[b-hebrew] Dates of Ezra and Nehemiah

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Mon Sep 18 03:31:20 EDT 2006


The point is, that Hazal were not prophets, and they did not have a direct 
line to God. They preserved an oral tradition, which THEY admitted was 
getting confused - that's why the "oral" Torah was committed to writing! In 
any case, their tradition, what they had the authority to transmit, was in 
the realm of law, ethics and faith. History was NOT what their forte. They 
preserved those stories that they thought were useful in getting their 
messages across. In cases where they were missing facts, they used "midrash" 
to fill in the gaps. They did not have independent knowledge of events that 
happened 1000 years before their time.

But we, today, do have SOME of that knowledge, since we have uncovered and 
read millions of the inscriptions written by the people living those events. 
Reconstructing the past has been a slow process that has taken 150 years of 
study, and yes, there are still some gaps and disagreements. But the general 
picture is clear. So we can now COMPARE Hazal's traditions, those preserved 
by classical historians like Herodotus and even Josephus (who were also 
often wrong), and the original source material, which Hazal did not know.

Now none of this demeans Hazal in any way. They were unsurpassed at what 
they did, with the resources they had. But what they did was NOT to record 
HISTORY in the way in which modern scholars study history. They were playing 
a different game by different rules. It is possible to say, that this is all 
that matters - that if an event was not worth recording for Hazal, or if 
they found no message to be understood in an event, then there is no reason 
for us to waist our time on it either. That is fine. You can claim that if 
Hazal played tennis, then that's the only game worth playing. But you cannot 
enter a basketball court and try to make everyone play by tennis rules.

Yigal Levin

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Shoshanna Walker" <rosewalk at concentric.net>
To: "b-hebrew" <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Monday, September 18, 2006 4:30 AM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Dates of Ezra and Nehemiah

>I quoted Rashi, and not R' Yose's "scheme"
> There is much more detail of chazal, of which kings reigned when, and
> that wasn't the issue when you discredited Rashi - now you are just
> adding  another issue to your reluctance to trust chazal.
> In any case, this list has been laboring over this for weeks, because
> of the reluctance to give OUR chazal any credit for knowing OUR
> history - but you go around circles and circles with no answer, just
> because you want to believe that other sources besides chazal,  know
> better - and if you have such detailed accounts from - where? - about
> which kings ruled and in which order - then WHY ARE YOU STILL
> DEBATING THIS AFTER 2 - 3 WEEKS?  Does the number 7   refer to weeks
> or days or  years or sets of 7 years, you can't even come to a
> consensus that Daniel's prophecy relates to  the FUTURE and not to
> the past - give me a break - when it is all laid out very lucidly by
> chazal.
> Shoshanna
> On 9/18/06, Shoshanna Walker wrote:
>> As I recall, the whole basis of discrediting Rashi, and the counting
>> of events from the year of creation, is that first Temple was
>> destroyed - according to secular sources - in 586 BC, while Seder
>> Olam, and Rashi, says it was 422 BC (as computed from the time of
>> creation of the world) - and my question, is - what are the sources
>> for saying that it was 586 BC??  Who had better records than
>> Chazal????
> Seder Olam quotes R' Yose in b. Avoda Zara.  Rashi probably also
> depends on this tractate.  We do not know what records R' Yose
> had.  You may believe that HZ"L, including R' Yose, had better
> records that we just don't have anymore.  However, we do have
> detailed records from Babylonian, Persian, and Greek sources and
> periods, from the times that the events happened, and not a thousand
> years later, that include detailed accounts of which kings ruled
> and in what order, and which years were intercalated, all of which
> allow us to be able to date Jerusalem's fall as it is described in
> Babylonian sources.   The "whole basis" however is not simply the
> fall of the first Temple but the length and description of the Persian
> period which is ridiculously short in R' Yose's scheme.
> Yitzhak Sapir
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