My favourite so far is לֹא אָבָה יַבְּמִי – lo avah yabmi (Deut. 25:9)—meaning ‘He will not perform the duty of my husband’s brother’—which is the official complaint of a childless widow whose brother-in-law refuses to do his fraternal duty of giving her a child after the husband has died.
The expression is unfamiliar because the word yabmi is a conjugation of a curious verb— לִבְּמוֹת libmot — which is awkward to pronounce, not used in other contexts, and even the word for husband’s brother (יבם yavam), is unfamiliar today (in modern Hebrew, it is גיס gis, and can refer to the wife’s brother, as well).
I also love the description of the consequences of such a refusal:
In this chapter of the Song of Songs (or Song of Solomon, as it is sometimes known in English), the woman is describing her lover to her female confidantes. Some of it is rather graphic—but thankfully, the verse you’re asking about is fairly tame:
חִכּוֹ, מַמְתַקִּים, וְכֻלּוֹ, מַחֲמַדִּים; זֶה דוֹדִי וְזֶה רֵעִי, בְּנוֹת יְרוּשָׁלִָם
Coincidentally, that is the subject of a book that I’m writing at the moment.
My favourites are verbal expressions by people that sound startlingly modern, almost colloquial. The following are just a few examples, in my own translation (to convey their vernacular flavour to the ears of native Hebrew speakers):
In our time, for example, we’ve been bandying about the term quantum for decades (e.g. ‘quantum leap’)—although the vast majority of us have only the vaguest idea what that means, and actual quantum devices are only now beginning to appear.
Also, remember that the Israelites had just come out of Egypt, which is one of the few places in the world where they would have encountered iron implements—in construction, in the materiel of the military, etc. Like modern Israel with Soviet materiel in the twentieth century, the ancient Israelites may also have captured iron instruments in battle—they just didn’t know how to produce it, or work it, themselves, until much later.
Last but not least, if indeed, as Jewish tradition has it, Moses himself wrote the Pentateuch, he certainly, as a former Egyptian prince, would have had first-hand knowledge of iron.
But if it’s evidence that the Pentateuch wasn’t written contemporaneously that you want, there’s a much more telling indication…
Kind of like this—only with a lot more trees
Do not underestimate the abilities of a young shepherd in Judea in biblical times. He constantly had to protect his flock of sheep and goats from attacks by brown bears, leopards, and Asian lions, which still roamed the woodlands of the Judean foothills. Failing to do so would have got him in deep trouble with his father, so he had to become very adept at fending off such threats by whatever means possible—including devastating use of his slingshot.
Indeed not. As God Himself explains (Job 38):
Probably Leviticus: endless repetitions of the intricacies of ‘offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord’ of bullocks, sheep, goats, pigeons, etc.—with particular emphasis ‘on the fat thereof’, the kidneys, the rump, and various other choice parts of the carcass—and sprinkling of the blood on the altar.
Some of the meat was fully burnt— ‘for the Lord’—but, lest there be any confusion on the matter, ‘the remnant of the meat offering shall be Aaron’s and his sons’ (2:3).