Lot Casting, God, and Man in Jewish Literature

Lot Casting, God, and Man in Jewish Literature
From the Bible to the Renaissance
Shraga Bar-On

The book illuminates and examines the multifaceted utilizations of lot casting in Jewish tradition from the Bible to the late Renaissance. Lots were used for divination and prognostication, land division and property inheritance, ritualistic purposes, office selections, gambling and recreational purposes.

The first section of the book defines casting of lots as “a naked technique;&rdquo, which can be interpreted in four different ways: rational, mantic, psychological, and recreational. Thus, it provides a conceptual framework for the analysis of lot casting in Jewish literature.

The second section explores many descriptions of lot casting in Jewish literature and history. By surveying different depictions of lot casting, a vast range of utilizations, interpretations, and disputations regarding the essence of lot casting in Jewish tradition is revealed.

Table of Contents

Digital Edition Kotar

Danacode:   110-20293 ISBN:  978-965-226-442-8 Language:   Hebrew Pages:   472 Weight:   800 gr Dimensions:  17x24 cm Publication Date:   03/2020 Publisher:   Bar-Ilan University Press


Acknowledgements 9

Introduction 13

Chapter One: Four Justifications for Lot Casting 19

The Rational Justification 21; The Mantic Justification 42; Homo Ludens – The Justification from Play Theory 54; The Psychological Justification 75; The Relationship between the Various Justifications 80

Chapter Two: The Controversy over Lot Casting as Jewish Manticism 83

Jewish Manticism 84; Lot-Divination in the Bible: The Entrapment of Ahan and Saul 87; The Urim Ve-Thummim: Lot-Divination as a Priestly Institution 96; Lots Drawn by a Gentile or a Simpleton 105; “No Witchcraft in Israel”: The Biblical Rejection of Lot Casting 107; Post-Biblical Divinatory – Second Temple Culture 118; The Controversy Concerning Judicial Lotteries in Second Temple Judaism: From Qumran to Hazal 121; The Prohibition upon Magic: From Hazal to the Medievals 143; The Medieval Debate: Were Divinatory Lotteries Considered Magic? 148; “For You Desired Goralot”: From the Physical to the Textual Lots 164; Bibliomancy in Jewish Culture 183

Chapter Three: Chosen by Lots 200

Lotteries of War and Death in the Bible 200; Second Temple Lotteries: Josephus Flavius 204; The Controversy Concerning Appointments by Lots During the Second Temple Era 213; Priestly Lotteries in Rabbinic Literature 231; The Controversy Concerning Lots in Early Christianity 246; On the Casting of Lots in Second Temple Literature 252; The Choosing of the Jewish Nation by Lottery and the Sectarian Debate in Late Antiquity 263

Chapter Four: The Distribution of Goods via Lots 280

Biblical Lots between Sacred and Profane – The Distribution of Goods and the Settling of the Holy Land 280; From the Land of Canaan to the Land of Israel – The Myth of Land Distribution in the Second Temple Era 300; “Between the Larger and the Smaller” – Allegorical Interpretations of Distribution Lotteries in the Writings of Qumran and Josephus 308; “Between the Larger and the Smaller” – Between Rationalism and Manticism in Rabbinic Literature 321; “He Who Transgresses the Lottery is Considered as One who Transgresses the Ten Commandments” – The Responsum of a Gaon from Israel 330

Chapter Five: “One Lottery For God, One Lottery For Azaz’el” – The Yom Kippur Lots 334

The Yom Kippur Ceremony: Between Rationalism, Manticism, and Play 334; “If He Did Not Perform a Lottery – It is Valid”: The Rabbinic Reservation Regarding the Yom Kippur Lots 356; “Between the Lot of the Righteous and the Lot of Belial” – The Symbolic Meaning of the Yom Kippur Lots 358

Chapter Six: The Play of the Lot 371

“Pur – That is the Lot” – Lots in the Book of Esther 371; “One Who Rolls Dice” – Rabbinic Attitudes toward Gambling 374; Yehuda Aryeh Modena of Venice – The Playful Jew 387

Conclusion: The Various Instantiations of Lots 397

Abbreviations and Bibliography 402

Index 448