By Martha Himmelfarb
According to the account within the booklet of Exodus, God addresses the youngsters of Israel as they stand sooner than Mt. Sinai with the phrases, "You will likely be to me a state of monks and a holy kingdom" (19:6). The sentence, Martha Himmelfarb observes, is paradoxical, for monks are by way of definition a minority, but the which means in context is obvious: the full humans is holy. The phrases additionally aspect to a couple major tensions within the biblical realizing of the folks of Israel. If the full humans is holy, why does it want monks? If club in either humans and priesthood is an issue now not of advantage yet of delivery, how can both the folk or its monks desire to be holy? How can one reconcile the gap among the consideration due the priest and the particular habit of a few who crammed the position? What can the folk do to make itself actually a country of priests?
Himmelfarb argues that those questions turn into imperative in moment Temple Judaism. She considers various texts from this era, together with the Book of Watchers, the Book of Jubilees, felony files from the lifeless Sea Scrolls, the writings of Philo of Alexandria, and the publication 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 that mere descent from Abraham was once enough for salvation.
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A Kingdom of Priests: Ancestry and Merit in Ancient Judaism (Jewish Culture and Contexts) by Martha Himmelfarb