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The hrgrzym Fragment Published by James Charlesworth ()
Prof. Alexander Rofé, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

The fragment published by Charlesworth (http://www.upsite.co.il/uploaded/files/658_ef 82e03f461ae30b7f76073dc824342e.pdf) contains the text of Deut 27:4-6 according to the SP (=Samaritan Pentateuch). Actually, the fragment might equally represent the end of the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20 or in Deuteronomy 5 according to the SP. Together with the Vetus Latina and a papyrus scroll from Masada, the present fragment attests to the wide dissemination of pentateuchal texts or excerpts that contain ‘Samaritan’ readings.

Nevertheless I do not believe that hrgrzym is the primary reading in Deut 27:4. In the first place, let us consider the topographical situation in that area. In or by Shechem there was a sanctuary (Joshua 24:1, 25-26). The city has been identified with Tel Balata which is located on the lowest slopes of Mt. Ebal. This topography was all the more evident three thousand years ago, before so much erosion filled the valley between Mt. Gerizim and Mt. Ebal. Contrariwise, there is no hint in the biblical narratives that there existed a sacred site on Mt. Gerizim. Even the address of Jotam to the people of Shechem (Judges 9) was not pronounced "in the presence of the Lord".

Much has been made of the fact that Ebal is the 'mountain of the curse' and therefore could not have contained the altar mandated by Moses. However, the rite prescribed in Deut 11:26-29 + 27:12-13 could only be executed down in the valley, in the narrowest place between the two hills. The parallel blessings and curses are those mentioned in Deut 28:3-6, 16-19. On the lowest edge of Ebal stood the representatives of the six tribes who recited the six 'arur. The mountain itself was not cursed.

Finally let us consider the issue of tendentiousness. The SP asserts the sanctity of Mt. Gerizim with a whole series of textual corrections and literary additions in Exodus and in Deuteronomy. The MT is much more moderate in this aspect. Who then is a more reliable witness? But one such correction in the MT is in evidence. Deut 27:4, 8 is duplicated by 27:2-3. The latter verses have the clear purpose of obliterating Mt. Ebal (in or by Shechem) as the site of the stelae. And yet the anti-Shechem doublet is extant in the SP! This stands to prove that the theological corrections against the sanctity of Shechem were relatively ancient. The Samaritans bought them wholesale. Their affirmations of the sanctity of Mt. Gerizim were introduced in their manuscripts of the Torah after they had adopted the Jewish Torah to their own use. 

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A New Fragment of the Aramaic Levi Document from the Genizah
Prof. Gideon Bohak, Tel Aviv University

The text currently known as Aramaic Levi or as the Aramaic Levi Document was first discovered in the Cambridge Genizah collection at the very end of the nineteenth century. The publication of the Cambridge fragment was soon followed by the identification of a second fragment, from the Bodleian Genizah collection, of the same work and of the very same manuscript. This was followed by the discovery, half a century later, that among the many fragments of nonbiblical texts found at Qumran, seven fragmentary copies of the same Levi text can be identified, thus proving beyond any doubt its great antiquity and its Jewish origins. In my talk, I presented a new Genizah  fragment, from Manchester, clearly deriving from the same manuscript as the Bodleian and Cambridge fragments and even from the same bifolium as the Cambridge one. This new fragment, which I identified during my search for magical texts from the Cairo Genizah, is quite small, measuring 12.8 cm by 11.4 cm, and quite fragmentary. It covers an important scene of Aramaic Levi, namely, its version of the story of the destruction of Shechem by Simeon and Levi following the rape of their sister Dinah, and thus adds to our knowledge of this ancient Jewish text. The new fragment will soon be published in Tarbiz.

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The Demonic Source of Sin: The Book of Jubilees, the Damascus Document and Qumran Prayer
Miryam T. Brand, New York University

This paper focuses on the depiction of the Watchers and their descendants, with particular emphasis on their power to cause sin, in Qumran and Second Temple texts. The book of Jubilees describes the integration of these spirits into a divine system and the limitation of their power against the righteous. The Damascus Document, while similarly reflecting a desire to downplay the threat of the Watchers’ descendants to community members, achieves this by ignoring the tradition that the Watchers’ descendants are a cause of sin. Finally, Qumran prayer reflects the rejection of both these approaches. Qumran prayer, both sectarian and non-sectarian, portrays the Watchers’ descendants as an ongoing and anarchic threat even to the righteous petitioner.

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“Women who Wrestle with God (and Men)”
Deborah Gera

We find in the Bible a series of men who wrestle with God and His representatives both physically (Jacob) and metaphorically (Abraham, Moses, Elijah, and Job), but there are also a few biblical women who grapple with God, so to speak, conversing with Him or His messengers and negotiating with Him. Miriam and Sarah are cowed when confronted by God, but Hagar stands her ground in her encounter with an angel in the wilderness. Hannah wrests a son from God by means of her prayers and promises, while Manoah's wife is, unlike her husband, wise enough to interpret properly two visitations by an angel announcing the birth of a son. Rebecca turns to God when in great distress and receives a reply. While none of these women engages in a lengthy dialogue and dispute with God, they nonetheless receive some response to the hopes, prayers, and despair which they express directly to God, and they are generally transformed by this response.

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The Priests and the People: The Hidden Polemic between the Temple Scroll and Rabbinic Literature

Shlomit Harel-Kendi

The columns in the Temple Scroll concerning the Temple service differ from similar material in rabbinic literature in many details. In this discussion we examined the sacrifice of the sin offerings for the Day of Atonement: a bull—the sin offering for the High Priest; and a he-goat—the sin offering for the people. It appears from the Scroll that these two sacrifices were executed separately, and that their total separation is a major issue. The reason for that, as suggested, is ideological; the Temple Scroll’s accountaims at the clear separation between the priestly offerings and the offerings of the people. This same dynamic appears in additional texts in which the priestly law is embedded; such compilations perpetuate the priests’ status as select and elect. It seems that the corresponding rabbinic halakhah stems from an opposing ideology, which seeks to reduce the gap between the priests’ status and that of the people.

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