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Becoming Diaspora JewsBehind the Story of Elephantine$
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Karel van der Toorn

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780300243512

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300243512.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM YALE SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.yale.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Yale University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in YSO for personal use.date: 19 September 2021

The Aramean Heritage

The Aramean Heritage

(p.21) 2 The Aramean Heritage
Becoming Diaspora Jews

Karel van der Toorn

Yale University Press

This chapter explores the Aramean heritage of the Elephantine Jews. They had Jewish names, and their temple was devoted to the ancestral Jewish god. Yet they spoke Aramaic, used Aramaic wisdom literature to hone their scribal skills, venerated several Aramean gods besides Yaho, and referred to themselves as Arameans. In terms of culture, they seem to have been as much Aramean as Jewish, if not more. They apparently had a mixed heritage. In order to reflect this double identity, several scholars call them “Judeo-Arameans.” The binomial serves as a reminder of the complex background of the Elephantine Jews. They have come to be defined as Jews, but this chapter considers that perhaps they were not so Jewish during an earlier period of their existence.

Keywords:   Aramean heritage, Aramean culture, Judeo-Arameans, mixed heritage, Arameans, double identity, Elephantine Jews

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