Jerusalem Report

Our ever-wayward ancestors

The portrait of the Hebrews in Robert Alter's 'Ancient Israel' is one of collective villainy - and a rewarding read.

Ancient Israel: The Former Prophets, Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings
Photo by: Courtesy
THIS REVELATION will hardly burnish my reputation, but for the past 15 years or so I have taken part in a weekly Torah class. Prior to the commencement of something like the ninth or tenth iteration of our annual journey through the Five Books of Moses, I ventured to suggest to the rabbi that for a change perhaps we could shift our focus from the Pentateuch to the biblical books that follow it.

Not, I was quick to assert, that we had exhausted interpretations of the Torah – far from it. It was just that I and presumably some others in the group were interested in what happened after the passing of Moses.

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