Gilgamesh and the Rabbis: Knowledge and its Price from Uruk to the Beit Midrash

Gilgamesh and the Rabbis: Knowledge and its Price from Uruk to the Beit Midrash

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Eli Putterman

The tale of R. Yohanan and Reish Laqish related in b. Bava Metzia 84a ranks among the most shocking narratives in rabbinic literature, yet also one of the most profoundly moving. Certainly, the story has exerted an unabated fascination upon generations of scholars, who have analyzed the text using a wide variety of theoretical approaches and brought it into dialogue with intertexts within rabbinic literature and without, from Syriac Christian monastic traditions to Les Miserables.[1] In what follows, I will focus on a complex of motifs in the first episode of the story—the initial encounter between R. Yohanan and Reish Laqish in the Jordan River—and trace its multifarious appearances in a wide range of ancient cultures, beginning at the very dawn of world literature.

I. The Enfeeblement of Reish Laqish

יומא חד הוה קא סחי בירדנא. חזייה ריש לקיש, סבר איתתא הוא. כפתיה לירדנא אבתריה דצייה לרומחא בירדנא ושוור לאידך גיסא דירדנא. כי חזא ר‘ יוחנן לר‘ שמע‘ בן לקיש אמ‘ ליה האי חילך לאוריתא. אמ‘ ליה האי שופרך לנשי. אמ‘ ליה אי הדרת בך יהיבנא לך אחתי דשפירא מנאי. קביל עליה. בעא למיהדר לאיתויי מאניה ולא אמצייה. אגמריה ואתנייה ושוייה גברא רבה.

One day, [Rabbi Yohanan] was bathing in the Jordan. Reish Laqish saw him and thought he was a woman. He crossed the Jordan after him by placing his lance in the Jordan and vaulting to the other side. When Rabbi Yohanan saw Rabbi Shimon the son of Laqish [Reish Laqish], he said to him, “Your strength for Torah!" He replied, “Your beauty for women!” He said to him, “If you repent, I will give you my sister who is more beautiful than I am.” [Reish Laqish] agreed. [Reish Laqish] wanted to cross back to take his clothes but he couldn’t. [Rabbi Yohanan] taught [Reish Laqish] Mishna and Talmud and made him into a great man.[2]

As becomes clear later on in the story, Reish Laqish at the outset is imagined as a lêstês, the highway robber on the margins of Greco-Roman society, a paradigm of aggressive masculinity. This characterization is accentuated in other ways: pursuing the object of his desire, Reish Laqish performs a feat of strength in vaulting the Jordan River by means of his lance, quite possibly a phallic symbol. R. Yohanan, seeing this display, tells Reish Laqish that his virility would be better used in the study of Torah. Reish Laqish’s rejoinder is ambiguous: either he expresses disappointment that R. Yohanan’s beauty is wasted on a man, or he replies that women would make better use of R. Yohanan’s beauty than the study hall.[3] In any event, R. Yohanan informs Reish Laqish that he can have it both ways: if he joins the rabbis, R. Yohanan will give him his even-more-attractive sister in marriage, an offer Reish Laqish accepts. The consequence of Reish Laqish’s change of heart is immediate: his hypermasculine vigor deserts him. But he is compensated for this loss by his rise in the rabbinic ranks.

As Rashi comments ad loc., the idea behind this turn of events seems to be that Torah study leads inevitably to physical decline, a trope whose contemporary reflex in the schoolyard stereotype of the “nerd who can’t play sports” many of us will probably recognize. In fact this trope is not a particularly common one in rabbinic literature, but it does find expression in a passage in the Palestinian midrash Pesiqta de-Rav Kahana 21:11, which contains two stories of superhumanly strong men who become totally enfeebled after studying Torah.[4] The same idea is also formulated once as a memra in b. Sanhedrin 26b:

”הִפְלִיא עֵצָה הִגְדִּיל תּוּשִׁיָּה“. (ישעיהו כח:כט) א“ר חנן למה נקרא שמה תושיה? מפני שהיא מתשת כחו של אדם.

“He is wonderful in counsel, excellent in wisdom [tushiyyah].” (Isaiah 28:29) R. Hanan said: Why is it [the Torah] called tushiyyah? Because it debilitates [mateshet] man’s strength.

On this interpretation, then, Reish Laqish’s outspoken sexuality is one of the signifiers which marks him as outside the rabbinic world, hence as contrasted with the way of life of the beit midrash. If so, his marriage to R. Yohanan’s sister must then be seen as a plot device, contrived in order to explain why Reish Laqish abandoned brigandry for a life of study (and to set up the confrontation between R. Yohanan and his sister in a later act). I will propose a different interpretation, one which views the motif of sexuality in the story as continuous with, rather than opposed to, the attainment of knowledge and the concomitant loss of physical strength. To motivate this reading, we must reach back to a Babylonian civilization predating the Talmud by two millennia, and to one of the oldest surviving works of literature in the world: the Epic of Gilgamesh.[5]

II. The Acculturation of Enkidu
The epic reads:

So the goddess conceived an image in her mind, and it was of the stuff of Anu of the firmament. She dipped her hands in water and pinched off clay, she let it fall in the wilderness, and noble Enkidu was created. There was virtue in him of the god of war, of Ninurta himself. His body was rough, he had long hair like a woman’s; it waved like the hair of Nisaba, the goddess of corn. His body was covered with matted hair like Samugan’s, the god of cattle. He was innocent of mankind; he knew nothing of the cultivated land.

Enkidu ate grass in the hills with the gazelle and lurked with wild beasts at the water-holes; he had joy of the water with the herds of wild game. But there was a trapper who met him one day face to face at the drinking-hole, for the wild game had entered his territory. On three days he met him face to face, and the trapper was frozen with fear. He went back to his house with the game that he had caught, and he was dumb, benumbed with terror …

So the trapper set out on his journey to Uruk and addressed himself to Gilgamesh saying, “A man unlike any other is roaming now in the pastures; he is as strong as a star from heaven and I am afraid to approach him. He helps the wild game to escape; he fills in my pits and pulls up my traps.” Gilgamesh said, “Trapper, go back, take with you a harlot, a child of pleasure. At the drinking hole she will strip, and when, he sees her beckoning he will embrace her and the game of the wilderness will surely reject him.”

Now the trapper returned, taking the harlot with him. After a three days’ journey they came to the drinking hole … She saw him, the savage man, come from far-off in the hills … She was not ashamed to take him, she made herself naked and welcomed his eagerness; as he lay on her murmuring love she taught him the woman’s art. For six days and seven nights they lay together, for Enkidu had forgotten his home in the hills; but when he was satisfied he went back to the wild beasts. Then, when the gazelle saw him, they bolted away; when the wild creatures saw him they fled. Enkidu would have followed, but his body was bound as though with a cord, his knees gave way when he started to run, his swiftness was gone. And now the wild creatures had all fled away; Enkidu was grown weak for wisdom was in him, and the thoughts of a man were in his heart. So he returned and sat down at the woman’s feet, and listened intently to what she said. “You are wise, Enkidu, and now you have become like a god. Why do you want to run wild with the beasts in the hills? Come with me. I will take you to strong-walled Uruk, to the blessed temple of Ishtar and of Anu.”

She divided her clothing in two and with the one half she clothed him and with the other herself, and holding his hand she led him like a child to the sheepfolds, into the shepherds’ tents. There all the shepherds crowded round to see him, they put down bread in front of him, but Enkidu could only suck the milk of wild animals. He fumbled and gaped, at a loss what to do or how he should eat the bread and drink the strong wine. Then the woman said, “Enkidu, eat bread, it is the staff of life; drink the wine, it is the custom of the land” (Epic of Gilgamesh Tablet I, trans. N. K. Sandars).

The parallel between the story of Enkidu at the start of the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Talmudic story, despite the vast distance in time and cultural presuppositions, is quite extensive: the wild man Enkidu, like Reish Laqish, lives outside of society and poses a threat to civilized humans, in this case due to his alliance with the animals. Just as Reish Laqish is convinced to give up his robbing ways and join the community of Torah scholars through his sexual appetite (first for R. Yohanan, then for his sister), Enkidu is civilized by means of sexual experience: once Enkidu has intercourse with the harlot, his intellectual powers increase and he accepts the harlot’s advice to leave for the city Uruk, i.e., join human society.[6] And just as Enkidu’s intellectual development engenders a loss of his affinity for animals and preternatural strength, so too does Reish Laqish’s mere agreement to study Torah deplete his physical powers.

We moderns tend to hold a Freudian-influenced view of eros as a nigh-uncontrollable boundary-shattering instinct which must be repressed for civilization to function, but the Mesopotamian composers of the Gilgamesh epic clearly saw it quite differently, as a civilizing force. While we regard the sex drive as an animal instinct, in the Gilgamesh epic it serves to sever Enkidu’s connection to the animals. Sex, along with civilization, is actually contrasted with the “state of nature.” If so, perhaps the same is true for the story of R. Yohanan and Reish Laqish—the eroticism of the river encounter is not a sign of the brigand Reish Laqish’s depravity, but the very catalyst in Reish Laqish’s transformation.

I will shortly attempt to explicate the idea behind this seemingly counterintuitive understanding of eros, but first, I wish to note another close parallel to the Enkidu episode in Ancient Near Eastern literature, one of the most influential stories of all time—the expulsion from the Garden of Eden.[7]

III. The Enticement of Eve

One of the several functions of the Eden narrative in Genesis 2-3 is to explain the intellectual and cultural gulf between humans and other animals—humans wear clothing, cultivate land, and are far more intelligent; in short, humans have civilization. These same characteristics also make an appearance in the transformation of the primitive Enkidu: he gains wisdom, and the harlot clothes him and feeds him bread and wine, the quintessential agricultural products in Ancient Near Eastern literature. Moreover, like Enkidu, the Biblical first humans pay a price—though conceived as a divine punishment rather than a direct consequence—for their newly-acquired wisdom in terms of their natural capacities: the woman’s childbirth becomes protracted and painful (far more than that of most animals), and the man must work the land by the sweat of his brow to survive.[8]

But what about the third prominent motif in the Enkidu story as well as the Talmudic one, the motive force behind the acculturation of Enkidu and of Reish Laqish—sexuality? Does it play a role in the beginning of civilization in Genesis 2-3? A simple reading of the story might interpret man and woman’s gaining knowledge of their nakedness as a metaphor for a newfound sexual awareness; thus, human sexuality is the result of eating from the Tree of Knowledge rather than its cause. This reading (which is not devoid of problems) does maintain the association of sexuality with civilization and diminishment of natural capacities found in the other two stories, but sexuality’s role is secondary rather than dominant.

However, multiple traditions of interpretation going back to late antiquity give sexuality a far more prominent place in Eden. The Tosefta (Sotah 4:5) and Genesis Rabbah (18:6), in order to plug an obvious “plot hole” in the narrative—why was the serpent was motivated to trick the humans into violating the divine command in the first place?—claim that the serpent was sexually attracted to the woman (as the humans were naked, and according to Genesis Rabbah, had intercourse in the open), and he planned to kill the man and marry her. According to a different tradition, related in Pirqei de-Rabbi Eliezer 21, the serpent in fact had intercourse with the woman, the offspring of which was Cain. The earliest attestation of the germ of this idea in rabbinic sources is at b. Shabbat 145b, but the second-century Christian heresiologist Irenaeus mentions a similar sectarian belief (Against Heresies I.30.7).

A modern version of this approach, which views sexuality as crucial to the story, might put it like this: the Eden narrative abounds with barely veiled sexual symbolism, from the phallic serpent to the humans’ nakedness to the description of the tree as “desirable to look at” in Eve’s eyes (Genesis 3:6) to Eve’s argument in her defense that “the serpent tempted me” (Genesis 3:13). Furthermore, entering a garden and eating fruit itself is a metaphor for sex in Song of Songs 4:12-5:1, and let’s not forget that knowledge, in the Bible, often refers to “knowledge in the biblical sense.” Thus, even if sexuality plays a minor role on the surface, the pervasive sexual imagery demonstrates that the story is actually about sexual temptation and its consequences. If this interpretation is convincing, the Eden story, like the Gilgamesh epic and the story of R. Yohanan and Reish Laqish, presents sexuality as leading to the attainment of wisdom and civilization at the cost of physical virtue. Even if one prefers the simpler reading, though, the Biblical narrative clearly associates sexuality with these two motifs.

Thus far, we have analyzed three narratives which, at minimum, can all be said to interrelate the motifs of sexuality, knowledge/culture, and the loss of a primordial affinity with nature. As Westerners, the nature-culture dichotomy is quite familiar to us, so we find the association of the latter two motifs to be intuitive, but as I noted earlier, the association of sexuality with culture rather than nature seems incongruent, and in the remainder of this article, I will attempt to uncover its basis.

One might think that the connection between sexuality and civilization might necessarily be the product of a mythological or magical way of thinking, as in all the texts we have examined thus far. But one completely rationalistic explanation appears in a literary text from a totally different cultural matrix: the first-century BCE Latin poem De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things) by the Roman philosopher Lucretius, a comprehensive statement of Epicurean philosophy in 7,400 hexameter verses. Studiously avoiding all myth, Lucretius gives naturalistic etiologies of a wide variety of phenomena, among them the development of human civilization. Surprisingly, De Rerum Natura also locates the origin of civilization in sexuality.

IV. The Blandishments of Venus

Next they [the first humans] provided themselves with huts and skins and fire, and woman, united to man, went to live in one [one or more lines are missing] were learned, and they saw the birth of their own offspring. It was then that human beings first began to lose their toughness: the use of fire rendered their shivering bodies less able to endure the cold beneath the pavilion of the sky; Venus sapped their strength; and the children with their charming ways easily broke down the stern disposition of their parents. It was then, too, that neighbors, in their eagerness neither to harm nor be harmed, began to form mutual pacts of friendship (De Rerum Natura V, 1011-1020, trans. Martin Ferguson Smith).

According to De Rerum Natura, the first humans were brutal creatures, who, like all animals, spontaneously generated from the tough earth. In this passage, the poet explains how humans became much less hardy, but at the same time more cooperative, than the other animals: aids to survival such as fire, clothing, and shelter diminished the humans’ endurance; the blandishments (the Latin is blanditiis) of children softened parents’ characters; and erotic love itself (called “Venus” by Lucretius, but with no anthropomorphic connotations) sapped humans’ strength. These gentler primevals then began to develop a social contract for mutual protection.

For the rationalist Lucretius, then, the reason that sexuality engenders civilization is precisely because it weakens the body, robbing it of the toughness needed to survive in the “state of nature.” The notion that sex is debilitating, at least to males, is commonplace in Greco-Roman medical thought, and is referenced in rabbinic literature as well (Cf. Berakhot 57b, Sanhedrin 82b); Maimonides, heir to this medical tradition, graphically describes the infirmities which await the sexually overactive male in Hilkhot De’ot 4:19. Ancient medical writers seem to have extrapolated (wrongly, according to contemporary medical science) from the short-term lethargy produced by sex to the conclusion that sex is bad for you, and it is not implausible to suppose that the ancient Mesopotamians also associated temporary weariness with permanent frailty, leading them to tell a story in which a wild man is tamed by sexual experience.

V. The Erotics of Torah

But let us return to where we began. In the Talmudic narrative Reish Laqish’s lusts don’t find immediate satisfaction, so we cannot claim that Reish Laqish’s enfeeblement is a result of sex (unless we wish to read into the text even more shocking events than it relates openly); it seems that, as we stated earlier, the commitment to Torah study is what weakens him. But that doesn’t mean that Reish Laqish’s sexuality is a mere plot device. In fact, the idea behind the association of Torah study with sexuality is even more radical: Torah study itself is an erotic act.

Indeed, far more common than the notion that Torah study is debilitating in the Babylonian Talmud is the association between Torah and eros. A few representative sources:

תנא רבי חייא: כל העוסק בתורה לפני עם הארץ כאילו בועל ארוסתו בפניו, שנאמר: ”תּוֹרָה צִוָּה לָנוּ מֹשֶׁה, מוֹרָשָׁה“—אל תקרי ”מורשה“ אלא ”מאורסה“. (פסחים מט:)

R. Hiyya taught: He who engages in Torah [study] in the presence of an am ha’arets—it is as if he has sex with his bride in his [the am ha’arets’s] presence, as it is written, “Moses commanded us the Torah, the inheritance (morasha) [of the congregation of Jacob]” (Deuteronomy 33:4). Do not read morasha (inheritance) but me’orasa (betrothed) (Pesahim 49b).

תנא דבי רב ענן: מאי דכתיב ”חַמּוּקֵי יְרֵכַיִךְ“: למה נמשלו דברי תורה כירך? לומר לך: מה ירך בסתר אף דברי תורה בסתר. (סוכה מט:)

The school of Rav Anan taught: What is [the meaning of] the verse, Your rounded thighs are like jewels, [the work of a master’s hand]” (Song of Songs 7:2)? Why are words of Torah compared to the thigh? Just as a thigh is hidden, so words of Torah should be [studied] in private” (bSukkah 49b).

 

”ונואף אשה חסר לב“ אמר ריש לקיש זה הלומד תורה לפרקים. (סנהד#1512;ין צט:)

“He who commits adultery is devoid of understanding” (Proverbs 6:32). Reish Laqish said: This refers to one who studies Torah at intervals (Sanhedrin 99b).[9]

The sources speak for themselves. Torah study is not merely an erotic act, but, according to Reish Laqish’s memra, has a claim on the Jewish man at least as strong as that of a flesh-and-blood wife. This brings to mind the sugya on b. Ketubot 62b-63a, which discusses how long a Torah scholar may leave his wife in order to study, closing with no less than seven stories of sages who left home for long periods, among them the famous story of R. Akiva and the daughter of Kalba Savu’a (who goes unnamed in this tale). But the most shocking story is the last one:

רב יוסף בריה דרבא שדריה אבוהי לבי רב לקמיה דרב יוסף. פסקו ליה שית שני. כי הוה תלת שני מטא מעלי יומא דכפורי, אמר: איזיל ואיחזינהו לאינשי ביתי. שמע אבוהי שקל מנא ונפק לאפיה. אמר ליה: זונתך נזכרת? איכא דאמרי, אמר ליה: יונתך נזכרת? איטרוד, לא מר איפסיק ולא מר איפסיק. (כתובות סג.)

Rav Yosef b. Rava—his father sent him to the study-house [to study] before Rav Yosef [b. Hiyya]. They [the families] agreed [to support] him for six years. After three years, when the eve of Yom Kippur approached, he [Rav Yosef b. Rava] said, “I will go and see my family.” His father heard. He took an axe and went forth to meet him. He said to him, “Did you remember your whore (zonatkha)?” Others say that he said, “Did you remember your dove (yonatkha)?” They quarrelled and neither one ate the last meal before the fast (Ketubot 63a).

For Rava, at least according to one tradition, the identification of the Torah as the legitimate object of his son’s attentions is so complete that his son’s actual wife is demoted to the status of “the other woman.”[10]

Accordingly, when R. Yohanan says to Reish Laqish, “Your strength for Torah!” he may wish to press into the service of Torah not just Reish Laqish’s physical prowess, but his prodigious lust. One might even be led to suppose that R. Yohanan’s offer of his prettier sister refers not to a biological sister, but to the Torah itself—after all, Proverbs 7:4, “Say to wisdom, ‘You are my sister,’” is interpreted in multiple places in rabbinic literature as referring to the Torah.[11] (This would also be far more palatable than R. Yohanan’s marrying his sister off without her consent.) Unfortunately, the third act of the story makes clear that Reish Laqish did marry R. Yohanan’s actual sister, which puts to rest that flight of interpretive fancy. But the fact remains that this is a legitimate understanding on the reader’s part when she first encounters the story.

The association of sexuality, civilization, and the loss of natural graces in the story of R. Yohanan and Reish Laqish is the rabbinic reflection of a deep current running through the literatures of widely divergent cultures separated by vast distances of space, time, and basic presuppositions. Yet for Reish Laqish, the promise of erotic fulfilment in Torah study gives way to other passions animating the rabbinic beit midrashpride, hierarchy, envy. Can the Torah scholar maintain his love for the Torah in the face of these competing emotions? The answers provided by the story of R. Yohanan and Reish Laqish are only tragic ones.


[1] M. Bar-Asher Siegal, “Ethics and Identity Formation: Resh Lakish and the Monastic Repentant Robber,” in L'identité à travers l'éthique: Nouvelles perspectives sur la formation des identités collectives dans le monde greco-romain, eds. K. Berthelot, R. Naiweld, D. Stökl Ben Ezra (Turnhout, Brepols 2015), 53-72, esp. 57n15, which provides a recent, if partial, bibliography.

[2] Text according to Ms. Hamburg 165; translation taken from Daniel Boyarin, Unheroic Conduct: The Rise of Heterosexuality and the Invention of the Jewish Man (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997), 127-50.

[3] If we accept the second interpretation, it is interesting to note that in the immediately preceding story, R. Yohanan makes himself the object of the female gaze by standing at the entrance to the mikveh. Although his stated intention is that the women who see him will conceive offspring as attractive and learned as he, it is natural to wonder if his goal is not that they be aroused as well.

[4] The Palestinian text is also closely related to the collection of stories in the Bavli about R. Elazar b. R. Shim’on in which the story of R. Yohanan and Reish Laqish is embedded, a parallel whose ramifications have not, to my mind, been sufficiently explored by scholars. Unfortunately, I cannot pursue the subject here.

[5] I confine myself here to a literary comparison, without attempting to prove that the authors of the Talmudic story were familiar with the Epic of Gilgamesh. But such a historical connection is far from impossible: as scholars have documented, various elements of Mesopotamian culture still survived during late antiquity. In rabbinic literature alone, scholars have identified medical traditions, legal formulae, hermeneutic practices, and mythological conceptions borrowed from (or at least influenced by) Mesopotamian parallels. For a relatively recent overview of scholarly work on the subject, see Vita Daphna Arbel, Beholders of Divine Secrets: Mysticism and Myth in the Hekhalot and Merkavah Literature (Albany: SUNY Press, 2003), 57-64. In particular, parallels between the Enuma Elish and the Epic of Gilgamesh and rabbinic descriptions of Leviathan and Behemoth are discussed in Irving Jacobs, “Elements of Near-Eastern Mythology in Rabbinic Aggadah,” Journal of Jewish Studies 27 (1977): 1-11.

[6] Further parallels between the two stories are evident from their respective continuations. Enkidu eventually becomes the sidekick of Gilgamesh, who had initiated the acculturation of Enkidu by providing the harlot, just as R. Yohanan takes Reish Laqish as a study partner. Furthermore, Enkidu eventually dies as a consequence of an adventure he undertakes with Gilgamesh, just as R. Yohanan is responsible for Reish Laqish’s death; subsequently, Gilgamesh goes mad with grief, as does R. Yohanan. Boyarin, op. cit., 135, rightly notes that these parallels place the rabbinic tale firmly within the “male friendship” genre exemplified as well by Achilles and Patroclus in the Iliad and David and Jonathan in the Bible (and by Harry and Ron in the Harry Potter series, for that matter). Among the stock tropes of the genre are the marriage of one of the friends to the other’s sister, which might be said to serve as a displacement of the homoerotic desire between the two in cultures which taboo homosexuality. Another common plot device is the death of one of the friends. Both of these appear in the story of Reish Laqish and R. Yohanan. For more on this genre, see David M. Halperin, One Hundred Years of Homosexuality (New York: Routledge, 1990), 75-87. In any case, Boyarin did not note the specific parallels which I wish to focus on between the Reish Laqish and Enkidu stories, which connect knowledge/civilization, sexuality, and the loss of strength.

[7] In contrast to the case of the rabbinic story, here a historical connection with the Mesopotamian tale is much clearer. The influence of Mesopotamian literature, and of the Epic of Gilgamesh in particular, on Genesis 1-11 is by now notorious even outside the cloisters of academe. The best-known parallel is of course between the flood stories of Noah and Utnapishtim, but scholars have identified many others, including the relationship between the Eden story and the Enkidu episode. See David Damrosch, The Narrative Covenant: Transformations of Genre in the Growth of Biblical Literature (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1987), 87-119.

[8] Enkidu is also created out of clay, like Adam (and like the first humans in other Ancient Near Eastern creation myths).

[9] Translations from Jeffrey L. Rubenstein, The Culture of the Babylonian Talmud (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003), 118-20, as is the translation of the next passage cited. Rubenstein cites a number of other sources, including one particularly graphic passage at b. Eruvin 54b which is probably the best example, but which I cannot bring myself to cite.

[10] This tradition is almost certainly the original one: it seems unlikely that in the original version of the tale, Rava would use the term yonatkha—a rather high-flown term for a wife—to begin with, and even more unlikely that a later tradition would misremember this as zonatkha, which means something rather different. But it makes perfect sense that someone telling the version of the story with zonatkha might be rather uneasy with its implications—just as we are—and decide to amend it.

[11] This is in accordance with the general rabbinic tendency to see the figure of Wisdom in the Bible as referring to the Torah, just as some Christian theologians identified it with Jesus. For a discussion of how the biblical notion of a primeval Wisdom through which God created the world develops in various later traditions, see Azzan Yadin, Scripture as Logos (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004), 155-75.

The Modern Orthodox Vote and the Episcopalian Turn

The Modern Orthodox Vote and the Episcopalian Turn