How the Israelite Family Was Put Together: The Twelve Sons of Jacob
A Narrative or a List?
The birth of Jacob’s eleven sons and one daughter in Genesis 29-30 is half way between a story and a list. The most prominent aspect of the chapters are the births, the naming, and the numbering of Jacob’s children. Nevertheless, elements of literary art are evident, such as the competition between the sisters, Rachel’s melodramatic statement, “Give me children for if not I shall die,” and the magical mandrakes found by Reuben, and bought by Rachel. Although an author can compose a text that participates in more than one genre, this account does not have a smooth feel to it, but rather reads as if more than one hand is involved in the writing.
The story also strains credulity, and suggests that we are dealing with more than one authorial hand when it states that Leah gives birth to seven children (Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Dinah) in seven years. Furthermore, Leah is actually described as having stopped bearing children for a while (Gen 29:35, 30:9), and it is virtually impossible to imagine what kind of “pause” we are to imagine for a woman who had seven children in seven years!
This problem, together with the tension between the list-like nature of the chapter and the more story-like account of the competition between the sisters, imply that more than one author composed these chapters. And these are not the only problems in the account.
Further Narrative Incongruities
1. Lagging not Prevailing!
Rachel’s statement after Bilhah’s birth of Naphtali (30:7) does not make sense: “I have wrestled with my sister and prevailed.” By this point, Leah has already had four sons to Rachel’s two, so Rachel can hardly claim to have prevailed over her sister.
2. Two Reasons for the Names
There are four cases in which two reason are given for the name of a specific son. Two of them take the simple form of the mother (Leah) offering two consecutive etymologies or explanations for the boy’s name:
כט:לב וַתַּהַר לֵאָה וַתֵּלֶד בֵּן וַתִּקְרָא שְׁמוֹ רְאוּבֵן כִּי אָמְרָה
כִּי רָאָה יְ-הוָה בְּעָנְיִי
כִּי עַתָּה יֶאֱהָבַנִי אִישִׁי.
29:32 Leah conceived and bore a son, and she named him Reuben; for she said,
1. “For YHWH has looked on my affliction;
2. For now my husband will love me.’”
Is the boy named Reuben because YHWH saw (ra’ah) Leah’s affliction and had mercy on her, or is it because the birth of a son (re’u ben “look, a son”) will make her husband love her.
ל:יט וַתַּהַר עוֹד לֵאָה וַתֵּלֶד בֵּן שִׁשִּׁילְּיַעֲקֹב. ל:כ וַתֹּאמֶר לֵאָה
זְבָדַנִי אֱלֹהִים אֹתִי זֵבֶד טוֹב
הַפַּעַם יִזְבְּלֵנִי אִישִׁי כִּי יָלַדְתִּי לוֹ שִׁשָּׁה בָנִים
וַתִּקְרָא אֶת שְׁמוֹ זְבֻלוּן.
30:19 And Leah conceived again, and she bore Jacob a sixth son. 30:20Then Leah said,
1. “God has endowed me with a good gift;
2. Now my husband will honor me, because I have borne him six sons.”
So she named him Zebulun.
Again, is the boy named Zebulun because God gave Leah a good “gift” (zebed), or because now her husband will honor (zebul) her?
A third example comes from Rachel’s naming of Joseph. In this case, the two etymologies are not consecutive, but are interrupted by the statement that Rachel named her child. Nevertheless, the double etymology is obvious:
ל:כב וַיִּזְכֹּר אֱלֹהִים אֶת רָחֵל וַיִּשְׁמַע אֵלֶיהָ אֱלֹהִים וַיִּפְתַּח אֶת רַחְמָהּ.ל:כג וַתַּהַר וַתֵּלֶד בֵּן
וַתֹּאמֶר אָסַף אֱלֹהִים אֶת חֶרְפָּתִי.
ל:כד וַתִּקְרָא אֶת שְׁמוֹ יוֹסֵף לֵאמֹר
יֹסֵף יְ–הוָה לִי בֵּן אַחֵר.
30:22 Then God remembered Rachel, and God heeded her and opened her womb. 30:23 She conceived and bore a son, and said,
1. ‘God has taken away my reproach’;
30:24 and she named him Joseph, saying,
2. ‘May YHWH add to me another son!”
Is Joseph’s name meant to reflect God’s taking away (asaf) Rachel’s humiliation for not having a son or is it meant as a plea to YHWH to grant her another (yosef) son?
The fourth example contains two implied etymologies, with the first coming before the child is even conceived:
ל:טז וַיָּבֹא יַעֲקֹב מִן הַשָּׂדֶה בָּעֶרֶב וַתֵּצֵא לֵאָה לִקְרָאתוֹ וַתֹּאמֶר אֵלַי תָּבוֹא
כִּי שָׂכֹר שְׂכַרְתִּיךָ בְּדוּדָאֵי בְּנִי
וַיִּשְׁכַּב עִמָּהּ בַּלַּיְלָה הוּא. ל:יזוַיִּשְׁמַע אֱלֹהִים אֶל לֵאָה וַתַּהַר וַתֵּלֶד לְיַעֲקֹב בֵּן חֲמִישִׁי.
נָתַן אֱלֹהִים שְׂכָרִי אֲשֶׁר נָתַתִּי שִׁפְחָתִי לְאִישִׁי
וַתִּקְרָא שְׁמוֹ יִשָּׂשכָר.
30:16 When Jacob came from the field in the evening, Leah went out to meet him, and said, “You must come in to me;
1. for I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.”
So he lay with her that night. 30:17 And God heeded Leah, and she conceived and bore Jacob a fifth son.
30:18 Leah said,
2. ‘God has given me my hire (reward) because I gave my handmaiden to my husband’;
so she named him Issachar.
These etymologies are contradictory: Is he named Issachar because his mother “rented” access to Jacob (sechor secharticha), or as reward (sechar) for giving her handmaiden to Jacob (v. 18)? As I will explain below, these double etymologies suggest that multiple hands wrote this unit.
a. Elohim or YHWH
Throughout chapters 29-30, the use of God’s name varies, without any obvious reason. Why is YHWH thanked in the naming of one son, and God / Elohim acknowledged in the birth of another son?
Reuben – YHWH (19:32, in the 1st etymology)
Simeon – YHWH (19:33)
Judah – YHWH (29:35)
Dan – Elohim (30:6)
Naphtali – Elohim (30:8, as an adjective)
Issachar – Elohim (30:17, 2nd etymology)
Zebulun – Elohim (30:20, 1st etymology)
Joseph – Elohim (30:22, 1st etymology), YHWH (30:24, 2nd etymology)
The rest of the story is also inconsistent in its use of divine names. YHWH sees that Leah was unloved and opens her womb (29:31), but Elohim (30:22) remembers Rachel, hears her pain, and grants her fertility. It is also Elohim whom Jacob invokes when Rachel complains that she has no children (30:2).
b. Amah / Shifchah
The section also employs two different terms for “handmaiden.” When Laban gives each of his daughters a handmaiden, they are called shifchah (29:24, 29). But when Rachel offers Jacob her handmaiden to have children on her behalf (30:3), she uses the term amah. Then when Rachel gives Bilhah to Jacob, and again when Bilhah conceives her second son,shifchah is used. For Zilpah, shifchah is always employed (30:9, 10, 12, 18).
A Documentary or a Supplementary Solution
Critical scholars have long assumed that the account of the birth of Jacob’s sons was written by more than one author, but have debated how to disentangle its threads.
The best-known theory is the documentary hypothesis (DH), which suggests that the Torah was put together by a redactor who wove four independent, freestanding documents into one book. In this case, the redactor ostensibly used the J and E documents, which told similar stories, each complete in its own right. If we try, however, to divide the text into sections that use YHWH and sections that use Elohim, we would arrive at two very incomplete stories. This, in turn, would require us to imagine that significant chunks were cut out of both accounts by the redactor, a possible solution, but one that creates more problems than it solves.
Instead, I find the Supplementary Hypothesis to be more compelling. This approach suggests that the Pentateuch began with one original text, and was expanded by successive additions, a natural process for a culture in which the written word was respected—especially texts written in God’s name. According to this theory, only the original layer would read well on its own—the later materials were supplements, never meant to be read independently; reading them in isolation would yield incomplete and incoherent texts. In the model I work with, the original text upon which all others were built was E, and the first author to add to the E core text was J. (In my model, J is a supplementer and not an independent source.)
Expanding the Birth Account
a. Rachel Prevails
One key to unraveling the composition of this material is Rachel’s statement in v. 7 after the birth of Napthali: “I have wrestled with my sister and prevailed.” יכלתי here means “prevailed” as it does with the naming of Israel (Gen 32:29):
כִּי שָׂרִיתָ עִם אֱלֹהִים וְעִם אֲנָשִׁים וַתּוּכָל.
For you have striven with beings divine and human, and have prevailed.
As I noted above, Rachel has not prevailed in the procreative competition; she is still behind four sons to two sons.
This suggests that v. 7 points to a version of the text in which Leah had fewer sons. More specifically, other factors point to the probability that the birth accounts of Simeon (29:33) and Judah (29:35)—and perhaps even Levi (19:34)—are from a secondary layer attributable to J. First, the divine name YHWH is used in the birth narratives of Simeon and Judah, marking both as J additions to the text. Second, Simeon and Judah are both southern tribes. These would hardly need to be accounted for by the author of E, who hailed from Northern Israel in the monarchic period, and would not have felt the need to bring the southern Judahites into the family, as it were, especially at a time when the southern Kingdom of Judah was dwarfed in population and wealth by the northern Kingdom of Israel.
E would not have been the only Northern author to ignore the southern tribes. The Song of Deborah (Judges 5), that lists which tribes fought with Barak and which did not, does not mention Simeon and Judah at all. Neither does it mention the “tribe” of Levi, which fits with the possibility that here too, in the birth list, Levi was added later.
The opening verse to this list which narrates Rachel’s barrenness, also invokes the name YHWH. Matriarchal barrenness is a Yahwistic theme, found with Sarah’s barrenness in Genesis 16, and Rebecca’s barrenness in Genesis 25, both attributable to J. In fact, the word “barren” (עקרה) is never used at all to describe the matriarchs in E.
Thus, it appears that J, who hailed from Judah, added the tribes of Simeon, Levi, and Judah to the original E story. In E, upon marrying Jacob, Leah becomes pregnant, and she believes that he will now love her because she bore him a son. Furthermore, if J was responsible for adding the birth of Simeon, Levi, and Judah to the account, then Rachel’s claim in 30:8 to have prevailed over her sister makes sense, for she is ahead in the competition by one son (Reuben versus Dan and Naphtali).
b. The Double Etymologies
YHWH appears in the explanation to Reuben’s name. This does not mean that Reuben was added by the J redactor, but that this extra explanation for Reuben’s name, that YHWH saw Leah’s suffering, was added by J. Perhaps, the author of J was unhappy with the lack of a solid etymology for the name, and supplied a new one with the word “see” (ראה) in it.
The same is likely the explanation for two of the other three double etymologies noted above. The E text explains Zebulun’s name with zevadani, and the J supplement suggests yizbeleini, a closer match, as it has all three root letters (z.b.l.) of the name. E explains Joseph (Yosef) with the word assaf, and the J supplement suggests yosef, also a closer match.
c. The Handmaiden’s Role in the Birth of Issachar
J’s supplementary etymology for Issachar’s name, where he chooses the same root as E (ש.כ.ר), but with a different narrative explanation, fits with a broader theme of the J revision of the story as a whole. J significantly expands the theme of Jacob marrying his wife’s handmaiden, mentioned only in one verse in E (Gen 30:3), when Rachel suggests that Jacob should take her handmaiden (amah) as a wife and bear children on her (Rachel’s) behalf.
The J author adds a number of details to the Bilhah account, but most importantly, he adds the entire section about Leah’s handmaiden, Zilpah. By adding these verses (vv. 9–13), J seeks to create a parallel between Rachel’s handmaiden and Leah’s handmaiden. In this version, Leah also had a handmaiden, and she also gave this handmaiden to her husband as a surrogate for having children on her behalf; thus, in J, Rachel has no advantage here either.
The verses themselves have no specifically Yahwistic literary markers (other than use of the word shifchah), but the Yahwistic picture emerges more clearly when we look again at the explanation for Issachar’s name in v. 18. As noted above, v. 17 implies that Issachar should be named after the exchange Leah made with Rachel, in which she trades Reuben’s mandrakes for a night with Jacob. Then she gets pregnant, and says:
וַתֹּאמֶר לֵאָה נָתַן אֱלֹהִים שְׂכָרִי אֲשֶׁר נָתַתִּי שִׁפְחָתִי לְאִישִׁי וַתִּקְרָא שְׁמוֹ יִשָּׂשכָר.
“God has given me my hire (reward) for I gave my maid to my husband,” so she named him Issachar.
In other words, as a reward for giving Zilpah to Jacob, and bringing about the births of Gad and Asher, she merits to have another child of her own.
The Elohistic etymology of Issachar’s name—“God (אֱלֹהִים) has given me my hire / reward (שכרי)”—shows that the core of this verse is E, but I suggest that the second half of the etymology, “for I gave my maid to my husband” is a J gloss. The reason for Issachar’ name, suggested in the previous verse and then reiterated here, plainly has nothing to do with Leah giving her handmaiden to Jacob, since there was nothing about that act that should merit any particular reward.
Rather, Leah is referring to the transaction between herself and Rachel in which they traded mandrakes for sexual privilege (vs. 16), which uses the same root שכר (Leah went out to meet him, and said, “You must come in to me; for I have hired you (שכר שכרתיך) with my son’s mandrakes.”) J supplements this verse with a contradictory explanation (“for I gave my maid to my husband), attempting to reinforce his supplemental narrative about Zilpah and her two sons, which I have argued is absent in E.
d. Other J Additions
A few other smaller additions by J are worth noting:
- All the numbering of the children in Chapters 29-30 is an addition by J, since this is the source that brings the total number of Jacob’s sons from seven to twelve.
- The birth of Dinah in v. 21 belongs to J.
- The two instances in the account in which Bilhah is referred to as Jacob’s “shifchah” (vv. 4 and 7) should likely be attributed to J.
Jacob’s Seven Sons?
According to final form of Genesis, and many other biblical texts, Jacob has twelve sons, each the father of one of the twelve tribes of Israel. In E, however, Jacob has only seven sons. When J inherited the northern Elohistic narrative, he added three tribes that were important to him and his Judean audience, and two others that served to bring the total up to twelve,and magnify Leah’s importance.
The number seven is never mentioned explicitly in E in reference to Jacob’s sons, several later passages in Genesis strongly suggest this figure. Joseph, who in Genesis 41 is appointed the chancellor of Egypt, grants his supplicant brothers gifts when they come begging for food. On two different occasions (Genesis 43:34 and 45:22), Joseph gives his maternal brother, Benjamin, five times the gifts he gives to the rest of his brothers. If there were twelve brothers, this number would have no particular significance. If there were seven, however, Joseph would be giving Benjamin the same number of gifts as he gave to all the rest of his brothers combined (seven brothers minus Joseph and Benjamin), accentuating the literary theme that Benjamin is worth as much as all the rest of Joseph’s brothers.
The Southern Supplementation of a Northern Source
This reading of Genesis 29-30, which suggests that J added five sons to Jacob’s brood, offers a particularly good example of how the Supplementary Hypothesis can simplify an otherwise confusing and disjointed set of narratives, It provides a clear-cut division of texts, each with its own agenda. When the scribes of the Northern Kingdom escaped the destruction wrought by the Assyrians, they found a welcome home in the southern Kingdom of Judah, but the stories and texts that they brought with them had to be adapted for their new Judean audience. This is where J makes his contribution
Rachel, who was the mother of Joseph and therefore the matriarch of the Northern Kingdom, could no longer be allowed to win the procreative contest against her sister Leah, who was viewed by the Judeans as their matriarch. Thus, J has Leah gives birth to four more children, bringing her total up to seven (Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Dinah) in seven years, straining credulity and genre, and turning a narrative of a procreative contest into something halfway between a list and a story. Leah not only overtakes Rachel, but single-handedly gives birth to the total number of children posited by the earlier E document. Her handmaiden, Zilpah, is also just as fecund as Rachel’s handmaiden, Bilhah, and thus Rachel has no advantage in this quarter either.
This is how J arrives at twelve sons from E’s original seven—the number twelve is perhaps incidental, but perhaps not, since it is a typological figure that appears throughout the Bible in various contexts. Most importantly, J has Leah give birth to Judah, the father of the central tribe of the Southern Kingdom. In the subsequent Joseph cycle, the Judean authors will place Judah at the forefront of the narrative, and he will vie with Joseph for the position as Jacob’s most important son.
The Original E Text
29:32 וַתַּ֤הַר לֵאָה֙ וַתֵּ֣לֶד בֵּ֔ן וַתִּקְרָ֥א שְׁמ֖וֹ רְאוּבֵ֑ן כִּ֣י אָֽמְרָ֗ה כִּ֥י עַתָּ֖ה יֶאֱהָבַ֥נִי אִישִֽׁי׃
29:32 Leah conceived, and bore a son, and she named him Reuben. For she said, “now my husband will love me.”
30:1 וַתֵּ֣רֶא רָחֵ֗ל כִּ֣י לֹ֤א יָֽלְדָה֙ לְיַעֲקֹ֔ב וַתְּקַנֵּ֥א רָחֵ֖ל בַּאֲחֹתָ֑הּ וַתֹּ֤אמֶר אֶֽל־יַעֲקֹב֙ הָֽבָה־לִּ֣י בָנִ֔ים וְאִם־אַ֖יִן מֵתָ֥ה אָנֹֽכִי׃
30:2 וַיִּֽחַר־אַ֥ף יַעֲקֹ֖ב בְּרָחֵ֑ל וַיֹּ֗אמֶר הֲתַ֤חַת אֱלֹהִים֙ אָנֹ֔כִי אֲשֶׁר־מָנַ֥ע מִמֵּ֖ךְ פְּרִי־בָֽטֶן׃
30:3 וַתֹּ֕אמֶר הִנֵּ֛ה אֲמָתִ֥י בִלְהָ֖ה בֹּ֣א אֵלֶ֑יהָ וְתֵלֵד֙ עַל־בִּרְכַּ֔י וְאִבָּנֶ֥ה גַם־אָנֹכִ֖י מִמֶּֽנָּה׃
30:4 וַיָּבֹ֥א אֵלֶ֖יהָ יַעֲקֹֽב׃
30:5 וַתַּ֣הַר בִּלְהָ֔ה וַתֵּ֥לֶד לְיַעֲקֹ֖ב בֵּֽן׃
30:6 וַתֹּ֤אמֶר רָחֵל֙ דָּנַ֣נִּי אֱלֹהִ֔ים וְגַם֙ שָׁמַ֣ע בְּקֹלִ֔י וַיִּתֶּן־לִ֖י בֵּ֑ן עַל־כֵּ֛ן קָרְאָ֥ה שְׁמ֖וֹ דָּֽן׃
30:7 וַתַּ֣הַר ע֔וֹד וַתֵּ֕לֶד בִּלְהָ֖ה בֵּ֥ן שֵׁנִ֖י לְיַעֲקֹֽב׃
30:8 וַתֹּ֣אמֶר רָחֵ֗ל נַפְתּוּלֵ֨י אֱלֹהִ֧ים ׀ נִפְתַּ֛לְתִּי עִם־אֲחֹתִ֖י גַּם־יָכֹ֑לְתִּי וַתִּקְרָ֥א שְׁמ֖וֹ נַפְתָּלִֽי׃
30:1 When Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister. She said to Jacob, “Give me children, or else I will die.”
30:2 Jacob’s anger was kindled against Rachel, and he said, “Am I in God’s place, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?”
30:3 She said, “Behold, my maid Bilhah. Go in to her, that she may bear on my knees, and I also may obtain children by her.”
30:4 and Jacob went in to her.
30:5 Bilhah conceived, and bore Jacob a son.
30:6 Rachel said, “God has judged me, and has also heard my voice, and has given me a son.” Therefore called she his name Dan.
30:7 Bilhah, conceived again, and bore Jacob a second son.
30:8 Rachel said, “With mighty wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister, and have prevailed.” She named him Naphtali.
30:14 וַיֵּ֨לֶךְ רְאוּבֵ֜ן בִּימֵ֣י קְצִיר־חִטִּ֗ים וַיִּמְצָ֤א דֽוּדָאִים֙ בַּשָּׂדֶ֔ה וַיָּבֵ֣א אֹתָ֔ם אֶל־לֵאָ֖ה אִמּ֑וֹ וַתֹּ֤אמֶר רָחֵל֙ אֶל־לֵאָ֔ה תְּנִי־נָ֣א לִ֔י מִדּוּדָאֵ֖י בְּנֵֽךְ׃
30:15 וַתֹּ֣אמֶר לָ֗הּ הַמְעַט֙ קַחְתֵּ֣ךְ אֶת־אִישִׁ֔י וְלָקַ֕חַת גַּ֥ם אֶת־דּוּדָאֵ֖י בְּנִ֑י וַתֹּ֣אמֶר רָחֵ֗ל לָכֵן֙ יִשְׁכַּ֤ב עִמָּךְ֙ הַלַּ֔יְלָה תַּ֖חַת דּוּדָאֵ֥י בְנֵֽךְ׃
30:14 Reuben went in the days of wheat harvest, and found mandrakes in the field, and brought them to his mother, Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.”
30:15 She said to her, “Is it a small matter that you have taken away my husband? Would you take away my son’s mandrakes, also?” Rachel said, “Therefore he will lie with you tonight for your son’s mandrakes.”
30:16 וַיָּבֹ֨א יַעֲקֹ֣ב מִן־הַשָּׂדֶה֮ בָּעֶרֶב֒ וַתֵּצֵ֨א לֵאָ֜ה לִקְרָאת֗וֹ וַתֹּ֙אמֶר֙ אֵלַ֣י תָּב֔וֹא כִּ֚י שָׂכֹ֣ר שְׂכַרְתִּ֔יךָ בְּדוּדָאֵ֖י בְּנִ֑י וַיִּשְׁכַּ֥ב עִמָּ֖הּ בַּלַּ֥יְלָה הֽוּא׃
30:17 וַיִּשְׁמַ֥ע אֱלֹהִ֖ים אֶל־לֵאָ֑ה וַתַּ֛הַר וַתֵּ֥לֶד לְיַעֲקֹ֖ב בֵּ֥ן
30:18 וַתֹּ֣אמֶר לֵאָ֗ה נָתַ֤ן אֱלֹהִים֙ שְׂכָרִ֔י וַתִּקְרָ֥א שְׁמ֖וֹ יִשָּׂשכָֽר׃
30:19 וַתַּ֤הַר עוֹד֙ לֵאָ֔ה וַתֵּ֥לֶד בֵּן לְּיַעֲקֹֽב׃
30:20 וַתֹּ֣אמֶר לֵאָ֗ה זְבָדַ֨נִי אֱלֹהִ֥ים ׀ אֹתִי֮ זֵ֣בֶד טוֹב֒ וַתִּקְרָ֥א אֶת־שְׁמ֖וֹ זְבֻלֽוּן׃
30:16 Jacob came from the field in the evening, and Leah went out to meet him, and said, “You must come in to me; for I have surely hired you with my son’s mandrakes.” He lay with her that night.
30:17 God listened to Leah, and she conceived, and bore Jacob a son.
30:18 Leah said, “God has given me my hire,” She named him Issachar.
30:19 Leah conceived again, and bore a son to Jacob.
30:20 Leah said, “God has endowed me with a good dowry.” She named him Zebulun.
30:22 וַיִּזְכֹּ֥ר אֱלֹהִ֖ים אֶת־רָחֵ֑ל וַיִּשְׁמַ֤ע אֵלֶ֙יהָ֙ אֱלֹהִ֔ים וַיִּפְתַּ֖ח אֶת־רַחְמָֽהּ׃
30:23 וַתַּ֖הַר וַתֵּ֣לֶד בֵּ֑ן וַתֹּ֕אמֶר אָסַ֥ף אֱלֹהִ֖ים אֶת־חֶרְפָּתִֽי׃
30:24 וַתִּקְרָ֧א אֶת־שְׁמ֛וֹ יוֹסֵ֖ף
30:22 God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her, and opened her womb.
30:23 She conceived, bore a son, and said, “God has taken away my reproach.”
30:24 She named him Joseph,
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December 8, 2016
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Dr. Rabbi Tzemah Yoreh has a PhD in Bible from Hebrew University, as well as a PhD in Wisdom Literature of the Hellenistic period from the University of Toronto. He has written many books focusing on his reconstruction of the redaction history of Genesis through Kings. He is the author of The First Book of God, and the multi-volume Kernel to Canon series, with books like Jacob’s Journey and Moses’s Mission. Yoreh has taught at Ben Gurion University and American Jewish University. He is currently the leader of the City Congregation for Humanistic Judaism in New York.
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