Thursday, 15 January 2015
Judaism, the First Phase: the Place of Ezra and Nehemiah in the Origins of Judaism,
Joseph Blenkinsopp, Eerdmans, 2009, page 23
By the time we get to the book of Ezra, Blenkinsopp asserts, the different names start to become significant. Ezra is a bi-lingual book, written partly in Hebrew and partly in Aramaic.
From the point of view of language, one of the most striking features of the Ezra narrative is the distinctive terminology for the people in the Aramaic section of the narrative (Ezra 4:8-6:18).
The Hebrew sections contain traditional nomenclature - Israel, Israelies, people of Israel, as well as Judah and Benjamin.
In the Aramaic section, however, the people as a whole are'yehudiym' (4:12,23;5:1), and their elders (5:5;6:8,14) and govenor (6:7) are similarly identified.
This also matches the contemporary Aramaic papyri from Elephantine (Egypt, 5th century BC) where the Jewish settlers on an island in the Nile, refer to themselves as the Jewish Garrison. This is particularly significant because the papyrus records show their affiliation with the northern kingdom of Israel rather than the southern kingdom of Judah and they have almost certainly never set foot in Judah.