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The Hidden Reference The Role Of Edom In Late Antique And Early Medieval Jewish Hymnography

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Chapter Summary

The striking scarcity in Judaism of tractates and writings dedicated entirely to polemics with Christianity and Islam has attracted the attention of scholars and has received various explanations. Numerous traditions from midrashic literature dealt with the concept of Edom as the eternal political and religious adversary of Israel, without being too specific about actual history. The Jewish hymnographers or paytanim of Late Antiquity defended the credibility of the Jewish religion by highlighting what they considered to be the superior qualities of rabbinic Judaism. The complicated transition from Persian and Christian rule to the dominance of Islam triggered new expectations and implicitly prompted a reconsideration of the Danielic scheme of the four kingdoms, because a new, fifth one unexpectedly appeared. A hymnist like Pinhas chose an exceptional way of describing Edom and in so doing he provides some reasons for us to speculate about the then current political developments.

Keywords: Christianity; Edom; Islam; Israel; Jewish hymnographers; Judaism; Late Antiquity; midrashic literature; Pinhas



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