Friday, August 3, 2012

It Was for Israel!

I finished Jacob Neusner's Messiah in Context.  In this post, I'd like to talk about a story in B. Abodah Zarah 2a-b, which concerns God's judgment of the nations.  Edom (Rome) says that it built marketplaces and baths and accumulated gold and silver for Israel's sake, so that she'd have the leisure to study the Torah.  Persia says that it built bridges and conquered cities for Israel's sake, so she'd have leisure to study the Torah.  But God tells them that they did these thing for themselves, not for Israel.  I had to laugh at these nations' phoniness in the story.  And Jewish audiences probably relished the scenario of the nations having to answer to God for how they treated Israel, as God does not buy their explanations.

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