Recently deceased, Victor Hurowitz was a professor of Bible, archaeology and ancient Near Eastern studies at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beer-Sheva, Israel, and will be remembered as a scholar who shaped our understanding of religion in the ancient Near East. In commemoration of his illustrious career, Biblical Archaeology Society editors have put together a collection of his most popular articles from BAR and Bible Review exclusively for BAS Library members.

Scroll down to read an obituary of Victor Hurowitz as it appears in the May/June 2013 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.

Victor Hurowitz (1948–2013)

It is always a special tragedy when a scholar dies relatively young. Victor Avigdor Hurowitz, a widely respected professor in the department of Bible, archaeology and ancient Near East at Ben-Gurion University, died unexpectedly in January at age 64 in the course of a hospital operation.

Hurowitz was an expert on cultic worship in the Hebrew Bible, especially in light of Mesopotamian materials. He analyzed the Biblical text in relationship to the literature and iconography of the ancient Near East and showed how the Bible should be seen in the larger context of the Mesopotamian world. His doctoral dissertation became a book and an extensive series of articles demonstrating that the Biblical account of the building of Solomon’s Temple in 1 Kings 5–9 was based on Mesopotamian literary models. Hurowitz showed that the Jewish Temple was seen both as God’s dwelling place and as a kind of Garden of Eden.

He was a special friend of BAR, both professionally and personally. He recently wrote about “Solomon’s Temple in Context” for BAR, as well as numerous articles for our sister magazine Bible Review. His views were recently mentioned in BAR editor Hershel Shanks’s First Person column.

At the time of his death Hurowitz was at the top of his game. He was on the editorial boards of Olam Ha-Tanakh, Mo‘ed, Bet Mikra and Shnaton: Annual for the Study of the Bible and the Ancient Near East. In 2012 he was selected as Israel’s representative of the International Association of Assyriology. His most recent research focused on Wisdom literature, and he published a two-volume Hebrew commentary on the Book of Proverbs in the Mikra LeYisra’el series just before becoming ill in December 2012. A festschrift was being prepared in Hurowitz’s honor when he died; it has not yet been published.

Born in Philadelphia, Hurowitz moved to Israel after completing his undergraduate degree in 1969. He earned his Ph.D. at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1975 and taught at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beer-Sheva until his death. He is survived by his wife, Ann, his son, Daniel, three sisters and one brother.

We thank Professor Shalom Paul, from whose eulogy of Professor Hurowitz many of the facts in this obituary have been taken.—Ed.


Solomon’s Temple in Context
Biblical Archaeology Review, March/April 2011 By Victor Hurowitz

Although the Bible gives a detailed description of Solomon’s Temple, we have no physical remains of the building destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 B.C.E. Thanks to the recent excavation of several hitherto-unknown ancient Near Eastern temples, however, archaeologists are shedding new light on similarities and differences between these temples and King Solomon’s structure.

The Genesis of Genesis
Bible Review, Anniversary Issue By Victor Hurowitz

On December 3, 1872, George Smith, a former bank-note engraver turned Assyriologist, stunned the Western world by announcing that he had discovered a Babylonian story of a great Flood resembling the well-known account of the Deluge in the Book of Genesis. Four years later, Smith published a collection of Mesopotamian myths and heroic legends […]

The Golden Calf
Bible Review, April 2004 By Victor Hurowitz

While Moses was up on Mt. Sinai receiving the first edition of the Ten Commandments, the people down below grew impatient and asked Aaron, Moses’ brother, to make them another god to lead them. Aaron instructed the people to rip off their gold earrings, which, the text tells us explicitly and unambiguously, “he made […]

From Storm God to Abstract Being
Bible Review, October 1998 By Victor Hurowitz

A spectacular sound and light show greeted the Israelites when the new nation encountered God for the first time at Mt. Sinai.1 The awesome display of divine presence and power so terrified the Children of Israel that they begged God not to appear to them again in person (Exodus 20:15). God’s initial appearance—a theophany—was […]

Picturing Imageless Deities
Biblical Archaeology Review, May/June 1997 By Victor Hurowitz

046 No Graven Image? Israelite Aniconism in Its Ancient Near Eastern Context Tryggve N.D. Mettinger Coniectanea Biblica, Old Testament Series 42 (Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell International, 1995) 252 pp., $27.60 The Iconography of the Canaanite Gods Reshef and Ba‘al: Late Bronze and Iron Age I Periods (c 1500–1000 BCE) Izak Cornelius Orbis Biblicus […]

P—Understanding the Priestly Source
Bible Review, June 1996 By Victor Hurowitz

Reading an introduction to biblical criticism, a beginning student might well think he or she is peering into a bowl of alphabet soup—or perhaps perusing a catalogue of foundations and corporations. Letters are all over the place, especially J, E, P, D, H and R. Occasionally there is even a K, L, N, Q […]

Did King Solomon Violate the Second Commandment?
Bible Review, October 1994 By Victor Hurowitz

Reader’s Letter Sparks Article When reading Victor Hurowitz’s “Inside Solomon’s Temple,” BR 10:02, a question suddenly occurred to me that I should have thought of years ago.

Inside Solomon’s Temple
Bible Review, April 1994 By Victor Hurowitz

“Then Solomon said … ‘I have built thee an exalted house, a place for thee to dwell in forever.’”