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The Signifying CreatorNontextual Sources of Meaning in Ancient Judaism$
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Michael D. Swartz

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780814740934

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814740934.001.0001

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Myths of Creation

Myths of Creation

(p.13) 2 Myths of Creation
The Signifying Creator

Michael D. Swartz

NYU Press

This chapter discusses the claim of ancient rabbis that God created the first pair of tongs at twilight on the sixth day of creation. This statement is one among many in a rich tradition of myths of creation and precreation in rabbinic Judaism. The chapter examines the relationship of this myth to alternatives, in which entities other than the Torah were created before the world. This discussion of the preceding myths is threefold: first is to de-center the idea that the Torah was created before the world; second is to show that because of this alternative to the myth of the primordial Torah, the Temple, the sacrificial system, and the ritual system generally inspired creativity and systems of interpretation; and finally, to explain that the ancient Jews believed that God embedded signification in the natural world so that human beings could use those signs in their daily lives.

Keywords:   Creation, Torah, rabbinic Judaism, Temple, sacrificial system, ritual system, ancient Jews

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