A Kingdom of Priests: Ancestry and Merit in Ancient Judaism by Martha Himmelfarb

By Martha Himmelfarb

According to the account within the publication of Exodus, God addresses the kids of Israel as they stand ahead of Mt. Sinai with the phrases, "You might be to me a state of monks and a holy kingdom" (19:6). The sentence, Martha Himmelfarb observes, is paradoxical, for clergymen are via definition a minority, but the that means in context is obvious: the total humans is holy. The phrases additionally aspect to a couple major tensions within the biblical knowing of the folks of Israel. If the complete humans is holy, why does it want monks? If club in either humans and priesthood is an issue no longer of benefit yet of start, how can both the folk or its clergymen wish to be holy? How can one reconcile the space among the distinction due the priest and the particular habit of a few who crammed the position? What can the folks do to make itself actually a country of priests?

Himmelfarb argues that those questions develop into primary in moment Temple Judaism. She considers a variety of texts from this era, together with the Book of Watchers, the Book of Jubilees, criminal records from the useless Sea Scrolls, the writings of Philo of Alexandria, and the ebook of Revelation of the recent testomony, and is going directly to discover rabbinic Judaism's emphasis on descent because the basic criterion for inclusion one of the selected humans of Israel—a place, she contends, that took on new strength in response to early Christian disparagement of the concept mere descent from Abraham used to be enough for salvation.

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