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Old Testament Essays

versão On-line ISSN 2312-3621
versão impressa ISSN 1010-9919


WUNCH, Hans-Georg. "Dismiss All Foreign Wives!" The Understanding of the Torah in Ezra-Nehemiah as a Step towards Exclusive Judaism. Old testam. essays [online]. 2021, vol.34, n.3, pp.871-887. ISSN 2312-3621.

Numerous passages in the prophets and other Old Testament (OT) texts demonstrate connections to the Torah. In many of these cases, there are discussions on the nature of these connections. The main question is whether the Mosaic Law itself was already fixed at this time. However, there is no doubt that the Torah was already in place at the time of the composition of Ezra-Nehemiah, at least in a preliminary stage. The book of Ezra-Nehemiah shows how a later Jewish community interacted with and interpreted certain Old Testament law texts of the Torah. The divorce of foreign wives is the most important topic in this regard. The Mosaic Law itself dos not demand the dismissal of non-Jewish wives. The question therefore arises, how was the dismissal of foreign wives justified by Ezra and Nehemiah? What does this show about their understanding of the Mosaic Law? The article argues that the dismissal of foreign wives can be seen as a step towards the later "fence around the law. " It was a way to secure one's own identity by clearly distinguishing between the "true Israel" and everyone outside. This eventually led to the rigid and exclusive alienation of the non-Jews, as we find in New Testament times and beyond.

Palavras-chave : Old Testament; Divorce; Ezra-nehemiah; Mosaic Law; Judaism; Identity Formation; Othering.

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