Constitution, Class, and the Book of Deuteronomy

Joshua Berman

Abstract: The book of Deuteronomy has a dual agenda in its blueprint for the polity. First it rejects the exclusionary power strategies exhibited routinely in the monarchic systems of the ancient Near East, instead proposing a collective power strategy, in which power is not only shared, but is primarily invested in the community. Then Deuteronomy rejects the institutions and languages of tribal patriarchy in favor of collective, national identity. Whereas earlier studies of Deuteronomy's plan for the regime focused on chapters 16-18, this study maintains that one must read the entire book as an integrated whole in order to fully perceive the intricacy of its plan for a society in the land.

Biography: Rabbi Joshua Berman studied at Yeshivat Har-Etzion, received a BA in religion from Princeton University, and holds a doctorate in Bible from Bar-Ilan University. He is a lecturer on the Hebrew Bible at Bar-Ilan University, and is the author of The Temple: Its Symbolism and Meaning Then and Now (Jason Aronson, 1995), currently in its second printing. His articles on contemporary issues have appeared in the pages of Tradition, L'Eylah, Midstream, Judaism and The Jerusalem Post. His most recent book, Narrative Analogy in the Hebrew Bible was published by Brill Academic Publishers in the spring of 2004. He is currently a fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem where he is working on a book about the revolution in social and political thought witnessed in the Hebrew Bible relative to the surrounding cultures of the ancient Near East.

Volume 1, Number 5 (Fall 2006) pp. 523-548