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The Wandering Arameans

Wednesday, December 2, 2020 at 8 PM EST via Zoom

The Wandering Arameans in Egypt: New Light on the Samarian and Judean Diaspora

Tawny Holm, Penn State University

The Hebrew Bible views Egypt as the location of both slavery and refuge. The “wandering Aramean” ancestor mentioned in Deuteronomy 26:5 was a slave in Egypt, whereas the prophet Jeremiah and others chose to flee there after the fall of Samaria/Israel and Judah. This presentation offers a look at the evidence for diaspora life in Egypt found in Papyrus Amherst 63, a long and difficult text written in Aramaic but using the Demotic Egyptian script.

The many compositions in the papyrus reflect the religious traditions and collective cultural memory of a group of Aramaic speakers in Egypt, including Samarians and Judeans. It contains hymns that praise Yaho/Yahweh over other deities, and even an idealized description of their arrival in a new land: “I come from Judah; my brother has been brought from Samaria; and now, a man is bringing up my sister from Jerusalem.”

Tawny Holm is Associate Professor at Penn State University in the Dept. of Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies & Jewish Studies Program

Prior to the event, an email will be sent with instructions on how to access the lecture.