'Coming to the Professors' podcast brings Jewish history to the people‏

‘The vast amount of papers produced by academia stays within its circle’

THE COMING to the Professors podcast: From King David to the Abraham Accords (photo credit: HADAS PARUSH/FLASH90)
THE COMING to the Professors podcast: From King David to the Abraham Accords
(photo credit: HADAS PARUSH/FLASH90)
 ‘Whoever wrote the Bible was very clever,” said podcaster Alex Tseitlin. “It is a book like no other in the history of mankind, holding within it stories of unparalleled wisdom.”
The Bible is “rich in text and contains ideas that have stayed with us until today,” added Tsetlin with excitement, “nothing like Assyrian records of the time which are boringly one sided, and read like ‘suspect’ Soviet-age material.”
Tseitlin was drawn to “all things history and archaeology,” ever since he was a little boy in Russia. In the 1990s he immigrated to Israel with his family where his interest continued to grow, culminating in a podcast that brings together some of the most notable academics and researchers of Jewish history.
Titled “Coming to the Professors,” the podcast has built up an engrossing library of knowledge where every imaginable aspect of Jewish and Israeli history is explored – from the ancient world and King David’s possible involvement in the murder of Saul, or who wrote the story of the Garden of Eden, to present day Mordechai Kedar’s insight into why Arabs signed peace treaties with Israel. 
Described by some as a “treasure trove of Jewish history,” it opens a window to the region’s past and present, with fresh insight into the ancient language and culture of the Israelites, all the way to the IDF’s 101 Unit, or former president Donald Trump’s relationship with the Jewish world. 
“Academics such as Igal Bin Nun, Israel Finkelstein, Edy Cohen, Osnat Bartour, Amihai Mazar, David Shapira, Yaira Amit and Yosef Garfinkel among others, come from different schools of thought,” explained Tseitlin, “but common to all is deep passion for their craft, to them, the region’s history, and culture of ancient Israel is not just a job, but a vocation.” 
Tseitlin is on a mission to take academic knowledge out of the campus bubble, and make it accessible to “ordinary folk.” Triggered by the misinformation and pseudo-academic material he found online, the hi-tech industry executive wondered “why academia itself does not publish its fascinating work outside the academic circles” and why it is not actively engaging in popular outlets such as Wikipedia. 
“The vast amounts of papers produced by academia stay within its circle,” Tseitlin explained, “I am changing this by bringing the professors to YouTube and getting them to talk at eye level, making this eye-opening knowledge accessible to everyone.”
TSEITLIN’S RESEARCH brought to light great injustice done to “figures from the past, often ones of monumental importance” that history chose to erase or considerably minimize due to ideological or political concerns of Bible authors and editors.”
Take for example the battle of Karkar. 
“Whoever lived at the time in Yehuda (Judea) and the states of the Levant would have known of this battle. There was a coalition of 12 Levant kings headed by the Israeli Achav (Ahab) and King Benhadad II of Aram Damascus. According to Assyrian reports, a staggering 100,000 people took part in this battle, believed to be the biggest in ancient times. In fact, it was thanks to this battle that we exist and that the Bible was written – it stopped the Assyrians, who for the century that followed, tried to conquer the Levant but failed. 
“The astonishing thing is that this battle is not mentioned in the Bible – not a single time. Achav, one of the greatest kings ever, who led to victory with 2,000 chariots and admirable political savvy, gets but a brief mention to inform us that he has sinned. That might be true, but the fact remains that a monumental figure was reduced to oblivion. It is the equivalent of telling us nothing of former prime minister David Ben-Gurion’s role in creating the Israeli state other than mentioning that he did head stands on the Tel Aviv beach.” 
The majority of the texts that compose the Bible were written and edited after the kingdom of Israel had fallen. 
“It is a very unusual book because it is not a one-sided book blindly praising the leader; this text includes a great deal of politics and nuance. It was put together in Jerusalem, with the intention of uniting the two nations of Judea and Israel.” 
There are scientific arguments about “what preceded what, but we know that it was important to people then to pass on their ideology and document history as they see it. Also their opinions. Shirat Dvora [the Song of Deborah in Judges], which is the earliest text we have, is one such example. Dvora speaks of which tribes deserve praise for coming to battle and which ones do not; it is very much her take on things.”
“COMING TO the Professors” has clocked hundreds of thousands of views, in spite of it being broadcast in Hebrew.
“We know the interest is there,” concluded Tsetlin, with viewers expressing joy at hearing first-hand the latest academic findings, and discovering the richness, sophistication and lasting impact of the Bible on our lives.
”The ideas and even the literary structure have lasted to this day,” explained Tseitlin, “but it is more than that. Take the day of rest for example, the Shabbat. That is an integral part of every culture today. Charity is another example, with the idea giving to the poor. Even the idea of limiting a leader’s rule is found (in Deuteronomy) where the king is told that he needs to know his place. That was revolutionary at a time when a king was godlike, yet it is well documented” and is the basis of democracies today.
“Do you know why a condemned person gets a last request?” asked Tseitlin with a spark in his eyes. “It goes back to Yiftah (Jephthah), who decided to sacrifice his daughter and let her have a last wish, Yiftah may have lived in the area of Shechem (Nablus) thousands of years ago but because of him, a person living in Arizona today will be given the right to a last request.”
Tseitlin’s astounding academia project is about the importance of access to information. By making academic material available on YouTube, he has opened people’s minds to a whole new world of our ancestors and our cultural evolution. 
Tseitlin’s viewers express gratitude for the privilege of hearing renowned, prominent minds share their knowledge, but to Tseitlin access to this information is not a privilege but a given right.