraham and his followers become known as "Hebrews" which perhaps means "wanderers."

Period 2: Moses and the Exodus

Period 3: The Judges - after Moses
-- There was no constant, unified leadership in Israel.
-- The "Judges," such as Samson and Gideon, were thrust into the leadership position during times of crisis (e.g. attacks by the Philistines).

Period 4: The United Monarchy: Saul, David, Solomon.
-- Recorded in the books of 1st and 2nd Samuel, and 1st and 2nd Kings (or, in the Catholic Bible, 1st-4th Kings).

Period 5: The Divided Monarchy:
-- After Solomon, the united monarchy splits.
-- Israel is normally referring to the Northern Israelites
-- Southern Kingdom of Judah: with Jerusalem as the capital of the united kingdom and then the southern kingdom.
-- Northern kingdom destroyed by the neo-Assyrians in 722/21 BCE. Never reestablishes after Assyrian deportations. Localized remnants of the Northern Kingdom become the Samaritans, who still exist today. Assyrian conquest results in the lost ten tribes.

Period 6: Exile and Return (origins of "Judaism" proper)
-- Southern kingdom defeated and leaders taken into exile by the neo-Babylonians in 587/86 BCE.
-- The Persian Empire replaced the neo-Babylonians, and allowed the Judahites (now appropriately called "Jews") to return to Israel. Judaism, as we know it, refers to after the return from exile: from about 520 BCE onward, with Ezra as a major figure in the return.

Kingdoms of the Middle East (The Fertile Crescent of Arabia and the Persian Gulf):

1. Sumerians
2. Early Babylonians (code of Hamurabi, Abraham?)
3. Jacob and then Egypt
4. Hyksos: non-Egyptian regieme from Asia-Minor who ruled in Egypt; probably when they fell, the Israelites were disfavored to servile status.
5. Nationalistic Egyptian rulers were later reinstated (Moses/Exodus).
6. Assyria (Sargon, et al.; to 612 bce)
7. Neo-Babylonians (Nebuchadnezzar, et al.; to about 538 bce)
8. Persia (Darius, Cyrus, et al.; to about 331 bce and Alexander the Great)

General overview of the Pentateuchal and subsequent narratives:

1. Creation: Genesis
2. Period 1 (see above, Patriarchs): Genesis
3. Moses (1250? BCE based on archeological evidence of occupational changes, or 1450? BCE based on biblical numbers): Exodus-Deuteronomy
4. Period 3 above: Joshua & Judges
5. Periods 4-5 above (Kingdoms): 1-2 Samuel, 1-2 Kings, 1-2 Chronicles
6. Period 6 above (Exile and Return): Ezra-Nehemiah, etc.

Creation Story Trivia Continued:

Q5. In God's own image. Some argue that this is what distinguishes man from animal. God is sometimes described in anthropomorphic terms. Some believe Adam and Eve lost the "image" when expelled from the Garden of Eden.

Q6. The 7th day (technically Saturday).

Q7. In the East.

Q8. The Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life: the former is forbidden (becomes a key component in the later "Gnostic" tradition). Also, a tradition develops in Christian circles that Jesus' cross was made from the tree of life.

Q10. To keep Adam company.

Q12. Smart, legged, crafty, "subtle."

- Lilith: -- Mentioned in Isaiah among the dangers of the open desert
-- In Hebrew legend, supposedly was created before Eve, but defied Adam and was therefore turned into a demon.
-- Is said to tempt man sexually (such as with wet dreams)


-- Look for "come up higher" in the Bible.

Be sure to note Davis' inconsistencies, omissions, and errors
-- A mis-nomenclature: "faith" being a word that has been made synonymous with "religion."
-- Possible derivation of "YHWH" could be that Hebrew word "to be" as in "he who causes (creation) to be."
-- Eschatology: from "eschaton" meaning "last." The study of the end of this world order as we know it. I.e. Isaiah: "The lion will lie down with the lamb." Often referring to the advent of an anointed one or messiah. This is especially important for a study of the New Testament. Paul, for example, felt the end of the world to be at hand, and all of God's promises would be fulfilled.
-- Apocalyptic: i.e. "Revelation" is from the Greek word "apocalypse" -- to uncover or reveal, a theme pervasive throughout the Bible. Usually is used to relate to a more "fire and brimstone" type of end.

-- What is "Pedagogical"? related to teaching
-- Question: were there Egyptian records of the Exodus? What were the earliest records of biblical events? See the "stela of Pharoah Merneptah" (Davis p. 27). An inscription from Dor that refers to "The House of David." Most of this sort of evidence is ambiguous.
-- Questions about the Exodus across the Yam Suf, traditionally translated as the Red Sea, although it probably meant the Reed Sea; while migrations are apparent, the details of "the exodus" are still problematic. The Reed Sea would be a more likely candidate for the well-known "parting" episode.
-- Why does God make the Pharaoh's heart "harden?" Because in the story, it's part of God's grand plan to deliver the Israelites. It adds drama to the story, incorporating understandable vacillation on Pharaoh's part.
-- Did J and E write when there were still "Canaanites" around? Yes, but the "Canaanites" were not a homogeneous social group. Other nations, such as Moab, do exist on record.
-- "Palestine" comes from the presence of the ethnic group "Philistines" along the Mediterranean coast. Identified as the Sea People who tried to invade Egypt, they then settled on the coast of Canaan after being repulsed by the Egyptians, and were found there by later Greek geographers, who named the whole area after them.
-- What does God want when he asks for the first born? Perhaps derived from child sacrifice but most likely came to mean service to God.
-- And to finish it all off: a fabulous defecation discussion of biblical proportions to illustrate how little we know about everyday life in antiquity.

//end of week 2//