a Jewish view on the Sermon on the Mount

Odola

Well-Known Member
Bob, my objection to the word sacrifice is that sacrifice means giving up something, while Shabbat is actually the opposite, as you seem to agree.
So the self-abandoment as a method to deal with evil is not something structurally explored - even if we have the instances in the OT I have mentioned in #18?
I would add to those three other ones I have remembered - the acceptance of her fate byJephtha's daughter (Jephtha is another of the "disregarded sons od 2nd wives" ;-) @Rob Harding - a very classical moment, as Mary Mother of Jesus actually cities her in Her response in the Announciation.), queen Esther entering the presence of the king, and the moment the Tolkien Professor mentioned in the last ETLOTR episode, David going out against Goliath. So we see plenty of people "being ready to lose"/"playing for failure" in OT, but can that be called a systemic method to face evil from the Jewish point of view in the way it is prescribed in the SotM?
And the whole deescalation of conflict angle, actually I do remember only Jacob trying to use it after the rape of Dinah (the attempt being completely ruined by her brothers - imho mostly for dynastic reasons) and Joseph son of Jacob's reconcillation with his brothers in Egypt - again instances, but not a generalised attitude?
 

Rob Harding

Active Member
I think we need to explore what we mean by evil and what we are discussing. As Rachel pointed out, discussing the ‘Bible’ actually means we need to pin down what tradition of Bible reading we are actually talking about. For me, what I find most helpful is to try and do literary archeology and find what the original writers were exploring. So I’m more interesting in the Ancient Hebrew paradigms. For me, gaining that understanding even partially had bought clarity to an overall reading of the Bible. That’s the angle I’m coming in from. I know next to nothing of Talmud and later rabbinical teaching so just have no framework to even address those teachings. It’s not my faith or cultural and I’d just be speaking out of turn. For Torah teaching I feel I have a duty and desire to understand it better.

So from there, I want to unpuzzle what the Tanak presents as the human struggle. And I find a universal message wherein I agree with humanist friends. It’s duality. The desire to do right but also the desire to define for oneself what is right and failing. Later summarised as ‘I do what I know is bad and what is goos I do not do.’ We see this from Genesis 1. This is where humanist friends and i diverge though as Genesis 1 presents the only true way of knowing what is good and bad is to be close to Yahweh and follow his guide.

I think it’s worth noting the Two Trees. The Tree of Life. To dwell in Eden, a metaphysical or literal (however you see it) space where the physical and immaterial overlap (embodied by humans who are the living representation of that ideal) is to be in Life. To be governing Earth in unity with it under Yahweh’s direct benevolent authority. It is to eat from the Tree of Life. It gives immortality (again, whether you see the Tree as literal and literally giving everlasting life, or as a conceptual reality whereby this state of being is a mindset that bears everlasting unity is one of interpretation- for the original authors I think those were the same thing). The second tree is often interpreted as The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The original language doesn’t have quite the same moral judgement. It’s Good and Bad. Almost the objective ‘bad’. The Tree of Understanding What is Good for You and What Is Bad For You. What will harm you. The story presents two options: follow Yahweh’s teachings in trust and sacrifice your pride and find peace. Or, choose to define for yourselves what you see as good and bad. And fail, because you so not have a divine perspective and are only an image of Yahweh not Yahweh himself. The irony being that humanity chooses to strive to make itself its own god when the Creation myth clearly states humanity was made to be rulers in the image of the divine and in seeking it for themselves, they lost it. The idea of choosing Yahweh’s gifts and promises in isolation of Yahweh over Yahweh himself is repeated throughout the texts. Genesis also outlines a salvage plan in which there will come out who is bitten by the snake (the powers of ‘the world’, of humanity residing good and evil. But even as he is injured by it, he will destroy it. The later stories continue this theme by showing the two choices as two sons or two families or two nations one can belong two, with the authors using this imagery to continue to show humanity’s failure to return to the ideal state in their own. Sin, the failure to be what humanity was made to be, is personified as a prowling beast that can consume a person. Evil isn’t so much a focus in Genesis as is the failed ideal state of humanity and how it can be achieved again. Life vs ‘knowing’ for oneself what is good and bad. Sin is resisted by submitted one’s own will and one’s freedom to define one’s own reality and instead cultivating the reality that is under the leadership of a all-knowing external force.

Trees on high places as a signpost that Yahweh is about to connect with his people is it’s own ongoing theme.

I’m sure the two trees in Tolkien is not an accident - though I acknowledge trees are important imagery through multiple cultures and stories that inspired him
 
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Rachel Port

Well-Known Member
In that comment I was simply referring to Bob's saying the Sabbath is a sacrifice of a portion of our time, not that the idea of sacrifice is foreign to us. But I don't think it's a central concept. The examples you give seem quite different to me. Jephtha could have appealed to a judge to be released from his oath when it became a matter of human sacrifice, and probably would have been released from it and given some alternative. And as Jacob learned when he was willing to sacrifice his son and the promise God had made to him about becoming a great nation, God does not want human sacrifice. Jacob does, I think, sacrifice his relationship with Isaac, but that's another story. And basically, what good does the sacrifice of Jephtha's daughter - or her acceptance and self-sacrifice - achieve? I don't see any good come from it.

I assume you mean Esther going without being summoned to invite the king and Haman to dine with her. That took great courage - she was risking her life. Sometimes one has to risk all - Tolkien says some things have to be begun even if we don't hope to finish them. Esther takes the risk in spite of her initial fear, and she succeeds. But I don't think the story exalts self-sacrifice, but the courage to risk her life to save her people from an evil man. There is a tradition that the most evil enemies of the Jews throughout history are all reincarnations of Amalek, who was not killed when he should have been; Haman is seen as one of these incarnations. I actually don't believe that, or particularly like it. But again, evil exists in human beings, not as an abstract. We don't exalt self-sacrifice. But we do exalt faith and courage to do right even when it is difficult or even dangerous. Esther did everything she could for success in her task - asking all her people to fast for three days while she and her maidens also fasted (and I assume prayed) before she attempted it. She asked for human as well as divine help, but in the end she stood alone before the king with faith and courage.

I think we look at these stories and see different things. You look at them from a Christian perspective, and I from a Jewish. And I think there is a real discrepancy in the two ways of interpreting what we are reading. For us, the completed sacrifice is not necessary, while for you it is central. Perhaps it is because a belief in an afterlife is a late arrival, and not central to Judaism, and when it does appear it is not very clear or defined and has taken different forms at different times.
 
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Odola

Well-Known Member
I think we need to explore what we mean by evil and what we are discussing. As Rachel pointed out, discussing the ‘Bible’ actually means we need to pin down what tradition of Bible reading we are actually talking about. For me, what I find most helpful is to try and do literary archeology and find what the original writers were exploring.
Imho difficult, as most of it is in my view based on ancient learned-by-heart kings' lists and is actually a history of a sacret bloodline carrying the messianic promise though ages and as such through quite different cultural, judical, political, economical and thelogical settings. And this is fine with me. If it is at its core historic, then we would be seeing changes over time, and we do see them, as to be expected.

But the humanistic view point fails imho in providing any workable explaination for the very existance of those "evil impulses" in the first place.
In Genesis we not only have evil being personised by the serpent (and serpent spirits, fiery serpents, seraphs, seraphines, dragons or nagas are a very ancient mythological serpent-like divine angelic/demonic beings) but we have the enmity introduced by God Himself between it and the offsping of the Woman. This is a set up of a cosmic battle, actually.

And we do have an individual being commanded - Cain - to actively fight evil/sin (which he fails):

Genesis 4:7 "If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”

If this is not a desciption of spiritual warfare against an (percived as) external enemy, I do not know, what is. Still not very much seems to be made of this, we seldom see an individual contestation like this untill the story of Job and later the temptation of Elijah.

But all this brings us away from the SotM-based default function mode of the hobbits which is centered around deescalation and conflict prevention.

I would really like to know how to which extent those ideas are present in Judaism, either historic or modern.

I’m sure the two trees in Tolkien is not an accident - though I acknowledge trees are important imagery through multiple cultures and stories that inspired him
That for sure, take e.g. the oaks of Mamre or Deborah under her palm tree.
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
I assume you mean Esther going without being summoned to invite the king and Haman to dine with her. That took great courage - she was risking her life. Sometimes one has to risk all - Tolkien says some things have to be begun even if we don't hope to finish them. Esther takes the risk in spite of her initial fear, and she succeeds. But I don't think the story exalts self-sacrifice, but the courage to risk her life to save her people from an evil man. There is a tradition that the most evil enemies of the Jews throughout history are all reincarnations of Amalek, who was not killed when he should have been; Haman is seen as one of these incarnations. I actually don't believe that, or particularly like it. But again, evil exists in human beings, not as an abstract. We don't exalt self-sacrifice. But we do exalt faith and courage to do right even when it is difficult or even dangerous. Esther did everything she could for success in her task - asking all her people to fast for three days while she and her maidens also fasted (and I assume prayed) before she attempted it. She asked for human as well as divine help, but in the end she stood alone before the king with faith and courage.
Here you actually get me! Esther as here described by you is a clearly an "eucathastrophic" story in Tolkien's sense. We started out by me claiming TLOTR being at it basis a Christian story while you said it is importantt not to discount the Jewish elements in it. O.K. there are for sure "eucathastrophic" elements in the OT, all over it, actually. But to me that element in them seems a liitle "overlooked" in the Jewish traditional interpretation of them, while it is kind of central in their Christian understanding.

Do not let me get started on the whole Jephtha's story. I am actually sure his daughter became a hierodule, a dedicated woman consecrated to the local sanctuary, as she is mourning her virginity and not her life, before this happens. Mourning one's maidenhood together with your fellow girl-friends is actually part of a pre-wedding - and not a pre-death - ritual. So I assume she was sacrally "married" into the local temple service - as the modern devadasis still are to this day - see Devadasi - Wikipedia. [Similar dedication practices were also prevalent from North Africa though Asia to Europe. It is also a part of the "general cultural package" spread arount the whole area, up to the Vestal Virgins of Rome. There are women mentioned serving at the Tabernacle and shut up virgins weaving the Veil according to the books of Maccabees (2 Macc 3:19-20) - and propably widows - according to the Gospels - all serving in the Temple] Imho it was her sacrifice for her father, done so to avoid her being married of to one of her uncles' (who dishonoured their half-brother Jephtha publicly for being himself a hierodule's son) sons, who would then became Jephtha's legal heir. The were different kinds of hierodules, both prostitute and virgin ones, as she is stated to having been a virgin (at the place where her sacrifice should have been descibed, so this seems to have been her sacrifice right there), I do assume she was one of the later, while Jephtha's mother seems to have been the former. So Jephtha seems framed genealogically by two hierodules. [As such it makes sense for Mary - who is considered a former Temple virgin herself by the Orthodox and former Catholic traditions - to cite Jephtha's daugher when answering the Angel sent to her. Were Jephtha's daughter remebered to have been sacrificed, the use of her words by Mary would not make much sense.] Of course for the David's line's claim to throne it is important to discredit any local bloodlines claming descent from the legendary Jephtha, as such the most important thing for the biblical author to bring accross is that we do not miss the point that she has died childless and Jephtha had no other children so his line died out (yes, we got that, thank you!).
 
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Rob Harding

Active Member
In that comment I was simply referring to Bob's saying the Sabbath is a sacrifice of a portion of our time, not that the idea of sacrifice is foreign to us. But I don't think it's a central concept. The examples you give seem quite different to me. Jephtha could have appealed to a judge to be released from his oath when it became a matter of human sacrifice, and probably would have been released from it and given some alternative. And as Jacob learned when he was willing to sacrifice his son and the promise God had made to him about becoming a great nation, God does not want human sacrifice. Jacob does, I think, sacrifice his relationship with Isaac, but that's another story. And basically, what good does the sacrifice of Jephtha's daughter - or her acceptance and self-sacrifice - achieve? I don't see any good come from it.

I assume you mean Esther going without being summoned to invite the king and Haman to dine with her. That took great courage - she was risking her life. Sometimes one has to risk all - Tolkien says some things have to be begun even if we don't hope to finish them. Esther takes the risk in spite of her initial fear, and she succeeds. But I don't think the story exalts self-sacrifice, but the courage to risk her life to save her people from an evil man. There is a tradition that the most evil enemies of the Jews throughout history are all reincarnations of Amalek, who was not killed when he should have been; Haman is seen as one of these incarnations. I actually don't believe that, or particularly like it. But again, evil exists in human beings, not as an abstract. We don't exalt self-sacrifice. But we do exalt faith and courage to do right even when it is difficult or even dangerous. Esther did everything she could for success in her task - asking all her people to fast for three days while she and her maidens also fasted (and I assume prayed) before she attempted it. She asked for human as well as divine help, but in the end she stood alone before the king with faith and courage.

I think we look at these stories and see different things. You look at them from a Christian perspective, and I from a Jewish. And I think there is a real discrepancy in the two ways of interpreting what we are reading. For us, the completed sacrifice is not necessary, while for you it is central. Perhaps it is because a belief in an afterlife is a late arrival, and not central to Judaism, and when it does appear it is not very clear or defined and has taken different forms at different times.
Just to add to why Rachel said, as a Christian trying to unearth Biblical meaning, I find little on the subject of life after death. I’m not sure there’s much clarity on it. Feels familiar to our discussions here on the board about Valinor. In my limited understanding of the Bible I find much more about the hope of life restored when Creation is reverted to its intended state. ‘The Kingdom’. Whether that is a literal physical second Creation reality shift or a new way of being human, a new behaviour and mindset, I do not know and will never understand but wish to try modelling life as preparation for that reality and therefore in some way making it reality on my life

I wonder if that notation of embodying the reality you wish to see and this manifesting it to some degree exists in Middle Earth
 
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Odola

Well-Known Member
Just to add to why Rachel said, as a Christian trying to unearth Biblical meaning, I find little on the subject of life after death.
Not in OT. But quite a lot in Jesus' own speaches in the Gospels.

But we are searching here for Jewish elements in the trajectory of TLOTR. ;-)
 

Rob Harding

Active Member
Not in OT. But quite a lot in Jesus' own speaches in the Gospels.

But we are searching here for Jewish elements in the trajectory of TLOTR. ;-)
We will agree to disagree for the time being on that point :)

As for LotR, I do think there are some similarities to trace. I'm cautious with my own words that I don't want to drift to much into talking about 'inspirations' or 'influences' as I think that then skews my reading of the texts as presented. But I do think there's significant overlap, especially regarding the raising up of unassuming individuals for moments of great import. It's interesting that you brought up the 'default mode' of Hobbits as what I find is we just don't have much data on Hobbits. Not really. Most of what we have is from a group that, even from the outside, is presented as being somewhat influenced by an outlier (that is Bilbo) and who are not quite the norm. We know most of our understanding of the 'default' Hobbit by looking at a pre-adventures Biblo, who was presented as a respectable fellow. But even he was somewhat an outlier with his pull between Took and Baggins nature. It suggests that even for Hobbits there is a breadth of cultures and that Bilbo didn't settle comfortably into one box. The fact that the stories we have are written by these outlier Hobbits makes it a little difficult to know what the 'default' Hobbit truly is, I would say.
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
We will agree to disagree for the time being on that point :)

As for LotR, I do think there are some similarities to trace. I'm cautious with my own words that I don't want to drift to much into talking about 'inspirations' or 'influences' as I think that then skews my reading of the texts as presented. But I do think there's significant overlap, especially regarding the raising up of unassuming individuals for moments of great import. It's interesting that you brought up the 'default mode' of Hobbits as what I find is we just don't have much data on Hobbits. Not really. Most of what we have is from a group that, even from the outside, is presented as being somewhat influenced by an outlier (that is Bilbo) and who are not quite the norm. We know most of our understanding of the 'default' Hobbit by looking at a pre-adventures Biblo, who was presented as a respectable fellow. But even he was somewhat an outlier with his pull between Took and Baggins nature. It suggests that even for Hobbits there is a breadth of cultures and that Bilbo didn't settle comfortably into one box. The fact that the stories we have are written by these outlier Hobbits makes it a little difficult to know what the 'default' Hobbit truly is, I would say.
Oh no, I have to disgree here. Sam's discussion with Ted Sandyman is an example of deescalation as a default mode and a virtue. Also Bilbo avoiding open conflict with the Sackvilles. Even Lobelia does restrain herself.
 

Rob Harding

Active Member
My point was that Sam and Bilbo are not the standard Hobbit. And as our narrators are non-standard Hobbits, we have a bit of a dearth of detail. No control group as it were
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
My point was that Sam and Bilbo are not the standard Hobbit. And as our narrators are non-standard Hobbits, we have a bit of a dearth of detail. No control group as it were.
We do know enough. Lobelia was livid at Frodo for taking over Bag-End and all she has been capable of was: 'You'll live to regret it, young fellow! Why didn't you go too? You don't belong here; you're no Bagginsyouyou're a Brandybuck!'”

This is witness enough that hobbits are a deescalation based culture. ;-)
 

Rob Harding

Active Member
We do know enough. Lobelia was livid at Frodo for taking over Bag-End and all she has been capable of was: 'You'll live to regret it, young fellow! Why didn't you go too? You don't belong here; you're no Bagginsyouyou're a Brandybuck!'”

This is witness enough that hobbits are a deescalation based culture. ;-)
I don't think you're really getting what I mean but not sure how else to explain it. Tolkien very much introduced the idea that Hobbits (admittedly, perhaps only those under the influence of the Ring) will actively alter their writings to tell stories from a set perspective. In that way he created a very realistic framework that the books are written in a similar manner to real-world histories rather than from an omniscient author. Much like the Bible I'd add. We only know of Lobelia's interactions with Frodo from the perspective of Frodo himself (and Sam). Even a description of what Hobbits value is a description of what Hobbits value from the perspective of a limited pool of Hobbits. I rather like the idea that the books are written by in world characters but it does mean we don't know for certain what an average Hobbit is as we only know of Hobbits from the perspective of less than average Hobbits. We can certainly make assumptions about some things from the ways we know their society is organised but we don't necessarily know what the character and morality of an average Hobbit is, only perhaps in contrast to the ways in which Sam, Frodo, Fatty, Pippin, Merry and the rest stand apart.
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
I don't think you're really getting what I mean but not sure how else to explain it. Tolkien very much introduced the idea that Hobbits (admittedly, perhaps only those under the influence of the Ring) will actively alter their writings to tell stories from a set perspective. In that way he created a very realistic framework that the books are written in a similar manner to real-world histories rather than from an omniscient author. Much like the Bible I'd add. We only know of Lobelia's interactions with Frodo from the perspective of Frodo himself (and Sam). Even a description of what Hobbits value is a description of what Hobbits value from the perspective of a limited pool of Hobbits. I rather like the idea that the books are written by in world characters but it does mean we don't know for certain what an average Hobbit is as we only know of Hobbits from the perspective of less than average Hobbits. We can certainly make assumptions about some things from the ways we know their society is organised but we don't necessarily know what the character and morality of an average Hobbit is, only perhaps in contrast to the ways in which Sam, Frodo, Fatty, Pippin, Merry and the rest stand apart.
Are you really trying to claim that the Ring induced Bilbo, Frodo and Sam to potrait Lobelia in a much nicer way than she deserved? No wonder Sauron failed then. This thing was clearly malfuctional. ;-)
 

Rob Harding

Active Member
No lol My point is that’s it’s very hard to get into the mindset of a hobbit, save perhaps the baggins boys. That’s all
 

Rachel Port

Well-Known Member
Do not let me get started on the whole Jephtha's story. I am actually sure his daughter became a hierodule, a dedicated woman consecrated to the local sanctuary, as she is mourning her virginity and not her life, before this happens. Mourning one's maidenhood together with your fellow girl-friends is actually part of a pre-wedding - and not a pre-death - ritual. So I assume she was sacrally "married" into the local temple service
That option is probably what would have happened if Jephtha had appealed to get his oath invalidated. Though I might ask, what Temple do you mean? In the time of Judges (and this is very early in that time) there was no Temple and no formal cult of sacrifice. Jephtha would presumably have made the sacrifice himself on his own land, where he might have had an altar for his sacrifices. The society at the time of the Judges was strongly tribal, and the tribes had their own sets of rules. And that kind of dedication happens twice that I know of: Samuel's and Samson's mothers, as thanks for having a child after being barren, give their sons to God. But we have no reason to suspect that's what happened to Jephtha's daughter. At the times when the Temple did have virgins in its service, it was considered a pagan practice, and some reformer would come and stop it. It's the same story as Agamemnon and Iphegenia, and in both cases, it's a literal sacrifice. It is probably an archetypal story that appears in other cultures as well. For Jephtha, it is also a lack of faith.

Here you actually get me! Esther as here described by you is a clearly an "eucathastrophic" story in Tolkien's sense. We started out by me claiming TLOTR being at it basis a Christian story while you said it is importantt not to discount the Jewish elements in it. O.K. there are for sure "eucathastrophic" elements in the OT, all over it, actually. But to me that element in them seems a liitle "overlooked" in the Jewish traditional interpretation of them, while it is kind of central in their Christian understanding.
That's not what I said. I said it is possible to read LOTR without the Christian interpretation, just as it is possible to reverence Tanakh without the New Testament. Judaism is not essentially a Messianic religion though there are Messianic strains in it. In Jewish interpretation, for example, there would be no reason for Jephtha's bloodline to die out to assure the elevation of the Davidic line.

Tanakh is full of miracles, many of which are central to the religion, so I would not say the "eucatastrophic" element is overlooked in Judaism. All victories are seen as happening because of God's help, and therefore miraculous in one degree or another. And miricles require faith. What is "overlooked" by Judaism is your belief that all of these point to a Messiah as the ultimate miracle.
 

Rachel Port

Well-Known Member
7Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?
Odola, I'm not sure what you mean by a deescalation culture. Maintaining peace, especially in families, is a central concept in Judaism, as is pointed to in the bolded passage and elsewhere - it is perhaps the whole point of the Joseph story, in which all the brothers have had to reach a point of understanding their father's weaknesses, repenting their behavior. Judah's plea to Joseph to spare Benjamin and thus Jacob shows this. The emphasis in the laws on fairness in dealing with each other and kindness to neighbors and strangers, so often repeated, is there for a reason, and when communities don't follow this, disaster follows. The importance on maintaining peace is not a new element in Jesus' preaching.
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
That option is probably what would have happened if Jephtha had appealed to get his oath invalidated. Though I might ask, what Temple do you mean? In the time of Judges (and this is very early in that time) there was no Temple and no formal cult of sacrifice. Jephtha would presumably have made the sacrifice himself on his own land, where he might have had an altar for his sacrifices. The society at the time of the Judges was strongly tribal, and the tribes had their own sets of rules. And that kind of dedication happens twice that I know of: Samuel's and Samson's mothers, as thanks for having a child after being barren, give their sons to God. But we have no reason to suspect that's what happened to Jephtha's daughter. At the times when the Temple did have virgins in its service, it was considered a pagan practice, and some reformer would come and stop it. It's the same story as Agamemnon and Iphegenia, and in both cases, it's a literal sacrifice. It is probably an archetypal story that appears in other cultures as well. For Jephtha, it is also a lack of faith.
But it would have been stated that he killed and burned her, and at this place in the text it only states it there "And she was a virgin" not "And she was killed". Agamemnon was not the wisest of kings and he didn't end well because of it, but Jephtha imho was not a stupid man. Also Agamemnon wanted something to come in future after the sacrifice: good winds. He was not paying back a debt for a granted wish - which is usually done by the dedication of the promised person - he was paying a penalty for killing a sacred animal . Actually in many ancient versions of the Iphigenia myth she is replaced by stag by Artemis at the last moment - which maked the story more a parallel to Abraham/Issac and not Jephtha.

There was no Salomonic Temple yet, and the worship was not yet centralised. Judah's daughter-in-law Tamar has centuries before succesfully played a hierodule to seduce her father-in-law, so they were known and "normal" in the society. There were the ancient sactuaries at Bethel, Dan (Lahish), Siloh (tabernacle) already, there was also a sanctuary for the Moses' brazen serpent. The sactuary of Dan with its silver idol had even side branch of the bloodline of Moses himself as their priestly line. But even the Davidic Judah had more the one temple dedicated to YHWH, as we know from archeology (see the mini temple dedicated to Him in Tel Arad) The religious landscape before the reforms of Josiah and Hezekiah was quite diverse - exactly as it is to be expected. It is stated that one of the crimes of the son's of Heli was that they " they slept with the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting." 1 Samuel 2:22

Jephtha was not a idiot, and he had no faith problem - from the way he acted in the war or how he worded his messages to the enemy his faith was strong - he was a successfull strategist and completely aware of what God has already done for His people. His half-brothers hated him, why should he give his only daughter to any of their sons? But that would be what would have been expected from him, after becoming the de facto leader of the area though his own merit. So he dedicated his daughter, which brought himself great honour (Pharaohs did the same by making their daughters Divine Adoratrices and Wifes-of-Amun, the same was a custom in Mesopotamia - see Sargon the Great who claimed to be the fatherless son of a priestess and had his famous daughter Enheduanna dedicated to priestly service) - but also cut down his line. The whole nice show about this being unplanned was for his brothers. He played them and his daughter was in on it - so her calm answer makes perfect sense - imho. This is not an Abraham and Isaac story, this is a clever man with his clever daughter playing their power-hungry relatives. This is how the story makes sense - otherwise the whole notion about her being a virgin makes no sense at all. Are we ever told if Issac was a virgin when he was going to be sacrificed by Abraham? Completely irrelevant in such a situation.

David's line was not uncontested at its beginning - otherwise the Northern Kingdom would not fall away to some general. A family claiming descent from Jephtha - whose deeds were legendary - would be a strong contender for the throne. Actually Jephtah seems a far better thinking-ahead leader than David was, who was not a bad warlord but a actually a quite weak king - and an even a far worse father.

That's not what I said. I said it is possible to read LOTR without the Christian interpretation, just as it is possible to reverence Tanakh without the New Testament. Judaism is not essentially a Messianic religion though there are Messianic strains in it. In Jewish interpretation, for example, there would be no reason for Jephtha's bloodline to die out to assure the elevation of the Davidic line.
Yes, nowadays it isn't an essentially Messianic religion and has not been that for some time. I aknowledge that. And I do value that a lot that you do grant that we call the Old Testament can be read in a more Messianic way, that the text itself allows for such a reading - even if you yourself would not follow such an interpretation.

Tanakh is full of miracles, many of which are central to the religion, so I would not say the "eucatastrophic" element is overlooked in Judaism. All victories are seen as happening because of God's help, and therefore miraculous in one degree or another. And miricles require faith. What is "overlooked" by Judaism is your belief that all of these point to a Messiah as the ultimate miracle.
No need for the last part in this discussion imho, but the first part is exactly what I would like to talk about.
The "eucatastrophic" elements in Judaims and how they could relate to TLOTR?
 
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Odola

Well-Known Member
Odola, I'm not sure what you mean by a deescalation culture. Maintaining peace, especially in families, is a central concept in Judaism, as is pointed to in the bolded passage and elsewhere - it is perhaps the whole point of the Joseph story, in which all the brothers have had to reach a point of understanding their father's weaknesses, repenting their behavior. Judah's plea to Joseph to spare Benjamin and thus Jacob shows this. The emphasis in the laws on fairness in dealing with each other and kindness to neighbors and strangers, so often repeated, is there for a reason, and when communities don't follow this, disaster follows. The importance on maintaining peace is not a new element in Jesus' preaching.
More of this please! This was exaclty one of my questions above - how is deecalation valued in Judaism and do we have some sources or commentaries on this?
 

Rachel Port

Well-Known Member
My Jewish Learning is a website can answer many of your questions. Here are two pages that will give you an idea of how the texts have been interpreted through the ages. I don't agree with everything that is said, but we are a religion that calls for questioning even more than obedience.

Jewish ideas on peace and non-violence is one.


The other gives traditional sources on the importance of peace.

 

Odola

Well-Known Member
My Jewish Learning is a website can answer many of your questions. Here are two pages that will give you an idea of how the texts have been interpreted through the ages. I don't agree with everything that is said, but we are a religion that calls for questioning even more than obedience.

Jewish ideas on peace and non-violence is one.


The other gives traditional sources on the importance of peace.

Thank you, read both through but find little really applicable to TLOTR. Could you help to connect this to the principles seen in TLOTR?
 
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