By Martha Himmelfarb
In accordance with the account within the e-book of Exodus, God addresses the youngsters of Israel as they stand prior to Mt. Sinai with the phrases, "You will likely be to me a state of monks and a holy country" (19:6). The sentence, Martha Himmelfarb observes, is paradoxical, for clergymen are by means of definition a minority, but the that means in context is apparent: the whole humans is holy. The phrases additionally element 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 no longer of benefit yet of start, how can both the folks or its monks wish to be holy? How can one reconcile the gap among the dignity due the priest and the particular habit of a few who stuffed the position? What can the folks do to make itself actually a nation of priests?Himmelfarb argues that those questions develop into primary in moment Temple Judaism. She considers a number texts from this era, together with the ebook of Watchers, the booklet of Jubilees, felony records from the lifeless 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 fundamental 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 was once enough for salvation.
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Additional info for A Kingdom of Priests: Ancestry and Merit in Ancient Judaism (Jewish Culture and Contexts)
Actions are, of course, important, but they are possible only if one is rightly informed. 104 If this formulation seems to contain e c h o e s o f faith versus works, a lit tle later it emerges that Nickelsburg d o e s have Paul in mind: 1 Enoch and the Wisdom of Solomon marginalize or ignore the Mosaic Torah, appealing more to revealed wisdom than to laws as the authority and criterion for human conduct. In all of these respects, one perceives a continuity from 1 Enoch and the Wisdom of Solomon back to the prophetic tradition and a dis junction with the Mosaic tradition.
T h u s b e n Sira at tempts to undercut S o l o m o n ' s claim to wisdom, but only after c o n fronting it head-on: "How wise y o u b e c a m e in your youth! You overflowed like a river with u n d e r s t a n d i n g . . For your songs and proverbs and para bles, and for your interpretations, the countries marveled at y o u " (Sir 47: 14, 1 7 ) . T h e river simile recalls the description o f W i s d o m / T o r a h (Sir 24:25-27); the works S o l o m o n wrote recall the subjects o f the scribe's re search (Sir 39:2-3).
T h e language o f the p o e m reflects the conventions o f w i s d o m literature, and part o f the p o e m was preserved in the Psalms Scroll f r o m Q u m r a n ( l l Q P s = 1 1 Q 5 , c o l . 2 1 ) . Further, there is little evidence that institutionalized schools existed in Jerusalem in b e n Sira's day. Still, even if h e did n o t run a school, b e n Sira may well have taught the w i s d o m h e wrote d o w n for his b o o k to a circle o f students in a m o r e informal setting. S o m e scholars have sug gested o n the basis o f his sympathies that b e n Sira was n o t only a scribe but also a priest.