[b-hebrew] Dates of Ezra and Nehemiah

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Sun Sep 17 03:24:25 EDT 2006

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Lisbeth S. Fried" <lizfried at umich.edu>
> Perhaps both. He may not have known. I think actually that he -- like 
> Rashi
> -- assumed that
> all the Persian kings used the throne name Artaxerxes. Therefore, 
> according
> to Rashi, and I think according to our author, Nisan of the 7th year of
> Artaxerxes is the month after Adar of the 6th year of Darius. Artaxerxes 
> is
> Darius' (and every king's) throne name. Artaxerxes and Darius refer to the
> same man. Also, I think that it would have made sense to him that the 
> temple
> vessels be deposited in the temple immediately after its dedication. We 
> have
> no mention of what happened to the vessels that Cyrus counted out. 
> Nothing.
> I think the story of their being deposited in the temple is deferred to
> after the temple's dedication when Ezra brings them.

Now you sound like Shoshanna. Do you really think that a writer living in 
Judah, even a few decades after Alexander's conquest, would think that all 
Persian kings used the throne name Artaxerxes? Is there any evidence that 
anyone in the Hellenistic world thought so?

> I don't see the necessity of positing that these are heads of work-gangs.
> Sometimes it says "sons of", or "men of", but sometimes it just lists
> individuals. I saw a list of those who built a wall in a Greek city from
> about the same time period, and just individuals were listed. It appeared 
> to
> be all the men  of the town who participated in building the wall, and 
> they
> were all listed. The reference to the text is in Blenkinsopp's commentary 
> on
> Neh. 3.

Because I think that it's unlikely that a single person would have built a 
section of the wall, no matter how small. Look at verses 2-5: the men of 
Jericho built a segment, and next to them, Zakur son of Imri. The gate of 
the fish was built by the sons (meaning inhabitants) of Senaah, and next to 
them Meremoth son of Uriah son of Hakotz (probably a clan name), next to 
them Meshullam, next to them Zadok, next to them the Tekoites. Each 
mentioned name, whether a group of townsmen or an individual, was 
responsible for building a segment of the wall. I find it hard to believe 
that a single person would have been able to build a segment. Thus - heads 
of work-gangs.

>> I'm not sure exactly what that would mean, or if jubilees were even
> observed
>> at the time.
> Two sabbatical years in a row.

That's a different issue. Do we have evidence that jubilees were observed 
during the second temple period? Modern Judaism (mainly in Israel) observes 
sabbaticals (mostly by arguing about how to get around them), but recognizes 
that the jubilee cycle has been lost.

> Why is it terrible to remove Ezra's name in a couple of places, but not
> terrible to remove "of Artaxerxes the king"?
Nothing is "terrible". The question is, what the redactor would have gained 
by adding either Ezra or Artaxerxes. I have argued here (probably worth a 
paper) that he added "Artaxerxes" because that's what he assumed that "the 
seventh year" in his source meant. This would have been an honest mistake. 
However, by positing that he added Ezra into places where he was not, you 
are assuming that he has a motive for doing so - basically he wishes to make 
Ezra and Nehemiah contemporaries, even though he knows that they lived 
nearly half a century apart. Why?


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