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<< Return to SBL Forum Archive Professor Abraham Malamat 1922- 2010


Professor (Emeritus) Abraham Malamat, of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, passed away on Thursday, January 21, 2010, a few days before his eighty-eighth birthday. He was born on January 26, 1922 in Vienna, where he attended public school. In 1935, when Abraham was 13 years old and Vienna had become increasingly anti-Semitic, the Malamat family immigrated to Palestine and settled in Tel Aviv. There he attended the Balfour Gymnasium in a class that produced at least three professors.

In 1940 Malamat began his studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, in the departments of Hebrew, Bible, biblical history and psychology; he studied concurrently at the École biblique et archaeologique. His Viennese childhood, his studies at the Hebrew University and the École biblique, and later at the Oriental Institute in Chicago contributed to his vast horizons and his cosmopolitan personality.

Abraham Malamat was a gifted lecturer and a charismatic teacher. His lectures—whether before a classroom of students or before the general public—were a masterpiece of rhetoric. His lectures in the great Mazer hall A of Givat Ram Campus were always crowded, and students used to crowd in, sitting on the steps and window sills. He was a good story teller, and in social gatherings around the table at the Malamats' residence and elsewhere, he would recount anecdotes regarding his teachers and the celebrities he met.

Malamat conducted studies and wrote on many topics, but his main interests were three: the emergence of Israel, the collapse of the Kingdom of Judah and Mari—or rather, Mari and the Hebrew Bible. In all these fields, he made important contributions. He displayed much empathy and enthusiasm when dealing with studies, or lecturing, on the history of Israel. He was emotionally involved in the issue, but at the same time critical and fully aware of scientific discipline. I believe that his empathy and emotional involvement drew us, his students, into his orbit.

The list of publications of Professor Malamat contains more than 300 items, including books and pamphlets, papers, edited books and journals, written in Hebrew, English, German and French. He was invited as a visiting professor to many institutes of higher education abroad, and he lectured at the British Academy (the Schweich Lectures) and the French Academy, inter alia.

Upon his seventieth birthday he was honored by his students and colleagues with a festschrift, Eretz-Israel 24: The Abraham Malamat Volume (1993). Malamat was a member of the Austrian Academy, the Academy of Rheinland-Westfallen in Germany, and the American Academy for Jewish Research. He was an honorary member of the Israel Exploration Society, and formerly a member of the Society’s board of governors. He served as editor of its Hebrew bulletin Yediot (1956-1967) and was a member of the editorial board of the Israel Exploration Journal. Malamat was on the board of the Israeli Society for Military History. He was also a member of the editorial board of the Zeitschrift fÜr the Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft.He was an honorary member of the British Society for Old Testament, the Society of Biblical Literature and the South African Society for the Study of the Old Testament. In 2002 the University of Vienna conferred upon him the title of Doctor Honoris Causae.

Abraham Malamat is survived by his wife Na'ama, his daughter Talia and her family, and his sister Israela.

He was laid to rest at Har HaMenuhuth cemetery in Jerusalem, overlooking the mountains of the Land of Benjamin. May he rest in peace!               

Shmuel Ahituv

 
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