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Desert Trials
Tzemah Yoreh
Desert Trials
Like beautifully layered rock formations lining the walls of a desert canyon, so is the Biblical text. Story is piled upon story until the foundations are invisible. Those foundations tell a different story—one that only a trained geologist can tease from the rock, one that only a Biblical philologist, trained in the dissection of literature, can find in the text. In this earliest version of the journey to Canaan, the Israelites did not spend forty years in the desert but rather only a few months, which was auspicious since they didn’t have manna to eat. A much younger Moses actually led them into the land; they didn’t have to wait for Joshua or for God. In this and many other respects, this early version of the Israelite’s journey to Canaan is very different from what those familiar with the canonical text may recall. Desert Trials traces the development of this uniquely divergent account and its slow development into the canonical text we have today.
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