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Nehemiah 9: The First Historical Survey in the Bible to Mention Sinai and Torah

שבועות 
The revelation at Sinai emerged as central to Israel’s story in the Persian period. No biblical text outside the Torah mentions it until its unique inclusion in the historical prologue of the Levites’ prayer in Nehemiah 9:13-14. A later scribe redacted the Sinai verses to further include a reference to the Torah of Moses.
Professor Hava Shalom-Guy
Sinai, from the Copenhagen Haggadah, 1739, by Uri Feibush, Royal LibraryDenmark, courtesy of Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies, Chicago.
The Levites’ Prayer in Nehemiah 9
Chapter 9 of the book of Nehemiah, set in the 5th century B.C.E., describes an assembly that took place among the Judean people on the 24th of the seventh month (Tishrei). The people were fasting (v. 1), having just separated from their non-Jewish wives, and were repenting of their sins (v. 2). They spent part of the day reading from “the scroll of the Teaching of YHWH their God,” and part confessing and prostrating themselves before God (v. 3).
At this point, a group of Levites stands up on a podium (vv. 4-5a) and makes a long confession style prayer (vv. 5b-37)[1] that opens with a historical overview: creation (v. 6), then Abraham (vv. 7-8), the exodus (vv. 9-11), the pillar of cloud and fire in the wilderness (v. 12), and then the revelation of laws at Mount Sinai (vv. 13-14). [2]
The reference to laws in these two verses is strangely doubled:
נחמיה ט:יג וְעַל הַר סִינַי יָרַדְתָּ
וְדַבֵּר עִמָּהֶם מִשָּׁמָיִם
Neh 9:13 You came down on Mount Sinai
and spoke to them from heaven;
וַתִּתֵּן לָהֶם מִשְׁפָּטִים יְשָׁרִים וְתוֹרוֹת אֱמֶת חֻקִּים וּמִצְו‍ֹת טוֹבִים.
You gave them right rules and true teachings (torot), good laws and commandments.
ט:יד וְאֶת שַׁבַּת קָדְשְׁךָ הוֹדַעַתָ לָהֶם
9:14 You made known to them Your holy Shabbat,
וּמִצְווֹת וְחֻקִּים וְתוֹרָה צִוִּיתָ לָהֶם בְּיַד מֹשֶׁה עַבְדֶּךָ.
and You ordained for them commandments, laws, and a Teaching (torah), through Moses Your servant.
Why say essentially the same thing twice in two adjacent verses?
Scribal Migration of TermsSome scholars try to solve this problem by suggesting that originally, v. 14b was quite different than 13b, and that it only referenced “the Teaching (Torah) of Moses,” namely, the Pentateuch, but that the words “commandments and laws” (וּמִצְווֹת וְחֻקִּים) migrated from verse 13 to verse 14 because of the similarity between the “teaching” (torah) in v. 14 and the “teachings” (torot) in v. 13.[3] But this is unlikely, in part because the Hebrew phrases for “commandments and laws” are not identical in the two verses and are in reversed order.
A Redactional Supplement
It seems more likely to me that all of 14b is an interpolation that aimed to introduce the tradition of Moses giving the Torah, reflecting the central status of the Torah in the late biblical period. As noted above, 14b repeats elements of v. 13b, but in chiastic, abridged order. (Such chiastic reframing typifies quotations.[4])
v. 13bv. 14b
1
וַתִּתֵּן לָהֶם
You gave them5
וּמִצְווֹת
Commandments,
2
מִשְׁפָּטִים יְשָׁרִים
right rules4
וְחֻקִּים
laws
3
וְתוֹרוֹת אֱמֶת
and true teachings,3
וְתוֹרָה
and a Torah
4
חֻקִּים
(good) laws
2
5
וּמִצְו‍ֹת טוֹבִים
and good commandments.1
צִוִּיתָ לָהֶם בְּיַד מֹשֶׁה עַבְדֶּךָ
You commanded them through Moses Your servant.
V. 14 revises v. 13 in a number of other telling ways:
Torot to Torah – The plural form torot (תורות) in v. 13, which refers to teachings, parallels “rules” (משפטים), “laws” (חקים), and “commandments” (מצות), is changed to the singular Torah,  here referring to the canonical Torah.[5] Thus the meaning in 14b is not “teaching” but Pentateuch.
Giving to Commanding – The verb describing what YHWH does here changes. 13b describes the giving of laws (תתן), just as God gives them water and food, in keeping with the theme of the chapter that emphasizes God’s benevolence to Israel. In 14b, the verb is changed to “command” (צוית).
No Rules (משפטים) – The fourth change may simply reflect the author’s abridgement, but more likely reflects his desire to adhere to a chiastic structure while ending climactically with the phrase “the Torah which you commanded through Moses” (וְתוֹרָה צִוִּיתָ לָהֶם בְּיַד מֹשֶׁה עַבְדֶּךָ). Adding mishpatim after this, where it would appear following the chiastic structure, would deemphasize the centrality of the Torah, as well as decoupling the reference to Torah from Moses. 
Moses – 13b makes no mention of Moses’ role, in keeping with the rest of the chapter which focuses exclusively on YHWH. 14b, however, has the only mention of Moses in the entire prayer.
To understand why an editor would have added this half verse, we must first understand why Moses appears nowhere else in this prayer.
The Absence of Moses
Throughout the historical prologue outlined above, YHWH is the protagonist. YHWH creates the heavens and the earth; YHWH chooses Abram; YHWH sees the suffering of “our ancestors” in Egypt; YHWH splits the sea; YHWH gives the Israelites water from a stone, etc.[6] Even though in the Torah, many of the miracles associated with the exodus from Egypt and the wilderness wandering are carried out by Moses, who is arguably the protagonist of these stories, he is not mentioned here in that context.
Moses’ absence here is consistent with his “removal” from other biblical texts that narrate miraculous events, such as in the “historical” psalm 78.[7] Here too, God (Elohim) is the protagonist and Moses’ role goes unmentioned.[8] This trend, of affording little mention to Moses and Aaron in the desire to exalt and praise God, continues in rabbinic literature, with the most famous example being the virtual absence of Moses and Aaron from the Passover Haggadah.[9] 
This explains why the prayer in Nehemiah 9 avoided mentioning Moses, keeping YHWH as its protagonist. So why did a later editor decide to add Moses into the text, specifically in the section about the giving of laws?
Moses and Torah in Ezra-Nehemiah and Chronicles
At some point in the Second Temple period, the idea that all of Israel’s laws were taught to Moses at Sinai and inscribed in Moses’ book, the Torah, had become dominant. This tradition, granting Moses a crucial role in the giving of the Torah and as the source for various Pentateuchal commandments, is reflected in various designations used for the Torah in the postexilic works of Ezra-Nehemiah and Chronicles:[10]
  • תורת משה איש האלהים, “the Teaching of Moses, the man of God” (Ezra 3:2; 2 Chron 30:15);
  • תורת משה אשר נתן י-הוה אלהי ישראל, “the Teaching of Moses which YHWH God of Israel had given” (Ezra 7:6);
  • תורת משה, “Teaching of Moses” (2 Chron 23:18);
  • ספר תורת משה אשר צוה י-הוה את ישראל, “the scroll of the Teaching of Moses with which YHWH had charged Israel” (Neh 8:1);
  •  ככתוב בתורה אשר צוה י-הוה ביד משה “They found written in the Torah that YHWH had commanded Moses” (Neh 8:14);
  • בתורת האלהים אשר נתנה ביד משה עבד האלהים, “the Teaching of God, given through Moses the servant of God” (Neh 10:30);
  • ספר משה “the Book of Moses” (Ezra 6:18 [in Aramaic]; Neh 13:1; 2 Chron 35:12);
  • בתורה בספר משה “in the Teaching, in the Book of Moses” (2 Chron 25:4).
These references explain why this later scribe felt the lack of any mention of Moses and his Torah, and decided to add it, by taking the previous reference to laws and revising it to include the Torah of Moses.
The Centrality of Torah in Nehemiah
The addition of this supplement completes the trend already obvious in Nehemiah 9’s unique inclusion of the Sinai Revelation in its historical survey.[11] Outside the Torah’s narratives of the Sinai or Horeb revelation, only a handful of biblical texts refer to a tradition of Sinai as the place of divine residence (e.g., Deut 33:2, Ps 68:8–9, 17ff.), but none of these mention the revelation of laws on Sinai.[12]
As many scholars note, the absence of the tradition of the divine revelation at Mount Sinai/Horeb from other biblical historical surveys reflects the lack of this tradition’s centrality for their circles when these surveys were composed.[13] In contrast, its placement here highlights the centrality of the revelation of laws at Sinai concept in the Persian period.
The redactor put the finishing touches on this unique aspect of the prayer by concretizing the “teachings, laws, and commandments” given at Sinai, describing them as the Torah of Moses. This mirrors the stabilization of Pentateuchal authority in Israelite life during the restoration period, and the importance assumed by its public reading and study as reflected in Neh 8:1–9:4; 10:30; 13:1–3.[14]
The mention of the divine revelation at Sinai and the giving of the Torah in Neh 9 underscores the divine origins of the Torah and the positive attributes of its rules, teachings, laws, and commandments, viewed as binding by many Jews in the Persian period. As David Carr, a biblical scholar from Union Theological Seminary, observes:
The history of Israelite literature can be conceived as the move from older forms of educational literature to a distinctive curriculum centered on the Torah.[15]
This development may not have been merely the result of internal factors but may also have been influenced by external ones related to the policy of the Persian regime during this period.[16] The entirety of Ezra-Nehemiah, which also belongs to the Persian period, not only makes use of Pentateuchal texts, both narrative and legal, but exhibits familiarity with the Pentateuch in its entirety.[17] By this period, the Torah was defined in ways that reflected its divine origins, transmission by Moses, and written form. It had become sacred, authoritative canon.[18]
Shavuot: Sinai and Torah Get a Holiday
The Pentateuch never offers a date for the revelation at Sinai, and no biblical text ties this event to any holiday or yearly celebration.[19] That said, by late Second Temple times, Shavuot was understood to commemorate this event,[20] and this is the assumption of the rabbis as well,[21] who made זמן מתן תורתינו (“the time our Torah was given”) into the official liturgical description of Shavuot.[22]
Despite the absence of any such association in Scripture, such a connection should be understood as the culmination of the process described above, namely, the development of the Torah’s importance and the emerging centrality of the Sinai revelation, as evidenced in the Levites’ prayer of Nehemiah 9.  Such a momentous event surely deserved recognition in the sacred calendar!
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Appendix
Ordinances, Statutes, and Shabbat
Why does v. 14 specifically mention Shabbat after the preceding verse just mentioned all the laws in general?[23] This singling out of Shabbat alongside laws in general is not unique to the Levites’ prayer in Nehemiah, but also appears in Ezekiel 20. For example, when describing what occurred after he took the Israelites out of Egypt, YHWH says to Ezekiel:
יחזקאל כ:יא וָאֶתֵּן לָהֶם אֶת חֻקּוֹתַי וְאֶת מִשְׁפָּטַי הוֹדַעְתִּי אוֹתָם אֲשֶׁר יַעֲשֶׂה אוֹתָם הָאָדָם וָחַי בָּהֶם. כ:יב וְגַם אֶת שַׁבְּתוֹתַי נָתַתִּי לָהֶם לִהְיוֹת לְאוֹת בֵּינִי וּבֵינֵיהֶם לָדַעַת כִּי אֲנִי יְ-הוָה מְקַדְּשָׁם.
Ezek 20:11 I gave them My laws and taught them My rules, by the pursuit of which a man shall live. 20:12 Moreover, I gave them My sabbaths to serve as a sign between Me and them, that they might know that it is I YHWH who sanctify them.[24]
This emphasis on the observance of Shabbat, also evident in the Torah’s Priestly and Holiness sources (Exod 31:13-17, 35:2-3; Lev 19:3, 30, 26:2) was part of the religious renewal in the restoration period.  
Thus, we see great emphasis on Shabbat in the latter half of Isaiah (Isa 56:2, 4, 6) and in the book of Nehemiah itself (Neh 10:32, 13:15–22), in which Nehemiah rebukes the people for breaking Shabbat,[25] declaring that this is why Israel was punished with the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem in 586:[26]
נחמיה יג:יח הֲלוֹא כֹה עָשׂוּ אֲבֹתֵיכֶם וַיָּבֵא אֱלֹהֵינוּ עָלֵינוּ אֵת כָּל הָרָעָה הַזֹּאת וְעַל הָעִיר הַזֹּאת וְאַתֶּם מוֹסִיפִים חָרוֹן עַל יִשְׂרָאֵל לְחַלֵּל אֶת הַשַּׁבָּת.
Neh 13:18 This is just what your ancestors did, and for it God brought all this misfortune on this city; and now you give cause for further wrath against Israel by profaning Shabbat!
The presentation of Shabbat in the Levites’ song makes the inverse point: along with food and water, Shabbat is one of the gifts the Israelites’ received in the wilderness, along with the rest of YHWH’s laws and commandments.
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Prof. Hava Shalom-Guy is academic vice-president at the David Yellin Academic College of Education in Jerusalem and teaches in its Department of Bible. She has a Ph.D. in Bible from the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. Her fields of interest and teaching foci include the Bible as literature, inner-biblical interpretation, and teaching of the Bible. She is the author of The Gideon Cycle through the Mirror of Its Literary Parallels [Hebrew], and among her articles are “Textual analogies and their ramifications for a diachronic analysis of  1 Samuel 13:1–14:46 and Judges 6:1–8:35” (JHS) and “Three-Way Intertextuality: Some Reflections of Abimelech’s Death at Thebez in Biblical Narrative” (JSOT).
05/17/2018
[1] Verses 6-11 are likely familiar to many readers as they form part of Pesukei DeZimra (a section of the morning prayers), introducing the Song of the Sea.
[2] The text then moves on to discuss the gift of manna from heaven and water from a stone (v. 15a; Exodus has other water stories, such as fresh water from bitter waters at Marah [Exod 15:22-26], but these are skipped over in this abridged recital). Then the text mentions the promise of the land (v. 15b), at which point, the prayer’s tone shifts, and the Levites begin to describe Israel’s stubborn complaints (vv. 16-17) and the sin of the golden calf (v. 18). Notably, the Levite prayer does not follow chronological order of the Torah here, but lists the Sinai revelation before the manna and water episodes, even though in Exodus the Sinai pericope (Exod 19-24) comes after these (Exod 16, 17:1-7). See H.G.M. Williamson, Ezra, Nehemiah, WBC 16 (Waco, TX: Word Books, 1985), 314; Mark J. Boda, Praying the Tradition: The Origin and Use of Tradition in Nehemiah 9 (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1999), 77–78; Sara Japhet, “What May Be Learned from Ezra-Nehemiah about the Composition of the Pentateuch,” in The Formation of the Pentateuch: Bridging the Academic Cultures of Europe, Israel, and North America, ed. Jan C. Gertz, Bernard M. Levinson, Dalit Rom-Shiloni, and Konrad Schmid (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2016), 552.
[3] See Wilhelm Rudolph, Esra und Nehemiah, HAT 20 (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1949), 156. See also BHS, ad loc.
[4] On inner-biblical quotes in chiastic order, see the classic essay by Moshe Seidel, “Parallels between Isaiah and Psalms.” Sinai 38 (1955): 149-172, 229-240, 272-280, 335-355 [Hebrew]. Reprinted in: Moshe Seidel, Hiqrei Miqra (Jerusalem: Mossad Harav Kook, 1978), 1-97 [Hebrew].
[5] This plural form is rare in the Bible (see Gen 26:5; Exod 16:28, 18:16, 20; Isa 24:5; Ezek 43:11; 44:5, 24). Marc Boda argues that its appearance in v. 13 is influenced by the plural in Lev 20:46: אלה החקים והמשפטים והתורֹת אשר נתן ה’ […] בהר סיני ביד משה. See Boda, Praying the Tradition, 128-129. Alternatively, it is possible that the plural תורות was formed through attraction to the other plural forms in the verse. See also, Moshe Weinfeld, Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomic School (Oxford: Clarendon, 1972), 338; Hava Shalom-Guy, “The Confessional Prayer in Nehemiah 9: 6–37: A Literary–Historical Consideration,” Shnaton 24 (2016): 103–27 [114–15] [Hebrew]. The use of Torah as a reference to a specific work is influenced by Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomic literature, which make use of the singular as a reference to the Deuteronomic Law Collection. Editor’s note: See David Glatt-Gilad,  “Deuteronomy: The First Torah,” TheTorah.com (2015).
[6] See Rolf Rendtorff, “Nehemiah 9: An Important Witness of Theological Reflection,” in Tehillah le-Moshe: Biblical and Judaic Studies in Honor of Moshe Greenberg, ed. Mordechai Cogan, Barry L. Eichler, Jeffrey H. Tigay (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1997), 112–13.  See also Japhet, “Ezra- Nehemiah,” 551.
[7]
תהלים עח:יב נֶגֶד אֲבוֹתָם עָשָׂה פֶלֶאבְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם שְׂדֵה צֹעַן.עח:יג בָּקַע יָם וַיַּעֲבִירֵםוַיַּצֶּב מַיִם כְּמוֹ נֵד.עח:יד וַיַּנְחֵם בֶּעָנָן יוֹמָםוְכָל הַלַּיְלָה בְּאוֹר אֵשׁ.עח:טו יְבַקַּע צֻרִים בַּמִּדְבָּרוַיַּשְׁקְ כִּתְהֹמוֹת רַבָּה.עח:טז וַיּוֹצִא נוֹזְלִים מִסָּלַעוַיּוֹרֶד כַּנְּהָרוֹת מָיִם.
Ps 78:12 He made marvels before their fathers,in the land of Egypt, the plain of Zoan. 78:13 He split the sea and took them
through it; 
He made the waters stand like a wall.78:14 He led them with a cloud by day,and throughout the night by the light of fire.78:15 He split rocks in the wildernessand gave them drink as if from the great deep.78:16 He brought forth streams from a rockand made them flow down like a river.
[8] For some briefer examples, see Josh 2:10, 4:23 and Ps 114. See discussion in Yair Zakovitch, “And the Lord sent Moses and Aaron,” in Birkat Shalom: Studies in the Bible, Ancient Near Eastern Literature, and Postbiblical Judaism Presented to S.M. Paul, ed. C. Cohen et al. (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2008), 1:192 and n. 2 there. In contrast, Moses (and Aaron) do appear in other historical summaries, such as those in 1 Samuel 12 (v. 8), Ps 105 (v. 26), and Josh 24 (v. 5), though this last is likely a late insertion (it does not appear in the LXX). See Zakovitch, “And the Lord sent Moses and Aaron,” 191–99; Thomas Römer, “Extra-Pentateuchal Biblical Evidence for the Existence of a Pentateuch? The Case of the ‘Historical Summaries,’ especially in the Psalms,” in The Pentateuch; International Perspectives on Current Research (ed. Thomas B. Dozeman, Konrad Schmid, and Baruch J. Schwartz; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2011), 471-488 [475 n. 21].
[9] See e.g. Mek. de-R. Shimon bar-Yochai on Exod 14:21. See Avigdor Shinan and Yair Zakovitch, “Moses or God? Who Split the Sea of Reeds?” in From Gods to God: How the Bible Debunked, Suppressed, or Changed Ancient Myths and Legends, trans. Valerie Zakovitch (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2012), 38–40; Avigdor Shinan, “Why Was Moses Not Mentioned in the Passover Haggadah?” Amudim 39 (1991): 172–174 [Hebrew].
[10] See Japhet, “Ezra-Nehemiah,” 552–60 (esp. 552–60 and n. 23); Thomas Römer, “The Problem of the Hexateuch,” in The Formation of the Pentateuch. Bridging the Academic Cultures of Europe, Israel and North America (ed., J. C. Gertz, et al.; FAT 111; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2016), 813-827 [825]. The designations תורת משה/ספר תורת משה also appear in Joshua and Kings but only with respect to Deuteronomic commandments. See e.g. Josh 8:31–32 (Deut 27:1–13); 1 Kings 2:3 (Deut 29:8); and 2 Kings 14:6 (Deut 24:16).
[11] Editor’s note: See discussion in David Frankel, “Judaism Without Sinai,” TheTorah.com(2015).
[12] Ps 106:19, which is often cited as another example of the mention of this tradition in a historical survey, relates to the golden calf episode, but not to the giving of laws: יַעֲשׂוּ-עֵגֶל בְּחֹרֵב וַיִּשְׁתַּחֲווּ לְמַסֵּכָה (“They made a calf at Horeb and bowed down to a molten image”). Hab 3:3 parallels Deut 33:2, but not only makes no reference to the Sinaitic revelation there, Sinai itself is not mentioned. See Arie Toeg, Lawgiving at Sinai (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1977), 100–101 (in Hebrew); Konrad Schmid, “Divine Legislation in the Pentateuch in its Late Judean and Neo-Babylonian Context,” in The Fall of Jerusalem and the Rise of the Torah, ed. Peter. Dubovsk‎‎ý, Dominik Markl, and Jean-Pierre Sonnet, FAT 107 (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2016), 136–38, among others. Other scholars identify allusions to the tradition of Sinai and the giving of the Torah in additional texts. Thus, for example, Richard J. Bautch (“An Appraisal of Abraham’s Role in Postexilic Covenants,” CBQ 71 [2009]: 50) notes the use of motifs from creation and the Sinai tradition in Trito-Isaiah (Isa 63:19b–64:4a); Thomas Römer (“Historical Summaries,” 482) notes affinities to this tradition in the historical surveys in Psalms, such as Ps 81, which is based on Exod 19–20; and Pss 147:19; 99:7, 103:7.
[13] See e.g. Samuel E. Loewenstamm, The Evolution of the Exodus Tradition, trans. Baruch J. Schwartz, Perry Foundation for Biblical Research (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1992), 31–34; Martin Noth, Das System der zwölf Stämme Israels, BWA[N]T 4,1 (Darmstadt: Wissenschftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1930; repr. 1966), 68; Gerhard von Rad, The Problem of the Hexateuch and Other Essays, trans. E. W. Trueman Dicken (London: SCM, 1966), 53–55; Lothar Perlitt, Bundestheologie im Alten Testament, WMANT 36 (Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verl, 1969), 252; Moshe Anbar, Joshua and the Covenant at Shechem (Jos. 24:1–28) (Jerusalem: Bialik Institute, 1999), 92 [Hebrew]; Boda, Praying the Tradition, 142–43. According to Schmid (“Divine Legislation,” 140, 146), the verses that note divine revelation at Sinai or his appearance from there attest to the sanctity of the mountain in the early tradition; however, the tradition of the giving of the Torah at Sinai and its anchoring in the Exodus story date to the exilic period. An entirely different tradition is reflected in Josh 24, which grants primacy to the covenant at Shechem and seeks to portray Joshua as a lawgiver. Martin Noth, Das Buch Josua2, HAT 1,7 (Tübingen: J.C.B Mohr, 1953), 140; Anbar, Joshua and the Covenant at Shechem, 92; Yair Zakovitch, Inner-biblical and Extra-biblical Midrash and the Relationship Between Them, Aron Sefarim Yehudi (Tel Aviv: Am Oved, 2009), 254 [Hebrew]; Römer“Historical Summaries,” 475 and n. 22; Römer, “The Problem of the Hexateuch,” 825.
[14] See Boda, Praying the Tradition, 197; Sara Japhet, “The Ritual of Reading Scripture,” Shnaton 22 (2013): 77–78 [ Hebrew]; idem, “Ezra- Nehemiah”; David M. Carr, “The Rise of Torah,” in The Pentateuch as Torah: New Models for Understanding Its Promulgation and Acceptance, ed. G.N. Knoppers and B.M. Levinson (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2007), 39–56, among others. Editor’s note: See Jacob Wright, “The Origins of Torah Study,”TheTorah.com (2015); Aaron Demsky, “Historical Hakhel Ceremonies and the Origin of Public Torah Reading,” TheTorah.com (2017).
[15] Carr, “The Rise of Torah,” 46.
[16] Konrad Schmid, “The Persian Imperial Authorization as Historical Problem and as Biblical Construct: A Plea for Differentiations in the Current Debate,” in The Pentateuch as Torah, 22–28; idem, “Divine Legislation,” 148. Konrad Schmid offers a similar observation:
The sources clearly are witness to varying processes of authorization of local norms by the Persian authorities … Ezra 7 shows us that the author of this text was familiar with processes of authorizing local norms and that he described Ezra’s presentation of the Torah to his readers in this context.
Schmid, “Persian Imperial Authorization,” 37–38.
[17] See Japhet, “Ezra-Nehemiah.” With respect to Nehemiah 9, she notes that the historical survey there begins with the Creation as does the Pentateuch, unlike other historical surveys that have different starting points. She also notes the affinity between Neh 9:7–8 and Gen 15:6–17, and that Neh 13:1–3 is a concise quote of Deut 23:4–6, among other examples, including the affinity between the prohibition against mixed marriage in Ezra 9:1/Neh 10:31 and Deut 7:3.
[18] Japhet, “Ezra-Nehemiah,” 557, 560. I point out, however, that the portrayal of the Sinaitic revelation and the giving of the Torah in Neh 9:13 makes no use of covenant language. The only covenant mentioned explicitly in this survey is the Abrahamic one (9:7–8), whose thrust is the promise of the land to his descendants. Perhaps the goal of restoration of the ownership of the land to the present generation governed the emphasis placed on the Abrahamic covenant. In fact, the emphasis on the Abrahamic covenant with its promise of the land to his descendants holds the key to unveiling the underlying ideology of this prayer; see, Shalom-Guy, “The Confessional Prayer in Nehemiah 9.” For the centrality of Abraham figure for members of the destruction, exilic, and restoration generations, see Bernard Gosse, “L’Alliance avec Abraham et les relectures de l’histoire d’Israël en Ne 9, Ps 105–106, 135–136 et 1 Ch 16,” Transeuphratène 15 (1998): 123–35; and recently Bautch, “Abraham’s Role in Postexilic Covenants,” 42–63;  Römer, “Historical Summaries,” 476; Atar Livneh, “Abraham in Second Temple Historical Summaries,” Meghillot 13 (2017): 119–58 [Hebrew].
[19] Editor’s note: See Norman Solomon, “Shavuot: How the Festival of Harvest Grew,”TheTorah.com (2014).
[20] The earliest known reference to a link between Shavuot and the giving of the Torah at Sinai in the third month (see Exod 19:1) appears in Jubilees 1:1, which implies that “the covenant of Exodus 19 occurred on 3/15 (that is, the fifteenth day of the third month) because it has Moses ascending the mountain to receive the Law and testimony on the sixteenth.” James C. VanderKam, “Weeks, Festival of,” ABD 6: 895–97, at 896. For a description of the biblical holiday, see also Jacob Licht, שבועות, חג שבועות”,” Encyclopaedia Biblica 7:492–94 [Hebrew]. Editor’s note: See Michael Segal, ” Shavuot: The Festival of Covenants,”TheTorah.com (2014).
[21] See e.g. Mechilta D’Rabbi Ismael, Yitro 3; y. Shabb. 86b–87a. 
[22] Editor’s note: See Zev Farber, “In What Way is Shavuot ‘Zman Matan Torateinu?'”TheTorah.com (2015).
[23]  See Loewenstamm, Exodus Tradition, 12 ; Boda, Praying the Tradition, 143; Richard J. Bautch, Development of Genre between Post-Exilic Penitential Prayers and the Psalms of Communal Lament, Academia Biblica / SBL 7 (Atlanta, GA – Leiden, 2003), 131, 135; Römer, “Historical Summaries,” 476 n. 30.
[24] See also Ezek 20:13, 19–20, 21, 24, in which Shabbat is juxtaposed to ordinances and statutes. See discussion in, Loewenstamm, Exodus Tradition, 12 ; Boda, Praying the Tradition, 143; Richard J. Bautch, Development of Genre between Post-Exilic PenitentialPrayers and the Psalms of Communal Lament, Academia Biblica / SBL 7 (Atlanta, GA – Leiden, 2003), 131, 135; Römer, “Historical Summaries,” 476 n. 30. Editor’s note: It also seems possible that the mention of manna that follows the Shabbat reflects their pairing in Exod 16.
[25] Compare the similar passage in Jeremiah 17 (vv. 21-27).
[26] See Williamson, Ezra, Nehemiah, 314; Joseph Blenkinsopp, Ezra-Nehemiah: A Commentary, OTL (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1988), 304; Boda, Praying the Tradition, 11, 132; Sara Japhet, “Postexilic Historiography: How and Why?” in From the Rivers of Babylon to the Highlands of Judah: Collected Studies on the Restoration Period (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2006), 311.

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