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The Jewish Study Bible Contextualizes the Hebrew Bible with accompanying scholarly text on Jewish traditions and history.

Is Jewish Liturgy Biblical?

Biblical texts are so prominent in many parts of the Siddur that the immediate impression is that the Jewish liturgy is borrowed directly from the Tanakh. A mere glance at the traditional prayers confirms that the language is predominantly Hebrew, that the theology rings biblical bells, and that the relationship presupposed is that between God and Israel. Following biblical models, gratitude is expressed, praise offered, and supplication made, and there is no lack of special requests for divine assistance in matters mundane as well as spiritual. The names of biblical heroes frequently occur and topics such as sacrifice, Temple, priest, and Levite are also to be found. Yet it must be emphasized that the quotations and citations of the Bible in liturgy are not fully representative of the Bible. For example, the reason why a verse such as Ps. 51.7 , “Indeed I was born with iniquity; with sin my mother conceived me,” was not included is perhaps because it was regarded as too close to Christian notions. Liturgical tradition does not favor the rather complex notions of theodicy and retribution found in Job. Thus, although the use of the Bible in the liturgy is extensive, it is also selective. There is a partial tendency to favor late biblical texts that are closer temporally and conceptually to rabbinic theological notions.

The index to the use of the Psalms appended to the edition of the Anglo‐Jewish Authorised Daily Prayer Book, edited by Simeon Singer and first published in London in 1890, indicates that no less than 74 out of a total of 150 biblical psalms occur in the context of the standard prayers. Might we not suppose that the Siddur is the direct continuation of trends represented by Abraham's entreaty for Sodom (Gen. 18.23–25 ), Jacob's bargaining with God (Gen. 28.16–22 ), Moses' request for the healing of Miriam (Num. 12.13 ), Sam‐ son's appeal for vengeance through his death (Jud. 16.30 ), Hannah's prayer for a child (1 Sam. 1.10–16 ), the Temple ritual, and the composition of psalms? Some of the roots of the Jewish prayers are indeed to be found in the biblical soil, but historical accuracy forces us to draw a distinction between the notions of “liturgy in the Bible” and “the Bible in Jewish liturgy.” Both historically and thematically, the story is a more complicated one.

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