Sunday, 1 February 2015
Judaism, the First Phase: the Place of Ezra and Nehemiah in the Origins of Judaism,
Joseph Blenkinsopp, Eerdmans, 2009, page 142-143
The ways in which we maintain our identity - speech, clothes, food, habits, etc. - are important factors shaping who we are and want to be. Blenkinsopp picks up some of the ways the golah group did this:
In Ezra-Nehemiah, the issue of intermarriage is paramount. In his memoir, Nehemiah records an encounter with Judeans who had married woem from the Philistine city of Ashdod whose children could no longer speak "Judahite", namely, Hebrew (Neh 13:23-27).
The language reference is important since emphasis on language is a key national identity marker is many cultures: Gaelic in Ireland, Welsh in Wales and others. It was an important step for ben Yehuda in reviving Hebrew for the State of Israel. Blenkinsopp continues:
This shows the political aspect of the agenda of Nehemiah, which can be described telegrammatically as ritual ethnicity. In this instance, Nehemiah made the transgressors take a solemn oath nor to intermarry with the local population.