Haftarah Terumah

Torah Portion Terumah

Exodus 25:1 - 27:19

1 Kings 5:12 - 6:13

 

Shalom! This is the nineteenth portion in the Haftarah cycle where we will be discussing Solomon's building of the temple along with the concept of forced labor as a form of taxation in the ancient Near East.  This year we will be spending approximately one hour on each of the Haftarah portions and investigating them from their historical setting and their ancient Near Eastern context as well as making connections back to the Torah Portion.  I pray that you will enjoy these teachings!


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Recommended Reading list:

  • The JPS Bible Commentary: Haftarot by Michael Fishbane]
  • The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament by John Walton
  • Honor, Patronage, Kinship and Purity by David DeSilva
  • Ancient Near Eastern Texts by James Pritchard

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Recommended Reading list:

  • The JPS Bible Commentary: Haftarot by Michael Fishbane]
  • The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament by John Walton
  • Honor, Patronage, Kinship and Purity by David DeSilva
  • Ancient Near Eastern Texts by James Pritchard
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2 comments

  1. Sinda Parkins Berge

    Ryan, I have a question from last weeks Torah Portion…..Chapter 21 verses 22-25. We have heard over and over again…”eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth”..etc for any and all situations. The “world” has really picked up on this verse!! It looks to me …to be in the context of a pregnant women getting hit and either loosing her baby and/or harm comes to her and baby.
    Verse 20 starts out as “If a person”. Verse 22 starts out as “If people”. Verse 26 starts out as “If a person”….and so on. Are these verses 20, 22, & 26 their own “subject”? I’m not sure how to explain what I’m thinking….but hopefully you know what I’m asking. In other words….the “eye for an eye, tooth for tooth” and so on is NOT for every situation….it’s only for a pregnant women getting hit.

    Todah Rabah!!

    • Hi Sinda,

      That is a perfect example of how we have misunderstood the context of the laws. Most people view the talionic law (eye for eye) as a law that was used to determine criminal punishment. The reality is that the talionic laws in the Torah were actually meant as a limitation of punishment to the accused. So the max penalty that could be inflicted if you cut someone’s hand off was that your own hand be cut off (though lesser penalty could be applied as well). This was not the case in other nations it was dependent upon your class. So if an upper class cut off a lower class member’s hand, the penalty would be a small fine, but if a lower class person cut off the hand of an upper class citizen, the penalty was death. The Torah demolishes class-based punishment and limits the penalty to talionic.

      In Exodus 21, the law code does not cover every single possible situation that could arise, but gives exemplary decisions meant to guide the wise judge so that if a situation arises that is not specifically covered in the law code, he knows how to judge based upon the principle of the law code. This situation with the pregnant woman is specifically mentioned because in a lot of other ANE societies, women had reduced rights, so here the Torah is saying, “even if its a woman who gets hit when two men fight, and even if she is okay but the unborn child isn’t…”. Why? Because other societies would not provide equal justice to a woman or her unborn infant. The Torah does provide justice for those who are likely to be oppressed!

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