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1 “See, I Have Called the Renowned Name of Bezalel, Son of Uri . . .”: Josephus’s Portrayal of the Biblical “Architect”

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Chapter Summary

Bezalel son of Uri, literally "in the shadow of God, son of light", is a unique character in the Hebrew Bible. Feldman is quite correct in identifying the process whereby Bezalel was transformed from the uniquely gifted chief craftsman of the biblical Tabernacle into a humanly chosen member of a team of architects with popular appeal. This chapter follows the exegetical steps that led to this reformulation, and the larger Roman literary and cultural environment that underlies Josephus's hermeneutical decisions. It shows that Josephus fashioned the biblical "architect" in the image of elite architects of this own age, carefully avoiding competition with Moses and any possible comparison of Bezalel with Greco-Roman craftsman gods. No noun is used in Scripture to refer to the profession of Bezalel and Oholiab. Josephus, by contrast, calls them arkhitéktonas.

Keywords: arkhitéktonas; Bezalel; biblical architect; Greco-Roman craftsman gods; Hebrew Bible; Josephus; Oholiab; Uri



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