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date: 29 July 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This article focuses on the divorce rhetoric of Ezra-Nehemiah within the context of Persian imperial dominion. After outlining the scholarly history of inquiry into the divorces and admonitions against exogamy—stemming from challenges to historicity, the dating of the reforms, and the debate about Ezra’s or Nehemiah’s priority—this work examines the framing devices of return and restoration with regard to the Second Temple. The article takes up Persian engagement with temple communities in Egypt and Babylon and turns to analyze the multivalent character of the divorce rhetoric to show that it is a response to similar Persian engagement in Yehud. Finally, this work shows how the rhetoric evidences the negotiation of Persian power by the Second Temple priesthood and plays a role in Yehudite identity formation.

Keywords: Yehud, multivalent rhetoric, biblical criticism, Ezra-Nehemiah, exogamy, Persian Empire, temple restoration, cultural identity, Second Temple period

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