Cover: Traditions of the Bible: A Guide to the Bible As It Was at the Start of the Common Era, from Harvard University PressCover: Traditions of the Bible in HARDCOVER

Traditions of the Bible

A Guide to the Bible As It Was at the Start of the Common Era

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$142.50 • £114.95 • €128.50

ISBN 9780674791510

Publication Date: 01/03/1999


1080 pages

6-1/2 x 10 inches

30 halftones


  • Preface
  • The World of Ancient Biblical Interpreters
  • The Creation of the World
    • Wisdom Came First * The “Beginning” Did It * A Special Light * The Angels Were Also Created * God and Someone Else * Completed on Friday
    • Other Readings: Created Long Before * The Heavenly Throne Preceded * Eden and Gehenna Created * The Preexistent Temple * Named Before the Sun * Two Thousand Years Before * Creation out of Nothingness God and Wisdom Were Parents * Plato and Scripture Agree * The Logos Participated * The Wicked Demiurge Built by the Book * A Day of God’s * Created in a Single Act * Special Light of Creation * The Angels Were Also Created * Windy and Fiery Angels * Tireless Angels * Shrink the Moon * The Sun Stands Alone * God and Someone Else * In the Image of God? * Immense Primordial Adam * Androgynous Humanity * One Male with One Female * Adam and His Rib * You Must Be Fruitful * The World for Israel * Completed on Friday * The First Sabbath (But Not the Last) * God’s Firstborn, Israel
  • Adam and Eve
    • Death in a Day * The Punishment Was Mortality * SinfuIness Is Hereditary * The Serpent Was Satan * Blame It on the Woman * An Extra Proviso * The Earthly Paradise * The Garden in Heaven
    • Other Readings: The Earthly Adam * Purified before Eden * Eden the Sanctuary * The Garden of Delight * Eden Was Wisdom * Eve and the Animals * Adam’s Ex * Glorious Clothing * Working and Guarding the Torah * The Devil’s Envy * Diabolical Ventriloquism * What Mud of Tree? * The Tree of Life and Wisdom * Good to Eat and See * The Punishment Was Mortality * How Are You Now, Really? * Blame It on the Woman * An Extra Proviso * Stripped of Their Former Virtues * Sinfulness Is Hereditary * Free Will Nevertheless * Garments of Light * Adam’s Restored Glory * Curses Reversed * Garments Saved * The Tree Is the Reward * The Righteous Are the Trees * To the East, or North, or Somewhere * Neither Heaven Nor Earth * Penitent Adam and Eve * Seth’s Snakebite
  • Cain and Abel
    • Son of the Devil * Cain’s Sisters * Professions Decided * Defective Sacrifices * The Problem Was the Sacrificer * The Good and the Bad * Killed with a Stone * God Knew Where Abel Was * Cain’s Sevenfold Punishment * Cain’s Repentance
    • Other Readings: Son of the Devil * Cain’s Lustrous Face * Cain’s Sisters * Different Professions on Purpose * Improper Division * Fire from Heaven * Abel’s “Bloods” * What You Say? * God Knew Where Abel Was * Earth Cursed * Land of Trembling * Cain’s Sevenfold Punishment * The Sign Was a Letter * Cain Died in the Flood * The House Fell In * Cain Killed by Lamech * Cain and the Jews * The Gnostic Cain
  • Noah and the Flood
    • Cain Was the Worst * The Immortal Enoch * The Heavenly Scribe * Enoch the Sage * Enoch the Penitent * A Bad Match * The Wicked Giants * One Hundred and Twenty until Punishment * Noah Warned of the Flood * Noah the Righteous * Only in His Generation * The Animals Also Sinned * The Purifying Flood
    • Other Readings: The Immortal Enoch * Enoch the Heavenly Scribe * Enoch the Angel * Enoch the Penitent * Antediluvian Saints and Sinners * The Flood Had Many Causes * Fornication or Uncleanness Caused the Flood * Violations of the Natural Order * Corruption Spread * Wicked Giants Spread Violence * A Purifying Bath * Humanity Had Been Corrupted * Angels Passed On Forbidden Knowledge * Separate Punishment for Angels * Angels Fell * Angels Imprisoned * Giants Killed Off * No Divine Spirit in Flesh * The “Sons of God” Were Human * The Women Allured * One Hundred and Twenty Years unfit Punishment * A Lifespan of One Hundred and Twenty Years * The Human Lifespan Shrank Twice * Noah’s Name Meant What? * Noah’s Miraculous Appearance * Doubts about Paternity * Only in His Generation * Noah Was Younger * Shem Was Noah’s Oldest Son—or Was It Japhet? * How Long a Flood? * They Saw the Rainbow * Ham Was Guilty of More * Noah’s Granddaughters * The Laws of Noah’s Sons (Noahide Laws)
  • The Tower of Babel
    • They Tried to Storm Heaven * A War against God * Nimrod Built It * The Builders Were Giants * The Tower Lies in Ruins
    • Other Readings: The “One Language” Was Hebrew * One Language and One Plan * Changed Faces of Babel * They Tried to Storm Heaven * A War against God * They Made an Idol * Wicked Taskmasters of Babel * The Builders Were Giants * God and the Angels
  • Abraham Journeys from Chaldea
    • Abraham the Monotheist * Terah, Priest of Idolatry * Abraham the Astronomer * Tipped Off by the Stars * Abraham Rescued from Chaldea * Abraham Saved from Fire * Abraham Was Upset * Abraham’s Dream
    • Other Readings: Abraham, Friend of God * Abraham and the Tower * Broken Gods * Abraham the Astronomer * Hierarchy of False Gods * Abraham’s Heavenly Journey * Out of Astrology * Abraham Was in Ur—or Was It Haran? Abraham the Monotheist * Haran Perished in the Furnace * What Happened to Terah? * Abraham’s Dream Sarah’s Virtue Intact * Hagar, Gift of Pharaoh
  • Melchizedek
    • A Generous Host * Righteous King and Priest * Divinely Appointed High Priest * The Heavenly Melchizedek * The Christian “Order of Melchizedek” * An Uncircumcised Priest? * Melchizedek in Samaria * Melchizedek Was Shem * Services No Longer Needed
    • Other Readings: Abraham’s Journey * Thirteen or Thirteenth? * Abraham’s 318 Were One * The Gnostic Melchizedek * Melchizedek Was Shem * The Heavenly Melchizedek * Melchizedek in Samaria * Melchizedek Missing
  • The Trials of Abraham
    • Abraham the Tested * Abraham Saw a Dire Future * Challenged by Angels * God Made It Known * Isaac Was a Willing Victim * Together in Mind * Offering Foreshadowed Crucifixion
    • Other Readings: Ten Tests * Man of Faith * Justified by Faith * Sarah Smiled with Pleasure * Abraham Saw a Dire Future * Abraham’s Vision of Hell * The Sin of the Amorites * Abraham Saw the Four Empires * Abraham Saw the Temple * The Animals Were Symbolic * The Animals Were Sacrificed * Four Hundred Years from Abraham Isaac Foreshadowed the Church * How Old Was Isaac? * Where Was Moriah? * Isaac Asked to Be Tied Up * Your Seed Will Call Out * God Made It Known * “You Are the Lamb” * Offering Foreshadowed Crucifixion * Offering Taught Resurrection * Abraham’s Last Test
  • Lot and Lot’s Wife
    • Lot the Righteous * Lot the Wicked * Sodomites’ Sexual Sins * The Proud and the Stingy * Abraham’s Hospitality * Lot Learned from Abraham * Lot’s Wife Sinned * A Visible Reminder * Lot’s Daughters Meant Well
    • Other Readings: Three “Men” Were Angels * There Had to Be Three * The Angels Didn’t Really Eat * Lot the Wicked * Lot Bought a House * Lot’s Daughter Pelitit * Sinning in Secret * Sodom and Isaiah
  • Jacob and Esau
    • Jacob Was Not Just “Simple * Jacob the Scholar * Esau the Wicked * Good and Evil in Utero * Esau the Warrior * Esau Means Rome * Esau the Deceiver * Esau Didn’t Care * Jacob Told the Truth * God Wanted Jacob to Be Blessed * The Ladder Was a Message * Angels Wanted to See Him
    • Other Readings: Jacob the Scholar * Esau Means Rome * Esau the Deceiver * Esau’s Priestly Garments * The War between Jacob and Esau * Many Stones into One * The Ladder Was a Message * Guardian Angels of the Four Empires * Jacob’s Countenance on the Heavenly Throne * Ascending and Descending
  • Jacob and the Angel
    • Jacob Knew Right Away * Deluded in the Dark * Additional Trickery Required * ’Weak, Bleary Eyes * “Nice Eyes, But...” * God Multiplied Jacob’s Flocks * Rachel Was Not a Crook * Jacob Struggled with an Angel * Mighty with God’s Help * Israel Means Seeing God
    • Other Readings: Sneaky Laban * Weak, Bleary Eyes Assembled for Advice * Jacob’s Moderation * Jacob Concealed from Laban * The Talking Household Gods * Unclean Idols * Exalted with God, Powerful with Men * Israel Means “Seeing God” * Israel the Angel * His Turn to Sing * Jacob and the Crucifixion * The Sinaitic Nerve
  • Dinah
    • Uncontrolled Anger * Shechem Deserved Death * Foreigners Are Different * Intermarriage Is Forbidden * A Wise Answer * The Whole City Was Guilty * City with a Criminal Past * God Said No * God Ordered Their Destruction * Dinah Married Job
    • Other Readings: Dinah “Went out” for a Party * The Three Stages of Sin * God Said No * Killed one Each * Intermarriage is Forbidden * A Sincere Proposal * The Whole City Was Guilty * Shechem the Non-People * Gave His Seed to Intermarriage * True Brothers Indeed * Swords from Heaven * What Was Jacob’s Sword? * The War with the Amorites * Priestly Garments Transmitted * Levi Was Given the Priesthood * The War of Simeon and Levi * Dinah Was Asenath’s Mother
  • Joseph’s Ups and Downs
    • It’s a Wise Child * Eating from the Flocks * Resembled Jacob in All Things * Deeds of Youthful Foolishness * For the Price of Shoes * Josephs Great Virtue * A Very Handsome Man * Girls Climbing the Walls * Cast Down Their Jewelry * Joseph Was Not Tempted * Remembered Jacob’s Teachings * Saw Jacob’s Face * A Collective Accusation * Pharaoh’s Servants Applauded * Joseph Had Been Scorned
    • Other Readings: Spotted or Colored? * Eating from the Flocks * Three Bad Reports Tamar’s Righteousness * Everyone Went to a Festival A Collective Accusation * Why Wasn’t Joseph Killed? * Pharaoh’s Counselors Prevented from Interpreting Joseph Knew Seventy Languages
  • Jacob’s Sons in Egypt
    • A Good Reason for Concealing * Joseph Tested His Brothers Joseph * Disdained Revenge * Reuben Lost His * Inheritance Bilhah Bathing * Bilhah Was Asleep Jacob Foretold the * Future Kingship Will Not Depart Forever * Another King Will Come Until a New King Comes A Ruler of the * World * Why Did Joseph Put It Off?
    • Other Readings: Why Didn’t Joseph Contact His Father? * Changed Appearance * Joseph Foreshadowed Jesus * How Many Extra Portions? * Joseph’s Non-Divining Goblet * 66 + 3 + 70? Ephraim’s Blessing Foreshadowed the Church * Reuben Not Guilty * Reuben’s Illness * As Reuben Lay Dying * Reuben’s Punishment Still Greater * Poured Out Like Water * Another King Will Come * Judah Will Never Depart * The Feet Mean a Child * Until a New King Comes * A Ruler of the World * A Colt and an Ass * Bloody Clothes of the King * Judah the Drunkard * Joseph’s Prophetic Request
  • Growing Up in Pharaoh’s Court
    • Plan to Finish Them Off * Why Only the Boys? * Future Savior * Jannes and Jambres * Balaam Job, and Jethro * Death by Water * Schooled in Every Wisdom Moses’ * Speech Defect * Jealous of Moses Zipporah the Ethiopian * * Miraculously Burning Bush The Medium Was the * Message * “I Am the One Who Is ...” * “I Am the Eternal...” * An * Angel in the Hotel Circumcision Delayed Is * Circumcision Denied A Prenuptial Agreement
    • Other Readings: Pharaoh’s Unstated Fears * Jannes and Jambres * Pharaoh’s Dream Hebrew Midwives A Future Savior * Born in the Dunes * Arm-am, Noble Father of Moses * Amram’s Divorce * What a Beautiful Baby * Pharaoh’s Barren Daughter * No Handmaid, Twin Handmaid& * Why “Moses”? * Schooled in Every Wisdom * Moses’ Speech Defect Jealous of Moses * Moses and the Ethiopians * The Many Names of Moses’ Father-in-Law * Zipporah the Hebrew First an Angel, Then God * God Spoke with Fire * God’s Secret Name * White But Not Leprous * A Prenuptial Agreement
  • The Exodus from Egypt
    • A Godlike Man * No Mere Magician’s Trick * Pharaoh Didn’t Realize * Divine Punishment of the Egyptians * Deservedly Punished by Water * A Dark Dungeon for Egypt * Metaphorical Darkness * Justifiable Death for the Firstborn * Egyptians Gave Willingly * Fair Wages at Last * The Symbolic Passover Laws * The (Paschal) Lamb of Christianity
    • Other Readings: A Godlike Man * Pharaoh Didn’t Realize * Aaron’s Miraculous Staff * Pharaoh’s Sorcerers Had Help * How Many Plagues? * Hordes or Herds? * God’s Finger * This Very Month * Seven Commemorative Days * Wine, Not Beer * Four Sons * How Long, 0 Lord? * Remember Every Day * Typology of the Exodus * Pharaoh as Satan * A Special Night * The (Paschal) Lamb of God
  • The Red Sea
    • Pillar of Luminous Cloud * Protective Covering * An Angel in the Cloud * Final Payment * Get Back Our Goods! * Rebellion at the Sea * More than One Miracle * A Grassy Plain * Miraculous Timing * If Looks Could Kill... * Light and Dark Together * Ups and Downs of the Egyptians * Red Sea as Baptism * How Did They Know the Words? * Seeing God at the Sea * Infants Sang Too * Miriam’s Separate Song * A New Song
    • Other Readings: The Pillar of Luminous Cloud * Clouds of Glory * Clothes That Grow On You * Moses Alone Took the Bones * The Bones and the Pillar * The Re[e]d Sea * Rebellion at the Sea * If Looks Could Kill * Strike the Sea * The Leap to Kingship * New Creation at the Sea * Ups and Downs of the Egyptians * Red Sea as Baptism * Stop That Singing * Pharaoh Died at the Sea * The Dumb Sing * Miriam the Prophetess * The New Song
  • Into the Wilderness
    • Water, Water... * A Symbolic Tree * The Water Was Divine Wisdom * The Food of Angels * Heavenly Grain * Adapted to Any Taste * Spiritual Sustenance * The Traveling Rock * Miriam’s Well * Amalek Destroyed at the End-Time * The Symbolic Hands of Moses * The Christian Battle with Amalek * Jethro the Polytheist * Jethro the Good
    • Other Readings: Heal Thyself * Taught a Tree * The Water Was Divine Wisdom * Poor Waters of Elim? * Spiritual Sustenance * The Traveling Rock * The Christian Rock * Hidden Hand
  • At Mt. Sinai
    • Heaven on Earth * Celestial Sinai * Heavenly Moses * God Spoke All Ten * God Spoke Only Two * The Ten Were All * The Decalogue Epitomizes * Five and Five * Which Ten Commandments? * No Talk of Weekday Matters * Guard the Sabbath Borders * Do Not Go Out Too Far * Do Not Take Vain Oaths * No False 0aths * Honor Your Heavenly and Earthly Fathers * A Mishap to the Baby * A Mishap to the Mother * Money for an Eye * Traditions of the Elders * Moses Was Given More than the Torah * Oral Teachings from Moses * A Hidden Torah * Moses’ Secret Book * A Book before Moses * Children of the Chosen * Singled Out from the Start * Other Nations Knew Anyway * Other Nations at Fault * Remember This Blood
    • Other Readings: Heralded by Angels * A Kingdom of Priests * The Symbolic Fire at Sinai * Seeing the Voices * God Spoke Only Two * The Ten Were All * The Decalogue Epitomizes * A Singular Set of Laws * Five and Five * Which Ten Commandments? * Omnium Malorum Radix * Guard the Sabbath Borders * “Remember” and “Keep” Together * No Fasting on Sabbath * Don’t Talk about Weekday Matters * Vain and False Oaths * Honor Your Heavenly and Earthly Fathers * A Mishap for the Baby * A Limb of the Mother * Moses Was Given More Than the Torah * Singled Out from the Start * Other Nations Knew Anyway * Law as Custodian * Torah Kept by the Patriarchs * Blood of the New Covenant
  • The Golden Calf
    • Celestial Sanctuary * Copied from Heaven * Likeness of the Universe * Aaron Tried to Stop Them * Aaron Feared for His Life * Hur Murdered by the Rabble * The Letters Flew Off * Tables Became Too Heavy * Divine Traits of Character * Steadfast Love for Thousands of Generations * No Pardon for the Wicked * Thousands of Sins Forgiven * Moses’ Face Beamed Light * Moses Grew Horns
    • Other Readings: Copied from Heaven * Aaron Tried to Stop Them * The Letters Flew Off * Stored with Other Things * The Angel of the Exodus * Moses Grew Hums * The Metaphorical Veil * Mirrors of Modesty Thousands of Israelites * Cleanses But Does Not Cleanse
  • Worship in the Wilderness
    • An Error in Priestly Procedure * A Holy Death * Coats Not Burned * Control of Appetites * Ruminating with One’s Mind * Gentle Birds for Gentle People * Day of Repentance * The Day of Partial Atonement * Hatred Means Hypocrisy * Reproach Prevents Hatred * Reproach Gently to Prevent Sin * Reproach before Charging * Love As You Would Be Loved * Love Only Your Neighbor * The Whole Torah
    • Other Readings: A Holy Death * Eating and Drinking Today * Control of Appetites * Day of Partial Atonement * Avert the Death Penalty * Typological Goat * Don’t Listen to Your Parents * Reproach Prevents Hatred * The Whole Torah * The Golden Rule * The Day after the Sabbath? * May Your Heart Shine with Wisdom
  • Trouble along the Way
    • Quails Weren’t for Grousing * A Wife Related to Prophecy * Trusted Servant Par Excellence * Whose Bad Idea? * Solemnly Warned * Tassels Set Off Revolt * Moses Accused of Favoritism * Moses Was Polite * Korah’s Symbolic Death * A Truly Dangerous Figure * Aaron’s Symbolic Staff
    • Other Readings: Trusted Servant Par Excellence * Miriam’s Punishment * Korah’s Wealth * Tassels Set Off Revolt * Jealous of Aaron Alone * The Mouth of the Earth * Korah’s Virtuous Sons * Aaron’s Staff Preserved * Red Heifer Just in Time * Red Heifer’s Symbolism
  • The Bronze Serpent, Balaam, and Phinehas
    • Looking Didn’t Cure * Serpent Was Like Moses’ Hands * Balaam the Wicked * God Knew Who They Were * Prophet for Hire * Balaam Foresaw the Messiah * Ruler of the World * The Star Is the Messiah * The Star Will Precede the Scepter * Balaam Counseled Seduction * A Leader among Priests * Phinehas the Immortal Phinehas Is Elijah
    • Other Readings: Blood and Water * The Serpent Symbolized Crucifixion * The Song of the Torah Well * Balaam the Wicked * Balaam’s Demotion * A Ruler of the World * The Star Is the Messiah * The Star Will Precede the Scepter * Rising Greek Star * The Star of Damascus * Balaam Counseled Seduction * A Leader among Priests
  • The Life of Torah
    • The Great Teaching * These Words Twice a Day * A Particular Prophet * Do Not Displace Old Practices * Necessary Paperwork * No Divorce—Except for Indecency * Any Old Reason Is Valid * Don’t Muzzle Me * Small Commandments as Important as Big * Torah Refines (Like Fire) * The Gift of the Torah * Not in Heaven Anymore * A Choice for Each Person * A Choice of Two Paths * Nice Road at First * The Path to the Afterlife * Consider Heaven and Earth * Heaven and Earth Were Already Witnesses * Moses Did Not Want to Die * Moses Disputed with an Angel * Moses’ Last Vision * Buried by God (or the Angels) * Buried under a Cloud * Not Buried at All * The Supreme Philosopher
    • Other Readings: The Great Teaching * No Redundancy in the Great Teaching * Bind Them on Your Arm and Head * A Particular Prophet * Do Not Displace Old Practices * Crucified on a Tree * Necessary Paperwork * No Divorce—Except for Indecency * Can a Wife Divorce Her Husband? * Were the Laws Really Divine? * Torah Refines (Like Fire) * Adam’s Choice * Consider Heaven and Earth * Heaven and Earth Forever * The Foolish Non-People * Reuben’s Second Life * Moses Did Not Want to Die * Moses Disputed with an Angel Until That Particular Day * Buried by God (or the Angels) * Not Buried at All * The Supreme Philosopher
  • Afterword
  • Abbreviations
  • Terms and Sources
  • Bibliography
  • Illustration Credits
  • Index

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