New study on the definition of the “Ashdodite” language in Nehemia 13:23-24, by Prof. Angelika Berlejung, RIAB center co-director.

A new study by Prof. Angelika Berlejung, co-director of the RIAB center has appeared. In this study, the “Ashdodite” language mentioned in Nehemia 13:23-24 is discussed and identified. Inter alia, the possible connection to the Aramaic language is discussed.

Here is an English abstract of the article:

The article discusses the term „Ashdodite“ in Neh 13:23-24 as well as the reference to „Ashdod“ in Zech 9:6 (incl. LXX). It is argued that the authors did not have a specific language (Aramaic, Philistine, Canaanite, Phoenician, Greek, local dialects), or the city of Ashdod in their mind, but used „Ashdod“ and „Ashdodite“ as a chiffre for the co-existence and mixture of all possible languages and of all the people of different origins. „Ashdod“ and „Ashdodite“ are from a Yehud-centered perspective the construct of „the other“, and of the diversity of the multi-ethnic and multi-lingual (western) Mediterranean World.

The full title of the article is:

Berlejung, A. 2016. Was ist eigentlich “Aschdodisch”? Überlegungen zu Neh 13,23f. und Sach 9,6. Pp. 13–25 in Nächstenliebe und Gottesfurcht Beiträge aus alttestamentlicher, semitistischer und altorientalistischer Wissenschaft für Hans-Peter Mathys zum 65. Geburtstag, eds. H. Jenni and M. Saur. Alter Orient und Altes Testament 439. Munster: Ugarit-verlag.

Dr. Leeor Gottlieb awarded ISF grant on the Aramaic Targums of the Pentateuch

Dr. Leeor Gottlieb (BIU), who is a member of the RIAB Center, has informed me that he has been awarded a 4 year grant from the Israel Science Foundation (ISF).

The title of the research project for which he received the grant is:

“The Equivalent Project: The Targums to the Pentateuch”

Project Summary: The Equivalent Project strives to identify and link the contents of ancient biblical translations back to their equivalents in the Hebrew Bible. The current research proposal focuses on the Aramaic Targums of the Pentateuch, with the intention of completing the Targums of the Prophets and Writings, and then other ancient translations, in later phases of research. The goal of the long-term project is to ultimately create a comprehensive thesaurus of equivalents of the ancient translations of the Bible, which will greatly enrich the scientific community and students of the Bible and its transmission.

Photos of the 1st International Meeting, Leipzig, June 2016

Below is a selection of pictures from the 1st International Meeting of the RIAB Minerva Center, which was held on June 5th-9th, 2016, at the University of Leipzig.

Pictures from Pre-Conference Workshop (5/6/16):

Pictures from the 1st day of the conference (6/6/16):

Pictures from the 2nd day of the conference (7/6/16):

Pictures from the 3rd day of the conference (8/6/16):

Pictures from the 4th day of the conference (9/6/16):

The First International Meeting of the RIAB Center meeting, Leipzig, June 5th-9th, 2016

Last week, the first international meeting of the RIAB Center was conducted in Leipzig. The conference, with participants from Israel, Germany and countries throughout the world, was a resounding success.

For an overview of the conference, see here is the final conference program and abstract booklet – Program and abstracts_Leipzig June 2016_RIAB

The conference proceedings will be published in the new series RIAB

Below is a newspaper article, which appeared in the Leipziger Volkszeitung, on the conference and the opening of the center.

Minerva Center in Leipziger Volkszeitung

Pictures from the meeting will be posted in the coming days.

Lecture at BIU by Prof. Angelika Berlejung

On Monday, May 9th, 2016, Prof. Angelika Berlejung, co-director of the RIAB Minerva Center, who was in Israel to participate in the 4th workshop, presented a lecture at Bar-Ilan University to a group of students and researches from various institutions in Israel. The lecture dealt with evidence of social climbing among the Judahite exiles in Babylonia, based on unpublished data from new Al-Yahudu texts (see here). Prof. Berlejung demonstrated, based on the appearance of different types of materials and possessions mentioned in these texts, how the Judahite exiles managed to improve their social and economic standing in the span of the 2-3 generations documented in the texts.

Following the lecture, there was a interesting discussion and questions and answers by participants and Prof. Berlejung.

4th workshop summary

As mentioned previously, on May 4-6, 2016, a field workshop was conducted by center members and guests at sites in NE Israel, relevant to the study of the interaction between Israel and Aram during the Iron Age.

The workshop included visits to the following sites:

Day 1:

Tel En Gev (guided by Assaf Kleiman)

Tel Hadar  (guided by Assaf Kleiman)

Tel Dan (guided by Yifat Thareani)

In the evening, we conducted a short seminar on the Iron Age inscriptions from various sites in the region led by Esti Eshel

Day 2:

Hazor ((guided by Amnon Ben-Tor)

Tel Kinrot (guided by Amit Dagan)

Bethsaida (guided by Vanessa Workman)

Abel Beth Maacha (guided by Nava Panitz Cohen)

Day 3:

Rehov (guided by Nava Panitz Cohen)


At the sites and in between, the group members conducted excellent discussions (at times, quite passionately) on various issues related to archaeology, historical geography, Bible, ancient near east and other related topics. These vibrant discussions made it clear that the questions and issues related to the interactions between Israel and Aram during the Iron Age – and even the very definition of when a site can be related to a specific ethnicity/culture and what are the parameters for such definitions, are far from explicitly understood.

The very definitions of ethnonyms/cultural groups such as the Geshurites and Maachites are far from clear and need to be thoroughly studied – something we hope to continue to do in future Center activities.

Finally, it should be stated that all participants agreed that the format of the workshop – visits to sites and intense discussions along with is a format which was very successful p- and we hope to conduct additional, similar workshops in the future.

Here are some pictures of the workshop and members during the trip – taken by Maria Enukhina from the Safi team. Do notice the picture of the flower taken on Tel Abel – the Iris Mesopotamica – which is called in Hebrew איריס ארם נהריים – fitting for a group looking for Arameans.