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The Law of the Rebellious Son (Deut 21:18–21) according to Josephus

Pages 177 - 184


Bar-Ilan University

1 I would also like to acknowledge the kind and generous support of “Beit Shalom” Japan who made this research possible.

2 On Philo and NT sources, see D. Lincicum, Paul and the Early Jewish Encounter with Deuteronomy, WUNT 2.284, Tübingen 2010, 113–115; B. D. Crowe, The Obedient Son: Deuteronomy and Christology in the Gospel of Matthew, BZNW 188, Berlin 2012, esp. 176–178. I did not find any significant Qumranic text relating to the law in Deut. 21. The Temple scroll (col. 64, lines 1–6) has a minor change – instead of מורה it reads מורר. For an updated reading of the scroll, see E. Qimron, The Dead Sea Scrolls, Jerusalem 2011 (Hebrew); J. Maier, The Temple Scroll, JSOTSup 34, Sheffield 1985. See further, S. Paganini, „Nicht darfst du zu diesen Wörtern etwas hinzufügen“. Die Rezeption des Deuteronomiums in der Tempelrolle: Sprache, Autoren und Hermeneutik (BZAR 11), Wiesbaden 2009; B.M. Levinson, A More Perfect Torah: At the Intersection of Philology and Hermeneutics in Deuteronomy and the Temple Scroll. Critical Studies in the Hebrew Bible, vol. 1. Winona Lake, IN 2013. The Hebrew text of Deut. 21 is missing from the Qumran Deuteronomy scrolls. See Ulrich, Eugene, The Biblical Qumran Scrolls: Transcriptions and Textual Variants (VTSup, 134), Leiden 2010. For the rabbinic literature, see M. Halbertal, Interpretative Revolutions in the Making, Jerusalem 1997 (Hebrew).

3 Many of his essays on Josephus' Interpretation of the Bible were collected in the following collections: Josephus's Interpretation of the Bible, Berkeley 1998; Idem, Studies in Josephus' Rewritten Bible, Leiden 1998; Idem, Judaism and Hellenism Reconsidered, Leiden 2006. We may mention also Christopher Begg, Sarah Pearce and others as well. A full list of Begg's many publications is available in Sarah Pearce's main publications on this topic are: Flavius Josephus as interpreter of Biblical law: the Council of Seven and the Levitical Servants in Jewish Antiquities 4.214. The Heythrop Journal, 36 (1995), 477–492; Idem, Josephus as interpreter of Biblical law: the representation of the High Court of Deut. 17:8–12 according to Jewish Antiquities 4.218, JJS 46 (1995), 30–42.

4 See the bibliography cited in T. Kauhanen, The Proto-Lucianic Problem in 1 Samuel, Göttingen 2012.

5 See E. Bellefontaine, Deuteronomy 21:18–21 – Reviewing the Case of the Rebellious Son, JSOT 13 (1979), 13–31; J. Fleishman, Legal Innovation in Deuteronomy XXI 18–20, VT 53 (2003), 311–327; J. Tigay, The JPS Torah Commentary – Deuteronomy, Philadelphia 1996; M. Dubach, Trunkenheit im Alten Testament: Begrifflichkeit – Zeugnisse – Wertung, Stuttgart 2009, 112–115; A. Bartor, Reading Law as Narrative: A Study in the Casuistic Laws of the Pentateuch (SBLAIL, 5), Atlanta, GA 2010, 98–101.

6 Louis H. Feldman, Judean Antiquities Books 1–4, Flavius Josephus: Translation and Commentary 3; Leiden 2000.

7 See U. Cassuto, The Sequence and Arrangement of Biblical Sections, in idem, Biblical and Oriental Studies, vol. 1, Jerusalem 1973, 1–6; A. Rofé, The Arrangement of the Laws in Deuteronomy, ETL 64 (1988), 265–287; Y. Zakovitch, Introduction to Inner–Biblical Interpretation, Even–Yehuda 1992 (Hebrew).

8 Cf. H. Jungbauer, „Ehre Vater und Mutter“. Der Weg des Elterngebots in der biblischen Tradition (WUNT II/146), Tübingen 2002, 235.

9 J. P. Hallett, Fathers and Daughters in Roman Society. Women and the Elite Family, Princeton, N.J. 1984.

10 See most recently, W. Widder, “to Teach” In Ancient Israel: A Cognitive Linguistic Study of a Biblical Hebrew Lexical Set (BZAW 456), Berlin 2014, 166–195.

11 Cf. Bellefontaine, Deuteronomy 21: 18–21.

12 The LXX translates similarly παιδεύωσιν, “educate”. Targum Onkelos and Pseudo-Jonathan also translate the verb into “verbal reproach”.

13 E. Bellefontaine, Deuteronomy 21: 18–21.

14 Philo (On Drunkenness, 15; [LCL III; trans. F.H. Colson and G.H. Whitaker, London and New York 1930]) summarizes four sins for the rebellious son: “disobedience, contentiousness, paying of contributions and drunkenness”.

15 See A. Kasher and E. Witztum, King Herod: A Persecuted Persecutor, Berlin and New York 2007, 344, regarding Herod's sons' trial (Ant. 16.90–126; 313 ff.). Herod used this law as a pretext for killing two of his sons.

16 H. Weyl, Die Jüdischen Strafgesetze bei Flavius Josephus in ihrem Verhältnis zu Schrift und Halacha, Berlin 1900; Halbertal, Interpretative Revolutions, 63–67. The meaning of this rule is: the supreme judicial authority granted to the father of the family.

17 L. H. Feldman, A Selective Critical Bibliography, in Josephus, the Bible and History (ed. L. H. Feldman and G. Hata), Detroit 1989, 417.

18 Goldenberg, The Halakha in Josephus, 47–48.

19 Cf. the tannaitic sources brought by Goldenberg, The Halakha in Josephus, 46. See also Burnside, Signs of Sin, 51 for a similar assertion (without reference to Josephus).


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