University of Nebraska Press


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English translation © 2012 by Avigdor Shinan and Yair Zakovitch. Lo kakh katuv ba-Tanakh © 2004 by Miskal-Yedioth Ahronoth Books and Chemed Books. All rights reserved. Published by the University of Nebraska Press as a Jewish Publication Society book. Manufactured in the United States of America.,675647.aspx


The ancient Israelites believed things that the writers of the Bible wanted them to forget: myths and legends from a pre-biblical world that the new monotheist order needed to bury, hide, or reinterpret. Ancient Israel was rich in such literary traditions before the Bible reached the final form that we have today. These traditions were not lost but continued, passed down through the ages. Many managed to reach us in post-biblical sources: rabbinic literature, Jewish Hellenistic writings, the writings of the Dead Sea sect, the Aramaic, Greek, Latin, and other ancient translations of the Bible, and even outside the ancient Jewish world in Christian and Islamic texts. The Bible itself sometimes alludes to these traditions, often in surprising contexts.

Written in clear and accessible language, this volume presents thirty such traditions. It voyages behind the veil of the written Bible to reconstruct what was told and retold among the ancient Israelites, even if it is “not what the Bible tells us.”