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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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Becoming Diaspora Jews

Becoming Diaspora Jews

(p.115) 6 Becoming Diaspora Jews
Becoming Diaspora Jews

Karel van der Toorn

Yale University Press

This chapter attempts to solve the mysterious transformation of Samarian Arameans into Jews. Over a period of 100 years, perhaps longer, the Samarians of Palmyra became the Jews of Elephantine. Up to a point, the new identity happened to them through the force of circumstance. The diaspora experience in Egypt led others to perceive them as Jews. The community became part of the network of Jewish diaspora nodes. Around 420 BCE, the Persian authorities included them in the Jewish nation. Commissioned by the Persians, a Jewish ambassador for religious affairs ordered them to bring their religious calendar into conformity with the calendar observed by Jews all over the empire. During the final decade of the fifth century, the leadership of the Elephantine Jews deliberately claimed their new identity to present their situation in the most favorable light. At first the Jewish identity had happened to them. In the end, they claimed it. They would henceforth be remembered as the Elephantine Jews.

Keywords:   Samarian Arameans, Jewish diaspora, Elephantine Jews, Egypt, Persians, Jewish identity

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