Eminent Biblical scholar and rabbi Jacob Milgrom died on June 6 in Jerusalem. He was 87 years old.
A professor emeritus of Near Eastern studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and a member of BAR’s editorial advisory board, Milgrom was best known for his thorough and erudite commentaries on the Torah (the Five Books of Moses), as well as his work with the Dead Sea Scrolls.
His enormous three-volume commentary on Leviticus for the Anchor Bible series explored and explained the intricacies of priestly law—especially dietary and purity restrictions. The first volume alone, which covers only chapters 1–16 of Leviticus, is more than 1,100 pages long. As David Noel Freedman wrote in the preface to a festschrift for Milgrom, Pomegranates and Golden Bells (Eisenbrauns, 1995), soon after the publication of the first volume, “This magisterial undertaking has already established itself as a classic, the standard by which all future works must be judged, and a standing challenge to scholars in coming generations.” Milgrom’s commentary on the Book of Numbers in the Jewish Publication Society’s Torah Commentary contains 77 excursuses. He was also the author of more than 200 scholarly articles.