Sarah Rindner teaches English literature at Lander College in New York and blogs at Book of Books.
The Cecil B. DeMille version of the revelation at Sinai, in which Moses ascends the mountain on his own and returns bearing tablets, misses key aspects of the Israelites’ experience.
Lekh l’kha narrates the birth of the Arabs, the Ammonites, the Moabites, and, of course, the Jewish people.
The monarchy begins twice.
Koraḥ’s failed rebellion against the leadership of Moses shows that a culture based on grievance cannot last.
The law in Leviticus seems morally questionable, not to mention out of line with the Bible’s otherwise encouraging stance toward the bearing of children. What’s it really about?
The great song marking the Israelites’ safe crossing of the Sea of Reeds is the Hebrew Bible’s only full-length poem recited collectively by the people as a whole. What is it really about?
The story of Joseph sets up two archetypes: the righteous dreamer (Joseph) and the flawed but penitent sinner (his brother Judah). Both have a place in the tradition, but one is preferred.