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The case of the Blasphemer (Lev. 24:10–16) According to Philo and Josephus

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Chapter Summary

Philo, in agreement with rabbinic tradition, draws a distinction between cursing G-d in general and actually cursing G-d by referring to His name, the Tetragrammaton. Philo, as a leader of the Jewish community in Alexandria, elaborates greatly in recounting the incident mentioned in the Bible, emphasizing in particular the identity of the blasphemer as an Egyptian. This chapter shows how negatively Philo felt about the Egyptians in the fact that he refers, in his official biography of Moses, De Vita Mosis, to the golden calf not as a calf but as a bull, thus bringing to mind the Egyptian worship of a bull in the popular cult of Sarapis. Both Philo and Josephus stress the importance of respect for their non-Jewish neighbors. This is particularly apparent in their view of their sin of blasphemy, especially in view of the close connection of religion and state.

Keywords: Alexandria; Bible; blasphemer; Egypt; Jewish community; Josephus; Moses; Philo; rabbinic tradition



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