Babylon

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John2
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Re: Babylon

Post by John2 » Fri Apr 27, 2018 5:38 pm

Notes from Ezra.

7:1-10:
After these things, during the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra son of Seraiah, the son of Azariah, the son of Hilkiah, the son of Shallum, the son of Zadok, the son of Ahitub, the son of Amariah, the son of Azariah, the son of Meraioth, the son of Zerahiah, the son of Uzzi, the son of Bukki, the son of Abishua, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the chief priest— this Ezra came up from Babylon. He was a teacher well versed in the Law of Moses, which the Lord, the God of Israel, had given. The king had granted him everything he asked, for the hand of the Lord his God was on him. Some of the Israelites, including priests, Levites, musicians, gatekeepers and temple servants, also came up to Jerusalem in the seventh year of King Artaxerxes.

Ezra arrived in Jerusalem in the fifth month of the seventh year of the king. He had begun his journey from Babylon on the first day of the first month, and he arrived in Jerusalem on the first day of the fifth month, for the gracious hand of his God was on him. For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.
7:21-28:
... Ezra the priest, the teacher of the Law of the God of heaven ... you, Ezra, in accordance with the wisdom of your God, which you possess, appoint magistrates and judges to administer justice to all the people of Trans-Euphrates—all who know the laws of your God. And you are to teach any who do not know them ... Praise be to the Lord, the God of our ancestors, who has put it into the king’s heart to bring honor to the house of the Lord in Jerusalem in this way and who has extended his good favor to me before the king and his advisers and all the king’s powerful officials. Because the hand of the Lord my God was on me, I took courage and gathered leaders from Israel to go up with me.
8:15-23:
I assembled them at the canal that flows toward Ahava, and we camped there three days. When I checked among the people and the priests, I found no Levites there. So I summoned Eliezer, Ariel, Shemaiah, Elnathan, Jarib, Elnathan, Nathan, Zechariah and Meshullam, who were leaders, and Joiarib and Elnathan, who were men of learning, and I ordered them to go to Iddo, the leader in Kasiphia. I told them what to say to Iddo and his fellow Levites, the temple servants in Kasiphia, so that they might bring attendants to us for the house of our God. Because the gracious hand of our God was on us, they brought us Sherebiah, a capable man, from the descendants of Mahli son of Levi, the son of Israel, and Sherebiah’s sons and brothers, 18 in all; and Hashabiah, together with Jeshaiah from the descendants of Merari, and his brothers and nephews, 20 in all. They also brought 220 of the temple servants—a body that David and the officials had established to assist the Levites. All were registered by name.

There, by the Ahava Canal, I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey for us and our children, with all our possessions. I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, “The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him.” So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.
9:1-4:
After these things had been done, the leaders came to me and said, “The people of Israel, including the priests and the Levites, have not kept themselves separate from the neighboring peoples with their detestable practices, like those of the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians and Amorites. They have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, and have mingled the holy race with the peoples around them. And the leaders and officials have led the way in this unfaithfulness.”

When I heard this, I tore my tunic and cloak, pulled hair from my head and beard and sat down appalled. Then everyone who trembled at the words of the God of Israel gathered around me because of this unfaithfulness of the exiles. And I sat there appalled until the evening sacrifice.
No one seems to know exactly where the Ahava Canal was though, but a comment on the biblehub says:
In Ezra 8:15 the river is designated אל־אהוא הבּא, i.e., either which comes (flows) towards Ahava, or flows into Ahava; in Ezra 8:21 it is more briefly called אהוא נהר, and in Ezra 8:31 אהוא נהר, which may mean the river of Ahava, of the region or district called Ahava, or, after the analogy of פּרת נהר, merely the river of the name of Ahava. It is doubtful which of these meanings is correct, the name Ahava being still unexplained. Comp. the various conjectures in A. G. F. Schirmer, observationes exeg. crit. in libr. Esdrae, Vratisl. 1820, p. 28ff. The connection points to a place or district in the neighbourhood of Babylon; hence Bertheau is inclined to regard Ahava as a tributary or canal of the Euphrates, flowing through a place, perhaps only a field or open space, of the same name, in the immediate neighbourhood of Babylon; while Ewald supposes it may be the river somewhat to the west or south of Euphrates, called by the Greeks Pallacopas, whose situation would suit the context, and whose name might arise from אהוא פלג, the river Ahwa or Aba. The lxx gives the name Εὐί; in 1 Esdr. 8:40 and 61 we find Θερά, evidently a false reading. Josephus says quite generally, εἰς τὸ πέραν τοῦ Εύφράτου.

http://biblehub.com/commentaries/ezra/8-21.htm
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John2
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Re: Babylon

Post by John2 » Fri Apr 27, 2018 7:15 pm

1 Esdras has a curious ending, which leads some to suggest that the text is broken off. Fried (in a link above) writes:
One must ask then, if the covenant renewal ceremony is the climax of Ezra-Nehemiah, as claimed ... why is it omitted from 1 Esdras? One answer offered is that we may not have 1 Esdras's actual ending ... Van der Kooij [however] has shown that the ending of 1 Esdras is the original ending. He translates the final phrase not as the New Revised Standard Version does ("because they were inspired by the words which they had been taught. And they came together") but differently: "... they were inspired by the words which they had been taught and because they had been brought together" ... This is one intelligible sentence, with the conjunction καὶ, "and," meaning "both ... and."


1 Esdras 9:55 (RSV):
... because they were inspired by the words which they had been taught. And they came together.
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John2
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Re: Babylon

Post by John2 » Wed May 02, 2018 2:20 pm

Notes from Nehemiah:

1:1-3:
In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa, Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that had survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem.

They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.”
1:11:
I was cupbearer to the king.
2:7-10:
I also said to him, “If it pleases the king, may I have letters to the governors of Trans-Euphrates, so that they will provide me safe-conduct until I arrive in Judah? And may I have a letter to Asaph, keeper of the royal park, so he will give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel by the temple and for the city wall and for the residence I will occupy?” And because the gracious hand of my God was on me, the king granted my requests. So I went to the governors of Trans-Euphrates and gave them the king’s letters. The king had also sent army officers and cavalry with me.

When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard about this, they were very much disturbed that someone had come to promote the welfare of the Israelites.
2:19-20:
But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official and Geshem the Arab heard about it, they mocked and ridiculed us. “What is this you are doing?” they asked. “Are you rebelling against the king?”

I answered them by saying, “The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding, but as for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it.”
4:1-3:
When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews, and in the presence of his associates and the army of Samaria, he said, “What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble—burned as they are?”

Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, “What they are building—even a fox climbing up on it would break down their wall of stones!”
4:7-9:
But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the people of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem’s walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry. They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it. But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.
5:14-16:
... from the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, until his thirty-second year—twelve years—neither I nor my brothers ate the food allotted to the governor. But the earlier governors—those preceding me—placed a heavy burden on the people and took forty shekels of silver from them in addition to food and wine. Their assistants also lorded it over the people. But out of reverence for God I did not act like that. Instead, I devoted myself to the work on this wall. All my men were assembled there for the work; web did not acquire any land.
6:1-9:
When word came to Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab and the rest of our enemies that I had rebuilt the wall and not a gap was left in it—though up to that time I had not set the doors in the gates— Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message: “Come, let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono.”

But they were scheming to harm me; so I sent messengers to them with this reply: “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?” Four times they sent me the same message, and each time I gave them the same answer.

Then, the fifth time, Sanballat sent his aide to me with the same message ... I sent him this reply: “Nothing like what you are saying is happening; you are just making it up out of your head.”

They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.”
7:2:
I put in charge of Jerusalem my brother Hanani ...
7:4:
Now the city was large and spacious, but there were few people in it, and the houses had not yet been rebuilt.
8:2-4:
So on the first day of the seventh month Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, which was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand. He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law. Ezra the teacher of the Law stood on a high wooden platform built for the occasion.
8:7-8:
The Levites—Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan and Pelaiah—instructed the people in the Law while the people were standing there. They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people understood what was being read.
8:12-17:
Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them.

On the second day of the month, the heads of all the families, along with the priests and the Levites, gathered around Ezra the teacher to give attention to the words of the Law. They found written in the Law, which the Lord had commanded through Moses, that the Israelites were to live in temporary shelters during the festival of the seventh month and that they should proclaim this word and spread it throughout their towns and in Jerusalem: “Go out into the hill country and bring back branches from olive and wild olive trees, and from myrtles, palms and shade trees, to make temporary shelters”—as it is written.

So the people went out and brought back branches and built themselves temporary shelters on their own roofs, in their courtyards, in the courts of the house of God and in the square by the Water Gate and the one by the Gate of Ephraim. The whole company that had returned from exile built temporary shelters and lived in them. From the days of Joshua son of Nun until that day, the Israelites had not celebrated it like this.
9:36-37:
But see, we are slaves today, slaves in the land you gave our ancestors so they could eat its fruit and the other good things it produces. Because of our sins, its abundant harvest goes to the kings you have placed over us. They rule over our bodies and our cattle as they please. We are in great distress.
11:1-2:
Now the leaders of the people settled in Jerusalem. The rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of every ten of them to live in Jerusalem, the holy city, while the remaining nine were to stay in their own towns. The people commended all who volunteered to live in Jerusalem.
13:1-3:
On that day the Book of Moses was read aloud in the hearing of the people and there it was found written that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever be admitted into the assembly of God, because they had not met the Israelites with food and water but had hired Balaam to call a curse down on them. (Our God, however, turned the curse into a blessing.) When the people heard this law, they excluded from Israel all who were of foreign descent.
13:6-7:
But while all this was going on, I was not in Jerusalem, for in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon I had returned to the king. Some time later I asked his permission and came back to Jerusalem.
13:15:
In those days I saw people in Judah treading winepresses on the Sabbath and bringing in grain and loading it on donkeys, together with wine, grapes, figs and all other kinds of loads. And they were bringing all this into Jerusalem on the Sabbath. Therefore I warned them against selling food on that day.
13:23-27:
Moreover, in those days I saw men of Judah who had married women from Ashdod, Ammon and Moab. Half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod or the language of one of the other peoples, and did not know how to speak the language of Judah. I rebuked them and called curses down on them. I beat some of the men and pulled out their hair. I made them take an oath in God’s name and said: “You are not to give your daughters in marriage to their sons, nor are you to take their daughters in marriage for your sons or for yourselves.
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John2
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Re: Babylon

Post by John2 » Wed May 02, 2018 2:43 pm

One of the most interesting things I've come across lately is the suggestion that Nehemiah's brother Hanani is mentioned in the Elephantine Papyri, as noted here, for example:
"Hanani" is the shortened form of "Hananiah" ... The Elephantine papyri mention a Hananiah who was the head of Jewish affairs in Jerusalem. Some scholars believe that this Hananiah can be identified with Nehemiah's brother and assume that he succeeded Nehemiah ... But this is such a common name, with seven of eight individuals bearing this name in Ezra-Nehemiah and two more at Elephantine, that such an identification is uncertain.

https://books.google.com/books?id=XsESD ... ah&f=false
Also, from the Elephantine Papyri Wikipedia page:
The "Petition to Bagoas" (Sayce-Cowley collection) is a letter written in 407 BCE to Bagoas, the Persian governor of Judea, appealing for assistance in rebuilding the Jewish temple in Elephantine, which had recently been badly damaged by an antisemitic rampage on the part of a segment of the Elephantine community.

In the course of this appeal, the Jewish inhabitants of Elephantine speak of the antiquity of the damaged temple:
'Now our forefathers built this temple in the fortress of Elephantine back in the days of the kingdom of Egypt, and when Cambyses came to Egypt he found it built. They (the Persians) knocked down all the temples of the gods of Egypt, but no one did any damage to this temple."

The community also appealed for aid to Sanballat I, a Samaritan potentate, and his sons Delaiah and Shelemiah, as well as Johanan ben Eliashib. Both Sanballat and Johanan are mentioned in the Book of Nehemiah, 2:19, 12:23.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elephantine_papyri
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John2
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Re: Babylon

Post by John2 » Wed May 02, 2018 3:22 pm

As someone who subscribes to the Documentary Hypothesis and assumes that Ezra redacted the Torah, I find it interesting that Jews who had remained in Judah during the exile are presented as not knowing the Torah. "I saw people in Judah treading winepresses on the Sabbath"; "The people of Israel, including the priests and the Levites, have not kept themselves separate from the neighboring peoples"; "When the people heard this law, they excluded from Israel all who were of foreign descent"; "From the days of Joshua son of Nun until that day, the Israelites had not celebrated [Sukkot] like this"; "They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people understood what was being read"; "they now understood the words that had been made known to them."

In my view, Deuteronomy is the book mentioned in 2 Kings 22:8 ("Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, 'I have found the Book of the Law in the temple of the Lord' "). The expression "Book of the Law" is only used in the Deuteronomistic writings (and Chronicles following them) and Ezra-Nehemiah, and the law against intermarriage cited in Ezra-Nehemiah resembles Deuteronomy:

Neh. 13:1:
On that day they read aloud from the book of Moses in the hearing of the people; and there was found written in it that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever enter the assembly of God,
Dt. 23:3:
No Ammonite or Moabite or any of their descendants may enter the assembly of the Lord, not even in the tenth generation.
Ez. 9:1-2:
The people of Israel, including the priests and the Levites, have not kept themselves separate from the neighboring peoples with their detestable practices, like those of the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians and Amorites. They have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, and have mingled the holy race with the peoples around them. And the leaders and officials have led the way in this unfaithfulness.
Dt. 7:1-3:
When the Lord your God brings you into the land where you are entering to possess it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and stronger than you ... you shall not intermarry with them; you shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor shall you take their daughters for your sons ...
I'm persuaded by Friedman that Jeremiah (and/or his scribe Baruch) wrote the Deuteronomistic writings (Deuteronomy to 2 Kings, perhaps based on an actual book of laws that was found in the Temple, as per 2 Kings, which Friedman suggests originated from the Northern Kingdom of Israel), so perhaps Deuteronomy wasn't (as well) known to Jews until (presumably) Ezra combined it with the rest of the Torah. But I'm thinking other books of the Torah must have been known to them, otherwise why would they have had any regard for Judah and Jerusalem and being priests? Where else would they have gotten the regard for these things? But Ezra-Nehemiah (and the rabbinic writings cited above) present the situation as the Torah being forgotten between the exile and Ezra, and that seems unlikely to me.
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Ben C. Smith
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Re: Babylon

Post by Ben C. Smith » Wed May 02, 2018 3:41 pm

John2 wrote:
Wed May 02, 2018 3:22 pm
I'm persuaded by Friedman that Jeremiah (and/or his scribe Baruch) wrote the Deuteronomistic writings (Deuteronomy to 2 Kings, perhaps based on an actual book of laws that was found in the Temple, as per 2 Kings, which Friedman suggests originated from the Northern Kingdom of Israel), so perhaps Deuteronomy wasn't (as well) known to Jews until (presumably) Ezra combined it with the rest of the Torah.
How do the Mosaic Torah and the Deuteronomic History line up, in your view, with the Elephantine papyri (which you mentioned above)? An Aramaic letter (B19 in Bezalel Porten's edition) from the Jewry in Elephantine to the governor of Judea appeals for assistance in rebuilding their ransacked temple, promising burnt offerings and meal offerings on the Judeans' behalf as thanks. How can the Elephantine Jews have been under such a delusion as to actually think that Judean Jews would both sanction and aid efforts to rebuild a functioning temple to Yahweh besides the Jerusalem temple, if the Mosaic Torah and Deuteronomic History were in force (read Joshua 22 about altars apart from the one "genuine" altar)?
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Re: Babylon

Post by John2 » Wed May 02, 2018 4:28 pm

How do the Mosaic Torah and the Deuteronomic History line up, in your view, with the Elephantine papyri (which you mentioned above)? An Aramaic letter (B19 in Bezalel Porten's edition) from the Jewry in Elephantine to the governor of Judea appeals for assistance in rebuilding their ransacked temple, promising burnt offerings and meal offerings on the Judeans' behalf as thanks. How can the Elephantine Jews have been under such a delusion as to actually think that Judean Jews would both sanction and aid efforts to rebuild a functioning temple to Yahweh besides the Jerusalem temple, if the Mosaic Torah and Deuteronomic History were in force (read Joshua 22 about altars apart from the one "genuine" altar)?
Interesting questions. I suppose it could depend on when the Aramaic letter was sent. The significance of the Elephantine Papyri has only recently come to my attention and I'm not aware of the dating of that letter the moment; perhaps it was written prior to the combination of Deuteronomy with the rest of the Torah.

The OT itself indicates that there were multiple altars attended by priests (in Israel) prior to the discovery of Deuteronomy, so perhaps this was the state of affairs for Jews until Deuteronomy became (more) established in Ezra's time.

But Jews after the time of Ezra were more or less okay with the Temple of Onias in Leontopolis (which the Romans destroyed in 73 CE), so even if Deuteronomy was in force during the time that Elephantine letter was written, perhaps Jews were willing to accept the Elephantine temple like later Jews accepted (however begrudgingly) Onias' temple.
Last edited by John2 on Wed May 02, 2018 4:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Babylon

Post by Ben C. Smith » Wed May 02, 2018 4:48 pm

John2 wrote:
Wed May 02, 2018 4:28 pm
How do the Mosaic Torah and the Deuteronomic History line up, in your view, with the Elephantine papyri (which you mentioned above)? An Aramaic letter (B19 in Bezalel Porten's edition) from the Jewry in Elephantine to the governor of Judea appeals for assistance in rebuilding their ransacked temple, promising burnt offerings and meal offerings on the Judeans' behalf as thanks. How can the Elephantine Jews have been under such a delusion as to actually think that Judean Jews would both sanction and aid efforts to rebuild a functioning temple to Yahweh besides the Jerusalem temple, if the Mosaic Torah and Deuteronomic History were in force (read Joshua 22 about altars apart from the one "genuine" altar)?
Interesting questions. I suppose it could depend on when the Aramaic letter was sent.
November 25, 407 BC.
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Re: Babylon

Post by John2 » Wed May 02, 2018 4:55 pm

I've seen datings for Ezra as late as 398 BCE (https://books.google.com/books?id=F78pD ... ng&f=false), so perhaps Deuteronomy was not in force in 407 BCE. But in any event, the situation seems similar to the acceptance of the later Temple of Onias.
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Re: Babylon

Post by Ben C. Smith » Wed May 02, 2018 5:03 pm

John2 wrote:
Wed May 02, 2018 4:55 pm
I've seen datings for Ezra as late as 398 BCE (https://books.google.com/books?id=F78pD ... ng&f=false), so perhaps Deuteronomy was not in force in 407 BCE. But in any event, the situation seems similar to the acceptance of the later Temple of Onias.
Can you give some examples of this acceptance? The Mishnah (Menahot 13.10) prohibits any priest from Leontopolis to serve in the temple in Jerusalem and rejects the validity of any sacrifice or Nazirite vow made in Leontopolis; it grants that a vow to sacrifice specifically in that temple is fulfilled by a sacrifice there, but denies the validity of the result. Josephus contends that Onias built the Leontopolis temple precisely to compete with the Jerusalem temple for adherents.
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