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Blood for ThoughtThe Reinvention of Sacrifice in Early Rabbinic Literature$
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Mira Balberg

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780520295926

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520295926.001.0001

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Sacrifice as One

Sacrifice as One

(p.108) 3 Sacrifice as One
Blood for Thought

Mira Balberg

University of California Press

This chapter discusses the rabbinic construction of a taxonomy of “congregational offerings” as opposed to “individual offerings,” and the rabbis’ use of this taxonomy to create a clear sacrificial hierarchy, guided by a collectivistic ideology. While the distinction between individual and congregational offerings has its roots in the Hebrew Bible, the rabbis present a novel interpretation of this distinction by prohibiting any kind of private funding for congregational offerings. They insist that congregational offerings must be attained strictly and exclusively through the half-shekel tribute to the temple that each member of the community must pay annually. Congregational sacrifices are thus portrayed in rabbinic texts as expressions of a unified, collective agency of the people as a whole, and their portrayal as such serves both to reject the prevalent Hellenistic and Roman model of euergetism (that is, benefactions of wealthy individuals) and to paint an idyllic picture of religious and social solidarity.

Keywords:   Jerusalem Temple, Temple tax, Fiscus iudaicus, Half shekel, Mishnah, Public sacrifice, Imperial Cult

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