What are the best parts of the Hebrew Bible?


(My answer to this question at Quora.com)

The best part of the Hebrew Bible is Genesis 1 – II Chronicles 36.

Everything else was deemed not good enough to be included in the canon.


Where is the word “shekinah” (indicating glory of God) used in Hebrew scriptures?

The word shekhinah (it is a soft—i.e., guttural kaf, not a hard one) does not appear as such anywhere in the Hebrew Bible.

Continue reading

Is the Hebrew concept of “Ger,” translated as sojourner, definitively a sojourner that is a Jewish convert?

The Talmud (Tractate Gittin 57:2) distinguishes between ger tzedek (a ‘righteous alien’)—a foreigner who has fully converted (i.e. accepted the teachings of the Torah) and ‘is a Jew to all intents and purposes’, and a ger toshav (‘resident alien’), who has merely joined the community and has accepted the Noahide commandments.

Continue reading

Q&A: Why did Elijah take 40 days and 40 nights to walk a 12 days’ journey distance?

Elijah went from near Beersheba to Horeb. 1 Kings 19:3–8. Deuteronomy 1:2 says Kadesh is an 11 days’ journey distance away from Horeb. Beersheba was near Kadesh, both near the south extreme of the promised land. So, why would Elijah take 40 days and 40 nights to cover that distance?

Beer-Sheba (or Be’er-Sheva, in Hebrew) may be “near” Kadesh by the standards of someone living in the US or Canada today, with modern vehicles, but not for an Israelite in the 9th B.C.—especially a northern Israelite, like Elijah, who was accustomed to the greener and more hospitable climate of northern Israel, rather than the desert wilderness of the Negev and Sinai.


Continue reading

Did the name of the Greek god of light Apollo come from the Hebrew demon Abaddon?

(My answer to this question at Quora.com)

No, but close: the name Abaddon (in Hebrew, אבדון, avaddon, from the root a-b-d, from which the words ibed = lose, avad = gone, and others are derived) was translated as Apollyon (Ἀπολλύων, “the Destroyer”) in the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible.

In either case, the Greek name is of native Greek provenance, not derived from Hebrew.

How do rabbis explain the similarities between the texts of Isaiah and Micah?

Micah was the youngest of four prophets of the Hebrew Bible who lived in the latter half of the 700s BCE (the others being Hosea, Amos, and Isaiah). The similarities of language (the use of tongue twisters, alliteration, rhetorical questions) are due in part to the fact that they are contemporary, and in part (according to certain Talmudic commentaries) that Micah was one of Isaiah’s disciples (limudim).

Continue reading

Is there sound evidence that the Hebrew exodus from Egypt occurred in Biblical times?


(My answer to this question at Quora.com)

As Ricardo Almeida points out, the story of the Exodus bears much resemblance to the historical explusion, around 1550 BCE, of the “Asiatics” (Canaanites) who had settled and eventually took over and ruled northern Egypt for well over four hundred years.

Continue reading