The Museum of the Bible Is Winning Over Its Biggest Critics

Speaking at a 2017 academic conference, a scholar of ancient Judaism condemned fellow professors of Jewish studies who had worked as consultants for the Washington, DC Museum of the Bible as “court Jews” who had “taken their 30 pieces of silver from the Green family”—referring to the owners of Hobby Lobby who have funded the museum. Even setting such rhetoric aside, the museum has made real mistakes: acquiring fake Dead Sea Scroll fragments, illegally imported Iraqi artifacts, and thousands of items it has since deemed “improperly provenanced.”

Yet, Menachem Wecker writes, Jewish scholars are at last coming to appreciate the museum, which has gone to great lengths to call on their expertise, as well as to improve its acquisitions process. And its possession of such treasures as a medieval manuscript of the Five Books of Moses, dubbed the Washington Pentateuch, helps:

Weighing between twenty and 30 pounds and consisting of 247 folios (or about 500 single-sided pages), [the Pentateuch] is a kind of collage, about 90 percent of which one scribe penned around the year 1000. Another scribe, Joseph ben Jacob, wrote 21 folios—in Deuteronomy, Genesis, and Numbers—in 1141, and it’s unclear when these replaced original ones. A different medieval hand wrote seven other folios at an unknown time.

The Pentateuch may initially seem unremarkable to Hebrew readers, to whom it may look like any Hebrew Bible they would buy at a bookstore. Marginal notes flank biblical passages, which form the center of the page and have trop (cantillation marks) and [diacritics that mark] vowels. But those two additions that biblical readers so take for granted today were innovations of 6th- to 10th-century Babylonian and Palestinian Jewish scribes, known as Masoretes.

I put more than a decade of biblical-Hebrew and rabbinic-Aramaic training to use by closely examining the spread, spanning Exodus 14:28 to 15:21, to which the Pentateuch was open in the exhibit. . . . Masoretic notations, here arranged in triangular configurations, respond . . . to an unusual word in Exodus 15:2. Working through faded ink and confusing penmanship, I realized the scribe detailed other biblical iterations of the rare word’s root: Isaiah 33:10, Daniel 4:34, Nehemiah 9:5, Isaiah 33:3, Ezekiel 10:17, and Psalm 118:28.

Read more at Washington Post

More about: Hebrew Bible, Jewish studies, Masoretes, Museum of the Bible

Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security