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Religions 2019, 10(2), 106; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020106

Israelite Temples: Where Was Israelite Cult Not Practiced, and Why

The Department of General History, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan 5290002, Israel
Received: 7 January 2019 / Revised: 5 February 2019 / Accepted: 7 February 2019 / Published: 12 February 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Archaeology and Ancient Israelite Religion)
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Abstract

Most scholars in the late 20th and early 21st century believed that cultic activity in the kingdoms of Israel and Judah was practiced in various temples that were scattered throughout the kingdoms. Still, a detailed study of the archaeological evidence on Israelite cult reveals that Israelite cultic buildings were extremely rare, both in absolute terms and when compared to other ancient Near Eastern societies, suggesting that cultic activity in temples was the exception rather than the norm and that typical Israelite cult was practiced in the household and in other, non-temple settings. Hence, the evidence suggests that rather than viewing temples, like the one in Arad, as exemplifying typical cultic activity, they should be viewed as exceptions that require a special explanation. The first part of the article develops and updates the suggestion, first raised about ten years ago, that Israelite temples were indeed extremely rare. Given the ancient Near Eastern context, however, such practices seems to be exceptional, and the second part of the article will therefore explain why was such a unique pattern not identified in the past, and will suggest a possible explanation as to how was such an outstanding practice developed and adopted. View Full-Text
Keywords: Israelite religion; temples; ancient Israel; cultic buildings; shrines; sanctuaries; biblical archaeology; egalitarian ethos Israelite religion; temples; ancient Israel; cultic buildings; shrines; sanctuaries; biblical archaeology; egalitarian ethos
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Faust, A. Israelite Temples: Where Was Israelite Cult Not Practiced, and Why. Religions 2019, 10, 106.

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