Torah has a range of meanings. It can most mean the first five books of the 24 books of the Tanakh, it is printed with the rabbinic commentaries, it can mean the continued narrative from the Book of Genesis to the end of the Tanakh, it can mean the totality of Jewish teaching and practice, whether derived from biblical texts or rabbinic writings. Common to all these meanings, Torah consists of the origin of Jewish peoplehood: their call into being by God, their trials and tribulations, their covenant with their God, which involves following a way of life embodied in a set of moral and religious obligations and civil laws. In rabbinic literature the word Torah denotes both the Oral Torah; the Oral Torah consists of interpretations and amplifications which according to rabbinic tradition have been handed down from generation to generation and are now embodied in the Talmud and Midrash. According to rabbinic tradition, all of the teachings found in the Torah, both written and oral, were given by God through the prophet Moses, some at Mount Sinai and others at the Tabernacle, all the teachings were written down by Moses, which resulted in the Torah that exists today.
According to the Midrash, the Torah was created prior to the creation of the world, was used as the blueprint for Creation. The majority of Biblical scholars believe that the written books were a product of the Babylonian captivity, based on earlier written sources and oral traditions, that it was completed during the period of Achaemenid rule. Traditionally, the words of the Torah are written on a scroll by a scribe in Hebrew. A Torah portion is read publicly at least once every three days in the presence of a congregation. Reading the Torah publicly is one of the bases of Jewish communal life; the word "Torah" in Hebrew is derived from the root ירה, which in the hif'il conjugation means'to guide' or'to teach'. The meaning of the word is therefore "teaching", "doctrine", or "instruction"; the Alexandrian Jews who translated the Septuagint used the Greek word nomos, meaning norm, doctrine, "law". Greek and Latin Bibles began the custom of calling the Pentateuch The Law. Other translational contexts in the English language include custom, guidance, or system.
The term "Torah" is used in the general sense to include both Rabbinic Judaism's written law and Oral Law, serving to encompass the entire spectrum of authoritative Jewish religious teachings throughout history, including the Mishnah, the Talmud, the Midrash and more, the inaccurate rendering of "Torah" as "Law" may be an obstacle to understanding the ideal, summed up in the term talmud torah. The earliest name for the first part of the Bible seems to have been "The Torah of Moses"; this title, however, is found neither in the Torah itself, nor in the works of the pre-Exilic literary prophets. It appears in Joshua and Kings. In contrast, there is every likelihood that its use in the post-Exilic works was intended to be comprehensive. Other early titles were "The Book of Moses" and "The Book of the Torah", which seems to be a contraction of a fuller name, "The Book of the Torah of God". Christian scholars refer to the first five books of the Hebrew Bible as the'Pentateuch', a term first used in the Hellenistic Judaism of Alexandria.
The Torah starts from the beginning of God's creating the world, through the beginnings of the people of Israel, their descent into Egypt, the giving of the Torah at biblical Mount Sinai. It ends with the death of Moses, just before the people of Israel cross to the promised land of Canaan. Interspersed in the narrative are the specific teachings given explicitly or implicitly embedded in the narrative. In Hebrew, the five books of the Torah are identified by the incipits in each book, it is divisible into the Primeval history and the Ancestral history. The primeval history sets out the author's concepts of the nature of the deity and of humankind's relationship with its maker: God creates a world, good and fit for mankind, but when man corrupts it with sin God decides to destroy his creation, saving only the righteous Noah to reestablish the relationship between man and God; the Ancestral history tells of the prehistory of Israel, God's chosen people
Biblical Mount Sinai
According to the Book of Exodus, Mount Sinai is the mountain at which the Ten Commandments were given to Moses by God. In the Book of Deuteronomy, these events are described as having transpired at Mount Horeb. "Sinai" and "Horeb" are considered to refer to the same place by scholars. Hebrew Bible texts describe the theophany at Mount Sinai in terms which a minority of scholars, following Charles Beke, have suggested may describe the mountain as a volcano and have led to a search for alternative locations. According to the Documentary hypothesis, the name "Sinai" is only used in the Torah by the Jahwist and Priestly source, whereas Horeb is only used by the Elohist and Deuteronomist. Horeb is thought to mean "glowing/heat", which seems to be a reference to the sun, while Sinai may have derived from the name of Sin, the Sumerian deity of the moon, thus Sinai and Horeb would be the mountains of the moon and sun, respectively. Regarding the Sumerian Sin deity assumption, William F. Albright, an American biblical scholar, had stated:...there is nothing that requires us to explain Him as a modified moon-god.
It is improbable that the name Sinai is derived from that of the Sumerian Zen, Akkadian Sin, the moon-god worshiped at Ur and at Harran, since there is no indication that the name Sin was employed by the Canaanites or the Semitic nomads of Palestine. It is much more that the name Sinai is connected with the place-name Sin, which belongs to a desert plain in Sinai as well as to a Canaanite city in Syria and to a city in the northeast Delta of Egypt, it has been recognized that it may somehow be connected with seneh, the name of a kind of bush where Moses is said to have first witnessed the theophany of Yahweh. According to Rabbinic tradition, the name "Sinai" derives from sin-ah, meaning hatred, in reference to the other nations hating the Jews out of jealousy, due to the Jews being the ones to receive the word of God. Classical rabbinic literature mentions the mountain having other names: Har HaElohim, meaning "the mountain of God" or "the mountain of the gods" Har Bashan, meaning "the mountain of Bashan".
Jabal Mūsa, is another term that means, "The Mountain of Moses". According to the biblical account of the giving of the instructions and teachings of both the Written and the Oral Torah, Sinai was enveloped in a cloud, it quaked and was filled with smoke, while lightning-flashes shot forth, the roar of thunder mingled with the blasts of a trumpet. In the biblical account, the fire and clouds are a direct consequence of the arrival of God upon the mountain. According to the biblical story, Moses departed to the mountain and stayed there for 40 days and nights in order to receive the Ten Commandments, the Written and the Oral Torah, he did so twice because he broke the first set of the tablets of stone after returning from the mountain for the first time; the biblical description of God's descent seems to be in conflict with the statement shortly after that God spoke to the Israelites from Heaven. While biblical scholars argue that these passages are from different sources, the Mekhilta argues that God had lowered the heavens and spread them over Sinai, the Pirke De-Rabbi Eliezer argues that a hole was torn in the heavens, Sinai was torn away from the earth and the summit pushed through the hole.'The heavens' could be a metaphor for clouds and the'lake of fire' could be a metaphor for the lava-filled crater.
Several bible critics have indicated that the smoke and fire reference from the Bible suggests that Mt Sinai was a volcano. Other bible scholars have suggested that the description fits a storm as the Song of Deborah seems to allude to rain having occurred at the time. According to the biblical account, God spoke directly to the Israelite nation as a whole; some modern biblical scholars explain Mount Sinai as having been a sacred place dedicated to one of the Semitic deities before the Israelites encountered it. Others regard the set of laws given on the mountain to have originated in different time periods from one another, with the ones being the result of natural evolution over the centuries of the earlier ones, rather than all originating from a single moment in time. Modern scholars differ as to the exact geographical position of Mount Sinai, the same has long been true of scholars of Judaism; the Elijah narrative appears to suggest that when it was written, the location of Horeb was still known with some certainty, as Elijah is described as travelling to Horeb on one occasion, but there are no biblical references to it that suggest the location remained known.
The Pauline Epistles are more vague, specifying only that it was in Arabia, which covers most of the south-western Middle east. The earliest references to Jebel Musa as Mount Sinai or Mount Sinai being located in the present day Sinai Peninsula are inconclusive. There is evidence that pri
Code of Hammurabi
The Code of Hammurabi is a well-preserved Babylonian code of law of ancient Mesopotamia, dated back to about 1754 BCE. It is one of the oldest deciphered writings of significant length in the world; the sixth Babylonian king, enacted the code. A partial copy exists on a 2.25 meter stone stele. It consists of 282 laws, with scaled punishments, adjusting "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" as graded based on social stratification depending on social status and gender, of slave versus free, man versus woman. Nearly half of the code deals with matters of contract, establishing the wages to be paid to an ox driver or a surgeon for example. Other provisions set the terms of a transaction, the liability of a builder for a house that collapses, or property, damaged while left in the care of another. A third of the code addresses issues concerning household and family relationships such as inheritance, divorce and reproductive behaviour. Only one provision appears to impose obligations on an official.
A few provisions address issues related to military service. The code was discovered by modern archaeologists in 1901, its editio princeps translation published in 1902 by Jean-Vincent Scheil; this nearly complete example of the code is carved into a basalt stele in the shape of a huge index finger, 2.25 m tall. The code is inscribed in the Akkadian language, it is on display in the Louvre, with replicas in numerous institutions, including the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago, the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law in Chicago, the Clendening History of Medicine Library & Museum at the University of Kansas Medical Center, the library of the Theological University of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands, the Pergamon Museum of Berlin, the Arts Faculty of the University of Leuven in Belgium, the National Museum of Iran in Tehran, the Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, the University Museum at the University of Pennsylvania, Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC.
Hammurabi ruled from 1792 to 1750 BCE according to the Middle chronology. In the preface to the law, he states, "Anu and Bel called by name me, the exalted prince, who feared God, to bring about the rule of righteousness in the land, to destroy the wicked and the evil-doers. On the stone slab are 44 columns and 28 paragraphs that contained 282 laws; some of these laws follow along the rules of "an eye for an eye". It had been taken as plunder by the Elamite king Shutruk-Nahhunte in the 12th century BC and was taken to Susa in Elam where it was no longer available to the Babylonian people. However, when Cyrus the Great brought both Babylon and Susa under the rule of his Persian Empire, placed copies of the document in the Library of Sippar, the text became available for all the peoples of the vast Persian Empire to view. In 1901, Egyptologist Gustave Jéquier, a member of an expedition headed by Jacques de Morgan, found the stele containing the Code of Hammurabi during archaeological excavations at the ancient site of Susa in Khuzestan.
The Code of Hammurabi was one of the only sets of laws in the ancient Near East and one of the first forms of law. The code of laws was arranged in orderly groups, so that all who read the laws would know what was required of them. Earlier collections of laws include the Code of Ur-Nammu, king of Ur, the Laws of Eshnunna and the codex of Lipit-Ishtar of Isin, while ones include the Hittite laws, the Assyrian laws, Mosaic Law; these codes come from similar cultures in a small geographical area, they have passages which resemble each other. The Code of Hammurabi is the longest surviving text from the Old Babylonian period; the code has been seen as an early example of a fundamental law, regulating a government – i.e. a primitive constitution. The code is one of the earliest examples of the idea of presumption of innocence, it suggests that both the accused and accuser have the opportunity to provide evidence; the occasional nature of many provisions suggests that the code may be better understood as a codification of Hammurabi's supplementary judicial decisions, that, by memorializing his wisdom and justice, its purpose may have been the self-glorification of Hammurabi rather than a modern legal code or constitution.
However, its copying in subsequent generations indicates that it was used as a model of legal and judicial reasoning. While the Code of Hammurabi was trying to achieve equality, biases still existed against those categorized in the lower end of the social spectrum and some of the punishments and justice could be gruesome; the magnitude of criminal penalties was based on the identity and gender of both the person committing the crime and the victim. The Code issues justice following the three classes of Babylonian society: property owners, freed men, slaves. Punishments for someone assaulting someone from a lower class were far lighter than if they had assaulted someone of equal or higher status. For example, if a doctor killed a rich patient, he would have his hands cut off, but if he killed a slave, only financial restitution was required. Women could receive punishments that their male counterparts would not, as men were permitted to have affairs with their servants and slaves, whereas married wome
Babylon was a key kingdom in ancient Mesopotamia from the 18th to 6th centuries BC. The city was built on the Euphrates river and divided in equal parts along its left and right banks, with steep embankments to contain the river's seasonal floods. Babylon was a small Akkadian town dating from the period of the Akkadian Empire c. 2300 BC. The town became part of a small independent city-state with the rise of the First Babylonian dynasty in the 19th century BC. After the Amorite king Hammurabi created a short-lived empire in the 18th century BC, he built Babylon up into a major city and declared himself its king, southern Mesopotamia became known as Babylonia and Babylon eclipsed Nippur as its holy city; the empire waned under Hammurabi's son Samsu-iluna and Babylon spent long periods under Assyrian and Elamite domination. After being destroyed and rebuilt by the Assyrians, Babylon became the capital of the short lived Neo-Babylonian Empire from 609 to 539 BC; the Hanging Gardens of Babylon was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, although a number of scholars believe these were in the Assyrian capital of Nineveh.
After the fall of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, the city came under the rule of the Achaemenid, Parthian and Sassanid empires. It has been estimated that Babylon was the largest city in the world c. 1770 – c. 1670 BC, again c. 612 – c. 320 BC. It was the first city to reach a population above 200,000. Estimates for the maximum extent of its area range from 890 to 900 hectares; the remains of the city are in present-day Hillah, Babil Governorate, about 85 kilometres south of Baghdad, comprising a large tell of broken mud-brick buildings and debris. The main sources of information about Babylon—excavation of the site itself, references in cuneiform texts found elsewhere in Mesopotamia, references in the Bible, descriptions in classical writing, second-hand descriptions —present an incomplete and sometimes contradictory picture of the ancient city at its peak in the sixth century BC; the English Babylon comes from a transliteration of the Akkadian Bābilim. Archibald Sayce, writing in the 1870s, considered Bab-ilu or Bab-ili to be the translation of an earlier Sumerian name Ca-dimirra, meaning "gate of god", based on the characters KAN4 DIĜIR.
RAKI or based on other characters. According to Professor Dietz-Otto Edzard, the city was called Babilla, but by the time of the Third Dynasty of Ur, through a process of etymological speculation, had become Bāb-ili meaning "gate of god" or "god's gate"; the "gate of god" translation is viewed as a folk etymology to explain an unknown original non-Semitic placename. Linguist I. J. Gelb suggested in 1955 that Babil/Babilla is the basis of the city name, of unknown meaning and origin, as there were other similarly-named places in Sumer, there are no other examples of Sumerian place-names being replaced with Akkadian translations, he deduced that it transformed into Akkadian Bāb-ili, that the Sumerian Ka-dig̃irra was a translation of that, rather than vice versa. In the Bible, the name appears as Babel, interpreted in the Book of Genesis to mean "confusion", from the verb bilbél; the modern English verb, to babble, is popularly thought to derive from this name, but there is no direct connection.
Ancient records in some situations use "Babylon" as a name for other cities, including cities like Borsippa within Babylon's sphere of influence, Nineveh for a short period after the Assyrian sack of Babylon. The remains of the city are in present-day Hillah, Babil Governorate, about 85 kilometers south of Baghdad, comprising a large tell of broken mud-brick buildings and debris; the site at Babylon consists of a number of mounds covering an area of about 2 by 1 kilometer, oriented north to south, along the Euphrates to the west. The river bisected the city, but the course of the river has since shifted so that most of the remains of the former western part of the city are now inundated; some portions of the city wall to the west of the river remain. Only a small portion of the ancient city has been excavated. Known remains include: Kasr – called Palace or Castle, it is the location of the Neo-Babylonian ziggurat Etemenanki and lies in the center of the site. Amran Ibn Ali – the highest of the mounds at 25 meters, to the south.
It is the site of Esagila, a temple of Marduk which contained shrines to Ea and Nabu. Homera – a reddish-colored mound on the west side. Most of the Hellenistic remains are here. Babil – a mound about 22 meters high at the northern end of the site, its bricks have been subject to looting since ancient times. It held a palace built by Nebuchadnezzar. Archaeologists have recovered few artifacts predating the Neo-Babylonian period; the water table in the region has risen over the centuries, artifacts from the time before the Neo-Babylonian Empire are unavailable to current standard archaeological methods. Additionally, the Neo-Babylonians conducted significant rebuilding projects in the city, which destroyed or obscured much of the earlier record. Babylon was pillaged numerous times after revolting against foreign rule, most notably by t
Carol Lyons Meyers is a feminist biblical scholar. She is the Mary Grace Wilson Professor Emerita of Religious Studies at Duke University. Carol Meyers was born in Pennsylvania, she went to Kingston High School, Pennsylvania. A. with honors at Wellesley College in Wellesley and her M. A. and Ph. D. at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts in 1975. Meyers started to teach at Duke University in 1977, she writes and teaches in the areas of biblical studies and the study of women in the biblical world. She has been described as "one of today's leading historians and field archeologists", her 1988 book, Discovering Eve: Ancient Israelite Women in Context, was the "first comprehensive effort to present a female-centred view of the Bible using historical rather than literary criticism". Meyers has written commentaries on Exodus and Zechariah. Meyers served as president of the Society of Biblical Literature in 2013, she served as part of the revision team for the 2010 New American Bible. She is married to Duke professor Eric M. Meyers.
List of publications
Albrecht Alt, was a leading German Protestant theologian. Eldest son of a Lutheran minister, he completed high school in Ansbach and studied theology at Friedrich-Alexander-University in Erlangen and the University of Leipzig. From 1907 to 1908 he was a candidate for the office of lecturer at Munich Predigerseminar. In 1908 he was a scholarship holder of the German Protestant Institute of Archaeology of the Holy Land in Jerusalem and undertook his first Palestine journey. In the same year he became a supervisor of the theological College in Greifswald. In 1909 he wrote Israel und Aegypten as part of his doctorate at the University of Greifswald. In 1912 he became an associate professor in Greifswald, in 1914 was named by Bernhard Duhm as a professor at the University of Basel. During the First World War he served as a leader in the cartography department of the German Eastern Army. After the war he was again appointed a professor in Basel, in 1920 Provost at the Evangelical Redeemer Church in Jerusalem.
In 1921 he was appointed to the University of Halle, however, he went to Jerusalem during the winter of 1921/22 to serve as head of the German Protestant Institute for Ancient Studies of the Holy Land as well as to perform duties at the Redeemer Church. In 1923 he succeeded Rudolf Kittel at the University of Leipzig. Der Gott der Väter: Ein Beitrag zur Vorgeschichte der israelitischen Religion, Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1929. Translation of the title:'The God of the fathers. A contribution to the prehistory of Israelite religion'. Der Stadtstaat Samaria, Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1954. Translation of the title:'The city state of Samaria'. Die Herkunft der Hyksos in neuer Sicht, Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1954. Translation of the title:'A New View on the origin of the Hyksos'. Essays on Old Testament history and religion, R. A. Wilson, Oxford: Blackwell, 1966, 274 pp. "Origins of Israelite law", in: Albrecht Alt, Essays on Old Testament history and religion, R. A. Wilson, Oxford: Blackwell, 1966, pp. 101–171.
Völker und Staaten Syriens im frühen Altertum, Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1936. Translation of the title:'Peoples and states of Syria in early antiquity'. Where Jesus worked: Towns and villages of Galilee studied with the help of local history, Kenneth Grayston, London: Epworth Press, c1961. H. Bardtke: "Albrecht Alt. Life and work". Matthias Köckert: "God the Father and promises. An argument with Albrecht Alt and his inheritance". Friedrich Wilhelm Bautz. "Albrecht Alt". In Bautz, Friedrich Wilhelm. Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon. 1. Hamm: Bautz. Col. 125. ISBN 3-88309-013-1. R. Smend: "German Old Testament over three centuries". Manfred Weippert: "Albrecht Alt". Works by or about Albrecht Alt at Internet Archive
Canaan was a Semitic-speaking region in the Ancient Near East during the late 2nd millennium BC. The name Canaan appears throughout the Bible, where it corresponds to the Levant, in particular to the areas of the Southern Levant that provide the main setting of the narrative of the Bible: Phoenicia, Philistia and other nations; the word Canaanites serves as an ethnic catch-all term covering various indigenous populations—both settled and nomadic-pastoral groups—throughout the regions of the southern Levant or Canaan. It is by far the most used ethnic term in the Bible. In the Book of Joshua, Canaanites are included in a list of nations to exterminate, described as a group which the Israelites had annihilated. Biblical scholar Mark Smith notes that archaeological data suggests "that the Israelite culture overlapped with and derived from Canaanite culture... In short, Israelite culture was Canaanite in nature; the name "Canaanites" is attested, many centuries as the endonym of the people known to the Ancient Greeks from c. 500 BC as Phoenicians, following the emigration of Canaanite-speakers to Carthage, was used as a self-designation by the Punics of North Africa during Late Antiquity.
Canaan had significant geopolitical importance in the Late Bronze Age Amarna period as the area where the spheres of interest of the Egyptian, Hittite and Assyrian Empires converged. Much of modern knowledge about Canaan stems from archaeological excavation in this area at sites such as Tel Hazor, Tel Megiddo, Gezer; the English term Canaan comes via Greek Χαναάν Khanaan and Latin Canaan. It appears as in the Amarna letters, knʿn is found on coins from Phoenicia in the last half of the 1st millennium, it first occurs in Greek in the writings of Hecataeus as Khna. Scholars connect the name Canaan with knʿn, Kana'an, the general Northwest Semitic name for this region; the etymology is uncertain. An early explanation derives the term from the Semitic root knʿ "to be low, subjugated"; some scholars have suggested that this implies an original meaning of "lowlands", in contrast with Aram, which would mean "highlands", whereas others have suggested it meant "the subjugated" as the name of Egypt's province in the Levant, evolved into the proper name in a similar fashion to Provincia Nostra.
An alternative suggestion put forward by Ephraim Avigdor Speiser in 1936 derives the term from Hurrian Kinahhu, purportedly referring to the colour purple, so that Canaan and Phoenicia would be synonyms. Tablets found in the Hurrian city of Nuzi in the early 20th century appear to use the term Kinahnu as a synonym for red or purple dye, laboriously produced by the Kassite rulers of Babylon from murex shells as early as 1600 BC, on the Mediterranean coast by the Phoenicians from a byproduct of glassmaking. Purple cloth became a renowned Canaanite export commodity, mentioned in Exodus; the dyes may have been named after their place of origin. The name'Phoenicia' is connected with the Greek word for "purple" referring to the same product, but it is difficult to state with certainty whether the Greek word came from the name, or vice versa; the purple cloth of Tyre in Phoenicia was well known far and wide and was associated by the Romans with nobility and royalty. However, according to Robert Drews, Speiser's proposal has been abandoned.
Canaanite culture developed in situ from the earlier Ghassulian chalcolithic culture, which pioneered the Mediterranean agricultural system typical of the Canaanite region, which comprised intensive subsistence horticulture, extensive grain growing, commercial wine and olive cultivation and transhumance pastoralism. Ghassulian itself developed from the Circum-Arabian Nomadic Pastoral Complex, which in turn developed from a fusion of their ancestral Natufian and Harifian cultures with Pre-Pottery Neolithic B farming cultures, practicing animal domestication, during the 6200 BC climatic crisis which led to the Agricultural Revolution/Neolithic Revolution in the Levant; the Late Bronze Age state of Ugarit is considered quintessentially Canaanite archaeologically though its Ugaritic language does not belong to the Canaanite language group proper. A disputed reference to Lord of ga-na-na in the Semitic Ebla tablets from the archive of Tell Mardikh has been interpreted by some scholars to mention the deity Dagon by the title "Lord of Canaan" If correct, this would suggest that Eblaites were conscious of Canaan as an entity by 2500 BC.
Jonathan Tubb states that the term ga-na-na "may provide a third-millennium reference to Canaanite", while at the same time stating that the first certain reference is in the 18th century BC. See Ebla-Biblical controversy for further details. A letter from Mut-bisir to Shamshi-Adad I of the Old Assyrian Empire has been translated: "It is in Rahisum that the brigands and the Canaanites are situated", it was found in 1973 in the ruins of an Assyrian outpost at that time in Syria. Additional unpublished references to Kinahnum in the Mari letters refer to the same episode. Whether the term Kinahnum refers to people from a specific region or rather people of "foreign origin" has been disputed, such that Robert Drews states that the "first certain cuneiform reference" to Canaan is found on the Alalakh statue of King Idrim