THE JUDEAN COLONY on the island of Elephantine, at Egypt’s southern border, began as a mercenary garrison in the service of the ruling Persian dynasty. By the fifth century B.C.E., this Aramaic-speaking community built a temple to their god YHW (an alternate form of the name YHWH). The temple was later removed to make space for a much larger temple to the Egyptian god Khnum, but its assumed location can be seen in the above photo. Ancient documents suggest that the Elephantine community was not in possession of anything resembling the Torah. Its members venerated gods other than YHWH and appear unconcerned about Sabbath prohibitions. Even though they practiced some sort of Passover sacrifice, unlike in the Torah, this offering seems to have had no set date.