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Embracing Icons: The Face of Jacob on the Throne of God

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Rachel Neis' article treats Hekhalot Rabbati, a collection of early Jewish mystical traditions, and more specifically §§ 152–169, a series of Qedusha hymns. These hymns are liturgical performances, the highlight of which is God's passionate embrace of the Jacob icon on his throne as triggered by Israel's utterance of the Qedusha. §§ 152–169 also set forth an ocular choreography such that the gazes of Israel and God are exchanged during the recitation of the Qedusha. The article set these traditions within the history of similar Jewish traditions preserved in Rabbinic literature. It will be argued that §§ 152–169 date to the early Byzantine period, reflecting a Jewish interest in images of the sacred parallel to the contemporaneous Christian intensification of the cult of images and preoccupation with the nature of religious images.


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