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Oracles, Omens & Execrations: Magic & Sorcery in the Bible

Session 1, February 9Omens
Session 2, February 16: Oracles
Session 3, March 9 (On Zoom): Execrations and Spells 

Each session will take place from 7:00pm-8:15pm 


Come to Habonim for this fun and engaging lecture series from Dr. Sharon Keller and learn about oracles - who, what and when they are; how omens are interpreted; and execrations - the texts and rituals used to curse enemies. While they're all forbidden in the biblical text, they were considered a fact of life for many in the region, and are part of many of the Bible's stories. We'll explore these ancient traditions and beliefs, and discover how the interplay practices of the ancient Israelites and their neighbors in Egypt and beyond can help color and enhance our interpretation of the text. 

According to Keller, “The ancient texts have to be looked at from where they were. There is truth in the Bible that supersedes veracity. You see the larger picture, which allows you to see the text as it was, what it is, and what it can be.”

Each lecture will include a Q & A after the presentation with light snacks and refreshments served at the in-person sessions. This event has been made possible thanks to the sponsorship of our Adult Education Committee and an anonymous donor. 

Congregation Habonim is at 103 West End Avenue (at W. 64th Street), New York NY 10023. Click here to view a map & get directions.

Dr. Sharon Keller set her sights on a PhD in Bible and Egyptology when she was in the 6th grade and steadfastly worked toward that goal earning her doctorate at NYU. Sharon is currently on the Classics faculty at Hofstra University where she teaches courses as diverse as “Women in The Hebrew Bible,” “Magic, Miracle, and Medicine in the Ancient World,” and “History of Ancient Egypt and the Middle East.” Sharon has written and edited numerous scholarly articles and academic books most of which relate to the interplay between biblical Israel and ancient Egypt. Her most popular book, Jews: A Treasury of Art and Literature, was awarded the prestigious National Jewish Book Award. A native New Yorker, Sharon is known for the enthusiasm and humor that she brings to all of her talks that make otherwise esoteric subjects easily accessible.

Mon, December 4 2023 21 Kislev 5784