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11. Sennacherib in Midrashic and Related Literature: Inscribing History in Midrash

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Chapter Summary

This chapter addresses the four questions: Is there a religious-cultural memory or a historical memory of Sennacherib's campaign in rabbinic literature? How are the traces of his campaign interpreted? Has the textually encoded memory of Sennacherib been influenced by cultural transformations and rabbinic constraints of interpretation? What does Sennacherib symbolize in Midrashic and related literature? Methods applied to this inquiry include current literary theory and post-modern textual criticism. The reconstruction of historical events in Midrash contained narratives containing a kernel of historical truth. Midrashic texts often contain embedded traditions originating in a discrete historical context or event. This is the case in the material under analysis; Sennacherib was a "real" Assyrian king who conquered Israel and Judah, except for the city of Jerusalem. The texts examined in this chapter could have been a belated attempt to comprehend the Assyrian attack on Israel from a temporal and cultural distance.

Keywords: Assyrian king; Midrashic texts; rabbinic literature; Sennacherib's campaign



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