Adam, Klaus-Peter, Defect or Blemish? Cultural-Historical Readings and Lexicography of mûm in Leviticus 21:17–24; 22:17–23, in: Lemos, T.M.; Rosenblum, Jordan; Stern, Karen B.; Ballentine, Debra Scoggins (eds.), With the Loyal You Show Yourself Loyal. Essays on Relationships in the Hebrew Bible in Honor of Saul M. Olyan (Ancient Israel and Its Literature 42), Atlanta, GA: SBL Press, 2021, 149–166.
Belser, Julia Watts, Priestly Aesthetics: Disability and Bodily Difference in Leviticus 21, in: Interpretation 73, 2019, 355–366. Show MorePublished abstract: Leviticus 21:16–23 forbids priests with a wide range of disabilities from offering sacrifice at the altar, a ritual act that Leviticus considers the most sacred responsibility of the priesthood. This essay raises critical questions about the biblical writer’s assumption that God desires the service of those with “perfect” bodies. The essay probes traditional Jewish interpretation of Leviticus 21 and argues that rabbinic texts teach the prohibition of much practical force. Despite offering a path toward more inclusive practice, conventional readings of these texts have left in place power dynamics that presume the inferiority of the disabled body. Yet they also contain the seeds for a conceptual shift that could transform the way contemporary communities engage with disability.
Fuad, Chelcent, Priestly Disability and Centralization of the Cult in the Holiness Code, in: Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 46, 2022, 291–305. Show MorePublished abstract: This article analyzes how the notion of priestly disability in Lev 21:16–23 is used in the Holiness Code (H) to construct social identity, shape culture, and organize the society of ancient Israel based on the cultural model of disability. The present study finds that the laws concerning the disabled priests were used in H as a strategy for reconstructing and narrating a new social order, namely, the centralized cult. Although the disabled priests, in contrast to able-bodied priests, were marginalized insofar as they were banned from the most elite rites, they maintained a higher status in the cult compared to other groups in both the priestly and non-priestly communities. Thus, their unique priesthood status was affirmed regardless of their disability. Furthermore, by reinforcing the idea of the officiating priests as the normate image, H’s discourse on priestly disability centralized the authority in the cult of ancient Israel and granted power to the priests.
Hentrich, Thomas, Masculinity and Disability in the Hebrew Bible, in: Graybill, Rhiannon; Huber, Lynn R. (eds.), The Bible, Gender, and Sexuality. Critical Readings (Critical Readings in Biblical Studies), London: T&T Clark, 2021, 71–85.
Kellenberger, Edgar, Muss ein Priester perfekt sein? Anforderungen an Körper, Moral und Geist der Priester in der Antike, in: TZ (Theologische Zeitschrift) 75, 2019, 129–143. Show MoreAbstract from OTA: The question of what human prerequisites where considered necessary for a person’s assuming the priestly role in the ancient world leads to the further question of how a priest’s subsequent loss of theses required qualities was to be dealt with. In his article, K. surveys cross-cultural evidence from the ANE (including ancient Israel) through the period of Late Antiquity regarding these two questions. The result of this survey is that there are both noteworthy similarities and equally noteworthy differences among the various cultural spheres in their respective responses to the above questions. K. concludes with some tentative remarks concerning contemporary issues suggested by his survey. (Adapted from published abstract-C.T.B.)
Neikrug, Shimshon, Toward a Humanist Understanding of Mum in the Hebrew Bible, in: Jewish Bible Quarterly 45, 2017, 126–132.
Olyan, Saul M., Defects, Holiness, and Pollution in Biblical Cultic Texts, in: Baden, Joel S.; Najman, Hindy; Tigchelaar, Eibert J.C. (eds.), Sibyls, Scriptures, and Scrolls. John Collins at Seventy (Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism 175), Leiden, Boston 2017, 1018–1028.
Schipper, Jeremy; Stackert, Jeffrey, Blemishes, Camouflage, and Sanctuary Service: The Priestly Deity and His Attendants: HeBAI 2, 2013, 458–478. Show MorePublished abstract: Leviticus 21:16-24 enumerate twelve blemishes that disqualify a priest from altar service. We argue that the Holiness Legislation’s laws against physically blemished priests serving in the sanctuary are fundamentally related to the Priestly myth’s larger characterization of the Israelite god as a superhuman king, its corresponding understanding of the cult, and, in particular, its views of divine perception. Yhwh, whose great powers can effect both good and ill, must be attended by servants whose ministrations are as unobtrusive as possible. It is the inconspicuous quality of priestly officiation that protects these servants as they venture into close proximity with the deity. In the case of the priest without a blemish, the cultic vestments that are required during altar service successfully mitigate the deity’s gaze, functioning as a sort of camouflage for him. Yet these vestments do not sufficiently camouflage a priest with a blemish, and this priest’s physical defect attracts excessive and potentially dangerous divine attention. H’s prohibition against sanctuary service by blemished priests, like the requirement that the priest wear the prescribed, sacred vestments, is thus both concerned to maintain the deity’s royal expectations and preferences – what we will term here his “divine repose” – and to protect the priests who serve the divine sovereign.
Shectman, Sarah, Priestly Marriage Restrictions, in: Lipka, Hilary; Wells, Bruce (eds.), Sexuality and Law in the Torah (LHB/OTS 675), London: T&T Clark, 2020, 180–193. Show MoreAbstract from OTA: S.’s essay considers the priestly marriage restrictions in Lev 21:7-8 and 13-15, which limit a priest’s choice of wife to a virgin or a widow and the requirement that the high priest’s marriage be to a virgin of his own kin. S. also gives attention to Ezek 44:22, which extends the latter restriction to all priests, with the exception that a priest may marry the widow of another priest. She provides an innovative thesis to explain the possible reasons for these regulations, in particular why a priest may marry a widow but not a divorced woman, focusing on what it is about the nature of marriage and its dissolution that renders divorced women, and at times widows, problematic as priestly spouses. She suggests that marriage creates a bond that goes beyond sexual relations such that the above law cannot simply be about sexual purity or stigma. That bond may be conceptualized in quasi-physical terms; it is not fully dissolved by divorce, and according to some biblical authors, it may not be fully dissolved by the death of the husband either. [Adapted from published abstract—F.W.G.]
Watts Belser, Julia, Priestly Aesthetics and Bodily Difference in Leviticus 21, in: Interpretation 73, 2019, 355–366. Show MoreAbstract from OTA: Leviticus 21:16–23 forbids priests with a wide range of disabilities from offering sacrifice at the altar, a ritual act that Leviticus considers the most sacred responsibility of the priesthood. B.’s essay raises critical questions about the biblical writer’s assumption that God desires the service of those with “perfect” bodies. It likewise probes traditional Jewish interpretation of Leviticus 21 and argues that rabbinic texts deprive Leviticus’s prohibition of much of their practical force. Despite offering a path toward more inclusive practice, conventional readings of these texts have left in place power dynamics that presume the inferiority of the disabled body. Yet they also contain the seeds for a conceptual shift that could transform the way contemporary communities engage with disability. [Adapted from published abstract-J.M.H.]