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Notes from the NNLS/ZF Israel 60th Anniversary celebrations

The Story of Israel's Creation

Yitzhak Navon (former president of the State of Israel)

Biography ) Talk transcript; contains reminiscing about Ben Gurion )
lethargic_man: "Happy the person that finds wisdom, and the person that gets understanding."—Prov. 3:13. Icon by Tamara Rigg (limmud)
In Sunday's episode, we saw Esau promising Isaac and Rebecca that he will maintain good relations with Jacob after their deaths, and respect the transfer of birthright to Jacob. So far, so good, but you kind of expect the story's not going to have a good outcome, and indeed it doesn't:

Chapter 37

On the day that Isaac the father of Jacob and Esau died, the sons of Esau heard that Isaac had given the portion of the elder to his younger son Jacob and they were very angry. They strove with their father, saying 'Why has your father given Jacob the portion of the elder and passed over you, though you are the elder and Jacob the younger?'
When Esau tells them why, and of the oath he swore to keep the peace with Jacob, they reply:
"We won't listen to you to make peace with him! Our strength is greater than his strength, and we are more powerful than him; we will go against him and slay him, and destroy him and his sons. And if you won't go along with us, we shall do hurt to you too!"

They come up with a plan of hiring Aramean, Philistine, Moabite and Ammonite mercenaries; when Esau tells them not to lest they be slain, they say "Well, this is just typical of you!" (as the modern translation puts it).

Showdown at Abraham's tower )

[Dead Sea Scroll of Jubilees] Jubilees posts                     Jewish learning notes index

lethargic_man: "Happy the person that finds wisdom, and the person that gets understanding."—Prov. 3:13. Icon by Tamara Rigg (limmud)

Chapter 35

This chapter begins a three-chapter story which is not in the Bible at all. It starts with Rebecca telling Jacob she has seen in a dream that she is going to die, and him not believing her, because she's still in complete good health. Rebecca asks Isaac to make Esau swear not to harm Jacob. In the Bible Jacob and Esau depart the last time on good terms, but in Jubilees Rebecca talks about him having abandoned his parents, and carried off their possessions. Isaac says:
"I, too, know and see the deeds of Jacob who is with us, how that with all his heart he honours us. I loved Esau formerly more than Jacob, because he was the firstborn; but now I love Jacob more than Esau, for he has done manifold evil deeds, and there is no righteousness in him, for all his ways are unrighteousness and violence, [and there is no righteousness around him.] And now my heart is troubled because of all his deeds, and neither he nor his descendants is to be saved, for they are those who will be destroyed from the earth and who will be rooted out from under heaven, for he has forsaken the God of Abraham and gone after his wives and after their uncleanness and after their error, he and his children. And you dost bid me make him swear that he will not slay Jacob his brother; even if he swear he will not abide by his oath, and he will not do good but evil only. But if he desires to slay Jacob, his brother, into Jacob's hands will he be given, and he will not escape from his hands, [for he will descend into his hands.] And fear you not on account of Jacob; for the guardian of Jacob is great and powerful and honoured, and praised more than the guardian of Esau."
Esau, however, says:

"I will do all that you have told me, and I shall bury you on the day you die near Sarah, my father's mother, as you have desired that her bones may be near your bones. And Jacob, my brother, also, I shall love above all flesh; for I have no other brother in all the earth: and this is no great merit for me if I love him; for he is my brother, and we were sown together in your body, and together came we forth from your womb, and if I do not love my brother, whom shall I love?

"And I, myself, beg you to exhort Jacob concerning me and concerning my sons, for I know that he will assuredly be king over me and my sons, for on the day my father blessed him he made him the higher and me the lower. And I swear unto you that I shall love him, and not desire evil against him all the days of my life but good only.'

Chapter 36

After the death of Rebecca, Isaac puts his affairs in order prior to his own death. After giving instructions to his children:

He divided all his possessions between the two on that day and he gave the larger portion to him that was the first-born, and the tower and all that was about it, and all that Abraham possessed at the Well of the Oath.

He said: "This larger portion I will give to the firstborn." But Esau said, "I have sold to Jacob and given my birthright to Jacob; to him let it be given, and I have not a single word to say regarding it, for it is his."

So far, so good, but you kind of expect the story's not going to have a good outcome, and indeed it doesn't.

To be continued...

[Dead Sea Scroll of Jubilees] Jubilees posts                     Jewish learning notes index

lethargic_man: "Happy the person that finds wisdom, and the person that gets understanding."—Prov. 3:13. Icon by Tamara Rigg (limmud)

Chapter 41

(Yes, this is out of sequence; the story of Judah and Tamar takes place later in the Book of Jubilees than in Genesis.) Gen. 38 states that Er, Judah's eldest son, was killed by God because he was "wicked in the sight of the Lord". Jubilees concurs but adds beforehand:
But he hated her, and did not lie with her, because his mother was of the daughters of Canaan, and he wished to take him a wife of the kinsfolk of his mother, but Judah, his father, would not permit him.

In the Bible, after Er and Onan have died, Judah will not allow his third son Shelah to marry the unfortunate Tamar. Jubilees, seeking to preserve the reputation of Judah, shifts this blame onto his wife, the daughter of Shua`, unnnamed in the Bible but here named as Bedsu'el.

The Biblical version of the story ends with, "Judah said, 'She has been more righteous than me, because did not give her to Shelah my son.' And he knew her again no more." Jubilees fleshes this out more:

Read more... )
The narratorial angel then uses this as the opportunity to lay down to Moses the law, to teach the Israelites, concerning punishment for those who sleep with their mothers- and daughters-in-law; concluding:
Read more... )

Chapters 35–38

Back where we were (chapter 35), there now follows a three-chapter story which is not in the Bible at all, about Isaac's death. The Bible told this non-chronologically, at an earlier point, to wrap up the story of Isaac; I'm going to defer it until next week because this week's post is long enough already, and there's otherwise only one paragraph to next week's post.

Chapter 39

In the narrative of the attempted seduction of Joseph by Potiphar's wife, she locks the door and Joseph has to break through it to get out. Presumably this is intended to depict an ancient origin for the prohibition on יִחוּד, a man and woman who are not married to each other being left alone in the same space. (I have no doubts that such a custom did actually go back to the Patriarchal age.)

[Dead Sea Scroll of Jubilees] Jubilees posts                     Jewish learning notes index

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