Why didn’t the Elephantine community know how to perform Passover? What happened to them that that piece of knowledge was lost? When did they lose it, or did they ever have it?

Your question is a great one, and the answer hinges on several factors we aren’t sure of. When did the Elephantine community arrive in Egypt, who were they, and where did they come from? I’vre read a host of conflicting arguments that I don’t completely understand, but one theory is that these were Jews who […]

Toggle Title

As you explained in your post, Ezra suggested that only those Jews who went into exile, lived in the exile community in Babylon, and then returned could consider themselves true Judahites. I don’t know how people were supposed to prove they had been part of the exile community of Jews, as Ezra required. It’s not as […]

Why did the Jews blame themselves for the Babylonian crisis? Is it possible that they thought they did something wrong and broke their laws when in actuality no such thing happened?

I love your question. I would definitely argue that Deuteronomy comes along and is read into history retroactively. Many scholars believe the historical texts from Joshua through kings were edited by Deuteronomists (that is, people who believe all bad things come from disobeying the rules in Deuteronomy, especially worship of foreign gods and marrying foreign […]

AAccording to the levirate law Ruth’s son was supposed to be named Mahlon but instead he was named Obed. Can you explain more about the law of levirate marriage so I understand?

Here’s a link to the Q&A blog that discusses the word “goel” and Levirate marriage: https://biblefaq390.com/#hfaq-post-522 After you read that, continue here, where I will attempt to answer the rest of the question. According to the principal of levirate marriage, the goel or redeemer marries the widow of the head of the family if that family […]

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 […]

Many texts had contradicting ideas on how the Jewish people should live among foreigners. Of the different views of how the Jewish people should live among others, was there one that was more popular, and what makes it so?

After the exile, I think the dominant view was probably that Jews should live separately even when living in foreign lands and under foreign rules. Ezra and Nehemiah emphasize the separation through avoiding foreign marriage (so with marriages contracted in Babylon, one presumes the wife would have to show she was descended from Judahites), 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, […]

How did supercessionalism come to be?

This is a great question, and I’m not sure I know the answer. I know that as early as the gospels, the authors (especially the author of the gospepl of Matthew) made a concerted effort to echo the prophecies in the Hebrew Bible to demonstrate that Jesus really was the Jewish messiah.  Here’s one example […]

How do the historical contexts of the Deuteronomy writings reflect the challenges faced by the Hebrew people during the Babylonian invasion?

To clarify, the major prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel were prophecying during the initial Babylonian conflict, which begans in the 600s BCE. Jeremiah seems to have been predicting the destruction of Judeah by Babylon or in some places explaining why it is happening, while Ezekiel was prophesying in Babylon, dictating to a scribe named Baruch. Isaiah […]

What other stories from the bible have been influenced by Christian ideas? What stories have Christians reinterpreted?

Technically, no stories in the Hebrew bible were written influenced by Christians, since Christians came into being hundreds of years after the Hebrew Bible (aka Old Testament) were written. However, most bibles that Christians have access to were translated by Christians, so Christians have unwittingly inserted Christian ideas into them. For example, Christians tend to […]