The opening verse of the book of Esther states that the Persian king Ahasuerus ruled over an empire of 127 provinces. The number 127 occurs in only one other place in the Hebrew Bible: it is the age at which Sarah dies. To Alastair Roberts, this small detail invites readers to see various similarities between the matriarch and the book’s titular heroine. Likewise, the story of David has numerous parallels to that of Jacob, a comparison that, Roberts argues, can illuminate the story’s complex political message. Although Roberts is a Protestant theologian and scholar, his method of reading the Bible by examining similarities among its passages has much in common with the approaches of ancient, medieval, and modern rabbis. In conversation with Rabbi Ari Lamm, he investigates some of these readings. (Audio, 78 minutes.)
Discovering the Bible’s Interconnected Narratives
Hamas Wants a Renewed Ceasefire, but Doesn’t Understand Israel’s Changed Attitude
Yohanan Tzoreff, writing yesterday, believes that Hamas still wishes to return to the truce that it ended Friday morning with renewed rocket attacks on Israel, but hopes it can do so on better terms—raising the price, so to speak, of each hostage released. Examining recent statements from the terrorist group’s leaders, he tries to make sense of what it is thinking:
These [Hamas] senior officials do not reflect any awareness of the changed attitude in Israel toward Hamas following the October 7 massacre carried out by the organization in the western Negev communities. They continue to estimate that as before, Israel will be willing to pay high prices for its people and that time is working in their favor. In their opinion, Israel’s interest in the release of its people, the pressure of the hostages’ families, and the public’s broad support for these families will ultimately be decisive in favor of a deal that will meet the new conditions set by Hamas.
In other words, the culture of summud (steadfastness), still guides Hamas. Its [rhetoric] does not show at all that it has internalized or recognized the change in the attitude of the Israeli public toward it—which makes it clear that Israel still has a lot of work to do.