We did some analysis of the names of characters–so, what’s the importance of names in the Hebrew Bible?

That’s a huge question, and it probably varies. Most Hebrew names have meaning (look up the names on Abarim PublicationLinks to an external site.s), and some stories–like Ruth–seem to  have been constructed as allegories in which many if not all of the names are central to understanding the story. Obviously Ruth is one example, in which […]

When all of the others gods from the Canaanites/Israelites got taken out, if they’re mentioned in the bible a lot where did they go? Did people just believe they had it wrong the whole time? Are there still some branches of Judaism that practice polytheism?

Great question. I will start by saying I don’t believe any branches of Judaism still practice polytheism, though some believe the Christians do (the Christian trinity confuses a lot of people, including me!). We start seeing mentions of the Canaanite gods mainly in references to eradicating them or criticizing people who are still worshipping them, […]

Why is it so hard to translate Hebrew into English?

A lot of factors go into this problem. I’ll cover just a few. While English has a huuuuuuge vocabulary, ancient Hebrew had a very small vocabulary. For example, I talk elsewhere about the word ‘aman (pronounced “Chaman” or just Haman). It means wet nurse, or foster parent, or protector, or caretaker, or faithful servant, or […]

Why did biblical people so fluidly change their names? With Amminadab meaning “my kinsman [are] noble”, did he change to that name later on or was his family cocky when he was born?

Why do individuals change their names so often in the bible? One reason might be literary convenience. I have always read Ruth as a fictional allegory, kind of like the text Everyman, which has characters who stand for things–Good deeds, Fellowship, Death, etc.–because the characters aren’t the point, just concepts in the moral message of […]

What is meant by Aliyah and Golah?

These terms refer to the communities that were exiled (Golah) and then returned from exile (Aliyah). Aliyah is not a period but the act of returning to Israel from exile so, technically, any time you did that it could be called Aliyah. As used by Ezra/Nehemiah, Aliyah meant only the second-temple community tasked with turning […]