Terumah: The Building Contractor’s Tale by David Hartley Mark

And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,  See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah: And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, To devise cunning works, to work […]

Mishpatim by David Hartley Mark

The Torah’s author—whether Moses or another—interrupts the narrative of the theophany at Mt. Sinai to introduce a set of seemingly unrelated mitzvote/commandments, fifty-three in all. This reminds us that the Torah is not only the story of our ancestors, and, by extension, ourselves, but also a Book of Laws. As a child, I recall the […]

Yitro: Voices Off by David Hartley Mark

Moses prepares to climb Mt. Sinai, leaving Aaron in charge of an exceedingly nervous and demanding People. The Prophet ascends, penetrating the Very Thick Darkness, where he will remain for forty days and nights. The Israelites hear the Lightning and see the Thunder; the Mountain shakes, the People fear, and stand afar off. The Torah-Text […]

Parshat Beshallach: The Egyptian Version by David Hartley Mark

Egyptian Weekly Army Review Troop Deployment Report Glorious Egyptian Empire Peacetime: No Battles to Report Few Military Losses, Thank Ra-in-His-Glory 8th Year of Osiris, Akhet, Time-of-Nile-Rising, Reign of His Gracious, Sun-in-His-Splendor-Rising, Pharaoh Ramesses II Item: Supply-Sergeant Khufu requisitioned six bows-and-quivers for use by Platoon 6, Chariot Squadron C, Regiment “Horus-Hawk-of-Vengeance”; three of six quivers were […]

Bo by David Hartley Mark

Note: for the purpose of this week’s Drash/Commentary, the Reader must accept the possibility that the Pharaoh of the Exodus was the traditionally-accepted one, Ramesses II. I am positing that his son, Merneptah (who in actuality did not succeed his long-lived father until the son was in his sixties) grew up in the palace as […]

Why Pray? by David Hartley Mark

Yesterday, following Shabbat Services and Kiddush Refreshments—a wonderful Senior Bat-Mitzvah Reunion—my Discussion Group gathered in the Bet Midrash/Chapel of Temple Sholom of Pompano Beach, and I delved into one of my favorite areas of Kabbalah: Rabbi Yitzchak Luria (1534-1572), the Ari HaKadosh, the “Holy Lion” of Tsfat (Safed, pronounced SA-fed), Israel. He himself did not […]

Vayeira by David Hartley Mark

Synopsis: Moses and Aaron confront Pharaoh—which one? Ramsses II, Thutmose III, perhaps even Hatshepsut, the Woman Pharaoh—the actual identity is not important to the Torah Narrative, which never gives more details than are considered necessary to tell the Story. The Theme is Clash of the Titans, in this case between Adon-i, God of the Israelites, […]

Shemot by David Hartley Mark

Reign of Pharaoh Tuthmosis III (1504-1450 BCE), possible Pharaoh of the Israelite-Slavery-Period. Meeting of the High Court Privy Council, consisting of Officers and Advisers to His Royal Majesty. Item One on the Royal Agenda this fine Spring Morning is Population Control: namely, the preponderance of Apiru’, or Israelites, a Foreign Nation once welcomed into Egypt […]

Vayechi by David Hartley Mark

1000 BCE. The Royal Scriptorium, a writing-office/warehouse more pretentious in name than reality, in King David’s Palace, Jerusalem: it is a cavernous room chock-full of clay tablets, animal-skins in various stages of tanning-preparation for writing, clay jugs ready for inscribing with the names of their contents, rolls of papyri stacked in every conceivable corner, and […]

Miketz by David Hartley Mark

In my continuing series of examining archeological documents from the Past, here is a piece which I acquired from the antiquities dealer, Ploni Ibn-Almoni, in the shuq-marketplace of the Old City of Jerusalem during my year abroad many decades ago. Almoni swore that he had secured it from a reliable source: one Dr. Tennessee Smith […]