The Magdala stone table: Its function and role in determining the liturgical furniture in the ancient synagogue

Zeev Weiss*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

The discovery of low stone tables at Magdala and a few other sites in the Galilee and Golan allows us to examine, for the first time, this liturgical piece of furniture used by several communities in the late Second Temple period and the first centuries of the Common Era. This article defines the purpose of these stone tables based on analysis of the archaeological finds and examination of the literary sources associated with the Torah-reading ceremony conducted in the synagogues of ancient Palestine. The reading of the Torah throughout this long period was conducted standing with the open Torah scroll held in raised hands. Our study demonstrates that this table was not intended to be used for reading the Torah, but rather functioned as a low stand upon which the scroll was placed before the Torah-reading ceremony, during the breaks between the readers, and after completion of the ceremony.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)608-631
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Roman Archaeology
Volume34
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press.

Keywords

  • Magdala stone
  • Synagogues
  • Torah ark
  • Torah reading
  • Torah scrolls
  • liturgical furniture

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