Pamela Barmash

Pamela Barmash

​Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible and Biblical Hebrew
PhD, Harvard University
research interests:
  • Hebrew Bible
  • Law and justice
  • History of law
  • Law and literature
  • Religions of the Ancient Near East
  • History of scriptural interpretation
  • History and memory
  • Rabbinic Judaism
  • Linguistic and literary development of the Hebrew language

contact info:

mailing address:

  • Washington University
    CB 1121
    One Brookings Drive
    St. Louis, MO 63130-4899

Pamela Barmash has published widely on biblical and ancient Near Eastern law and on history and memory.

Barmash received her BA from Yale, rabbinic ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary, and PhD from Harvard. In her academic scholarship, she addresses issues of law and justice in her book Homicide in the Biblical World (2005, Cambridge University Press) and in her edited volume The Oxford Handbook of Biblical Law (2019, Oxford University Press). She shows how Jews have transformed the story of the Exodus and the celebration of Passover to meet changing needs and concerns in Exodus in the Jewish Experience: Echoes and Reverberations (2015, Lexington Books, edited with W. David Nelson). She is currently finishing a monograph on the Laws of Hammurabi, and she is editing a book on how the transition from one empire to another in antiquity influenced how communities remember and imagine themselves. In her rabbinic writing, she is the author of teshuvot (rabbinic responsa) on contemporary issues in Judaism.

She teaches courses at WashU on modern perspectives on the Bible, law and justice, mythology, the problem of evil, traditional Scriptural interpretation, and biblical and ancient Jewish history, culture, and religion.

She is the editor of Hebrew Studies, and she served as the director of Jewish, Islamic, and Near Eastern Studies at Washington University from 2005-2011. She is currently Director of Undergraduate Studies and Study Abroad Advisor for the Department of Jewish, Islamic, and Middle Eastern Studies. She has been a fellow at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, and at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton.

Selected Publications

The Oxford Handbook of Biblical Law (2019, Oxford University Press)

Exodus in the Jewish Experience: Echoes and Reverberations (2015, Lexington Books, edited with W. David Nelson)

Homicide in the Biblical World (2005, Cambridge University Press)

Exodus in the Jewish Experience: Echoes and Reverberations

Exodus in the Jewish Experience: Echoes and Reverberations

This volume investigates how the Exodus has been, and continues to be, a crucial source of identity for both Jews and Judaism. It explores how the Exodus has functioned as the primary model from which Jews have created theological meaning and historical self-understanding. It probes how and why the Exodus has continued to be vital to Jews throughout the unfolding of the Jewish experience. As an interdisciplinary work, it incorporates contributions from a range of Jewish Studies scholars in order to explore the Exodus from a variety of vantage points. It addresses such topics as: the Jewish reception of the biblical text of Exodus; the progressive unfolding of the Exodus in the Jewish interpretive tradition; the religious expression of the Exodus as ritual in Judaism; and the Exodus as an ongoing lens of self-understanding for both the State of Israel and contemporary Judaism. The essays are guided by a common goal: to render comprehensible how the re-envisioning of Exodus throughout the unfolding of the Jewish experience has enabled it to function for thousands of years as the central motif for the Jewish people.