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Moses

(1,477 words)

Author(s): Smend, Rudolf
1. Name Exod. 2:10 explains the name “Moses” with a philologically impossible Hebrew etymology (deriving it from mšh, “draw out”). In fact, the name is the short form of an Egyptian name such as “Thutmose” (from mśy, “bear”), without the theophoric element. 2. Career In the OT Moses is the central figure in the early history of Israel (§1). Commissioned by Yahweh, he rescued the people from oppression in Egypt, proclaimed the law to them at Sinai, led them through the desert, and died immediately before their entry into West Jordan. Tho…

Wrath of God

(4,386 words)

Author(s): Smend, Rudolf | Hübner, Hans | Slenczka, Notger
1. OT 1.1. Using anthropomorphic or anthropopathic language, many religions described their gods in human terms; they could thus see them as wrathful. Fear of divine wrath was undoubtedly one of the main motivations behind the development of religion and also of the cult. Israel was close to its neighbors in this regard, as may be seen from an inscription of King Mesha of Moab (mid-9th cent. b.c.), who, speaking of the long-standing oppression of Moab by King Omri of Israel (§1.5), attributes it to the wrath of Chemosh, the Moabite god (KAI 181.5; TUAT 1.647; cf. 2 Kgs. 3:27). 1.2. Mention of …

Canon

(3,641 words)

Author(s): Smend, Rudolf | Merk, Otto | Heron, Alasdair I. C.
1. The OT Canon 1.1. Presuppositions and Preparatory Stages Long before the OT writings became canonical in any strict sense (measuring up to a kanōn, i.e., a standard or rule), many of them claimed and received an authority that was already related to canonicity and that logically prepared the way for it. Priests, prophets, and wise men spoke with great, if not final, authority. Many of their sayings were remembered and gave instruction and direction to later generations, even if in changed or supplemented form. The …

Historiography

(4,422 words)

Author(s): Smend, Rudolf | Holtz, Traugott | Schindler, Alfred | Koschorke, Klaus
1. OT 1.1. Historiography and Historical Thinking To a greater extent than is sometimes realized, ancient Israel (§1) shared in the very diverse “mythical” historical thinking of the surrounding world. It read present events in the light of past events, beginning in a distant primal period, which would both explain and if necessary validate them. It thus narrated, established, and handed down the stories of the past, not least of all in the cult. The course of history was determined by human conduct in…

Exegesis, Biblical

(4,587 words)

Author(s): Smend, Rudolf | Roloff, Jürgen
1. OT 1.1. Jewish Exegesis in Antiquity and the Middle Ages Jewish exegesis of the OT precedes Christian exegesis. It had models in the OT itself, where many of the later texts refer to earlier ones, applying, varying, and extending them in a variety of ways. More or less regular exegesis arose once the texts had taken a fixed form and become canonical (Canon). Although true commentaries with linguistic and factual elucidations came only in the Middle Ages (such as those by Rashi, Abraham Ibn Ezra, David K…

Bible Manuscripts and Editions

(2,035 words)

Author(s): Smend, Rudolf | Rhodes, with Erroll F. | Metzger, Bruce M. | Rhodes, Erroll F. | Köster, Beate
1. OT MSS 1.1. Background In antiquity the materials used for Bible MSS were leather, parchment, and papyrus. The parchment was prepared from the skins of sheep, goats, antelopes, and other animals. Papyrus, which was made from the pith of the papyrus plant that grows in the marshes of the Nile, was imported from Egypt but usually did not last long in damp climates. The usual form for a literary document was the scroll (see, for example, Jeremiah 36; Ep. Arist.  177), especially for Jewish Scriptures used in worship services. In Christian circles scrolls were supplanted by …

Deuteronomistic History

(905 words)

Author(s): Smend, Rudolf
1. In the Hebrew Bible the first part of the canon (§1)—the Law and the Former Prophets, or the books from Genesis to Kings—contains a consecutive narrative from the creation to the Babylonian exile. Not merely by canonical arrangement or in terms of content but also in view of its historical development, there are good reasons to divide it into two parts. The first part consists of the Pentateuch, which ends with the death of Moses and therefore with the conclusion of the age of the founding of…