Tag Archives Biblical Law

“Shavuot’s Timing: Scriptural Interpretation and Sectarian Divergence in Ancient Judaism”

Yoel Halevi No Comments


The debate over the timing of Shavuot highlights the complexities of how the Torah was interpreted and practiced in ancient Jewish communities, particularly during the Hellenistic period. This study examines how different sects, such as the Pharisees, the community behind the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the Boethusians, navigated the interplay between written texts and oral traditions to determine the date of Shavuot. While Leviticus 23 offers one method based on the weekly Shabbat, other interpretations arose from broader scriptural sources in Exodus and Deuteronomy, reflecting diverse agricultural practices and oral traditions. The centralization of religious practices with the establishment of the Second Temple further complicated these interpretations, leading to varying observances within the Jewish liturgical calendar. This research underscores the dynamic nature of the Torah as both a written and oral tradition, shaped by the historical and cultural contexts of its adherents.

Redemption of the firstborn

Yoel Halevi No Comments


The significance of the first born in biblical literature is presented both in narrative and law. This current article will be dealing with the background and legal details of the redemption of the first born and how to practice the law in our current world. 

The Importance of the Firstborn

The term bǝḵôr (firstborn) is found 122 times in different variations in the Hebrew text. We find in multiple occasions the importance of the firstborn in law, narrative and poetry. The first born is the proper sacrifice (Gen 4:4, Lev 27:26, Duet 15:19), he receives double portion in inheritance (Duet 21:17) and he is the center of the sons in all families (Gen 48:18, Jer 31:8, Zek 12:10). We find the same principle in the ancient near east in different law codes where the sone inherits double portions called alâtu (Hartom, 1954, p.125).

Why 70 Bulls?

Yoel Halevi No Comments

The Torah in Numbers 29:12-34 requires the Israelite priests to sacrifice 70 bulls during the great feast of Sukkot-Asif. The question standing before most people who read this text is why 70?

In traditional interpretation found in rabbinic sources, we find the argument that 70 represents the 70 nations mentioned in Genesis 4. The concept revolves around the universality of YHWH in the mind of 2nd temple Judaism and the idea of the universal responsibility of Israel.


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