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Divine Fire in Deuteronomy 33:2

From: Journal of Biblical Literature
Volume 132, Number 4, 2013
pp. 791-803 | 10.1353/jbl.2013.0057



Though recent years have seen a plethora of research on divine representation, little attention has been paid to one of the Hebrew Bible’s most common depictions of the Almighty, that of divine fire. Of the many texts about divine fire in the Hebrew Bible, one of the oldest (Deut 33:2) is also one of the most difficult.

This article supports two studies of Deut 33:2 by Richard C. Steiner (the most recent coauthored with Sid Z. Leiman) by addressing additional relevant texts and iconography. The resulting analysis unpacks how fire was used symbolically to represent preternatural forces that attended the divine. Methodologically, the present study challenges future scholars to incorporate iconographic analysis into one’s philology—even when trying to understand abstract ideas.

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