A strong hero of the Bible, Jacob can also be one among its most complicated figures. Bible tales recounting his existence usually reveal his deception, lies, and greed—then, puzzlingly, try to justify them. during this e-book, eminent biblical student Yair Zakovitch offers an entire view of the patriarch, first reading Jacob and his lifestyles tale as awarded within the Bible, then additionally reconstructing the tales that the Bible writers suppressed—tales that have been famous, maybe, yet incompatible with identical to Jacob they desired to advertise. via a piece of outstanding “literary archaeology,” Zakovitch explores the recesses of literary heritage, attaining again even to the level of oral storytelling, to spot resources of Jacob's tale that preceded the paintings of the Genesis writers.
The biblical writers have been expert mosaic-makers, Zakovitch indicates, and their success used to be to reshape varied pre-biblical representations of Jacob in help in their rising new faith and id. because the writer follows Jacob in his wanderings and revelations, his successes, disgraces, and disappointments, he additionally considers the non secular and political atmosphere during which the Bible was once written, providing a robust explication of early Judaism.
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Extra resources for Jacob: Unexpected Patriarch (Jewish Lives)
Now a “full count number” of Jacob’s progeny could be rendered. certainly, such an account was once hooked up to the tale of the matriarch’s demise, in verses 2 2b-2 6, notwithstanding they're now separated by way of a cursory file of a surprising incidence within the patriarch’s condominium: “And Israel journeyed and pitched his tent past Migdal-Eder. And it occurred, whereas Israel stayed in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah, his father’s concubine, and Israel heard” (vv 21-22a). there's explanation for the juxtaposition of the tale of Reuben and his father’s concubine with that of Rachel’s demise and, hence, the interruption among Benjamin’s delivery and the family tree of Jacob’s descendants. opposed to the history of the favoritism Rachel frequently loved at Leah’s cost, Reuben, Leah’s firstborn and jealous protector, units out, instantly following the demise of his mother’s rival, in an try and dissolve all last ties among his father and the reminiscence of the favourite spouse via contaminating Bilhah, Rachel’s maidservant and Jacob’s concubine. The dying of Rachel and defilement of Bilhah would depart Leah to turn into the family’s matriarch without any to problem that prestige. Jacob’s intimate relatives will be restricted to Leah and Leah’s maidservant, Zil-pah. Reuben’s motivation, in line with the midrash, was once transparent: He sought his mother’s revenge, considering the fact that, for the entire days that Rachel lived, her mattress used to be close to the mattress of our father Jacob. whilst Rachel died, our father Jacob took Bilhah’s mattress and put it close to his mattress. [Reuben] acknowledged: Is it no longer adequate that my mom was once jealous of her sister in the course of her lifetime, yet even after her loss of life? (Genesis Rabbah 98:4) This, then, used to be what propelled Reuben to do what he did. Defiling Bilhah assured that Jacob may now not stopover at her mattress, just like what's acknowledged approximately Absalom, son of David, who rebelled opposed to his father and lay with David’s concubines in an effort to develop his personal place (2 Sam 16:21-22). David controlled to suppress that uprising, yet he now not had family with the concubines (2 Sam 20:3). tales a couple of son having sexual family along with his father’s concubine for the sake of his mother’s honor are usually not targeted to Israel’s literature. One well-known instance is within the Iliad, the place we learn how Phoenix lay along with his father’s concubine, in compliance together with his mother’s want: [I was once then] fleeing from strife with my father Amyntor, son of Ormenus; for he used to be enraged with me as a result of his fairhaired concubine, whom he himself ever enjoyed, and scorned his spouse, my mom. So she begged me through my knees constantly, to sleep together with his concubine first myself, in order that the previous guy may be hateful in her eyes. I obeyed her and did the deed, yet my father realized of this instantly and cursed me mightily, and invoked the dire Erinyes, that he should not set on his knees a pricey baby begotten via me; and the gods fulfilled his curse, Zeus of the nether global and dread Persephone. (9. 448-457; trans. A. T. Murray; Loeb Classical Library I999) As we all know, Reuben has had a heritage of interfering in his father’s marital mattress which will additional his mother’s top pursuits.