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Jacob

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

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Hosea’s Characterization of Jacob

As part of a complaint by God against Israel and Judah, Hosea 12 mentions several stories about Jacob, intended to serve as a model for behavior. But is Jacob a good or bad role model?

Noam Cohen

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Rachel Weeps in Ramah: Of All the Patriarchs, God Listens Only to Her

Rachel weeps over her exiled descendants and God hears her plea (Jer 31:14–16). Expanding on this passage, the rabbis in Midrash Eichah Rabbah envision Jeremiah awakening the patriarchs and Moses to plead with God to have mercy on Israel. Upon their failure to move God, the matriarch Rachel intervenes successfully.

Prof.

Hagith Sivan

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Moses and the Fugitive Hero Pattern

The story of Moses follows a pattern that is typical of ancient Near Eastern fugitive hero narratives. However, when Moses goes to Mount Horeb, the plot deviates from the usual “divine encounter” feature. What does this tell us about the composition of the story of Moses and the Burning Bush?

Prof.

Edward L. Greenstein

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Jacob's Journey to Mahanaim and Penuel in J and E

The merging of two different accounts of Jacob’s return home is reflected in the double etymologies for Mahanaim and Penuel. Why do both sources have Jacob pass through these two cities one after the other? The answer lies in geography.

Dr.

David Ben-Gad HaCohen

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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

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Jacob’s Multiple Death Scenes

Bringing Parashat Vayechi to Life

Dr. Rabbi

Zev Farber

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God Goes Down to Egypt with Jacob: A Story for the Exiles

The Meaning of God’s Revelation to Jacob in Chapter 46

Prof.

Yairah Amit

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"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

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Did Jacob Meet Yhwh by the Stairway to Heaven in Beth-El?

On his way to Haran, Jacob stops at a place, later named Beth-El, and sees in a dream angels going up and down a staircase to the gateway of heaven. In the story, Jacob also notices Yhwh standing beside him and and Yhwh speaks to him. Examined closely, this short story is beset with literary difficulties that suggest it is composed of two independent narratives.

Prof.

Baruch J. Schwartz

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The Proto-Story of Shechem and Jacob's Daughter

Turning the brothers’ unprovoked attack on Shechem into Simeon and Levi’s rescue of Dinah

Dr. Rabbi

David Frankel

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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

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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 l. Baumgarten

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The “Conclusion” of Parashat Mikketz: Jacob’s Suspicion and the Brothers’ Choice

Why the rabbis ended Parashat Mikketz with a cliffhanger (in both the Babylonian and the Eretz-Yisraeli traditions), and what the Ancient Near Eastern legal context of “evidence law” can clarify for us about the background of the story.

Dr.

Miryam Brand

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“All of Jacob’s Descendants Numbered Seventy-Five”: The Opening of Exodus in the Dead Sea Scrolls

The Book of Exodus begins with an accounting of the members of Jacob's family who went with him to Egypt. Our Torah, the Masoretic Text, lists 70 people. Dead Sea Scroll manuscript 4QExb, however, records 75 people. How do we account for this and other differences between the texts?

Prof.

Marc Zvi Brettler

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The Source of Jacob’s Two Blessings

Project TABS Editors

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Jacob the Conqueror of Shechem

Hints in the biblical text suggest that an earlier version of the patriarch stories described them as ancient leaders of Israel, akin to the heroes in the book of Judges.

Dr. Rabbi

Zev Farber

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

Dr.

Kristine Henriksen Garroway

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A Parasha Pregnant with the Past, Present, and Future of Israel's Protagonists

Three distinct themes in Parashat Vayetzei are intertwined: Jacob’s encounter with God at Bethel, the birth of Jacob’s sons, and Jacob’s departure from Haran. 

Prof.

Zvi Ben-Dor Benite

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