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The Fightin’ Mushites*

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image of Vetus Testamentum

AbstractThe Mushite priestly line, claiming Moses as their eponymous ancestor, held a dominant position in pre-monarchic Israelite religion. While anthropological and archaeological considerations explain how the Mushites may have come to power in their Transjordanian region of origin, these considerations do not account for the widespread presence of Mushites in the far northern, central, and Judahite cult sites. The present study proposes that the spread of Mushites across this wide geographic spectrum—and in a fairly brief period of time—may be attributed to their legacy as warriors at a time when success on the battlefield demonstrated fitness for cultic leadership. Traces of this legacy may be discerned in the narratives about Moses as well as in the traditions regarding the pre-monarchic cult sites where Mushite factions took up their posts.

Affiliations: 1: Temple


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