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Traditions of the Bible: A Guide to the Bible As It Was at the Start of the Common Era / Edition 1

Traditions of the Bible: A Guide to the Bible As It Was at the Start of the Common Era / Edition 1

by James L. KugelJames L. Kugel


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James Kugel's The Bible As It Was (1997) has been welcomed with universal praise. Here now is the full scholarly edition of this wonderfully rich and illuminating work, expanding the author's findings into an incomparable reference work.

Focusing on two dozen core stories in the Pentateuch—from the Creation and Tree of Knowledge through the Exodus from Egypt and journey to the Promised Land—James Kugel shows us how the earliest interpreters of the scriptures radically transformed the Bible and made it into the book that has come down to us today. Kugel explains how and why the writers of this formative age of interpretation—roughly 200 B.C.E. to 150 C.E.—assumed such a significant role. Mining their writings—including the Dead Sea Scrolls, works of Philo and Josephus and letters of the Apostle Paul, and writings of the Apostolic Fathers and the rabbinic Sages—he quotes for us the seminal passages that uncover this crucial interpretive process.

For this full-scale reference work Kugel has added a substantial treasury of sources and passages for each of the 24 Bible stories. It will serve as a unique guide and sourcebook for biblical interpretation.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674791510
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 01/03/1999
Edition description: Subsequent
Pages: 1080
Product dimensions: 6.50(w) x 10.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

James L. Kugel is a Professor at Bar-Ilan University.

Table of Contents


The World of Ancient Biblical Interpreters

The Creation of the World

Wisdom Came First
• The "Beginning" Did It
• A Special Light
• The Angels Were Also Created
• God and Someone Else
• Completed on Friday

Other Readings: Created Long Before
• The Heavenly Throne Preceded
• Eden and Gehenna Created
• The Preexistent Temple
• Named Before the Sun
• Two Thousand Years Before
• Creation out of Nothingness God and Wisdom Were Parents
• Plato and Scripture Agree
• The Logos Participated
• The Wicked Demiurge Built by the Book
• A Day of God's
• Created in a Single Act
• Special Light of Creation
• The Angels Were Also Created
• Windy and Fiery Angels
• Tireless Angels
• Shrink the Moon
• The Sun Stands Alone
• God and Someone Else
• In the Image of God?
• Immense Primordial Adam
• Androgynous Humanity
• One Male with One Female
• Adam and His Rib
• You Must Be Fruitful
• The World for Israel
• Completed on Friday
• The First Sabbath (But Not the Last)
• God's Firstborn, Israel

Adam and Eve

Death in a Day
• The Punishment Was Mortality
• SinfuIness Is Hereditary
• The Serpent Was Satan
• Blame It on the Woman
• An Extra Proviso
• The Earthly Paradise
• The Garden in Heaven

Other Readings: The Earthly Adam
• Purified before Eden
• Eden the Sanctuary
• The Garden of Delight
• Eden Was Wisdom
• Eve and the Animals
• Adam's Ex
• Glorious Clothing
• Working and Guarding the Torah
• The Devil's Envy
• Diabolical Ventriloquism
• What Mud of Tree?
• The Tree of Life and Wisdom
• Good to Eat and See
• The Punishment Was Mortality
• How Are You Now, Really?
• Blame It on the Woman
• An Extra Proviso
• Stripped of Their Former Virtues
• Sinfulness Is Hereditary
• Free Will Nevertheless
• Garments of Light
• Adam's Restored Glory
• Curses Reversed
• Garments Saved
• The Tree Is the Reward
• The Righteous Are the Trees
• To the East, or North, or Somewhere
• Neither Heaven Nor Earth
• Penitent Adam and Eve
• Seth's Snakebite

Cain and Abel

Son of the Devil
• Cain's Sisters
• Professions Decided
• Defective Sacrifices
• The Problem Was the Sacrificer
• The Good and the Bad
• Killed with a Stone
• God Knew Where Abel Was
• Cain's Sevenfold Punishment
• Cain's Repentance

Other Readings: Son of the Devil
• Cain's Lustrous Face
• Cain's Sisters
• Different Professions on Purpose
• Improper Division
• Fire from Heaven
• Abel's "Bloods"
• What You Say?
• God Knew Where Abel Was
• Earth Cursed
• Land of Trembling
• Cain's Sevenfold Punishment
• The Sign Was a Letter
• Cain Died in the Flood
• The House Fell In
• Cain Killed by Lamech
• Cain and the Jews
• The Gnostic Cain

Noah and the Flood

Cain Was the Worst
• The Immortal Enoch
• The Heavenly Scribe
• Enoch the Sage
• Enoch the Penitent
• A Bad Match
• The Wicked Giants
• One Hundred and Twenty until Punishment
• Noah Warned of the Flood
• Noah the Righteous
• Only in His Generation
• The Animals Also Sinned
• The Purifying Flood

Other Readings: The Immortal Enoch
• Enoch the Heavenly Scribe
• Enoch the Angel
• Enoch the Penitent
• Antediluvian Saints and Sinners
• The Flood Had Many Causes
• Fornication or Uncleanness Caused the Flood
• Violations of the Natural Order
• Corruption Spread
• Wicked Giants Spread Violence
• A Purifying Bath
• Humanity Had Been Corrupted
• Angels Passed On Forbidden Knowledge
• Separate Punishment for Angels
• Angels Fell
• Angels Imprisoned
• Giants Killed Off
• No Divine Spirit in Flesh
• The "Sons of God" Were Human
• The Women Allured
• One Hundred and Twenty Years unfit Punishment
• A Lifespan of One Hundred and Twenty Years
• The Human Lifespan Shrank Twice
• Noah's Name Meant What?
• Noah's Miraculous Appearance
• Doubts about Paternity
• Only in His Generation
• Noah Was Younger
• Shem Was Noah's Oldest Son—or Was It Japhet?
• How Long a Flood?
• They Saw the Rainbow
• Ham Was Guilty of More
• Noah's Granddaughters
• The Laws of Noah's Sons (Noahide Laws)

The Tower of Babel

They Tried to Storm Heaven
• A War against God
• Nimrod Built It
• The Builders Were Giants
• The Tower Lies in Ruins

Other Readings: The "One Language" Was Hebrew
• One Language and One Plan
• Changed Faces of Babel
• They Tried to Storm Heaven
• A War against God
• They Made an Idol
• Wicked Taskmasters of Babel
• The Builders Were Giants
• God and the Angels

Abraham Journeys from Chaldea

Abraham the Monotheist
• Terah, Priest of Idolatry
• Abraham the Astronomer
• Tipped Off by the Stars
• Abraham Rescued from Chaldea
• Abraham Saved from Fire
• Abraham Was Upset
• Abraham's Dream

Other Readings: Abraham, Friend of God
• Abraham and the Tower
• Broken Gods
• Abraham the Astronomer
• Hierarchy of False Gods
• Abraham's Heavenly Journey
• Out of Astrology
• Abraham Was in Ur—or Was It Haran? Abraham the Monotheist
• Haran Perished in the Furnace
• What Happened to Terah?
• Abraham's Dream Sarah's Virtue Intact
• Hagar, Gift of Pharaoh


A Generous Host
• Righteous King and Priest
• Divinely Appointed High Priest
• The Heavenly Melchizedek
• The Christian "Order of Melchizedek"
• An Uncircumcised Priest?
• Melchizedek in Samaria
• Melchizedek Was Shem
• Services No Longer Needed

Other Readings: Abraham's Journey
• Thirteen or Thirteenth?
• Abraham's 318 Were One
• The Gnostic Melchizedek
• Melchizedek Was Shem
• The Heavenly Melchizedek
• Melchizedek in Samaria
• Melchizedek Missing

The Trials of Abraham

Abraham the Tested
• Abraham Saw a Dire Future
• Challenged by Angels
• God Made It Known
• Isaac Was a Willing Victim
• Together in Mind
• Offering Foreshadowed Crucifixion

Other Readings: Ten Tests
• Man of Faith
• Justified by Faith
• Sarah Smiled with Pleasure
• Abraham Saw a Dire Future
• Abraham's Vision of Hell
• The Sin of the Amorites
• Abraham Saw the Four Empires
• Abraham Saw the Temple
• The Animals Were Symbolic
• The Animals Were Sacrificed
• Four Hundred Years from Abraham Isaac Foreshadowed the Church
• How Old Was Isaac?
• Where Was Moriah?
• Isaac Asked to Be Tied Up
• Your Seed Will Call Out
• God Made It Known
• "You Are the Lamb"
• Offering Foreshadowed Crucifixion
• Offering Taught Resurrection
• Abraham's Last Test

Lot and Lot's Wife

Lot the Righteous
• Lot the Wicked
• Sodomites' Sexual Sins
• The Proud and the Stingy
• Abraham's Hospitality
• Lot Learned from Abraham
• Lot's Wife Sinned
• A Visible Reminder
• Lot's Daughters Meant Well

Other Readings: Three "Men" Were Angels
• There Had to Be Three
• The Angels Didn't Really Eat
• Lot the Wicked
• Lot Bought a House
• Lot's Daughter Pelitit
• Sinning in Secret
• Sodom and Isaiah

Jacob and Esau

Jacob Was Not Just "Simple
• Jacob the Scholar
• Esau the Wicked
• Good and Evil in Utero
• Esau the Warrior
• Esau Means Rome
• Esau the Deceiver
• Esau Didn't Care
• Jacob Told the Truth
• God Wanted Jacob to Be Blessed
• The Ladder Was a Message
• Angels Wanted to See Him

Other Readings: Jacob the Scholar
• Esau Means Rome
• Esau the Deceiver
• Esau's Priestly Garments
• The War between Jacob and Esau
• Many Stones into One
• The Ladder Was a Message
• Guardian Angels of the Four Empires
• Jacob's Countenance on the Heavenly Throne
• Ascending and Descending

Jacob and the Angel

Jacob Knew Right Away
• Deluded in the Dark
• Additional Trickery Required
• 'Weak, Bleary Eyes
• "Nice Eyes, But..."
• God Multiplied Jacob's Flocks
• Rachel Was Not a Crook
• Jacob Struggled with an Angel
• Mighty with God's Help
• Israel Means Seeing God

Other Readings: Sneaky Laban
• Weak, Bleary Eyes Assembled for Advice
• Jacob's Moderation
• Jacob Concealed from Laban
• The Talking Household Gods
• Unclean Idols
• Exalted with God, Powerful with Men
• Israel Means "Seeing God"
• Israel the Angel
• His Turn to Sing
• Jacob and the Crucifixion
• The Sinaitic Nerve


Uncontrolled Anger
• Shechem Deserved Death
• Foreigners Are Different
• Intermarriage Is Forbidden
• A Wise Answer
• The Whole City Was Guilty
• City with a Criminal Past
• God Said No
• God Ordered Their Destruction
• Dinah Married Job

Other Readings: Dinah "Went out" for a Party
• The Three Stages of Sin
• God Said No
• Killed one Each
• Intermarriage is Forbidden
• A Sincere Proposal
• The Whole City Was Guilty
• Shechem the Non-People
• Gave His Seed to Intermarriage
• True Brothers Indeed
• Swords from Heaven
• What Was Jacob's Sword?
• The War with the Amorites
• Priestly Garments Transmitted
• Levi Was Given the Priesthood
• The War of Simeon and Levi
• Dinah Was Asenath's Mother

Joseph's Ups and Downs

It's a Wise Child
• Eating from the Flocks
• Resembled Jacob in All Things
• Deeds of Youthful Foolishness
• For the Price of Shoes
• Josephs Great Virtue
• A Very Handsome Man
• Girls Climbing the Walls
• Cast Down Their Jewelry
• Joseph Was Not Tempted
• Remembered Jacob's Teachings
• Saw Jacob's Face
• A Collective Accusation
• Pharaoh's Servants Applauded
• Joseph Had Been Scorned

Other Readings: Spotted or Colored?
• Eating from the Flocks
• Three Bad Reports Tamar's Righteousness
• Everyone Went to a Festival A Collective Accusation
• Why Wasn't Joseph Killed?
• Pharaoh's Counselors Prevented from Interpreting Joseph Knew Seventy Languages

Jacob's Sons in Egypt

A Good Reason for Concealing
• Joseph Tested His Brothers Joseph
• Disdained Revenge
• Reuben Lost His
• Inheritance Bilhah Bathing
• Bilhah Was Asleep Jacob Foretold the
• Future Kingship Will Not Depart Forever
• Another King Will Come Until a New King Comes A Ruler of the
• World
• Why Did Joseph Put It Off?

Other Readings: Why Didn't Joseph Contact His Father?
• Changed Appearance
• Joseph Foreshadowed Jesus
• How Many Extra Portions?
• Joseph's Non-Divining Goblet
• 66 + 3 + 70? Ephraim's Blessing Foreshadowed the Church
• Reuben Not Guilty
• Reuben's Illness
• As Reuben Lay Dying
• Reuben's Punishment Still Greater
• Poured Out Like Water
• Another King Will Come
• Judah Will Never Depart
• The Feet Mean a Child
• Until a New King Comes
• A Ruler of the World
• A Colt and an Ass
• Bloody Clothes of the King
• Judah the Drunkard
• Joseph's Prophetic Request

Growing Up in Pharaoh's Court

Plan to Finish Them Off
• Why Only the Boys?
• Future Savior
• Jannes and Jambres
• Balaam Job, and Jethro
• Death by Water
• Schooled in Every Wisdom Moses'
• Speech Defect
• Jealous of Moses Zipporah the Ethiopian
• * Miraculously Burning Bush The Medium Was the
• Message
• "I Am the One Who Is ..."
• "I Am the Eternal..."
• An
• Angel in the Hotel Circumcision Delayed Is
• Circumcision Denied A Prenuptial Agreement

Other Readings: Pharaoh's Unstated Fears
• Jannes and Jambres
• Pharaoh's Dream Hebrew Midwives A Future Savior
• Born in the Dunes
• Arm-am, Noble Father of Moses
• Amram's Divorce
• What a Beautiful Baby
• Pharaoh's Barren Daughter
• No Handmaid, Twin Handmaid&
• Why "Moses"?
• Schooled in Every Wisdom
• Moses' Speech Defect Jealous of Moses
• Moses and the Ethiopians
• The Many Names of Moses' Father-in-Law
• Zipporah the Hebrew First an Angel, Then God
• God Spoke with Fire
• God's Secret Name
• White But Not Leprous
• A Prenuptial Agreement

The Exodus from Egypt

A Godlike Man
• No Mere Magician's Trick
• Pharaoh Didn't Realize
• Divine Punishment of the Egyptians
• Deservedly Punished by Water
• A Dark Dungeon for Egypt
• Metaphorical Darkness
• Justifiable Death for the Firstborn
• Egyptians Gave Willingly
• Fair Wages at Last
• The Symbolic Passover Laws
• The (Paschal) Lamb of Christianity

Other Readings: A Godlike Man
• Pharaoh Didn't Realize
• Aaron's Miraculous Staff
• Pharaoh's Sorcerers Had Help
• How Many Plagues?
• Hordes or Herds?
• God's Finger
• This Very Month
• Seven Commemorative Days
• Wine, Not Beer
• Four Sons
• How Long, 0 Lord?
• Remember Every Day
• Typology of the Exodus
• Pharaoh as Satan
• A Special Night
• The (Paschal) Lamb of God

The Red Sea

Pillar of Luminous Cloud
• Protective Covering
• An Angel in the Cloud
• Final Payment
• Get Back Our Goods!
• Rebellion at the Sea
• More than One Miracle
• A Grassy Plain
• Miraculous Timing
• If Looks Could Kill...
• Light and Dark Together
• Ups and Downs of the Egyptians
• Red Sea as Baptism
• How Did They Know the Words?
• Seeing God at the Sea
• Infants Sang Too
• Miriam's Separate Song
• A New Song

Other Readings: The Pillar of Luminous Cloud
• Clouds of Glory
• Clothes That Grow On You
• Moses Alone Took the Bones
• The Bones and the Pillar
• The Re[e]d Sea
• Rebellion at the Sea
• If Looks Could Kill
• Strike the Sea
• The Leap to Kingship
• New Creation at the Sea
• Ups and Downs of the Egyptians
• Red Sea as Baptism
• Stop That Singing
• Pharaoh Died at the Sea
• The Dumb Sing
• Miriam the Prophetess
• The New Song

Into the Wilderness

Water, Water...
• A Symbolic Tree
• The Water Was Divine Wisdom
• The Food of Angels
• Heavenly Grain
• Adapted to Any Taste
• Spiritual Sustenance
• The Traveling Rock
• Miriam's Well
• Amalek Destroyed at the End-Time
• The Symbolic Hands of Moses
• The Christian Battle with Amalek
• Jethro the Polytheist
• Jethro the Good

Other Readings: Heal Thyself
• Taught a Tree
• The Water Was Divine Wisdom
• Poor Waters of Elim?
• Spiritual Sustenance
• The Traveling Rock
• The Christian Rock
• Hidden Hand

At Mt. Sinai

Heaven on Earth
• Celestial Sinai
• Heavenly Moses
• God Spoke All Ten
• God Spoke Only Two
• The Ten Were All
• The Decalogue Epitomizes
• Five and Five
• Which Ten Commandments?
• No Talk of Weekday Matters
• Guard the Sabbath Borders
• Do Not Go Out Too Far
• Do Not Take Vain Oaths
• No False 0aths
• Honor Your Heavenly and Earthly Fathers
• A Mishap to the Baby
• A Mishap to the Mother
• Money for an Eye
• Traditions of the Elders
• Moses Was Given More than the Torah
• Oral Teachings from Moses
• A Hidden Torah
• Moses' Secret Book
• A Book before Moses
• Children of the Chosen
• Singled Out from the Start
• Other Nations Knew Anyway
• Other Nations at Fault
• Remember This Blood

Other Readings: Heralded by Angels
• A Kingdom of Priests
• The Symbolic Fire at Sinai
• Seeing the Voices
• God Spoke Only Two
• The Ten Were All
• The Decalogue Epitomizes
• A Singular Set of Laws
• Five and Five
• Which Ten Commandments?
• Omnium Malorum Radix
• Guard the Sabbath Borders
• "Remember" and "Keep" Together
• No Fasting on Sabbath
• Don't Talk about Weekday Matters
• Vain and False Oaths
• Honor Your Heavenly and Earthly Fathers
• A Mishap for the Baby
• A Limb of the Mother
• Moses Was Given More Than the Torah
• Singled Out from the Start
• Other Nations Knew Anyway
• Law as Custodian
• Torah Kept by the Patriarchs
• Blood of the New Covenant

The Golden Calf

Celestial Sanctuary
• Copied from Heaven
• Likeness of the Universe
• Aaron Tried to Stop Them
• Aaron Feared for His Life
• Hur Murdered by the Rabble
• The Letters Flew Off
• Tables Became Too Heavy
• Divine Traits of Character
• Steadfast Love for Thousands of Generations
• No Pardon for the Wicked
• Thousands of Sins Forgiven
• Moses' Face Beamed Light
• Moses Grew Horns

Other Readings: Copied from Heaven
• Aaron Tried to Stop Them
• The Letters Flew Off
• Stored with Other Things
• The Angel of the Exodus
• Moses Grew Hums
• The Metaphorical Veil
• Mirrors of Modesty Thousands of Israelites
• Cleanses But Does Not Cleanse

Worship in the Wilderness

An Error in Priestly Procedure
• A Holy Death
• Coats Not Burned
• Control of Appetites
• Ruminating with One's Mind
• Gentle Birds for Gentle People
• Day of Repentance
• The Day of Partial Atonement
• Hatred Means Hypocrisy
• Reproach Prevents Hatred
• Reproach Gently to Prevent Sin
• Reproach before Charging
• Love As You Would Be Loved
• Love Only Your Neighbor
• The Whole Torah

Other Readings: A Holy Death
• Eating and Drinking Today
• Control of Appetites
• Day of Partial Atonement
• Avert the Death Penalty
• Typological Goat
• Don't Listen to Your Parents
• Reproach Prevents Hatred
• The Whole Torah
• The Golden Rule
• The Day after the Sabbath?
• May Your Heart Shine with Wisdom

Trouble along the Way

Quails Weren't for Grousing
• A Wife Related to Prophecy
• Trusted Servant Par Excellence
• Whose Bad Idea?
• Solemnly Warned
• Tassels Set Off Revolt
• Moses Accused of Favoritism
• Moses Was Polite
• Korah's Symbolic Death
• A Truly Dangerous Figure
• Aaron's Symbolic Staff

Other Readings: Trusted Servant Par Excellence
• Miriam's Punishment
• Korah's Wealth
• Tassels Set Off Revolt
• Jealous of Aaron Alone
• The Mouth of the Earth
• Korah's Virtuous Sons
• Aaron's Staff Preserved
• Red Heifer Just in Time
• Red Heifer's Symbolism

The Bronze Serpent, Balaam, and Phinehas

Looking Didn't Cure
• Serpent Was Like Moses' Hands
• Balaam the Wicked
• God Knew Who They Were
• Prophet for Hire
• Balaam Foresaw the Messiah
• Ruler of the World
• The Star Is the Messiah
• The Star Will Precede the Scepter
• Balaam Counseled Seduction
• A Leader among Priests
• Phinehas the Immortal Phinehas Is Elijah

Other Readings: Blood and Water
• The Serpent Symbolized Crucifixion
• The Song of the Torah Well
• Balaam the Wicked
• Balaam's Demotion
• A Ruler of the World
• The Star Is the Messiah
• The Star Will Precede the Scepter
• Rising Greek Star
• The Star of Damascus
• Balaam Counseled Seduction
• A Leader among Priests

The Life of Torah

The Great Teaching
• These Words Twice a Day
• A Particular Prophet
• Do Not Displace Old Practices
• Necessary Paperwork
• No Divorce—Except for Indecency
• Any Old Reason Is Valid
• Don't Muzzle Me
• Small Commandments as Important as Big
• Torah Refines (Like Fire)
• The Gift of the Torah
• Not in Heaven Anymore
• A Choice for Each Person
• A Choice of Two Paths
• Nice Road at First
• The Path to the Afterlife
• Consider Heaven and Earth
• Heaven and Earth Were Already Witnesses
• Moses Did Not Want to Die
• Moses Disputed with an Angel
• Moses' Last Vision
• Buried by God (or the Angels)
• Buried under a Cloud
• Not Buried at All
• The Supreme Philosopher

Other Readings: The Great Teaching
• No Redundancy in the Great Teaching
• Bind Them on Your Arm and Head
• A Particular Prophet
• Do Not Displace Old Practices
• Crucified on a Tree
• Necessary Paperwork
• No Divorce—Except for Indecency
• Can a Wife Divorce Her Husband?
• Were the Laws Really Divine?
• Torah Refines (Like Fire)
• Adam's Choice
• Consider Heaven and Earth
• Heaven and Earth Forever
• The Foolish Non-People
• Reuben's Second Life
• Moses Did Not Want to Die
• Moses Disputed with an Angel Until That Particular Day
• Buried by God (or the Angels)
• Not Buried at All
• The Supreme Philosopher



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