Journal for the Study of Judaism 38 (2007) 39-56 Philo of Alexandria and the Conquest of Canaan Katell Berthelot Maison Méditerranéenne des Sciences de l’Homme, UMR 6125 – Centre Paul-Albert Février, 5 rue du château de l’Horloge, B.P. 647, 13094 Aix en Provence Cedex 2, France katell.b@fr ee.fr Abstract According to the Torah, the Hebrews were commanded either to expel or to exter- minate the Canaanites who were living in Canaan at the time of the conquest. Philo seems to feel rather ill-at-ease about the literal meaning of these biblical passages. Besides allegory, he uses four hermeneutical strategies: 1) to pass over the problem- atic texts in silence; 2) to play with the meaning of certain Greek words; 3) to justify the destruction of the Canaanites from a moral point of view ; 4) to rewrite the bibli- cal account. Keywords Philo, conquest, Canaanites, herem, anathema, Hypothetica, apologetics, herme- neutics As everybody knows, Philo’s treatises are devoted almost exclusively to the interpretation of the Pentateuch. It is thus no surprise that the story of the conquest of Canaan, which is told mainly in the books of Joshua and Judges, is only rarely referred to in Philo’s works. Still,
Journal for the Study of Judaism – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2007
Keywords: HEREM; PHILO; HYPOTHETICA; ANATHEMA; HERMENEUTICS; CANAANITES; CONQUEST; APOLOGETICS
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