Friday, April 3, 2009

Jews of the Persian Empire - From Israelite to Jew podcast

In From Israelite to Jew Michael Satlow reviews the Jewish history of the Second Temple Period (from the sixth century BCE until 70 CE) and attempts to give insight in the developments in this time that altered the Israelites, that is a loose collection of tribes, into Jews, an alleged singular ethnic group.

We have reached the 8th episode in the series and until this point, the discussion has remained rather close to the one big source: The Hebrew Bible, most notably the books of the Torah, Ezra and Nehemia. However, in episode 8, about the Jews of the Persian Empire, a non-Bible source takes center stage. Archeologists have found archives of a Jewish unit in the Persian army in Egypt (The Elephantine Papyri) that give a fascinating insight in Jewish life in the fifth century BCE.

And it is going to be much more interesting from here. Of the Persians we know so little, but now the Greeks enter scene and apart from the fact that there are many more sources about them, they have had a lot of influence on the Jews. So we are impatiently waiting for more in this series.

More FITJ:
The fox and the hedgehog,
Looking for a Persian History podcast.

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