Benjamin D. Gordon, Postdoctoral Associate in Jewish Studies

Benjamin D. Gordon

Please note: Benjamin has left the "Jewish Studies Program Certificate" group at Duke University; some info here might not be up to date.

Trained in Hebrew Bible, classic Jewish texts, and archaeology, I study the history and material culture of Judea-Palestine from the Neo-Babylonian period to the rise of Christianity. My main postdoctoral project is the publication of two volumes on the Duke excavations at Sepphoris, an urban center in the Galilee in classical antiquity. I am co-editing the volumes with Eric Meyers and Carol Meyers and contributing several chapters to them. One volume will be a comprehensive discussion of the architecture and stratigraphy of the Duke excavation area, a crowded residential quarter primarily of the Roman period; the other a presentation of the non-ceramic artifacts from the dig. I have worked on numerous excavations in Israel and helped lead three Duke tours to the region.

My other research focuses on the everyday lives of Judean priests and their families. My forthcoming book, Land and Temple: Sacred Real Estate and the Second Temple Priesthood (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter), examines the development of the “holy land” concept in the social and religious environment of post-exilic Judea. Cults and other associations of the ancient world regularly held incorporated assets in land, often naming a patron deity as landowner but managing the land themselves and affording it sanctity protections. Arrangements of the sort can provide essential background to the Hebrew Bible’s assertion that the Land of Israel is “God’s land.” They can also shed light on the poorly understood references—in ancient documents and in biblical and early Jewish literature—to the sacred landholdings of the Judean priesthood and the Jerusalem temple. This aspect of the early Jewish cult’s institutional reach far beyond the confines of its holy precinct in Jerusalem underscores its similarity to the religious organizations of the ancient Mediterranean world, particularly the great theocratic “temple states” of the East.

In addition, I am working on studies of the banking and credit operations run by Judean priests in the Neo-Babylonian and Persian periods, based on a new reading of Leviticus 27 (with Joshua Sosin); and of palace purity regulations and hygienic norms in the royal Hasmonean and Herodian courts.

Contact Info:
Office Location:  327 Gray Building
Office Phone:  (919) 660-3501
Email Address: send me a message


PhDDuke University2013
M.A.Hebrew University of Jerusalem2008
B.A.College of William and Mary1999

Teaching Fall 2011, REL/JEWISHST 40, Introduction to Judaism Fall 2011, OLDTEST 115, Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Spring 2011, OLDTEST 2B, Hebrew Reading Fall 2010, OLDTEST 2A, Hebrew Reading Fall 2009-Spring 2011, Biblical Hebrew Tutor, Duke Divinity School Teaching Assistantships Spring 2011, OLDTEST 12, Introduction to Old Testament Interpretation (Anathea Portier-Young) Spring 2010, REL 185S, Holy Land Archaeology (Carol Meyers and Eric Meyers)
Curriculum Vitae