Study the Torah with Academic Scholarship

By using this site you agree to our Terms of Use

Esau

Jacob’s Funeral and Esau’s Last Stand

Esau’s attempt to block Jacob’s burial at the Cave of Machpelah ends in his gruesome death.

Dr.

Malka Z. Simkovich

,

,

Did Jacob and Esau Reconcile?

Upon meeting again after twenty years, Esau approaches his brother with a buoyant spirit and a warm embrace. Jacob, however, is formal and submissive. Why doesn’t he reciprocate Esau’s overtures?

Prof.

George Savran

,

,

Hunting: How It Became Un-Jewish

In the Torah, Nimrod and Esau are hunters, Isaac enjoys game, and the legal collections take it for granted that hunting for food is common and permissible. Once Judaism decided that even wild animals must be ritually slaughtered, the Jewish attitude towards hunting took a sharp negative turn.

Dr. Rabbi

Marcus Mordecai Schwartz

,

,

The Denigration of Esau

Why does Esau in Jewish tradition come to be known as עשו הרשע “Esau the Wicked”? The answer has to do with the history of Judea’s relationship with Esau’s eponymous descendants, the Edomites, and the connection Jews made between them, Rome, and Christianity. The negative view of Esau is expressed nowhere more forcefully than in Rashi’s commentary.

Dr.

Barry Dov Walfish

,

,

If Jacob Is Returning to Canaan, Why Send Messengers to Esau in Seir?

Traditional commentators have grappled with why Jacob risks Esau’s wrath by sending him a message that he is on his way. Understanding the history of the text shows that in an older version of this story, Jacob had no choice: he was heading to his parents’ home in the Seir region.

Dr.

David Ben-Gad HaCohen

,

,

Why the Sages Add Titles to Biblical Personalities

A rose by any other name

Dr.

Malka Z. Simkovich

,

,

Israel’s History as a Family Narrative

Behind the story of Jacob’s struggle with his older twin Esau, stands a political allegory, reflecting how Israel (=Jacob) first dominated Edom (=Esau) in the 10th-9th centuries and then lost control over it in the late 8th century.

Prof.

Marvin A. Sweeney

,

,

“Esau Hates Jacob” - But Is Antisemitism a Halakha?

Esau kisses Jacob upon the latter’s return from Haran. Famously, in the Torah scroll, the word kiss is dotted, implying that his kiss may have been more (or less) than just a kiss. Nevertheless, perhaps in this case, “a kiss is but a kiss.”

Prof. Rabbi

Marty Lockshin

,

,

Esau the Ancestor of Rome

In the Bible, Esau is the ancestor of the Edomites who live on Mount Seir, southwest of Judah. So how did the rabbis come to associate Esau and Edom with Rome? Two main factors are at work here: Christianity and Herod.

Dr.

Malka Z. Simkovich

,

,

Scribal Marks

Prof.

Emanuel Tov

,

,

Primeval Coats

Clothing, beginning with Joseph’s coat, functions both as a marker of distinction and as the source of undoing in the Joseph story. Pirkei de-Rabbi Eliezer adds layers of history to this coat: it is the original garments made from the sloughed skin of the serpent that God gave to Adam and Eve, which was then worn by Nimrod, Esau, and Jacob. Midrash Tanchuma claims it to be the (future) High Priest’s tunic.

Prof.

Rachel Adelman

,

,

Why Is Esau's Kiss Dotted?

Esau’s kiss to Jacob is written with scribal dots over the word וַׄיִּׄשָּׁׄקֵ֑ׄהׄוּׄ, “and he kissed him.” Traditional commentators suggest this hints to Esau’s feelings or state of mind. Critical scholarship, however, points to something much more prosaic, a question of syntax.

Prof.

Albert I. Baumgarten

,

,

The Source of Jacob’s Two Blessings

Project TABS Editors

,

,

Abraham's Premature Obituary

Project TABS Editors

,

,

The Two Versions of Jacob

Reactive vs. Goal-oriented

Dr. Rabbi

David Frankel

,

,

Anxiety over Twins: Anthropological Insights into the Story of Jacob and Esau

Dr.

Kristine Henriksen Garroway

,

,

No items found.