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Three jewish ritual practices in Aristeas §§158–160

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Chapter Summary

In the Letter of Aristeas to Philocrates §§128-71, the Jewish high priest, Eleazar, who speaks to the deputation sent from Ptolemy II to Jerusalem in order to fetch the scholars who would translate the Law into Greek, presents an apologia for Judaism, primarily organized around a criticism of Gentile idol worship and an allegorical interpretation of the Jewish food laws. Included in this rather long section, Ps.-Aristeas describes in §§158-60 three Jewish ritual practices: the wearing of fringes on clothes, the placing of mezuzot on doors and gates and the binding of phylacteries on the hands. Nevertheless as scholars try to understand Jewish ritual practice in the Second Temple period, these three paragraphs in the Letter of Aristeas will continue to constitute primary evidence for Jewish observance of aspects of Mosaic legislation.

Keywords: Jewish ritual practices; Letter of Aristeas; Second Temple period



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