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Turning to the Hebrew Bible for inspiration, solidarity, comfort, and purpose, as the members of the First Continental Congress did, is a common theme in American history. In fact, one cannot understand the American political tradition without understanding America's relationship with the Five Books of Moses. This sourcebook assembles the primary sources of American public Turning to the Hebrew Bible for inspiration, solidarity, comfort, and purpose, as the members of the First Continental Congress did, is a common theme in American history. In fact, one cannot understand the American political tradition without understanding America's relationship with the Five Books of Moses. This sourcebook assembles the primary sources of American public history and allows the reader to hear the Hebraic echoes that have formed the cultural vocabulary of the Puritan settlers, revolutionaries, African slaves, leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, and the broader population.


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Turning to the Hebrew Bible for inspiration, solidarity, comfort, and purpose, as the members of the First Continental Congress did, is a common theme in American history. In fact, one cannot understand the American political tradition without understanding America's relationship with the Five Books of Moses. This sourcebook assembles the primary sources of American public Turning to the Hebrew Bible for inspiration, solidarity, comfort, and purpose, as the members of the First Continental Congress did, is a common theme in American history. In fact, one cannot understand the American political tradition without understanding America's relationship with the Five Books of Moses. This sourcebook assembles the primary sources of American public history and allows the reader to hear the Hebraic echoes that have formed the cultural vocabulary of the Puritan settlers, revolutionaries, African slaves, leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, and the broader population.

35 review for Proclaim Liberty Throughout the Land: The Hebrew Bible in the United States: A Sourcebook

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ben Rothke

    Many people know that the Yale University coat of arms has the Hebrew words urim and tummim on it, above the Latin phrase Lux et Veritas, meaning “light and truth”. If Yale thought there was value in Jewish wisdom, that certainly was not manifest in their quotas. As Dan Oren wrote in Joining the Club: A History of Jews and Yale, it wasn’t until the mid-1960's that Yale ended its informal admissions policy that limited enrollment to Jews to roughly 10 percent. Yale University is but one example o Many people know that the Yale University coat of arms has the Hebrew words urim and tummim on it, above the Latin phrase Lux et Veritas, meaning “light and truth”. If Yale thought there was value in Jewish wisdom, that certainly was not manifest in their quotas. As Dan Oren wrote in Joining the Club: A History of Jews and Yale, it wasn’t until the mid-1960's that Yale ended its informal admissions policy that limited enrollment to Jews to roughly 10 percent. Yale University is but one example of how the Hebrew Bible was pervasive within the development of early America. The Hebrew Bible came to the United States with the Mayflower Pilgrims and has been used as a source of inspiration and encouragement since then. In Proclaim Liberty Throughout the Land: The Hebrew Bible in the United States: A Sourcebook, editors Meir Soloveichik, Stuart Halpern, Matthew Holbreich and Jonathan Silver, have compiled a fascinating sourcebook that traces the relationship of the Hebrew Bible with American history itself. The authors write that one can’t understand the American political tradition and its articulations thought time without an understanding of America’s relationship with the Hebrew Bible. The main themes of the Bible are chosenness, exodus and covenant. And the authors show how these themes were pervasive in the American political scheme, with the book covering the years from the Mayflower Compact through the Civil War. As a sourcebook, the author’s provide a significant amount of material detailing how extensive the Biblical narrative was to American history. From John Winthrop’s invocation of Micah, to reinforce the covenant between God and the Jews as a model of political community, to Benjamin Rush’s use of Genesis 1 as the model for developing a new nation, and much more. Perhaps the most disturbing section of the book is in part 4, detailing the debate over slavery. Plenty of southern clergy members used the Biblical narrative to support their views that slavery was a biblical mandate. While only about 5% of Southern society owned slaves, and of those who owned slaves, only 3% owned more than 20, cotton constituted about 50% of the nation’s exports, which gave rise to a continual and higher demand for slave labor. As Abraham Lincoln would say, slavery represented a powerful interest. The supposed pro-slavery sources slave owners used were many; including Genesis 9 & 14, Leviticus 25 and Deuteronomy 20. The problem with using the Hebrew Bible as a source for slavery is that these sources are highly unsophisticated, and also are not in agreement with the Jewish hermeneutical tradition. While the slave owners in the south treated their slaves like chattel, they were utterly oblivious to the myriad biblical requirements that a slave owner must provide, and the many benefits afforded to the slave. They were so significant, that the Talmud notes that “one who buys a slave, has bought another master for themselves”. In chapter after chapter, the author’s do a splendid job of showing how American history and culture is so intertwined with the Hebrew Bible. The book closes with the intriguing observation that there is no group in American history who interpreted their collective experience in the New World as closely along Hebraic lines as African Americans. Their collective story of a forced enslavement in a foreign land, the yearning for liberation and freedom, hoping for a place they could call home; they identified strongly with the story of the Exodus. In fact, the African American experience is like that of the Jews; one of exile, bondage, yearning for a homeland, and deliverance. In fact, the Hebraic influence, as the book notes, is quite significant in the spiritual liturgy of the oppressed. Moses, Joshua and other prophets figure prominently in their spirituals, along with other Jewish ideals such as spiritual liberation. These Hebraic themes permeated the slave culture, and the song and lyrics within the spirituals provided them with significant hope and a spiritual elevation. It’s debatable if contemporary Jewish music could make similar claims. The book ends with the conclusion of the Civil War, as the authors write that the resonance of the Bible grew weaker in American since then. Proclaim Liberty Throughout the Land provides the reader with a unique view into American history, and makes for a fascinating red.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Clay Davis

    This work had the feel of a history text book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Leora Wenger

    An excellent read - did you know the Bible was quoted both for pro-slavery and anti-slavery arguments? (From the point of view of a religious Jew, there is no discussion of the oral law, which is how we know that slavery is forbidden. If someone really wanted to keep a slave, one would have to treat the slave so well, as though the slave were the master). A good way to learn more about people thought in the early days of our country. Sadly, there are few young people who can quote the Bible or un An excellent read - did you know the Bible was quoted both for pro-slavery and anti-slavery arguments? (From the point of view of a religious Jew, there is no discussion of the oral law, which is how we know that slavery is forbidden. If someone really wanted to keep a slave, one would have to treat the slave so well, as though the slave were the master). A good way to learn more about people thought in the early days of our country. Sadly, there are few young people who can quote the Bible or understand its profound significance.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Gary Wigoda

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sonyajohnston

  6. 4 out of 5

    gregg family

  7. 5 out of 5

    John Minster

  8. 4 out of 5

    Zechariah Rosenthal

  9. 5 out of 5

    Bee Kay

  10. 5 out of 5

    Joseph McCarthy

  11. 4 out of 5

    Owen

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Fulk

  13. 5 out of 5

    Darryl

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jules

  15. 5 out of 5

    Stefanie Zaslavsky

  16. 5 out of 5

    Yakov Bronsteyn

  17. 4 out of 5

    Khari

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lukas Mason

  19. 4 out of 5

    Zachary Wilke

  20. 4 out of 5

    Angie

  21. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Mckay

  22. 5 out of 5

    Tina

  23. 4 out of 5

    Mark

  24. 4 out of 5

    Tanya

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ilan Baldinger

  26. 4 out of 5

    Brad

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ira Kaminow

  28. 5 out of 5

    Gokhan Balaban

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ari Lapin

  30. 4 out of 5

    T

  31. 4 out of 5

    Helen Rauch-elnekave

  32. 4 out of 5

    Eric Sawyer

  33. 5 out of 5

    Rich

  34. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey

  35. 4 out of 5

    Ben Pashkoff

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