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C O U R S E 
The Bible's Prehistory, Purpose, and Political Future
Dr. Jacob L. Wright, Emory University
C O U R S E   L E C T U R E 
The Elephantine Papyri
Notes taken on November 22, 2015 by Edward Tanguay
Elephantine Papyri
isle in the Nile
we have extra-Biblical evidence of a community that lives in Egypt
has a garrison of Persian troops
one of them is from Judah
there is a body of Papyri
relate to the Jewish communal life there
495-399 BCE
not about military operations
insights into the ways the Judahites lived among themselves and with other communities
the Bible presents a view of how Judahites lived in Egypt
Elephantine Papyri present an unorthodox way of living
holiness of the Sabbath
"I'll meet you down by the docks to load a boat on the Sabbath"
temple officials who marry Egyptian women or slaves to Judahites
not just among the common people but to priests
temple of Yahweh
an early temple had been destroyed
the Judahite community write letters to the Egyptians that it be rebuilt
they are sending these letters back to Jerusalem and Samaria
indicate that they are all ok with the temple being rebuilt
one caveat should not be used for meat sacrifices, the highest form
this is strange that there should only be one temple, and that should be in Jerusalem
according to the Bible depiction
but we know from this archive of letters that they were fine with these other temples
letters which say, "may the gods seek your welfare" instead of "may Yahweh seek your welfare"
odd because this is not monotheistic as the Bible suggests Israelites were at this time
a response about how to keep the festival Passover
yet the Judahite community does not appear to know how to keep these laws
they right and find out
get response
but why didn't they just read the Torah scroll
they do not seem to have a Torah scroll
in the response, the writer is not citing the Torah scroll
the one authorization that is mentioned is not of the Torah at all but of Darius the King of Persia who let these things be done
these are Judahites living on the edge of the Persian empire being good Persian subjects
does not observe all the laws of Moses
writes letters to Judah to ask them to help
responses are not in keeping with Biblical law