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Gordon, Benjamin D.

Land and Temple

Field Sacralization and the Agrarian Priesthood of Second Temple Judaism

Series:Studia Judaica 87

    99,95 € / $114.99 / £91.00*

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    Publication Date:
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    To be published:
    May 2020
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    Aims and Scope

    Cults and temples of the ancient world regularly held assets in land, often naming a patron deity as landowner but managing the land themselves and affording it sanctity protections. Arrangements of the sort can provide essential background to the Hebrew Bible’s assertion that the Land of Israel is “God’s land.” They can also shed light on the poorly understood references in biblical and early Jewish literature to the sacred landholdings of the Judean priesthood or Jerusalem temple. Such properties could result from endowments earmarked for priestly clans, pledges in exchange for loans issued from the holy treasuries, and crimes of fraud meant to impede foreclosure by a creditor. These are but some of the ways in which priests of the Second Temple period (516 BCE–70 CE) were involved in the everyday affairs of Jewish agriculturalists. In Egypt too the Oniad temple at Leontopolis appears to have commanded over a sacred portion of land. This aspect of the early Jewish cult’s institutional reach far beyond the confines of its sanctuaries underscores its similarity to the religious organizations of the ancient Mediterranean world, particularly the great theocratic “temple states” of the East. Touching on the fields of religion, archaeology, economics, and history, this first book-length treatment of the subject calls for a new understanding of the priesthood and temple in early Judaism.


    23.0 x 15.5 cm
    Approx. 360 pages
    Type of Publication:
    Priest; temple; land; sacred

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    Benjamin D. Gordon, University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

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