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ENVER PUBLIC LIBRARY

RD1124 D2S1D



IN

-

THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

987654

Haftarot

VII. Jews. Liturgy

1981.

222M077

1981

W.

Bible. O.T.

III.

O.T. Pentateuch. Eng-

1981.

VI. Jews.

(Reform, Plaut). English

and

IV*.

Jewish Publication Society.

Society

Leyiticus.

Essays on ancient Near Eastern literature.

Bible. O.T. Pentateuch

Bamberger, Bernard Jacob, 1904-1980.

lish.

J.

3

»

21

222 .1077 P697to Plaut, W. Gunther, = . Torah

1912-

PUBLICATION OF INDIVIDUAL VOLUMES OF The Torah: A Modern Commentary

has been

made

possible

by the generosity of the

Miriam Stern Fox Fund, Samuel H. Block, the Falk Foundation, Kivie Kaplan,

Maurice Salt/.man, the

members

of

Holy Blossom Temple, Toronto, and Rabbi Leon Fram

The Union of American expresses

Hebrew Congregations its

deep and abiding

appreciation to the primary

commentator of

The Torah

RABBI W. for the

and for

GUNTHER PLAUT

depth of his

his scholarly efforts

devotion and

commitment

during the duration of this extraordinary endeavor

Likewise, the Union acknowledges with gratitude the support of this project

given by the

Holy Blossom Temple, Toronto

Preface

Seventeen ceived.

my

years have passed since

publication in complete

Its

co-worker

this

in this enterprise,

taken to his eternal reward.

commentary was

form comes,

Rabbi Bernard

He was

a

only after

alas,

Bamberger, has been

superior scholar, a teacher par

excellence, a liberal to the core. His great

Commentary on

(published separately before his death) stands,

in

Leviticus

more ways than

one,

volume.

at the center of this

The two

J.

con-

first

of us were joined in our enterprise by Professor William \Y.

Hallo of Yale University whose knowledge of antiquity and whose sensitive

comment on our work proved

addition, his five essavs

up

to be of singular importance. In

which precede each of the Torah books open

to the reader the vast reaches of ancient

Our work

Near Eastern

reflects a liberal point of view.

This

in the occasional divergencies of opinion that exist

ments on

and those on the

Leviticus

ferences have been reconcile them.

left

We

is

literature.

once obvious

at

between the com-

rest of the Pentateuch.

These

standing side bv side, without anv attempt to

would

like to

think that, in the

spirit

of the tradi-

tional phrase, both opinions reflect the search after the living

preparing our commentaries

In

and guidance of

a

number

Professors Alexander

College

ways

at

-

dif-

we have had

God.

the constant help

of erudite colleagues, chief amongst

Guttmann and Matitiahu Tsevat

of

them

Hebrew Union

Jewish Institute of Religion. Their great knowledge was

al-

our disposal; thev were invariablv gracious, whether their

suggestions were adopted

— as

was most often the

case

— or

whether

they were modified or even rejected.

A

larger board of advisors, chaired bv Rabbi Robert

the manuscript criticallv.

Its

members were vii

1.

Kahn. read

Professors Sheldon

H.

Blank, Julius Kravetz, Leonard

S.

Stanley Gevirtz; as well as Rabbis

Solomon

Samuel

sohn,

and,

stages

Harry M. Orlinskv, and

Roland

B. Freehof,

B. Gittel-

Bernard H. Mehlman, Frederick C. Schwartz,

E. Karff,

but not

last

Kravitz,

Mordecai M. Kaplan who

least,

and made available

his

assisted in the early

own unpublished commentary on

Genesis,

During the long years of preparation and composition we had occahave the unfailing support of two presidents of the Union of

sion to

American Hebrew Congregations, Maurice N. Eisendrath V'T and Alexander M. Schindler, together with their

and Mr. Abraham Segal

*7'T.

associates,

During these

last

Rabbi Jack D. Spiro

few years. Rabbi Leonard

A. Schoolman dealt with the administrative aspects of the project and with persistence and energy helped also note

it

commentary

to final fruition.

with gratitude the assistance rendered to us by two directors

of the Publications

Department of the Union, Messrs. Ralph Davis and

Stuart L. Benick, and their staff of editors and readers: Miss Pollak,

We

Mesdames Louise

Annette Abramson, Esther Fried Africk,

Stern,

and especially Josette Knight.

We

would indeed wish

the invaluable assistance rendered to us by the raries of the

Hebrew Union

Cincinnati and in

ward Kiev

V'T,

New

and

Myrna

staffs

to

acknowledge

of two great

lib-

College- Jewish Institute of Religion, in

York: their directors, Herbert C. Zafren,

Phillip E. Miller,

and

their

I.

Ed-

competent and helpful

associates.

A

final

word: Despite the assistance rendered us by the consultants

and advisors, the responsibility

for all materials in the

commentary

proper, their formulation, and selection rests solely with the authors. I

this

know

that Dr.

Bamberger would

commentary mav prove

understanding of

this

to

hope that

be a means of advancing the study and

most precious of books, our Torah.

revet 5741

December

join us in the fervent

]V^J7 (?*& TlllD 1980

\\

Vlll

.

g. P.

Contents

PREFACE

VII

GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO THE TORAH

XVIII

THE TORAH AND THE JEWISH PEOPLE

XXIX

GENESIS Introducing Genesis

3

Genesis and Ancient Near Eastern Literature

7

Travels in Canaan (map)

i

Part

Creation [1:1-2:3] The creation of man

4

Prologue

I:

16 •

The seventh day

Part

II:

Beginnings

The Lines of Heaven, Earth, and Primeval Man

Man in Eden [2:4-24] Man and woman •

28

The names of God

The Expulsion from Eden

[2:25-3:24]

34

The Tree of Knowledge: three interpretations

Cain and Abel [4:1-26] Farmer and shepherd

Primeval

The Tree of Life



43 •

The



The divine beings



rejected sacrifice

Am

/

nty brother's keeper:

Man [5:i-6:8]

50

The early generations

The Flood

50

[6:9-8:14]

The generation of the of the flood story

flood



ThemanSoah

After the Flood [8:15-9:29] The rainbow • The crime of Ham

The Nations



Two questions about God



The two sources

66 •

The Soahide laws



A source ofJewish law

[10:1-32]

73

The table of nations

Babel and

after: The End of Prehistory [11: 1-26] Conclusion of the prologue • Historic background • Interpretations IX

79

Part

The Line

III:

of Terah

Abraham The

Call of Abraham

The

Wanderings You are

The War

[1 1

The choice



call

127-12:9] •

90

The challenge



Blessing

and curse

[12:io-13:i8]

my

96

The Promised Land



sister

of the Four against the Five [14:1-24] the Hebrew • Melchi^edek

102

Abraham

The Covenant between The

reality

the Pieces; the Birth of Ishmael [15:i-16:i6]

of the covenant

The nature of the covenant



The Covenant of Circumcision [17:1-27] Circumcision • An ancient practice • The Messengers



The

108

ritual

115 Identity

and name

[18:1-15]

121

Angels

Sodom and Gomorrah

[18:i6-19:38]

Abraham's argument with God



126

The merit of

the

few



The

sins

of Sodom and Gomor-

rah • Lot Crises [20:1-21:34]

136

Human feelings and The Akedah

[22:1-24]

The



sacrifice

Sarah



145

The

The Death of Sarah

divine purpose

test



Questions about the

God of the Akedah

[23: 1-20]

155

Part IV:

160

The Line

of Isaac 172

[25:19-34]

The birthright

The

Father and son

Machpelah

Rebekahat the Well [24:i-25:i8] On marriage • The servant's prayer

The Twins



The moral problem



Life of Isaac [26:1-35]

178

Isaac's personality

Isaac Blesses His Sons [27:i-28:9]

The deception Jacob's

Dream

Trial



Was

184

Isaac really deceived? • Rebekah

[28:10-22]

193

and trembling

Jacob in Haran [29: 1-30:43] The tribal ancestors • Biology and faith Jacob's Departure

from Haran

[31:i-32:3]

198

208

Rachel's theft

Jacob Becomes Israel [32:4-33:i7] The struggle • The reconciliation

216

The Rape of Dinah

225

[33:i8-34:3i]

The tragic element Births



The reprimand

and Deaths [35:r-36:43]

The Edomites



The character of Esau

2.31

The Line of Jacob

Part V:

Young Joseph

243

[37:i-36]

Reuben andjudah

Tamar

249

[38:1-30]

Destiny

Joseph in Egypt [39: 1-40:23] The temptation • Dreams

255

The Elevation of Joseph; A man in conflict

263

The Second Visit On divination

the Brothers' First Visit [41:1-42:38]

273

[43:1-44:17]

280

Joseph Reveals His Identity [44:i8-45:i5]

A

test

Jacob Goes to Egypt [45:16-46:27] A paradox

286

Jacob in Egypt [46:28-47:27] The shepherds • Political morality

293

The

Ephraim and Manasseh

Blessing of

[47:28-48:21]

301

The blessing

Testament

Jacob's

The

vision

[49: 1-27]

307

ofJacob

The Deaths of Jacob and Joseph Measure of a man

[49:28-50:26]

313

Haftarot

319

EXODUS Introducing Exodus

363

Exodus and Ancient Near Eastern Literature

367

Major Theories on the

378

Israelites'

Route from Egypt to Kadesh-barnea (map)

Part Israel in

Egypt

Prologue

[1:1-22]

The absence of God

Moses

I:

381 •

Slavery in Egypt

[2:1-25]

387

Literary notes • The character of Moses

Part

The

II:

The Mission

Call [3:i-4:i8]

The vision

Return

[4:



>x>

Moses' faith



The signs



The Divine

Name

410

19-6:1]

The bridegroom of blood

I'.hxeh



Pharaoh's hardened heart

The Second Revelation [6:2-7:13] My Name mrr • Linguistic excursus

4'^ en

ilie

Same mrr XI

Part

The

Confrontation and Exodus

Plagues [7:i4-9:i2]

First Six

The plagues

The

III:

434

—natural or supernatural?

Last Four Plagues [9:i3-ll:io] The pharaonic view

445

Passover and Deliverance [12:1-42]

456

The

Passover • Passover in the Christian tradition

historical

Addenda

to the Passover

Tefillin •

Observance [12:43-13:16]

Part IV:

Rescue

The Road

to Sinai

at the Sea [13:17-14:31]

477

The pillar of cloud and of fire Shirah

468

Literary analysis



Rescue at sea •

The route

—The Song at the Sea [15:i-2i]

487

The women danced

The poem •

In the Wilderness [15:22-16:36]

495

The manna Foes and Friends [17:1-18:27] The memory of Amalek • Jethro

505

Part V: Revelation and

At

Commandment

Sinai [19: 1-25]

520

The covenant • The Chosen People

The Decalogue The

first

— General Introduction; the First Three Commandments [20:1-7]

commandment

The Decalogue

The second commandment





531

The third commandment

— The Sabbath Day [20:8-n]

546

Origins • The Sabbath in the Bible • In later days • The Sabbath in Christianity, Ro-

man

antiquity,

The Decalogue The

fifth

and Islam



The Fifth commandment

to •

Tenth Commandments; Postscript to tenth commandments Part VI:

Laws on Property and Moral Behavior

Laws on

weak



553

Laws

Laws on Worship, Serfdom, Injuries [20:19-21:36] Slavery in the Torah • An eye for an eye • The ox

Protection of the

[20:i2-i8]

The sixth

576

[21:37-23:9]

Dealing with the enemy

Cultic Ordinances; Affirmation of the

Israel's society (as reflected in the

564 that gores



Capital punishment • Virgins

Covenant [23:io-24:i8]

Book of the Covenant) • "You shall not

587 boil

a kid in

its

mother's milk"

Part VII: Sanctuary and Service Ark, Lampstand, Tent, and Altar [25:i-27:i9] The cherubim • Table and bread • The lampstand (menorah)

603

The Regular ("Perpetual")

616

The regular

light



Light; Priests

and Their Vestments [27:20-28:43]

Urim and Thummim 626

Investiture [29:i-31:i8] Incense • Ordination • The shekel XII

Part VIII: Apostasy and Second Covenant

The Golden Calf [32:i-33:6]

A New

644

The calf— theology • The



The calf— history

Covenant; the Nature of

God

role

of Aaron

655

[33:7-34:35]

The nature of God

The Building of the Tabernacle Kindle no fire on

The Erection of

tlie

666

[35:i-38:2o]

Sabbath



Be^alel

—on art

in Judaism

680

the Tabernacle [38:21-^0:38]

The Tabernacle



its

form



The Tabernane



its

meaning

Haftarot

691

LEVITICUS Introducing Leviticus Leviticus

733

and Ancient Near Eastern Literature Part

I:

740

Laws of Sacrifice

Introduction Ancient

750

of sacrifice • Ancient sacrifices • Sacrifice in the Bible • Talmudic Medieval views • Modern attitudes • The sacrificial legislation of the Torah

concepts

views •

The Olah — Burnt Offering [Li-17] The Minchah— Meal Offering [2:i-i6] Zevach Shelamim Sacrifice of Well-Being Chatat— Sin Offering [4: 1-35]





756 761

765 768

[3:1-17]



Chatat Sin Offering; Asham Guilt Offering [5:1-26] Laws of Sacrifice Olah, Minchah, Chatat [6:1-23] Laws of Sacrifice Zevach Shelamim [7:1-38]

— —

Part

II:

The Dedication of

774 780 784

the Tabernacle

and

The Ordination of

the Priests

The Divine Presence

in the Sanctuary [8:i-10:2o] The prohibition of intoxicants • Priestly perquisites

Part

The Dietary Laws

A few

[11

definitions •

dietary laws in

III:

792

Permitted and Forbidden Foods

n-23]

8a8

The scope of the dietary laws • The reason for the dietary laws • The Jewish history • Some modern problems • Reform Judaism and the

dietary laws

Part IV: Defilement and Purification

Defilement from Animal Carcasses [11:24-47] Defilement through Childbirth [12:i-8] Defilement from Tzara'at [13:1-46] A note on Judaism and medicine

818 825 828

Tzara'at of Garments [13:47-59] Purification from Tzara'at [14:i-u] Tzara'at of Houses [14:33-57]

836 8 (9

Defilement by Discharge from the Sex Organs [15:1-33] XIII

845 $40

Part V:

Yom

The Day of Atonement

Kippur [16:1-34] ards of the

858

Day

Atonement • The origins of Yom Kippur • A^a^el • The hazYom Kippur service • Atonement and return • Some problems of the biblical

The message of the

oj

material

Part VI:

The Law

of Holiness

Further Laws about Sacrifice and Food [17:i-i6] Secular slaughtering prohibited • The prohibition oj blood

Sex Offenses [18:1-30] Biblical attitudes toward sex

872

877 •

Postbiblical Jewish attitudes •

Modesty

• Incest •

Homo-

sexual behavior • Bestiality • Molech worship

The

Life of Holiness [19:1-37]

889

Holiness • Sanctifying and profaning the

Punishment of Sex Offenses

Laws concerning the

Festival

I.



The golden rule

[20:1-27]

903 908

Priests [21:1-22:33]

The priestly role • Israelite priesthood The laws in chapters 21 and 22

The

Name

During



the Second

Temple

• In later centuries



Calendar [23:1-44]

919

Calendar Reckoning • The week • Months and years

The day

919 •

The names

oj the

months • Changes and

controversies • Eras II.

The

Biblical

Sabbath

Holy Days •

923

Passover/ Feast oj Unleavened Bread • The offering oj the omer • The

omer period • The Feast oj Weeks (Shavuot) • Festival oj the New Year (Rosh Hashanah) • The Day oj Atonement • The Feast oj Booths (Sukot) • Shemini At^eret •

New moon

and the Blasphemer [24:1-23]

Oil, Bread,

Oil jor the

935

Temple lamps • The bread oj display • The blasphemer

Sabbatical Year and Jubilee [25:i-55] I.

II.

The

Sabbatical Year

The Jubilee Year The law • Was the jubilee

HI.

940 940 941

the

law ever practiced? • The Book ofJubilees • The influence of

law

Slavery

Blessings

945

and Curses [26:1-46]

Tochechah



953

The problem of retribution



The sources of hope

Part VII: Supplementary

Vows,

Gifts,

and Dues

I

(to

Chapter

Appendix II (to Chapter Atonement]

Appendix

III

(to

964

[27: 1-34]

Freeh, Erkecha • Hekdesh •

Appendix

Laws

11)

16)

Chapter

Cherem

[The Dietary Laws]

97^

[Order of Service for the High Priest on the Day of 974

18) [Prohibited

Degrees of Relationship for Marriage]

Haftarot

976 977

xiv

NUMBERS Introducing

Numbers

ion

Numbers and Ancient Near

Eastern Literature Part

I:

1014

Of Census and Law

In the Desert [1:1-2:34]

1026

The census figures Priestly Service [3:1-4:49]

1037

The first-born

Laws of Holiness

—The Ordeal [5:1-31]

1049

Ordeals • The ordeal in Jewish law

Vows

of Abstinence [6:1-21] The na^irite • Alcohol and hair

The

1057

Priestly Benediction [6:22-27]

How

the blessing

Of Princely and

was spoken

Priestly

Things

1063



The power

[7:

1-8:26]

to bless

1069

The symbolic context

The Second

Passover; the Cloud; the Silver Trumpets [9:i-10:io] The development of law

Part

A

II:

1080

People Wandering

Of Rebels and

Prophets [10:11-11:35] The fleshpots of Egypt • Prophetic power

Of Prophecy and Punishment The uniqueness of Moses



1088

1098

[12:i-i6]

How

Aaron was punished

and Condemnation [13:i— 14:45] Travels of the spies and the land of Canaan (map) • The morality of conquest •

Trial

1

104

1

118

Two

traditions

Various Laws; Fringes [15:1-41] The law offringes

The Rebellion of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram [16:i-17:i5] Two traditions • The punishment • Korah' s argument

1126

Of Priests,

1135

Levites,

and

The flowering rod



Israelites [17:16-18:32]

Pidyon ha-ben

The Red Cow; Laws of Purification

— Redemption of the first-born

[19:i-22]

1

144

The red cow Thirty-Eight Years Later [20: 1-29] The second murmuring • The sin

Wandering and Warfare [21:i-22:i] The way north (map) • The way



Aaron

the

1 1

5

1

1

=;o

1

i

man

north {commentary) • The copper serpent •

The

lost

book

Part

The Story of Balaam

III:

The Story of Balaam _

[22:2-24:25]

Curses • The speaking ass •

A

people apart •

xv

Balaam

—prophet or

s o rc e rett

i

Part IV: At the Gates of the Promised

Punishment and Reward The moral and

Land

[25:i-i8]

problem

historical

Of Census and Women's The second census Offerings; Festivals;

Inheritance [25:19-27:23] The laws of inheritance



Vows

of

1

191

1

199

The priesthood



Women

[28:i-30:i7]

1208

calendar • Sacrifice as worship • The status of women

Moon and

War and

First Settlement [31:i-32:42] The slaying of the prisoners

1222

Review of the Wanderings; Boundaries of Canaan

[33:i-34:2q]

1233

The boundaries of the Promised Land Levitical

Towns;

Cities of

Refuge [35:i-36:i3]

1242

The blood avenger Haftarot

1251

DEUTERONOMY Deuteronomy

Introducing

1289

Deuteronomy and Ancient Near Eastern The Route

to the Plains of

Literature

Moab (map)

1307

Part

Prologue

I:

Discourse

First

The

1297

Setting [1:1-5]

131

These are the words First

Review

[1

13 16

:6-45]

The nature ofJewish law



Two

generations

Second Review [1:46-3:29] Varying traditions



Summary: To Observe

1326

God's realm

the

Law

133$

[4:1-43]

Neither add nor detract • The course ofJewish law

Part

The Decalogue

II:

1352

The commandment of social conscience

The Shema



its

The doctrine offree



The

love of

God



The Shema in Jewish liturgy

1376 •

Mixed marriage

Life [8:1-9:5]

Not on bread alone



x

U94

Stiff-Necked People [9:6-10:n]

The Good Land

38 5

Chastisements of love • The source of wealth

Defiance • The intermediary •

Why

will

1364

meaning

Dealing with Idolatry [7: 1-26] The treatment of conquered nations

The



[6:1-25]

The Shema

The Good

Second Discourse

[4:44-5:30]

A

note

on

the Levites

[10:12-11:25]

love the stranger? •

r

On

the

geography of the land xvi

404

Part

The Divine

Command

III:

Third Discourse

[11:26-32]

1416

The Central Sanctuary [12:i-13:i] The centralisation of worship • Blood and meat

1419 •

Do

not inquire

False Prophets [13:2-19]

1428

Prophets

Of Food,

and

Tithes,

Social Equity [14:i-15:23]

1436

Tithes • Dietary laws

The Holy Days

[16:1-17]

The Pilgrim

1447

contemporary observance

Festivals in

Administration of Lavs and State, I [16:i8— 18:8] The administration ofjustice • The monarchy

Law and

Administration of

More on

Administration of

Law and

The conduct of war

The

Social

Weal,

I

Social

Weal,



Social

Weal,

[18:9-19:2i]

II

1464

Magic and mantic

State,

[20:i-21:9]

III

The uses of nature



1473

Unsolved manslaughter

II

III

1482

Regard for animals





Reward and punishment

[22:13-24:22]

The prohibition of taking

The

The pursuit of justice

[21:io-22:i2]

Burying the dead

The

State,

the cities of refuge •

1455 •

1492

interest



Divorce • Individual and collective responsibility

[25:i-26:i9]

1505

Chalit^ah • Thanksgiving

Blessings ind Curses,

Blessings

I

[27: 1-26]

1514

and curses

Blessings

and Curses,

II

1520

[28:1-69]

Comparisons and uses Part IV: Final Appeal and Farewell

The

Last Oration [29:i-30:2o]

Commitment

Moses Prepares

Two

for the future •

for

accessibility

535

of Tor ah • Turning back

[31:1-30]

1540

theological questions • Joshua, Moses' successor

The Song of Moses The poem

The

Death

1

The



its

[32:1-52]

1555

setting • Structure of the

poem



The ambivalence of God

Blessing of Moses [33.1-29] Comparisons • Analysis

1567

Part V: Epilogue

The Death

of Moses

End and Beginning [34:i-i2] Moses man and legend

1580

Haftarot

1589

HAFTAROT FOR SPECIAL DAYS

U\->4

NOTES AND REFERENCES

IC190

ABBREVIATIONS

1~4

BIBLIOGRAPHY

I776

BLESSINGS

I785 XVII

General Introduction to the Torah GUNTHER PLAUT

W.

present-day science will prove to be in error

The Book

or

Torah is the Hebrew term used for the Five Books of Moses or Pentateuch. Genesis is the first of these five books, and the Torah is the first part of the Bible. The term "Old Testament" is not used by Jews, since it im-

the position of Orthodox

is

Judaism, fundamentalist Christianity, and of

most commentaries of the past. The commentator who differs with this approach and proceeds on the premise of

"new" testament. "Bible" as used in book refers, therefore, to the Hebrew Bible and does not include the Christian

human

this

two

Scriptures.

the book different

commentary proceeds from the

as-

sumption that the Torah is a book which had its origin in the hearts and minds of the

Many They

people deny

believe that the

God," given

is

God

to Moses.

they

insist,

is

the

from any other

book

as a

whole,

word of God and not of

as

have

human

experiences. Since the

was at mouth, and only tradition

down

in writing,

if

the text

"God created" then this is a fact, word of God is by definition truth

says that

maintains further that the Torah,

being given by God, must carry meaning

word and

that not even

one

letter

in

can

One may not understand but that is a human shortcoming.

be superfluous. everything, If

modern

scientific

knowledge appears

to

contradict the biblical word, then either our

Torah

first

repeated by word of

after

many

generations set

the final text testifies to

divergent ideas about

every

significant

understanding has varied over the centuries

These stand side by

It

is

i],

point maintains, therefore, that

itself.

How

literature of the past?

man. This orthodox or fundamentalist view-

for the

(2)

agree that

Some

may have been marred bv

certain scribal errors. But the

Does God have

standing of and experience with God. This

or in

the text in being transmitted from generation to generation

(i)

some

assumption.

_(bv direct inspiration

other way) by

questions:

anything to do with the Torah?

"the word of

this basic

Torah

rather than divine authorship faces

initial

DOES GOD HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH the torah? While God is not the author of the Torah in the fundamentalist sense, the Torah is a book about humanity's under-

Jewish people. ViL.

1

not understand the Bible properly.

plies a

This

/"^

we do

This was and

God and

side in the

the people.

book and

tell

us of our ancestors' changing and developing

the book is not by While individual au-

beliefs. In this sense, then,

God but by

a people.

hand in its composition, the people of the Book made the Torah their own and impressed their character upon it. Some would leave it at that and go no further; they would approach the Torah primarily as an antique document and say: thors

had

a

This

is

how

saw the world.

It is

viewpoint and their This that

it

God

the authors and their listeners

faith.

its

commentary goes further. We is possible to say: The Torah is

Israel's distinctive

human and

the Divine, the great

quest, with

all its

often

of Jewish

tradition testifies to a people of extraordinary

dom, and the background of

the text,

God

is

not the author of

the people are; but God's voice

be heard through

we

theirs if

listen

it

with

especially are

of this book

true for every verse and story? Not

age.

Our own

what

own

judgment,

lectual

in is

we

is

every passage.

It

will present the

mind

in

reading

that

what

own time to own

intel-

framework

is

one thing and what

it

their

later

what they

by commentary and homily

another. This long tradition of holding up

the book like a prism, discovering through

treat legend as fact,

God

it

anthropomorphic terms. This commentary neither an apology for, nor an endorsement

of,

important, for

generations did with this text,

caution are a neces-

or gloss over those texts which represent

is

contemporaries within their

contributed to

all

ac-

and because of was believed to have said and to to say

the authors said in their

unique tradition

This does not mean, however, that

meant

This distinction

sary rule.

abdicate

it

are in part because

the Torah one should keep in

insights are not so secure that

before us, modesty and

what they

sig-

Western people

have meant.

can judge past ages with any easy sense of

superiority. In the face of the

As such

—because of what the Torah

tually said or

our view. But it is often hard to know whether the voice that speaks has the ring of permanence or resounds to the apprehensions and misapprehensions of a particular

Islam.

has played and continues to plav a

nificant role in the world.

in

we

strengths

the starting point of Christen-

life,

may

open minds. Is this

the book

and weaknesses, there ought to be something special about it. For over two and one-half millennia the Torah has been the keystone

touched by the ineffable Presence. The Torah spiritual sensitivity.

and

in

a vast

it

spectrum of insights, makes

the Torah unlike any other work. This particularly true for the Jews.

modern

know

is

They cannot

their past or themselves without this

readers with tools for understanding and

book, for

leave the option to them.

work of their own existence. The Torah is important for yet another reason. This commentary proceeds from the

It

is

also well to

know

in advance that despite the enormous and imaginative scholarship archeological, linguistic, anthropological, and other which has been lavished on the Torah we still must





often conclude that

we do

not

know how

in

it

they will discover the frame-

assumption that

in addition to the original

meaning and the

interpretations offered over

the centuries the Torah has relevance for our

to

interpret a word, or passage, or do not un-

time.

Of

not everything that was

course,

relevant yesterday speaks to us today, and

derstand the original context.

passages which held 2]

HOW

IS

THE TORAH DIFFERENT FROM

XIX

little

or minor meaning

now

speak to us suddenly with an urgent voice. For instance, the story of Babel in the past

ANY OTHER SIGNIFICANT LITERATURE OF the past? For those of us who see in the Torah a people's search for and meeting with

QJUtr

record which bv

human existence. who see in

human

only the

moments is

a

But even for those

ancient

record of its search for God.

of encounter. Therefore, the text

The search

self-evident.

is

very nature has something to sav about

the essentials of

believe

attempts to record the meeting of the

It

the answer

and the meeting provide

instructive to study their

was

for

many

vears seen as a tale of

arrogance; today

it

human

speaks to us as a warning

about the dehumanizing

urban

of

effects

application reaches

The relevance

of this story, as well as

in questions rather

many

than answers;

in fact,

the Torah text

one

Torah

is its

open-endedness, which

raises issues

use today

and aside from the

fact that

Hebrew

is

in itself a

new answers will always conOur commentary attempts to reflect

of the text will have to literal

to grave misconceptions.

many

lieved that the

who will be motivated to search for their own answers. But there are also a number of problems. Some of these arise needlessly, out of failure

book, did not take the text

the readers

took

it

to

spoke

man

They

literally.

meaning. They realized

— in addition to everything else them — abounded in subtle metait

used word plavs

literary devices, that

satirically,

and that

its

it

sometimes

poetry could

not be subjected to a simple approach. They

agreed

without

embarrassment

that

one

could disagree on what the Torah meant,

sound principle we ourselves should base our approach to the text.

and on

own contem-

this

to the

text with preconceptions but should try to

will the

was

and other

in terms of his own time and not ours. For us, reading the Bible should be an attempt to understand it and not a

own

lead

but thev always looked

flat literal

phors and allusions, that

thought and wrote

in its

that a

may

that the Bible

due to the contrast between certain ancient and contemporary assumptions about our world and must be freely faced. The modern reader

speak to us

seriously,

it

behind the

to read the text properly; others are

it

remember

Even the ancient Jewish Sages, who beTorah was a divinely authored

additional questions will be asked by

must not come

original base their

understanding of the Torah

open-ended quality of the Torah. It will often provide options, and it is our hope that this

We

literalists

contemporary reader familiar with the history and nature

tinue.

porary dogmatics.

most

type of interpretation and there-

the search for

cut-and-dried exercise in our

merely one

is

fore a secondary source), 1 the

is

should clearly understand that biblical

fact that

opinions on one particular translation (which

without providing single an-

no doubt that tomorrow's generation hear the words differently again and that

There

we

not knowing the

to say,

is

swers that close the door to further inquiry.

let

words

available version (although the accepted one)

of the contemporary "attractions" of the

will

to individual

Quite aside from the indisputable

may be found

other portions ot the Torah,

it

down

and phrases.

life.

Myth and Legend

way. Only then

The reader must

door be open to meaningful reading.

further understand that

the Torah contains a great variety of material: laws,

Literalism

narratives,

history,

folk

tales,

songs,

proverbial sayings, poetry, and, especially in

because they have been exposed to a method

myths and legends. Bv mvth we understand a tale involving

of biblical interpretation which understands

human

Contemporary readers are often put

the text in a literal way. Thus,

God

says that

of man. or ancient

the

tells ot a

man

woman

beings and divine powers, a tale which was meant and understood as having happened and which bv its existence expressed, explained, or validated important

Genesis

out of the rib

serpent speaking, or of

living several

hundred

aspects oi existence.

years,

interprets the story to

mean

what the words convey. This

literal

literalist

precisely

created

if

the early parts of Genesis,

oft

1

xx

Thus the hden myth

See below, "Text and Translation."

explained the origin of death and validated,

God who promised him

for Christian tradition, the concept of hu-

will

plified

by folk memory, but they usually

possession of the land.

well (Gen. 29: 10)

is

One must

modern

is

tradition treats the lives of the old frontiers-

men. They

What

not an accurate

are presented primarily as enter-

whose stamped

prising pioneers, courageous people

love of independence was indelibly

myth

on the nation they helped

or legend as

"irrelevant" and accepting only history as

"relevant."

Buber called it 3 ) texts. Take for inway in which American (as

found only in ancient

stance the selective

sense. 2

dismissing either

not think that this kind of

"mythicizing history"

of this category.

of the Bible should not, however, be misled

is

reality

descendants and, for them, validated their

In observing these distinctions the reader

into

its

Legends are sagas of the past am-

As the Torah moves from the creation of the world toward the creation of the people of Israel, the mythic elements increasingly give way to legend and these in turn to history in the

"fact,"

was accepted by generations of Abraham's

neither validate nor explain. Jacob's prowess at the

the land of Canaan

historic

as

and need of

manity's inherent sinfulness salvation.

not pass

— assum-

who

says little about the desire of the

after repeated failures in the east,

so on.

ence and frontier virtues has

itself

shaped the

It may memory of

our ances-

psychology of the nation.

brings is

It

But Americans have preferred to see their past in an idealized light, and their admiration of the value of personal independ-

knows what the event "really" was. The best of modern historians is an interpreter, selective summarizer, com-

mentator, and often philosopher

slanted.

and

ing even that one

a point of view to the material. This

a

of course, highly selective and

move west

recording of events

but an interpretation of such events

Such

is,

pioneers to get rich quickly or their need to

usually passes for history

scientific

to build.

picture

So

pre-

what the Book of Genesis does. While its material included myths and legends, these in time became incorporated into the consciousness of the people. For what people believe their past to mean assumes a dynamism of its own; the experience itself becomes creative. Thus, while Abraham's vision of a

it

with the Torah.

is

mirror the collective

cisely

tors,

and

be said to

in the course of centuries this record

became a source of truth for the Children of The reader will therefore do well to keep in mind that the Torah not only speaks

Israel.

of history

to shape

but has

human

made

history bv helping

thought.

The

2

One should

origins of the Torah are one thing, its through the centuries another, and its ability to speak to us todav \ et a third. This life

also note that while there are

in Genesis there

is

no mythology,

i.e.,

myths

there are no

commentary

tales of the

adventures of the gods (or God). The fragment in Gen. 6:1-4 is the only exception. Genesis is not concerned with the story of the divine realm but with the emergence of humanity; the drama is played out not on a supernatural stage but on earth and has a theme of rebellion, sin, and potential redemption. 3 Martin Buber, Moses (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1947), p. 17. Buber considers the emotion with which an event was experienced an important aspect of history, one which is often played down in the usual

annalistic

How

the

concerned

and

with

all

three

jointly.

Torah Came

to

BeWrittcn

Doubts that the Torah was a book set down by one author. Moses, developed some centuries ago, but it was not until the nineteenth century that extensive investigations

or "factual" treatment. See also

Gerhard von Rad, Genesis: A Commentary delphia: Westminster Press, 1961), pp. 3 ff.

is

aspects separately

made

(Phila-

the critical study of the biblical text a

highly specialized discipline. XXI

The

early critics

noted the differential use of the names of

(approximately 597 to 516

God

dis-

intended as a sort of constitution for the

crepancies of certain accounts and figures,

Second Commonwealth when the Jews had no king and the High Priest was leader and

Torah, the

in various parts of the

and different

literary styles. Later scholars

many

authors and several editors,

and they theorized about times and events when these sources and documents were cre-

B.C.E.

ated and finally combined into the Torah as

we have

"This once widely accepted view has been

now. The theory which continues to command general scholarly adherence is called the Documentary Hypothesis and is often refer-

challenged in various ways by

red to by two of

not the

it

its

most prominent

substance

exposi-

says that there are four

it

sources or documents (called

J,

E, P,

major

century

It

tive elements,

rite

such as the

the sources

contains primi-

of the scape-

have originated after the period of the great prophets. Moreover, P often reflects condi-

by

which was declared

official

tions very different

canonization about

and

the

the author

name given by who used the

or

YHWH)

the Southern

suasive but

biblical critics to

divine

name

Kingdom some time

are in

critics

The

'in

it

is

is

per-

always easier to demolish

earlier critics

the Torah

after the

exile

many ways

old views than to construct viable

nirr

and probably lived

from those of the

aftermath.

its

"The newer

the year 400.

(YHVH

earliest, of

fifth

a sacred text

is

but the

latest,

incorporated in the Torah.

b.c.e. resulted in the creation of a

single book, the Torah,

J

twen-

goat (Lev. 16:8-io, 20-22), which could not

and D),

the combination of which during the

many

amongst whom Yehezkel Kaufmann has been one of the boldest and most original. 6 He held that P is tieth-century Bible scholars,

Karl Graf and Julius Wellhausen. 4 In

tors,

was

It

spokesman of the nation. According to this theory, P was the framework into which J/E and D were fitted, in the fifth century

further analyzed the text so that they could discern

b.c.e.).

new

ones.

proved conclusively that

not a unit and that

it

does not

death of Solomon; he was responsible for

date as a whole from the time of Moses; but

most of Genesis. E uses dt6n (Elohim) and authored the binding of Isaac (Gen. 22) and

was

other passages of Genesis, as well as in

a

Exodus and Numbers; he was most is

said to

such

be the book found by King Josiah

in

It is

Kings 22; some also assign Gen. 14

the

Book of

chapter of Gene-

Leviticus,

"The nineteenth-century

Bible

critics

sidered P the latest part of the Torah,

host of difficulties

con-

com-

posed during or after the Babylonian exile

it

in recent dec-

newer attempts

at synthesis,

Kaufmann's, are also open to ques-

the position of this

commentary

P contains many old strands and 4

first

and other sections characterized by interest in genealogies and priesthood. When did the main body of the priestly writing originate? According to Dr. Bamberger: sis,

as

tion."

the author of the

A

ades; but the

to D). 5 is

definitive.

likely

is

(II

from

much

the author of Deuteronomy, which

621 b.c.e.

P

far

has been marshalled against

northern contemporary of J.

D

their reconstruction of early Israelite history

Since,

even

today,

the

that

traditions

Graf-Wellhausen school

commentary indicates from time to time the differentiation of sources suggested by the school. Some examples are provided in the analysis of the Flood story, Gen. 8, and

commands wide

support, our

the tale of Korah, 5

A

Num.

detailed analysis of

16.

how Deuteronomy came

be written will be found book. The Religion

6

to

in the introduction to that

oj Israel. Abridged English translation by M. Greenberg (Chicago: University of Chicago

Press, 1966).

XXII

and E) but also later additions when the document was put into final written form after the return from exile (probably predating

J

(see "Introducing Leviticus"). Altogether

we

would give 950 through 450 as the years during which the literary process and its redaction took place, that is, from the days of the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah to their destruction and the time of exile and return. Since Moses lived in the thirteenth century b.c.e. he had, in that view, nothing to do with the writing of the complete Torah. His name was attached to it as author at the time of the book's canonization. This whole analysis is vigorously disputed by those who attempt to show that Moses was indeed the author. They consider much or all higher literary criticism as erroneous and some of its foundations as infected by Christian bias. 7 has been suggested that the

It

four

first

books of the Torah (Genesis, Exodus,

Leviti-

(or nearly final) form, at

some time before

the Tetrateuch assumed

its

shape,

written

the underlying traditions followed a different

We believe that the major which the Tetrateuch was formed (J, E, P) were older than the Deuteronomist (D) tradition. That is to sav: Deuteronomy as a written document preceded time sequence.

from

sources

Genesis to Numbers; but the latter's narra-

and laws are generallv of earlier origin. There are still other scholars who, while

tives

they accept the existence of different sources,

would

see the contribution of these sources to

the final text in a different light. In this view the various strands of tradition were very

— some

them older than Moses while to him and were transmitted for many centuries bv word of

old

others

of

are



assignable

mouth. As the centuries wore on.

all

of these

strands coalesced in popular telling, and in

probably

time,

through

the

of a

efforts

while Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Samuel,

unknown name, they became a single story with many facets. Variants of the same story and even contradictions

and Kings constituted another separate com-

were

cus,

Numbers)

originally

formed

unit called Tetrateuch bv

a four-part

modern

scholars,

literary genius of

basic

left untouched because one did not tamper with sacred memories and also be-

approach but with the understanding

that,

cause the ancient era did not

while Deuteronomy was put into

final

either/or but could sa\

plex.

Our commentary

accepts

this

its

thai

demand

an

together both

sides of the account represented the truth. 7

There are

also those

who, on the

basis of critical

If in

one place

says that Israel spent 400

it

studies,

years in

Egypt and

the Torah

430, the

modern reader

conclude that Moses' part in the Creation of is commanding. For an advocacy of this view, see M. H. Segal, The Pentateuch (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1967); for a general critique, see Cassuto, The Documentary Hypothesis (Jerusalem:

Magnes Press, 1961); for a specific critique, see Benno Jacob's massive commentaries on Genesis

How main meant In

a long,

deniable that such implications were often present in much of the classical 'critical' literature." (H. D.

and

Hummel,

integral



Encyclopaedia Judaica, Vol.

4, col.

907.)

it

tempted

was

to ask:

The ancient

long time.

our commentary favors

the

position just outlined, namely, that the Torah

One

it is

is

years was u really?

general,

probably true that much Jewish which was not totally traditionalistic, was initially, and to a degree still remains, rather cool toward the standard results of German biblical scholarship, well aware of the subtle antiJudaism, if not anti-Semitism, which bv no means necessarily, but very often de facto, accompanies any depreciation of the Old Testament and it is un"In general,

another that

reader was satisfied that both 400 and 430

and Exodus. scholarship, even that

in

as

we now know

it

is

essentialb the reposi-

tory of centuries of traditions which

11

Tradition .\nd

was

portant

xxiu

down

set

remain

at

as

became

One Book. At what time we have now will likeK it

a

matter of conjecture; what

is

to

is

im-

both understand us background

same time treat the book as an unit. With Iran/ Rosen/weig we

the

might initial

call

the final editor R, not because the

reminds us of redactor, but of Rabbenu,

they transmitted the Masorah (rnioa) or textual traditions,

were

scholars

who

over the

our teacher. The finished book represents

centuries attempted to ascertain and presen e

the teaching tradition of Israel, and as such

the best text.

it

has had a

We

dynamic

life all

of

its o\\ n.

in

"What did the text mean originally?" "What has it come to mean?" and "What can it mean to us today?" Our commentary disagrees with therefore ask three questions:

traditional

interpreters

over divine origin

and Mosaic authorship (that

is

to say,

higher criticism admissible), but

it

with them on treating the text

it

finds

does agree as

it

is,

a

One

of these versions, produced

Tiberias in the tenth century

general acceptance and

brew

c.e.,

found

the standard He-

is

synagogue use today.

text in

classical Hebrew among many Jews

Because the knowledge of

diminished or disappeared after

they returned from

exile,

the need for translations arose. In the

Babylonian

the

course of centuries there appeared translations in

Aramaic (Targum) which was the

was approached this way by many generations and in this way it has made its impact on history. An antiqua-

popular language of postexilic Jews, Greek

rian assessment will always be of historical

every written language of man. The im-

commentary,

portant ancient translations often give us

unified whole, for

interest

and

is

it

reflected in this

but to us the Bible

is

primarily the living

Latin

(Septuagint), shitta),

Arabic,

significant clues

(Vulgate),

and

Syriac

(Pe-

modern times

in

in

about the original from which

textbook of the Jew and, with different em-

they were translated, for there are differences

phasis, of the Christian. 8

between them. What is

is

even more important

to recognize that every translator interprets

the original text, for he renders

Text and Translation

understands (or misunderstands)

This becomes particularly apparent

Readers of the Bible are usually unaware that

what they

are

reading

is

not "the"

original version of the manuscript

the translation they use

is

and that

actually a kind of

commentary on the Hebrew means to render.

text

which

it

There is no original manuscript available which was written by any of the authors of the Bible. The oldest extant parchment scroll of the Torah dates from about 900 c.e., which is probably more than 1,300 years later than the likely time of urally,

much

its

composition. Quite nat-

happens to a text in the course

it

one follows modern

as

he

it.

translations.

when

For

in-

between

stance, there are great differences

the famous and beloved English King James 1, and often called Church of England) "Authorized," i.e., for the and later renditions such as the American version, or the German Luther Bible and the translation by Rosenzweig and Buber. Many

Version (published in 161

of these differences are

language of translation has vast changes; others are

since

stylistic

itself

due

to

the

undergone

new

into the philology of ancient days

insights

and the

of oral transmission and copying by hand,

and one must not be astonished that a number or variants and versions arose. It is a great tribute to the care and devotion which were la

1

ished on the text that the variants are rela-

ti\ely

minor and the

scribal

corruptions

Our commentary uses the Masoretic version. The Masoretes, so called because

rather few.

8

This holistic approach has lately received support

from Christian "The birth of

scholars.

Thus J.

P.

Fokkelman

writes:

resembles that of a man: the umbilical cord, which connected the text with its time and the man or men who produced it, is severed once its existence has become a fact; the text is going a text

to lead a life of

its

own.

.

.

." (Narrative

Amsterdam: Van Gorcum, vey by

B.

W.

Art

in Genesis,

1975. PP- 3 f) See the surAnderson, JBL, 97, 1 (1978), 23rT.

political, social,

which

to

and economic circumstances

1967),

the text refers.

lishers.

Torah used is the New Jewish Version, published by the Jew-

The

ish

translation ot the

Publication

Society

with the kind permission of the pub-

(revised

This translation, in addition to

scholarly

made

printing,

tion

and

linguistic

merits. 9

particularly valuable

of the

translators'

has

its

been

by the publica-

Notes

on

the

.Yew

Translation of the Torah (1969, referred to as a 9

_, The

_

-

_-

_



,

,

,

,

.

Bamberger (who authored the Commentary on Le%iticus in this volume) was a distinguished member of the Committee of Translators. late

Dr. B.

J.

IPS Notes)

*

tam

rejected.

XXV

which explain in detail why cerr were chosen and others

translations

On

Reading This Commentary

The commentary follows a particular pattern. Each book is divided into several major

extensively,

and these can rarelv be translated

The reader should

into another language.

number of sections which exceed number of traditional chapter divisions.

also

parts and a

remember

the

inally

Torah tradition was origtransmitted by word of mouth so that

many

so-called etymological explanations of

While such an arrangement has no precise in prior practice, 10 it has been introduced for convenience of study and for those synagogues which do not read the entire traditional weekly po tion. Our units and their commentaries are more or less of simi-

personal and place

warrant

lar length,

as

said to

For instance,

come from

kaniti

(I

linguistically there

is

no connection.

except in Genesis, the early chap-

the commentary. The accompany each unit are

and chapter 22 (because of the special sections), and in Numbers, chapters 22-24 (because they comprise

2]

tive: 11

division into chapters

that in so choosing he has omitted other themes which the reader might wish to have had included.

ship.

In addition to the introductory essays, the

and

book

translation, each

composed of the following

Just as the notes frequentlv offer alterna-

is

tive explanations, so

parts:

i] the textual .notes. These appear below and immediately following the text and are arranged by verse and number for easy

reference to the text

be called "textual,"

itself.

Sometimes

really

have

does the

this

at present

is

commentary

done because we

no sure way of estab-

one particular interpretation as the meaning; at other times the author feels that the Torah leaves us purposely with parallel or even contradictory ideas. If this seems unlishing

The notes may

itself.

i.e.,

they attempt to explain the intent of

The author has chosen and concentrated on a few themes in each section; he is aware

which

originated with medieval Christian scholar-

text

which

largely interpre-

the Torah,

the book both by reason of length and by

from the

brief essavs

how Jewish tradition saw these meanings, and how relevant thev are today.

theme). In attempting thus to divide

subject matter, our arrangement frequently

Hebrew

is

devices.

have gained) although

ters

differs

names may have served

memory

popular

Kayin (Cain)

importance of these a single

that the

they attempt to give

modern reader who

the "plain meaning" (peshat) of words and

likely to a

sentences without going into deeper interpre-

systematic and logical exposition of a subject,

tations

it

must be remembered

a

treatise,

(which are reserved for the com-

mentary proper).

In the notes

vou

will find

and

explanations of terms, names, references to

prose, epic,

other biblical books, and notations on

a prescientific age

guistic difficulties.

that the notes

It

comment

not only on the

English translation, and try to standable, but also

— and

underlying Hebrew

Hebrew

text uses

lin-

should be remembered

text.

word

make

primarily

it

from

that the

essay, or exposition, historic

used to a

Torah

is

not

but poetry,

memory

fundamentals

created in different

Where we are prone to say Bible may say "both" and

ours.

or," the

is

"either, let

the

under-

— on

10

the

For instance, the

plays and assonances

It

resembles to some degree the divisions of the

old triennial cycle of Torah readings. 11

In Leviticus, these essays precede the chapters in

the

xxvi

form of extended

introductions.

unresolved tension between the two stand

without further comment. This sometimes

grouped together These references

lends the Torah a special quality of opaque-

numbers such

who

ness which those

look for one and only

one meaning are bound to miss.

the gleanings. Appended to all sections are gleanings from world literature which will

text.

Here

especially

be found selections from that vast com-

pendium of

ancient Jewish lore and homily

Midrash, 12 and also some writings

called

from Christian and Moslem sources as well contemporary observations not included the

commentary

cause of

its

legal materials,

the gleanings are generally divided into legal (halachic)

and nonlegal (haggadic) excerpts.

(Where the source

is

not

—are

not meant pri-

marily for scholars; hence they do not usually

identified,

and the like. They refer, wherever possible, to works which have appeared in English or English translation and to others only where no translation is available. (For abbreviations and principal bibliographical references, see

commen-

backmatter.) The notation "See tary

on

." .

.

refers to passages in this

volume.

as

in

proper. In Leviticus, be-

preponderance of



as [15]

give alternative sources, divergent readings,

3]

have a bearing on the

end of the volume. indicated by bracketed

at the

the

The synagogue, and subse-

haftarot.

6]

quently the church, established a tradition

which provides that on each Sabbath and holv day

a special portion

At Jewish

be read from the Bible.

from the Torah, and an additional (meaning "conhaftarah

services, a section

called sidrah or parashah,

be credited.) The glean-

selection,

ings are generally brief as they are intended

clusion";

something of the vast range of response elicited by the Torah. It is hoped that the reader will be moved to explore

the congregation; plural hafiarot), are pub-

into 54 sidrot, the cycle

these areas further.

the Sabbath after Simchat Torah.

Occasionally the text of 4] footnotes. commentary and gleanings is expanded by

appear

author himself

to

is

to suggest

licly

These are indicated by

perior notes in the text

—such

as 5

—and

the

references.

gleanings,

tioned the reference

is

to the

book

in

which

commentary

Prophets

(Joshua,

Judges,

form the bulk of our are

reprinted,

12

The

which

may

total collection, spread

will be written

be found

in

the

for easier readability are over

many

sources

The) from the

literary heritage.

with permission,

follow the "Table of Scriptural

All other sources

Samuel,

and Kings), which are primarily historical in character, and the Later Prophets (fifteen in all, from Isaiah to Malachi), whose books

ter 12, verse

references,

fol-

Deuteronomy, readings from the

haftarah for

last

New

listed as 12:3.

haftarot

grouped together

it occurs). We follow the standard way of noting biblical passages; for instance, chap-

3, is

of

Torah of which begins on

(with a brief

The Rabbis provided

men-

dismissal

end of each book. The

are

and footnotes contain references is

at the

for special days are

Earlier

only to the Bible (where no book

haftarot

lowing the

commentary,

Notes,

signifying

su-

printed at the bottom of the page.

5]

originally

read. Tradition has divided the

The

brief additions.

called

Jewish Version of The Prophets (Jewish

Publication

Society,

copyright

1978).

They

Readings"

bv the Central Conference of American Rabbis. The translation of the haftarah from the Book of Esther (which is read on Shabbat Zachor) is from The Holy suggested

Midrash (with a capital M), while an individual homily will be written midrash (plural:

Scriptures

midrashim).

(Jewish Publication Society, copyright 1917), XXVII

According

to

the

Masoretic

Text

Transliterations

When comment is made on a Hebrew word or phrase, the latter is usually rendered in Hebrew characters. Transliterations are utilized only where they are deemed of special help to the reader

who

is

vowels are transliterated

commentary has adopted

fied transliteration

vowels

(as

as

follows:

and

as a

and

as e

unfamiliar

with Hebrew. This

as full

Other vowels are rendered

in n»N, emet).

the simpli-

and

proposed by Prof. Werner

Weinberg of Hebrew Union College - Jewish of Religion and brought it into consonance with the usage of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations. Based on the Sephardic pronunciation, it makes no distinction between and V, between n and 3, t? and n, nor between 3 and p. s is represented by tz; 3 appears as v, and n and 3

i

and

1

and

»

as

i



as

o

as

u

Institute

as ch. It

except

does not always take note of x or V

when two vowels inside

a

word should

The •>—

letter

and \_

•>

in

is

represented as

which

cases

is

aid

to

shabat).

or tsna, mo'ed).

omitted except where

pronunciation

Also omitted

the moving sheva

is

(shabbat is

it

rather

is

an

than

the resting sheva;

shown

as

e

when

it

represents a syllable (as in yap, shema). Half

except in

sometimes

fore their usual spelling has been maintained.

true for proper names,

definite article ha (or he) has

(as in "^n, ro-i,

dagesh

y,

There are a few Hebrew words which have become part of common usage, and thereThis

introduced

is

omitted.

be separated and could be mispronounced, in which case a hyphen or an apostrophe is

The

it

e.g.,

is

especially

Ishmael rather than Yishmael. Also, the

from

its

been separated

noun by the introduction of a hvphen

in order to facilitate the reading (ha-yashar

rather than hayashar) except in

some

cases

where by virtue of common usage the hyphen has been omitted.

XXVIH

The Torah and the Jewish People BERNARD

The Torah was always

the possession of

must have been some time between 500 and 200 b.c.e. From the start, one of the principal

all

was addressed to the entire people, who were to learn its contents and teach

Israel. It

them

diligently to their children.

BAMBERGER

J.

activities

A number

1

»-iing

of the synagogue was the public

and exposition of the Torah.

A

por-

was read every Sabbath. But there were farmers who lived in scattered communities,

of biblical passages, in particular Psalms 19

tion

and

119, testify to the love which the Torah evoked and the widespread concern of the

too far from a synagogue to travel to

people with

the Sabbath. That thev might not be de-

its

teachings.

The Book of Nehemiah a public reading of the

probably

in

passage

Jerusalem,

444 b.c.e. This reading was conducted by Ezra the Scribe, with the in the year

aid of assistants all

who were

to

make

to

them.

A few days later,

was read

in

each

the synagogues

Monday and Thursday — the market days when the country-folk came to town to sell custom survives

their produce. This

sure that

those present heard and understood what

was read

on

prived of hearing the sacred word, a Torah

(chs. 8-10) reports

Torah

it

to the

present in the traditional synagogues.

The reading of

the entire

the Torah portion in He-

people entered into a solemn undertaking

brew was often followed by

obey the Torah; and this agreement was ratified in writing by the leaders. From the

Greek or Aramaic, for the benefit of those

to

traditional standpoint,

this

incident

was

a

reaffirmation of the covenant at Sinai. But

many modern

scholars explain the event as

marking the completion of the written Torah in substantially its present form and its adop-

who

a translation, in

did not understand the original.

It

out of such translation or paraphrase, in

is

all

sermon arose. This explains why the sermon was normally based on the Torah reading of the week. probability, that the

From an

early

instruction

the

date,

of

tion as the official "constitution" of the Jewish

children was associated with the synagogue.

community.

The for

The Torah and

We do when

not

effectiveness of

young and

old.

its

educational program.

was

fully

the enemies of Judaism. the

know

the synagogue

Synagogue

King Antiochus IV wished

exactly where, how, or

came

into existence;

it

recognized by

When it)

the Syrian

break

down

Jewish solidarity and hasten the assimilation of Jews into Hellenistic society, he not only

xxix

prohibited the reading and teaching of the

however, the process of applying the law to new situations was undertaken in earnest,

Torah, on pain of death. But the decrees

the material grew rapidly.

forbade the practice of Jewish ritual but also

this was literally oral was deemed improper to put down in writing what Moses had not written down at God's command. Only much later was it found necessary to compile this material in the Mishnah and other works of talmudic literature. But it was generally agreed that the entire body of oral Torah was also given to Moses at Sinai. It was to learn this vast

For a long time

could not be enforced.

Roman Emperor Hadrian, after he finally put down the Jewish revolt in 135 c.e., proscribed all those who persisted

Torah;

Similarly, the

in teaching the

Torah.

It

was then that the

aged Rabbi Akiba defied the edict and suffered death by torture. The Torah, he de-

famous parable, is Israel's natural water is the natural element of the fish. In water the fish is exposed to many dangers, but out of water it is sure to perish clared in a

element,

at

as

it

corpus of teaching that Moses remained on the mountain forty days and nights.

The teachers of the oral Torah were chiefly laymen (that is, nonpriests) who are known

once (Berachot 61b).

From about

to us as the Pharisees.

The Oral Torah

Thus

far

we have

used the word Torah

of rabbi. These teachers were opposed by a

with reference to the Five Books. But some kind of commentary was always needed. sacred text,

conservative

A

priests,

and especially one containing

commandments, must be

laws and

party,

known

as the

Those who proposed to make the Torah the rule of their life found many provisions which required more exact definition. The Torah, for example, forbids work on Sabbath; but what precisely constitutes work, and what activities are permissible? Again, the Torah speaks of divorce (Deut. 24: 1 ff.) but does not make clear the grounds for divorce. And on many important sub-

literalist fashion.

life.

tion

guidance

a

few

— the written Torah gives

us admit

sages

to devise the

order to find some

—often far-fetched method of expounding



let

bibli-

legal pas-

were subject

to

some

rules

But

it

and was

nonlegal materials, to the ethical, theological,

Torah was not meet the need of a Much of it was no doubt de-

from established legal precedents and from popular custom and tradition. Once,

opposi-

applied with virtually unlimited freedom to

ration of the written Torah, in part supple-

rived

in

this

restrictions in the use of midrash.

the oral Torah, in part explanation and elabo-

certain time.

was

—what the Rabbis called halachah— the

teachers

at all.

to the latter. This oral

it

uses a free, creative, and

cal interpretation. In

no

created consciously to

Perhaps

which led the Pharisees

The Midrash

Such problems generated the concept of

ment

Thev

in a strict

support in Scripture for their oral teachings.

— the method of contracting a marriage,

name

commandments

method of midrash,

real estate law, the prayers in the synagogue,

to

of

They denied

the written text alone as authoritative.

interpreted the

jects

made up mostly Sadducees.

the validity of oral tradition and regarded

inter-

preted and applied to the concrete situations of

the year

100 c.e. on, accredited teachers bore the title

and folkloristic subject matter known as aggadah or haggadah. Many beautiful examples of midrash are to be found in this commentary, especially in the sections headed "Gleanings."

(It

should be noted that the

word "midrash" is used in three ways: to apply to a method in general, to a single instance of the method, and to literary in

XXX

which the method

is

employed.)

works

For most Jews, the written Torah was un-

derstood in accordance with the interpretation of the oral Torah, just as in

law

modern

means what the courts mean. The commandment

to

it

that one

who

injures another

was taken

must

biblical

stories

Though the growth

down

it

was

c.e.,

a

fully does not result in

damnation;

rather

it

The

found

program was

the messianic (or divine) character of Jesus

Karaites disputed

of Nazareth. In the past, Jewish spokesmen

futile

undertaking.

Paul,

himself a

we may

by our own

salvation

is

despair of attaining salva-

strivings.

Now, Paul

taught,

available through faith in the

these

much time and christological

effort to re-

interpretations;

tent Christian scholars.

Centuries

later,

Mohammed,

founder of

was to call the Jews "the people of the Book" because their religion was founded on Scripture. He did not know the book at first hand, or even in translation, for he never learned GO read, but in his contacts with Jews and Christians he acquired a sketchy knowledge ot the

and Moslem Views

devote

to

today they have been discarded bv compe-

them meant turning

mandments, he held, constitute an overwhelming burden; no one can ever fulfill them properly. The "Law," in fact, was given by God to make us conscious of our sinfultion

Bible

interpreted as prophecies of the career and

Jew by birth, proposed in his writings a new view of the Torah. Its innumerable com-

ness, that

— and indeed the entire — many passages which they

Torah

in the

Hebrew

law were both reasonable and

apostle

repentance (return) and a

calls for

Christian teachers through the centuries

futing

— always a

obey the

fresh start.

had

Christian

character.

Torah

among themselves as to the proper of many commandments. Moreover, many rabbinic modifications of

The

in replv to, the

which enriched

interpretation

Christian

and perhaps

the eighth century

bitterly

the clock back

Matthew

(cf.

to

of the written Torah. But this

to reject

Pentateuch

(Mishnah Makkot, end). Failure

Judaism were called Karaites (Scripturalists). Returning to the Sadducean position, they proposed to live strictly by the simple word

humane, and

asserted the validity of the

"The Holy One, blessed be He, desired to confer merit on Israel; that is why He gave them a voluminous Torah and many commandments" beneficent

its

countertrend appeared in Persia and

scriptural

radical

the continuing authority of the Torah and on

and

spread widely. The rebels against talmudic

not easy to carry out.

its

many instances,

a force for progress in

influ-

Pauline doctrine, Jewish teachers insisted on

Talmud, obscured

the plain sense of Scripture in

Judaism. Beginning

Galatians

7:8;

view has profoundly

In contrast to,

of the oral Torah,

in the

has

5:17-20; 19:i8f.).

their aggadic elaborations.

later written

abrogated (Romans

ethical laws of the

meat with milk or milk

between

it

form and usually

products. Similarly, people did not always differentiate

is

cooking or

to prohibit the

eating of any kind of

ers,

the

risen Jesus;

rarely adopted Paul's teaching in

pay money damages to his victim. "You shall not boil a kid in its mother's milk" (Exod. 23:19)

purpose, and, for Christian believ-

enced Christian thought, though the churches

"eye for eye, tooth for tooth" (Exod. 21:24)

meant

and

its

2:15-3:14). This

a written statute

interpret

"Law"

crucified

served

third

biblical

monotheistic

narratives

religion,

with their aggadic em-

bellishments.

To

alludes in the

Koran (some

found

these stories he occasionally

in the Gleanings).

records

the

revelations

selections will be

The Koran, which bv

received

the

prophet, holds a position in Islam similar to that of the

XXXI

Torah

in

Judaism.

It

is

supple-

merited by a tradition analogous to the oral

their mystical treatises in the

Torah. 1

mentaries on the Pentateuch.

form of com-

Ultimately the view emerged that there are four

The Middle Ages In

its

wanderings, Judaism encountered

many new these

valid in

constellations of ideas.

were

novelties

were accepted

thinkers; but often they

to

own

expound the Torah, each

area: the rabbinic midrash,

the philosophical implication (reme^), and the

Sometimes

arcanum (sod), plain meaning (peshat). 1 In the Middle Ages, in mystical

by Jewish

rejected

ways its

as

in addition to the

fact,

Jews recovered

A devout Jew, Philo was deeply influenced by Plato and the Stoics; and so he was led to "disco er" the

meaning of Scripture. This trend away from midrash to a simpler exegesis may have been stimulated by the Karaite revolt. The first great exponent of the peshat was Rav Saadia Gaon, the outstanding critic of Karaism. He was followed by a distinguished school of grammarians and commentators in Moslem

ideas of the philosophers in the text of the

Spain,

Torah. For Philo, the biblical word veiled

approach to the Hebrew language and to

compatible with Judaism. In such cases an effort

was made

show

to

an awareness of the

that these ideas

were already suggested in Scripture. The first examplar using this method was Philo of Alexandria,

who

lived at the begin-

ning of the Christian era.

who

literal

developed a genuinely

scientific

deeper meanings and had to be explained

textual studies. These scholars wrote chiefly

Sarah symbolizes

The Jewish philosophers of the Middle Ages also employed allegorical interpretations, though with more restraint. They used this method to deal with Bible

were made accessible to the Hebrew reading public by Abraham ibn Ezra, who hailed from northern (Christian) Spain, and the Provencal Hebraists Joseph and David Kimchi. Meanwhile another school of biblical

passages which appeared to contradict reason

scholars appeared independently in northern

allegorically. (For instance,

divine

wisdom, her handmaid Hagar

in Arabic; their findings

typifies

secular learning.)

or morality, especially those describing in

human

terms.

Such authors

as

God

France; they were

Maimonides, and Ibn Ezra frequently found sophisticated

concepts

philosophic

in

iards,

the

biblical text.

the

methods of

"We possess an authentic tradiwrote Rabbi Moses ben Nachman,

the mystics. tion,"

traditionalist,

less

but they displayed a keen sense for

niceties of

language and for the

spirit

of the

The outstanding production of this school is the Torah commentary of Rashi (Rabbi Solomon Itzchaki of Troyes), the most popular commentary ever written in Bible.

more extreme were

Still

more

systematic and philosophic than the Span-

Saadia,

"that the entire Torah consists of the of God, in that the words

may

names

Hebrew.

Its

popularity was due both to the

be redivided

to yield a different sense, consisting of the

names."

In

general,

the

Kabalists

found

meanings in the words and letters of Scripture, without any reference to the meaning of the text as a coherent whole. cryptic

The Zohar,

the chief

work of

a vast mystical midrash

many

Kabalists,

and

later

the Kabalah,

is

on the Torah; and on Chasidim, wrote

1 The Arabs regard themselves as descendants of Ishmael, Abraham's oldest son. Some of the Moslem teachers accused the Jews of misinterpreting (or even falsifying) the biblical text in order to give preference

to their ancestor Isaac. Similar charges, that

tampered with the Hebrew text of the made by some early Christian teachers. 2

A

were

similar doctrine of the fourfold sense of Scripture

was held by

xxxu

Jews have

Bible,

Christians.

and to the combined the exposition of the

clarity of Rashi's style

fact that

he

plain sense

Bibles are based.

For ceremonial u^e in the synagogue, how-

with a judicious selection of attractive midra-

and

legal

shim,

nonlegal.

His

successors,

however, concentrated more and more on the peshat.

The

of the great medieval expositors,

last

Moses ben Xachman, despite tendencies,

also

his

mystical

offered original and inde-

pendent comments on the plain sense. He and his predecessors had no difficulty with the fact that their simple exegesis sometimes

contradicted in

biblical

given

interpretations

talmudic literature. In nonlegal matters

there was no problem, since the aggadis;s

manv

gave

verse.

On

same

diverse explanations of the

halachic matters,

these

writers

Hebrew

ized manuscripts that >>ur printed

Jews have continued to employ Torah manuscripts in the more ancient scroll form.

ever,

Each scroll is made up of numerous sheets of parchment, stitched together to make a continuous document, which is attached at

end

either

to a

wooden

The public is from

roller.

reading of the Torah, to this dav,

such a scroll

(Sefer

Torah), containing only

the consonantal text, without vowel points

parchment with

or punctuation, written on

a vivid black ink. Tradition prescribes details

concerning the Sefer Torah

many

— the

be-

ginning and end of paragraphs, the arrange-

ment

of certain poetic passages in broken

accepted the talmudic expositions for prac-

instead of solid lines, the care of the scroll,

purposes but noted that, according

the correction of mistakes, even the spiritual

tical legal

to the rules of

grammar,

a given verse

might

preparation of the scribe.

A

be understood differentlv.

These medieval exegetcs (and others we have not mentioned) made a permanently valuable contribution to the understanding of the biblical text.

Thougn many other He-

brew commentaries on the Torah were written between the fourteenth and nineteenth centuries, they added little that was new. Only in the last two hundred years have new resources been available to broaden our understanding of Scripture; at the same time,

new problems have

arisen for the

usually

possesses

ancient times they

many

side nearest Jerusalem. In

gogues which,

"ark" stood

this

in

modern

some s\

3

early date in the Christian era,

were written of a

number

one edge.

Hebrew

in the

Hebrew manuscripts,

form of books, consisting

of pages fastened together along

We

have

many

a it

wood or metal. The removal of the scroll from

doors of

the ark to

return to the

its

a

ceremony

pomp, including the melodies

and

ot

singing

demonstra-

and affection on the part ot the congregants. When the ark is opened, and especially when the Sefer Torah is earned tions ot respect

in procession,

everyone stands.

The reverence and

manuscripts of the

Bible of this sort; they are usually

scrolls;

closed either bv a curtain or bv ornamental

considerable

From an

usually

is

with a shelf for the

of processional

manuscripts, including

before

curtain was hung. In

the pulpit for reading and

Scroll

early syna-

a niche,

nagogues the ark

built-in recess, is

cases.

in

ark after the reading constitute

The Torah

several

were kept in a chest (Hebrew tevah or aron), which was placed by the wall of the synagogue on the

mod-

ern Bible reader.

synagogue

scrolls. In

scroll

is

expressed in

its

love evoked

bv the

outward adornments.

provided with vowel signs and with the punc-

Oriental Jews generally keep the scroll in a

tuation indicating both sentence structure

hinged metal or wooden

and the traditional chant.

It is

on such vocal-

case, often handsomely painted or carved, from which the

xxxm

ends of the rollers project. The

their

in the case while

It

desk, and

it

may

it

scroll remains open on the reading

be rolled to

without removing

When

is

from

it

a

new

this

passage

receptacle.

upper rollers are often metal finials (called rimonim, "pomegranates"). In most European and American congregations, however, the scroll, after being fastened with a band of some woven material, is covered with a robe of silk or velvet, through which the top rollers protrude. It may be decorated with it is

closed, the

adorned with

artistic

custom ultimately became standard. was the Babylonian Jews who created the of Simchat

festival

On

the Torah.

Torah,

rejoicing

over

this day, all the scrolls of the

congregation are carried around the syna-

gogue

in

joyous procession; the closing chap-

Deuteronomy

is read from one sefer, and then the first chapter of Genesis is read from another.

ter of

For the annual cycle, the Torah

is

into fifty-four sections, called sidrot.

divided

They

are

read consecutively, starting with the Sabbath

To complete

a silver (or other metal) breastplate (tas) as

following Simchat Torah.

well as with rimonim. Sometimes a single

reading in a year, two sections must be read

crown covers both wooden uprights. Eastern and Western Jews alike use a pointer (yad, literally, "hand"), most often of silver, with which the reader keeps his place in the scroll.

on certain Sabbaths, except when

Some

congregations, chiefly Sephardic, at-

tach a silk or other

woven

of the parchment, which scroll to

strip to the outside is

rolled with the

provide additional protection.

the

a leap year

adds an additional month. Each sidrah

known by

first

its

(or first distinctive)

brew word. For each selection

weekly

holiday,

designated,

is

On

series.

second

from

apart

He-

suitable

the

holidays and certain special

Sabbaths, an additional passage a

a

is

is

read from

scroll.

Each sidrah is divided into seven subsecIt is customary to "call up" seven

tions.

The Public Reading

worshipers to take part in reading the several

customary to read from the scroll during every Sabbath and festival morning service, as well as on Monday and Thursday It is

subsections.

number

(The

of participants

no Torah reading on

on holidays, weekdays, etc.) Originally each person called up was expected to read a passage with the correct chant, and to recite the benedictions before and after the reading. Those who were insufficiently

holy day afternoons, with the exception of

familiar with the text recited the benedic-

mornings. At the Saturday afternoon service (minchah), part of the following week's portion

the

is

read.

Day

of

There

is

Atonement and

certain

other

varies

tions

and someone

else

read the portion for

In the early centuries of the Christian era,

them. This was embarrassing to the unlearned; so it became customary long ago to

the Jews of Palestine completed the reading

assign the reading to one qualified person

fast days.

of the entire Torah once in three years.

know,

for the

most

part,

how

We

the text was

divided into sections for this purpose; but scholars disagree as to

began and ended

cycle

year

was

i

of the cycle the



when i.e.,

first

at

(the ba-al keriah),

matter

what time

in

read.

Babylonian congregations, however, read through the entire Torah each year, and

and those "called up," no

learned, recited only the bene-

dictions.

the triennial

chapter of Genesis

how

In

many

traditional

congregations,

the

lengthy period of the Torah reading became a disorderly part of the service.

Those

who

had the honor of participating were expected to make contributions, which were duly acknowledged

xxxiv

in the

prayer (Mi Sheberach)

on behalf of the donor or the donor's dear ones. Others present might also have

of Plato, or of Maimonides,

recited special prayers of thanks or petition.

thought.

On

important holidays, moreover, the hon-

findings of

ors

were sold

recited

service

at auction

before the Torah

same

the

texts

We

terms

in

of Aristotelian

cannot claim to discover the

Darwin or

modern methods

for

who understood

Einstein in the Torah,

of Bible study preclude

such an approach. Philological analvsis and

was conducted.

In reaction against such practices,

Reform

historical

make

criticism

impossible

it

to

svnagogues abolished the entire system of

"explain away" errors of fact and, to us,

honors and limited participation to the min-

unacceptable theological apprehensions and

on

moral injunctions. All of these must be understood in their own context and their own time. Furthermore, the rediscoverv of the rich culture and literature of the ancient Near East revealed many similarities between biblical and non-Israelite writings, and even some cases in which the biblical authors borrowed from their pagan neigh-

istry

the

and

to the congregational officers

pulpit.

More

some temples

recently,

have reintroduced

from the

participation

membership, but eliminating the old abuses. In order to shorten the weekly reading, some of the early Reformers proposed a return to the triennial cycle; but the suggestion

met with

little favor.

So

tions follow the annual

Reform congregabut instead

cycle,

bors.

These new methods and discoveries have

thev usually read only one subsection of each sidrah.

The passage

is

most often read

without the chant; and the reader frequently translates it,

it

into the vernacular after reading

In the interest of relevance a

number

and

inspiration,

of changes in the

readings for the holy days. Recently, a few

congregations have

our understanding of

to

the biblical world. But thev raise basic and difficult questions.

Can the informed Jew of

today regard the Torah as the word of God?

or even sentence by sentence.

Reform made

added enormously

made changes

And,

if so,

to

what extent and

in

what sense?

This question has been dealt with above, in

our General Introduction to the Torah. This

also in the

commentary

is

an attempt to grapple

weekly reading, omitting sidrot which seem to have no message for our time (the opening sections of Leviticus, for example) and substituting selections from other parts of the

with these questions. The readers are urged

Torah.

suggestions are offered here.

reading of the Torah the

i]

The Torah and

The

last

the

three

Modern Jew centuries

great upheaval in the religious thinking of

question

scriptures.

the

authority

of

Philo,

who

all

sacred

Further, the champions of

gion could no longer follow the

comments

We

learn

in

itself,

this

with the aid of

volume. But

a

few

from the Torah how the Jewish

understood its own character and destiny. For this reason it is indispensable for our own self-understanding. This would be true even if the whole Pentateuchal people has

have seen a

Western man, in general, and of the Jew, in particular. The development of natural science has undermined belief in the supernatural and miraculous and, thus, brought into

base their judgments on a thoughtful

to

reli-

method of

read into the Torah the ideas

modern scholcome more and more to the that beneath the legendary em-

narrative were legendary. But arship

has

conclusion

bellishments there

memory,

is

a solid core of historical

that Abraham and Moses really and that the Egyptian bondage and the Exodus are undoubted facts. lived,

xxxv

2]

Comparison

reveals similarities

biblical writings

sources, but larities.

it

and other old Near Eastern

also reveals striking dissimi-

The resemblances

concrete detail

between

and

are

chiefly

in

use of words and

in the

phrases. In religious and ethical principles, is no other anwhich approaches the Torah in its lofty concept of a unique God, who is not subject to fate or destiny, has no female consort, and is concerned with the welfare of all humanity. The ethical teaching and social legislation of the Torah are unequalled in nobility and sensitivity by anything produced in Egypt or Babylonia.

Torah which

intellect forbids us to accept as

true or conscience will not

unreasonable

the historical processes.

Though

4]

are,

at

historical

another way.

approach evokes our awe

We

see the vast distance

between the more primitive elements of the Torah and its most sublime end advanced passages; and we marvel that such great progress occurred in a few centuries. At the same time, we no longer feel the need to :

rationalize

or justify

those

things

in

the

to

discern

revelation

within

the Torah contains chapters that

most, of historical interest onlv,

also contains

much

that

is

it

relevant and vital

it sometimes expresses moral judgments we have discarded as unsatisfactory

today. If

it

also challenges us

from having

The

been given

terms of climatic, geographical, economic, and political factors for the unique religioethical development in Israel. It is thus not

cient writing

3]

No

us defend.

in

the parallels are few. There

in

let

satisfactory explanation has ever

with ideals

attained.

we

are far

Moreover, for us

as

our ancestors, the line between written and oral Torah cannot be drawn over-

for

sharply.

We

too read the text in the light of

the experiences and associations that have

become attached ceeding classic

xxxvi

of

to

it.

Every great

classic

new insights to each generation. And the Torah is

suggests or reveals

classics.

suc-

the

fp® GENESIS

Commentary by

W.

GUNTHER PLAUT

Introducing Genesis

He

Name

The

The name Genesis to

the

Greek

("origin") goes back

the

translation,

Septuagint,

Hebrew name is the same word in the book, rraJN-)3 (bere-

while the usual as the initial

A

shit).

few other

used such

titles

were occasionally

as sefer beri-at ha-olam,

but they

to

will

work with

and within

it

move it toward ultimate perfection. He Abraham to begin this task by fa-

chooses

become

thering a people who, in time, will

God's co-workers. The stories of the ancestors

and

their clan's descent into

Egypt

of the

tell

preparations which will lead to the creation

of God's people, the Children of

did not find wide acceptance.

in order

it

Israel,

so

called after Jacob-Israel, the last of the three Patriarchs. In Egypt, Israel will be created as

Contents Genesis

story

which reaches from

the creation of a world to the death of Joseph in Egypt.

and the Book of Exodus

a nation, tells a

The

first

tell

Genesis then

universal history, the rest with the lives of

Torah and

Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their families. The total time elapsed from the beginning adds up to 1,946 (or 1,948) years. The book is a tale of creations. In the begin-

to

God

ning

is

described as creating heaven

and earth and

all

of this creation

is

help

God

they contain.

the

human

The crown

being

in perfecting His world.

who

To

is

to

achieve

humanity is gifted with intellectual and moral freedom a gift promptly used this,



to

disobey the injunction of the Creator.

The consequence is exile from the innocence of Eden and the development of the human

to the rest of the Bible. In addition

basic thrust

its

in the wilderness.

the introduction to the

is

contains a

it

development

deep disappointment to the Creator who now destroys what He has fashioned and begins anew with Noah and his family. The result is no better: Humanity's new existence starts with alcoholic abuse and sexual perversion. Once this

more God

is

is

a

disappointed, and, because

had sworn not

to eradicate

humanity

least,

there

is

the supposition that

beings derive from one

of

all

common

human

ancestor,

which is to say that Genesis conceived of humanity as being of one kind, with no race or linguistic group superior to any other. In the table of nations

in

fact,

Israel

(chapter

plays a very subsidiary role.

choose

it

to

not because istics as

perform it

part of

It

10),

will

in His grace will

a special function

— but

possesses inherent characterits

national origins.

Some Literary Considerations

He

again.

number

subthemes which are interwoven into the major story. Among these are the basic unity of all mankind, its propensity for evil, human rebellion, and the covenant between God and Abraham's people. Last but not

emerge only because God

race.

But

and

liberation, at Sinai

eleven chapters deal with

will then

of this nation's formation: in slavery and

Genesis in a

book of

its final

form may be seen

five parts. Part

I

is

as

prologue, and

thereafter each

part

introduced by the

is

"These are the

phrase,

of"

lines

{toledot):

cycle (fifth

the lines or genealogies of heaven, earth,

and primeval

man

(Part

11);

of Terah, Abra-

ham's father (Part III); of Isaac and of Jacob (Parts IV and V; see at 2:4).

The book

consists of

entities: the first

two

distinct literary

eleven chapters, which

re-

is

altogether

century

This

c.e.

a

commentary

proposition

and

invention

postcxilic

or later). 2 disagrees with the latter

posits

the

that

underlying the patriarchal

traditions

tales

very

are

old and were put into written form at later

times and eventually joined process. In this process, as

in a redactional

was pointed

out,

man-

varying traditions were treated with great

and the chapters that follow which Abraham and Sarah and their descendants. The two parts are quite distinct from each other, held together only by a

were usually not adjusted in a give w ay to the other. Thus, to give an example, one source had God state that the descent into Egypt would last 430 years (Exod. 12:40) and another that the time of servitude was 400 years (Gen. 15: 13). Such manifest contradictions 3 were left standing side bv side, because the ancient reader could say: Both traditions have come down to us and are therefore to

late

stories

of creation and

ancient

kind,

speak of

brief genealogical

bridge

(Gen.

In the 39 later chapters there

is,

11:27-32).

indeed,

no

mention of the first eleven, not even an alluwhich suggests that the two parts were originally quite separate and were later on joined into one book. That is not to say that these two parts were the products of two entirely different traditions; thev were not. Rather, the J, E, and P-sources (see above, General Introduction to the Torah) produced two sets of materials: one which dealt with pre-patriarchal traditions and were joined into one distinct "book" (now chapters 1-11), another which dealt with patriarchal traditions (now sion,

chapters 12-50). In time, a redactor joined the two parts into what

is

now

the

Book of

Genesis. Biblical scholars believe that

the

many

genealogical

moral stance of the seen in chs.

1;

are traced to

interest,

still

Thus, the

and

Chapters 3-4:24

chapter 22 to E; and the

old are these tales? Hallo's essay be-

low suggests there are links and tracings in common Near Eastern traditions which go back a long time. It now appears that recent archeological finds at Ebla give the

least

Abraham

contemporary reference point; but at one scholar holds that the Abraham

tales a

be

treated

with

The

reverence.

ancient

reader did not feel compelled to say, as a

modern reader would: These

traditions can

not both be true, one or both must be

false.

This capacity to accept diverse traditions

is

distinguishing feature of the biblical re-

a

dactors and their times. calls God by many names, but one appellation that is uniquely His own, nirr (YHVH or YHWH), which first appears in chapter 2. According to 4:26 it is a name of long standing, but how ancient was its use, what it betokened, or even how it was

Genesis

there

is

pronounced were and are matters of scholarly

the

priestly school (P) are

2:1-4; 23; 36. J;

one can

stories.

Joseph cycle to the J/E tradition.

How

way which would make one

7

detect the origin of style,

respect and

1

It

has been suggested that certain Nuzi and Mari model for this generational ap-

tablets provide a

proach and that, in of family archive.

fact,

2

Abraham

John van

Seters,

the

book represented in History

(New Haven and London: Yale

a

kind

and Tradition

University Press,

1975).

Orthodox commentators denied, of course, that any contradictions existed anywhere in the Torah and found ingenious ways of reconciling them. In the above cited case they said that 430 was reckoning time from the vision of Abraham and 400 from the birth of Isaac. See Luzzatto on Exod. 12:40 and also Talmud Meg. 9a. 3

commentaries to Gen. 2:4-14, Exod. 3:i-4:i8 and 6:2-7:13). The name which describes the Creator in chapter 1 is otj'Vn (Elohim), and throughout the Bible this is a term for gods in general and Israel's God in particular. It is a word controversy (on

with

see

this,

When

plural ending (im).

a

it

is

used

pagan gods it commands a plural adjective or verb, bur when denoting the One

gods. Jacob deceives and

Word

deceived in turn.

may serve as memory may attempt to explain the

derivations

devices or they

name

is

of a place or person: examples are

Gen. 35:7 and

Word

35: 18.

plays too play a

role.

For instance, in the Joseph stor", the

word

xfr

used to convey three meanings:

is

for

to pardon, that

God

head of the chief baker, that is, to kill him; and to single out or raise to prominence (Gen. 40: 13,

is

the verb assumes the singular.

an expanded form of

also

in

El,

Canaanite religion.

a

Elohim

term current

In

appears always in connection

another expanding term

4

Genesis,

El

"God on

A somewhat

High"; El Shaddai, "God Almighty"), a place

which

numbers

"God of

other identifying term

Beth-El"), or an-

(£/

Avicha,

"God

of

to

lift

off the

related

of

aspect

textual

presentation involves the use of numbers,

name

(£1 Beth-El,

to raise the chief butler to

19, 20).

with either

(El Elyon,

is,

former position;

his

also

reflects

an ancient belief that

relate to the inner nature of the

numbered.

In the Book of come across two census approved by God (chapters 1 and

subject that

is

Your Father"). Occasionally also, God is described by His relationship to humans

Numbers we

(Pachad Yit^chak, "Fear of Isaac"; Abir Ya'acov,

26),

"Strength of Jacob"). Such multiplicity of

not have divine approval was said to have

terms is one way in which human language attempted to express the essentially inexpres-

caused a severe plague.

sible

nature of the Divine.

— relying

originally

rather than being read

in

while in

in

on being heard



II

the one

is

life in

Canaan.

dies (7

x

a

constant

life:

the

Isaac

On

specific literary

is

5

2

the use of

use.

The

lives

is

100 years old

when

He

175 years old

is

when he 6 2 ),

X

2

father.

points

in

Jacob's

latter's

with

household

and Gen. l:i, respectively. aspects of Torah texts see espe20:3

(Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1957) on Gen. 22; Robert Alter, Commentary (60, 6 [1975], 70 ft.) on Gen. 38; I. Avishur, Beth Mikra, 4 (1967), 613 ff.

On

its

reminder that deceptions

Zvi Adar, The Biblical Narrative (Jerusalem: World Zionist Organization, 1959); for sample studies of individual chapters, Erich Auerbach, Mimesis

Cassuto's

lit-

"has our number";

Isaac reaches 180 years (5

);

and Jacob 147 erations from

Joseph spends the

numbers

in Genesis see especially

commentary, passim.

first

ward

in

7 plays a great role



his 17 last years as Joseph's

there

planets;

10

and so

40

is

of his

Egypt.

possibly

were then seven observed and 12 are important numbers

because

The

1- years

father Jacob's ward, and Jacob lives

life as his

cially

6

He

born, and he spends 100 years of his

The number Examples are Exod.

seen to be

turning

Laban, the theft of the

5

is

(3 x 7 )- There were ten genAdam to Noah, and the same number from Noah to Terah, Abraham's

at his father's blessing, his dealings

4

who

Abraham

sometimes, to serve as memory aids. 5 Thus, the Jacob tale is distinguished bv the repetition of the key root, nm ("deceive"). is

God

of the Patriarchs are arranged in a numerical

system: thus

punctuated

which did

a census

and only He may dispose of

is distinguished by key words and by word plays which are meant to denote inner relationships or,

It

Sam. 24

charge of the secret of numbers;

erally

The language of Genesis (and of Torah general)

takings

will

— likely to represent

a

generation.

priestly source (P) places particular

phasis

on

recording

names and

em-

ages:

its

archival interests reflect the important role

of Near Eastern record keeping. 6 Finally, the reader

should always keep

in

that the text was composed in Hebrew and therefore partakes of the special thrust and meanings peculiar to the Hebrew tongue.

mind

No

translation can ever fully capture

in itself a kind of interpretation.

however scholarly its renditions, it is but an image of the master text, clear at times and blurred at others. Our seeks

to

illumine this diver-

gence whenever possible, but full

end the text can be appre-

quality of the biblical

in the

Hebrew.

ciated only in the

modern superiority. To be our knowledge of science is vastly greater than that of the ancients. But that a facile sense of

sure,

does not necessarily

based on such

It

would be

and always Ancient people considered the earth the

but

lying

many

the basic principle underespecially the opening

stories,

Book of Genesis which have

chapters of the

become

as subservient to the will

is

formidable obstacle to the reading

a

of the Bible.

Why —

concern ourselves at six

better, therefore, to

it

asked

is

all

with

days of creation, with

—should

we

stories of the

Adam

and Eve,

come

full

respect for

convictions

and

to

text

that these are often expressed in

center of the universe and natural law not

view,

any more

with

the biblical

Science in Genesis

as unalterable

make our world

scientific insights,

advanced.

intellectual

of God. This view

appears to rescue the

it

from the worst problems of an outmoded literalism, nonetheless does not do the book full justice, for it approaches it with

is

However

skillfully created,

commentary

This view, while Bible

the

and each translation

flavor of the original,

millennia in scientific reckoning.

in the

of antiquity.

to its

understand

metaphors

vocabulary and framework

The contemporary readers thus

should restrain their inclination to do battle

with or look for modern comparisons to

They should read

ancient notions of creation.

the Bible for ture of ence,

what

human

suggests about the na-

it

history, the

meaning of exist-

and the presence of God.

With Stanley Gevirtz, one may approach the book in much the same manner as one approaches poetry:

"To the question of

and the Garden of Eden? All these are unscientific, antiquated myths, and therefore

the sensitive response can only be:

appear to be irrelevant.

deed, true; not in the sense in which a state-

In answer,

many

defenders of the Bible

agree that while the book has indeed to tell

and

about the

its

scientific origins of the

inhabitants

it

Since

human

world

beings and their destiny.

the Bible's scientific comprehension,

they say,

is

limited to the world view of the

ancients, just as ours

time,

world

does have a great deal

to tell about God's relationship to His

and about

little

it

would be

is

to that of

futile to

our

own

look to the Bible

ment

of a physical law

the 'truth' of Genesis

is

It is, in-

but few things

true,

that really matter to the poet ever are.

true in the

way

that great poetry

is

It is

always

human heart human mind.

true: to the imagination of the

and the orderliness of the This

centered

God-and-Israel

criminates, as every

must, in

its

good

to

dis-

choice of events and presents us

with history not, perhaps,

ought

account

historical narrative

as

it

was but

as

it

have been." 7

for references to evolution or to suggest that

"one day"

in

creation

may

correspond to

7

Unpublished. Quoted by permission of the author.

Genesis

and Ancient Near Eastern Literature WILLIAM W. HALLO

The recovery

of ancient Near Eastern litera-

chapters are set entirely in Babylonia,

ture has basically revolutionized our under-

twelve

more

occupy

standing of the Bible and of no book

A

so than Genesis.

glance at the authoritative

volume, Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the

Old Testament, 1 will confirm

Only

this.

Psalms and Proverbs outnumber Genesis

in

in

The intervening

Egypt.

its last

27 chapters

the geographical terrain between two countries. They tell of repeated semi-nomadic movements back and forth these

throughout

the

broad

entire

stretch

of

including both sides of the

Syria-Palestine

The presence of

the parallels suggested by the various trans-

Euphrates and Jordan

lators. 2

motifs in the ancient Near Eastern literarv J

But the parallels to Proverbs

come

all

from the well-nigh universal tradition of preceptual epigrams, most of them Egyptian.

tales

And when

Greek and

it

remembered

is

that the five

books of Psalms contain over 2,500 verses, compared to the 1,500 in Genesis, it will be seen that, proportionately, the the Bible cantly

is

first

most widely and most

paralleled

in

the literature

book of

of Genesis

than that of

more

thus no

is

classical

Roman

ones

in

dramas.

startling

Shakespeare's

Many

them

ot

commentary, together with the similarities and differences between the biblical and other ancient Near Eastern

are identified in this

signifi-

treatments of

of the

purpose of

ancient Near East.

rivers.

common

this

themes.

overview

here one by one. Rather,

It is

not the

them sum up

to anticipate

we wish

to

the evidence bv analyzing the nature of the

knowledge gained through the confrontation of Genesis and its ancient literal \ cognates.

Textual Comparison

The

reasons behind these

difficult to find.

the

Hebrew

statistics

Alone among the books of Genesis has the whole

Bible,

ancient Near East for

its

To "prove"

are not

stage. Its first eleven

literary text

Edited by James

B.

Pritchard (Princeton: Princeton

University Press, 2nd ed., 1955). [Hereafter the is referred to as Pritchard, ANET.] 2

See the 504-507.

Index of Biblical

References,

work

ibid.,

pp.

by another

is,

of course,

one

of

once

at

and the most heatedly debated task of the critics. Many have wanted

most

the

to 1

the accuracy or validity

difficult

employ the

discoveries of archeology for

this

verv purpose,

site

reason,

and

many more

still

tor the

oppo-

others ha\ e despaired of

resolving the issue. Unanimity

is

indeed im-

possible to achieve here, but at least

we

can

hope

on what kind of questions we

to agree

wish to prove. Put

comes

clear

this

we

that

way,

it

spectively,

came back) from heaven

cannot gain greater

literary

of immortality simply because similar ac-

Sumerian; 4 their hero

chapters 2 and 3 below). Nor, on

of the is

The

earliest

are

in

Ziusudra, ruler (or of the ante-

last

Akkadian flood story is associated with Atar-chasis whose epic is preserved in copies of the second and early diluvian dynasts.

the contrary, are the rather variant Egyptian

and Sumerian versions of creation needed

treatments

"son") of Shuruppak and

counts have been found in the cuneiform (cf.

The theme

(lam abubi) signified pristine time.

confidence in the biblical version of the end

sources

after the

Flood and the idiom "before the Flood"

quickly be-

to

first

b.c.e. 5 Finally,

"disprove" that of Genesis. Whether Genesis

first

accurately reports on these events

proper question. Rather

was incorporated into the eleventh tablet of the Akkadian Gilgamesh Epic, where its hero

the text of Genesis, as

is

is

not the

we must ask: Does we have it, accurately

millennia

Uta-napishtim,

who

the flood

story-

variously equated

is

report what the ancient Israelites believed or

with both Ziusudra and Atar-chasis. 6 The

happened?

Gilgamesh Epic in its final form cannot, as of now, be traced further back than circa noo b.c.e. and the extent to which it departed from its older Sumerian and Akkadian prototypes can be gauged even in translation. Certainly no Assyriologist would have ventured to reconstruct either of them from the late canonical version. Such an example in-

asserted to have

today generally assumed that an ex-

It is

tended period of oral transmission introduced

,

distortions into the traditions, that these dis-

tortions

were aggravated by successive gen-

when

erations of scribes

the oral traditions

were reduced to writing, and that their final canonization involved picking and choosing among the conflicting textual traditions on grounds other than that of their presumed

spires similar caution in current

from which the canonical biblical text is presumed to have developed. But, more than this, the recovery of the separate stages of many ancient Near Eastern compositions has revealed, by the side of a certain amount of editorial revision, a tena-

antiquity or reliability.

On

premise,

this

much modern

criticism

of Genesis has devoted itself to textual

emen-

and other attempts to recover a presumed original text. Such an "original text" is, however, unlikely ever to be found by the spade of the Palestinian archeologist, and all efforts to reconstruct it must therefore remain speculations not subject to dations

scientific

verification.

Now

the

history

attempts to

recover the original version or documents

cious

which

faithfulness is

little

to

short

many

received

texts

of astounding.

Over

widely scattered areas of cuneiform or hieroglyphic writing, and in periods separated by

of

other ancient Near Eastern literatures has

many

shown

copied verbatim and with an attention to

that, at least in a literate

environment,

was indeed subject to occasional periods of substantial change and

textual detail not

textual transmission

adaptation. cite

the

To

illustrate this point,

Mesopotamian versions of the

story

3

See the translation

by A.

L.

Oppenheim,

pp. 265-266. 4 See the translations by 5

The Sumerian King kingship came down (re-

literature.

9,

ANET, 6

B

ibid.,

S. N. Kramer, ibid., pp. 4 (1967). PP- 12-18. Partial translation by E. A. Speiser in Pritchard,

42-44 and in Expedition,

great flood was an early and familiar fixture List 3 teaches that

until the Alexan-

drian Greeks, or the Koranic specialists of the

chronological turning point, the concept of a

cuneiform

matched

were

we may

of the Flood. As a historical event and a

in

centuries, certain canonical texts

pp. 104-106. See the translation by Speiser,

ibid.,

pp. 91-97-

we

Caliphs, or the Tiberian Masoretes

who

codified the Bible, counting, vocalizing,

and

manuscripts than the Masoretes disposed

one

and

Good

accentuating

its

every

letter.

To

cite just

where,

still

them we

like

example: The Sumerian myth of the warrior-

odology for

god Ninurta probably was composed before the end of the third millennium; its first

readings. 8

and it is known also in neo-Assyrian and neo-Babylonian copies beginning a thousand years later in which the Sumerian text is accompanied by an interlinear translation into Akkadian. Yet for all the time interval, the differences between the earlier and later Sumerian versions are little more than received text tradition has taught most biblical critics a

new

respect for the possibility

of an equally reliable textual tradition under-

Hebrew canon. It is little enough we know of the technical details of

lying the that

textual creation and transmission in

before the time of the

we must

at least

Dead

Israel

Now

Sea Scrolls. 7

reckon with the possibility

that the process rated as

much

surrounding Near East before

care as in the

we venture

fewer pre-Masoretic

choosing

between

of,

meth-

lack a conclusive

conflicting

Parallels

But the history of ancient Near Eastern

b.c.e.,

orthographic and dialectal. Such fidelity to a

far

and Hermeneutic

Exegelic

actual manuscripts date back to circa 1800

have

literature

relevant not only to the text of

is

Hebrew

return to

meaning. To the case of the Ninurta Epic, the

Akkadian

translations,

the

sions,

Bible but to

its

added

to the late ver-

are, generally speaking, quite literal,

but despite the best efforts of the late Assyrian

and Babylonian scholars they are frequently faulty. They commit errors which modern philologists, with better knowledge of the Sumerian, can often recognize

original

errors

and sometimes they

stances,

Sumerian the

deliberately

text in a

original.

In

new way

still

as

correct. In other in-

understand

the

not intended

in

other cases, they ob-

making any sense of the and simply created de novo a mean-

viously despaired of original

to

ing for the passage. All three of these tend-

"improve" on the received text. Thus ancient Near Eastern literary texts are seen to have met with different fates in

encies can likewise be detected, albeit less clearly, in the

absence of translations,

i.e.,

in

which defies prediction, in others extreme fidelity to the received text. Yet for all

handed down from first to last in one and the same language. The conclusion to be drawn from all this is important for biblical criticism: The integrity of a textual tradition is no guarantee for the preservation, intact,

their differences,

both examples impose the

of a continuous tradition of interpretation.

same conclusion

for the

the course of their millennial transmission;

some

in

and reediting on

cases adaptation

a

scale

biblical

text:

We

cannot hope to achieve certainty in recovering a

more

authentic text than that codified by

the Masoretes after the Arab conquest. Even

with the discoveries

at

Qumran and

else-

texts

On

meaning assigned to a passage may change from age to age in part in

the contrary, the

order

lo

preserve the integrity of the text.

we mav

Here, then, literature

biblical criticism: 7

Cf.

J.

Philip Hyatt,

ment Book," pp.

22-31;

"The Writing of an Old Testa-

Biblical

reprinted

Archaeologist

from

Biblical

Reader,

1

(1961),

Archaeologist,

t>

(1943). PP- 71-80. 8

M.

Cross, Jr., "The Contribution of the Discoveries to the Study of the Biblical Text," Israel Exploration Journal, 16 (1966), pp. 81-95.

See

F.

Qumran

tional

its

a

Near Eastern

cardinal

tenet

Given the traditional

of a certain passage, closer to

use ancient

to confirm

original

of

text

we mav hope to come meaning than the tradi-

interpretations

have

done.

In

this

attempt, specific ancient Near Eastern parallels

are frequently of crucial help.

amples here are taken from two

Our

levels.

ex-

On

the text, the comparative approach to illumine a

approaches. Thus, for example,

introduced to the Egyptians

vizier,

it is

"Abrek"

to the

criticism

(41:43)

when Joseph as

tended to see in

it

But the Greek translation prepared in Egypt by Jews who might have been expected to recognize such forms understood the word differently (as "herald"). Other ancient versions came up with Hebrew or even Latin etymologies which defy both literary and linguistic considerations. Such "incline."

But

it is

means

now known

that

in

sober

Egvptian literature such

Two Brothers" 11

(or theo-

appraisal

"Story of

as the

or the late tradition of seven

lean years followed by years of plenty. 12

But these elements bear some closer scruThat an Israelite author should have

tiny.

among

the tannaitic rabbis, as Rashi reports ad

A

license.

themselves that bear on their possible place and date of origin. That they contain Egyptian elements is undeniable. There are proper names such as Potiphar with reasonable Egyptian etymologies; loanwords generally conceded to be Egyptian such as those for reed, magician, linen, and two different ones for signet ring; whole motifs paralleled

Pharaoh's

counsels of desperation led to discord

on the grounds of poetic

all

must acknowledge the existence of different and even conflicting evidence within the stories

other

Modern scholars have an Egyptian word meaning a Coptic word meaning

since.

or

all

logical)

accompaniment of a shout which has puzzled com-

mentators ever "Attention!"

may serve

word, form, or phrase which

has proved a philological crux to

is

neither are they to be elevated above

the level of exegesis, or exposition of

some knowledge of Egyptian geographical and personal names is of no particular literary

loc.

Akkadian abarakku

significance,

given the near proximity and

repeated contacts of the two cultures. As for

"chief steward of a private or royal

household" and that this title was widely attested wherever and whenever cuneiform was used, and beyond that as a loanword in

On

Phoenician. 9 This almost certainly solves our

forty Egyptian loanwords are attested with

textual problem.

It

also raises

Though now open

new

the loanwords, they

perspective of biblical

to rational explanation

Bible.

13

etymology, or midrashic exegesis, the single

stories,

word does not stand alone but in a context. Thus we move on to the level of herme-

them

to

emendations,

neutics, the interpretation

Of these, only None of them

five

in the

whole.

some

Hebrew

occur in the Joseph

is unique to these and one cannot, therefore, describe

as inordinately full of authentic local

diction. Finally, the

thematic similarities cited

are not of a kind to suggest that the Joseph

and evaluation of

stories are directly

the biblical context.

The presence of an Assyrian

as a

greater or lesser frequency in the

questions.

stories.

resort

Hebrew

the most conservative estimate,

popular

without

must be viewed

parallels or

title (if this is

dependent on the Egyptian

both on a

common

source. In

conceded) in the midst of the Joseph stories raises significant questions about their date

sum, these stories are simply embellished

of composition and their source or sources of

9 Pritchard, ANET, p. 499 (3rd ed., p. 653) 10 Beatrix Midant-Reynes and Florence

inspiration. Similarlv the

camels of the

Ish-

Silvestre,

maelites (37:25) arouse suspicion, given the

"Le chameau en Egypte,"

(1977). PP- 337-362. 11 See chs. 39-40, Gleanings,

sporadic evidence, at best, for their use in

Egypt before Ptolemaic times. 10 Again we must avoid extreme positions. These stories are not to be rejected because they are not verbatim transcripts of eyewitness accounts;

J.

12 13

A. Wilson, Pritchard, Ibid.,

pp

10

Orientalia,

46

and the translation by

ANET,

pp. 23-25.

31-32.

See T. O. Lambdin, Journal of the American Oriental 73 (i953). PP- I45-I55- [Hereafter this journal

Society, is

and note 1. Braunstein-

referred to as JAOS.']

Eastern literature comes to our

wich Egyptian names, words, and literary motifs,

may have

of which

all

wide currency. The presence of an

fairly

intrusive Assyrianism or apparent anachro-

nism

in the story

that

the

cvcle

may

when

derived from

be

to

may

Egypt, or even in

with

familiarity

language, and proper

the

names

Near Eastern culture such

as

amount

better evaluate the

literature,

we

can

of iniluence

not only strictly literary

it

but also

his-

torical (or "monumental") and economic ("archival") texts. Then this area too comes alive with a considerable corpus of inscrip-

of an ancient

Egypt,

in

(so-called "canonical") writings

example: Given

this

we

take a broader view of written evidence

and include

the general conclusion

is

though

or specifically literary productivity. But

these were under Assyrian rule.

More important sufficient

not be a hint

of stories originated in an

Assyrian setting, or in Israel,

may

or

aid,

from the SyroPalestinian area which, lying between the high civilizations of Babylonia and Egypt, did not always match them in general literacy the examples will be chosen

enjoyed a

tions to

Again

it

fill

in the interstices of Genesis.

we must

put a reasonable limit on

has exercised on a specific biblical composi-

our expectations. The patriarchal narratives

amount is relamake the

are no longer pure legend, like the tales of

tion. If in the case cited this

negligible,

tively

that

the antediluvians, and not yet the polished

does not

conclusion negative. Rather,

frees

it

us to

of the

artifice

"romance of Joseph." But

look for other sources, including native ones,

neither are they to be understood as straight-

of the biblical treatment.

forward history. Therefore look

in

we have

it

broadly speaking,

dealt,

with the text of Genesis and

its

Much

effort has

attempts, but even Gen.

context and

most promising source

in

resisted all such efforts.

And

when fiable in the

can sometimes hope to

he,

or they, told.

know more than know more than

Here too ancient Near

An

earlier

maneser

III, is

ninth-century recalled as

Assyrian

Shalman

in

king,

Hosea

remembered that the first identiforeign royal names reported as such Bible are Hiram of Tyre and Pharaoh

it

is

Omri" name (and

versely, his predecessor "Jehu son of is

14

regard, has

small wonder,

potamian king 14 is the unnamed deliverer, probably Adad-nirari III of Assyria, who w as a contemporary of Jehoahaz of Israel in the ninth century (II Kings 13:15). And, con-

the author or authors of Genesis knew, but

we

this

Sheshonk of the Twenty-second Egyptian Dynasty, both dating to the tenth century b.c.e., while the first allusion to a Meso-

the text of Genesis explicitly vouchsafes us.

cannot expect to

gone into both

14, potentially the

Near Eastern literature to our evaluation of the one and interpretation of the other. But we need not confine our search to the biblical text or to the immediate parallels (and contrasts) from the cognate literatures. Rather, we may hope to gain a greater understanding of biblical people, places, and events than

we

fruitless to

Gen. 12-38 for the names of ancient Near

Eastern kings.

with the considerable contribution of ancient

True,

is

the cuneiform or hieroglyphic in-

scriptions for references to the Patriarchs or

Epigraphic Evidence So far

in

the

first

Israelite

portrait!) has

Shal-

sources.

10:14, ac-

No

king whose

turned up

in the extra-biblical

such individual connections can

cording to M. C. Astour.J.AOS, 91 (1971), pp. 383-389. And a still earlier one, Tiglat-pileser I (ca. 1100 b.c.e.), is alluded to in Psalm 83:9, according to Abraham

yet be provided for the second millennium,

Malamat

not therefore expect

in B.

Mazar,

ed..

not even for

World History of the Jewish

its

period, let alone

People, 3 (1971), P- 134-

11

latter centuries.

its

them

We

should

for the patriarchal

antecedents.

What we do find,

instead, are

more general

migration, freely or otherwise, to the mar-

connections with the geography, history, and

gins of the tribal terrain. 15 This

and second millennia as these are revealed one after another in the monuments and archives of the area. Two examples must suffice. The ongoing excavations at Ebla near Aleppo (Syria) have recovered, virtually intact, the archives and

stated,

institutions of the third

who

library of five successive kings

empire based on

far-flung

at

the

it

36: 12)

turn out to yield up, for those

between the

may

It

can read

the most authentic rem-

be noted

in passing that the reverse

its

wrote

scribes

in

Akkadian, the lan-

guage of the settled East Semitic population of Babylonia. For tribal terminology, how-

that, contrary to earlier esti-

urban life whose greatEbrium (or Ebrum), bears a name

West Semitic semi-nomadic vocabulary of the nomadic and Amorites. This language was much closer to had

ever, they

flourishing center of

intriguingly similar to Eber, longest-lived of

the "line of

who

yet

also true, i.e., that ancient Near Eastern documents frequently defy understanding without help from the Bible. To return to

mates, Syria in pre-patriarchal times was a

in

lines,

may

nants of early Israelite history.

Mari,

post-diluvians

(Gen.

ample evidence

cuneiform sources they

light of the

a local Semitic dialect hav-

(ll:io), the "ancestor of all the

on the strength of

actually

Amalek

they have been ignored altogether. But in the

is

the

where not

Genesis, and their complements in Chronicles and elsewhere, have long been regarded, at best, as an artificial framework imposed on the text; at worst,

and Northwest Semitic (Amorite, Hebrew, etc.). Although only a handful of the texts have so far been published, they

est ruler,

in effect

The genealogies of

trade, diplomacy,

dian)

show

is

Abraham's

for the process of tribal subdivision at Mari.

ruled a

ing affinities with both East Semitic (Akka-

already

also implied

is

stated, e.g., for the origin of

Mesopotamia but revealing

same time

obliquely, in the case of

"sons" by Hagar and Keturah (Gen. 25:6).

But

and warfare during the second half of the third millennium before succumbing to the even greater ambitions of their rivals from Egvpt and Mesopotamia. Thousands of large and well-preserved tablets have been found, employing the cuneiform script and Sumerian language of

if

Shem"

to turn to the

biblical Hebrew, which therefore contributes fundamentally to the understanding of its tribal terminology. Many more examples

descendants

of Eber" (10:2i).

the history of the Middle Euphrates area has

could be cited to show that the comparative method thus works in both directions, but

been thrown into wholly new and sharp

this

For the

lief

this

first

half of the second millennium,

bv the discoveries

Mari.

at

The

re-

palace of

that,

over twenty thousand tablets which are particularly

valuable

for

structure, terminology,

significance.

Some

tribes

and

W.

In

splitting

shown

that

off of tribal

these

first

new

de-

The

in

the canons of

limitations of the

com-

method have been well defined by Irwin thus: "The Bible itself is our

A.

and altogether best source

of the Bible

.

.

.

for the study

the Bible itself with whatever

clans, for ex-

ample, are linked to the Patriarchs by concubinage with an eponymous ancestress; it has been

say

method

parative

the last connection, even the seemingly tedi-

ous family trees of Genesis assume a

so. Suffice it to

limitations, the

its

honored place

biblical criticism.

tribal

and genealogies.

within

serves an

ancient city has yielded an archive of

illuminating

not the place to do

is

represent the

15 Malamat, "The Settlement as Reflected in Tribal Genealogy," in H. H. Ben-Sasson, ed., A History oj the Jewish People (Cambridge: Harvard University Press,

segments and their

1976), pp. 38, 63-66.

12

we

can

dures

what

is it

make

it

by

all

us

best

known

what the Bible

proce-

and

16

,,

Literature. 1958;

is

one of the very best procedures for

what the Bible

Biblical

Journal of Biblical Literature, 78

utilization of the literature of all of the ancient

address cf.

method

is and means, and what we make of Genesis today inevitably depends, in some measure, on the proper r r r

tell

is

means."' 6 But surely the comparative

,„.,,., Presidential (1959), p.

of

alone to

r

to

.

the

c , Society .

ofe

„.,.

,

telling us

>

Near

3.

13

East.

»

Damascus

Travels in

CANAAN

'Routes ofAbraham

and

Isaac,

Jacob and Tsau (Modern names and

places)

Aschcrl



a

hti

:

-

T

nnx

I

:



God

V|V

:

-

pxn V,T

I

said,



-

:

JT

,B

ppn It-

nVtfaab :,-

-

-



-

nixan T -

I

:

1

:

nixan-nx n^ian

gsna a\-6x nnx

t

nixn ra• ^lanVu T



I

vm

7n»i - -

r

:pxn

T

t

vi

:

:

nWai T :|- -

:

aisnn?i .aitr*?

nva

I

n'x n pan

*]iyi

naxp

VtraVi

I

av6x kti npnn

VT]

,

s

:

ptf cran ipts*

xna'i :a?a*n

ypn

t

ov npa

a'n'Vx "iax*i

pxn-Vy

'Js-Vy

v,T

pas *

sjaljr

=

»

liyai D»g ni*ra

"Let there be lights

in the

expanse of the sky to separate day from night; they

— the days and the years;

expanse of the sky to shine upon the earth."

lights, the

T :|-

-Vy n»xnV cratpn t

n»n-nx

T

shall serve as signs for the set times

in the

-

T



tram v ,vT

:

nfry? D'n'Vx

pxn-Vaai nanaai matfn

14]

nWn

.anaiag nxi

K"n inraV nanxn frarVa

Ionian s fjaV^S

I

rrn sqaiSi a?a^i

jmh y§™Dj] pxn-Vy

atf-nx avfrx

-nxi Di»n nVtfaaV bian

^iyrn

pxirrm

nraV ?jaj»m • :T T

pa-

-

I

VI

nvnb nanan-nxi nj^aV T

1

nnxan

xxin avi'Vx nax'i |-

T

-

r :,T

Txn ? D'a^n ypna nnixa ?

i^'an

pxn

nWn km dp

:

1

a»,-6x

a

nana na'aV n»n vs: T-

T

avi'Vx nax'i T

T

o»a»3 a'a.rnx ixVai o-yi

v

w

ypna nnxa

n'atfn

?

-t



f,

D'nVx xti :— inraV nia It v,

I

1

Jl'UiTa

And

it

was

and they

15] so.

16]

shall serve as lights

God made

the

two great

greater light to dominate the day and the lesser light to dominate the night, and the

And God

upon the earth, 18] to from darkness. And God saw that this was good. 19] And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day. 20] God said, "Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and birds that fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky." 21] God created the great sea monsters, and all the living creatures of every kind that creep, which the waters brought forth in swarms; and all the winged birds of every kind. And God saw that this was good. 22] God blessed them, saying, "Be fertile and increase, fill the waters in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth." 23] And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.

stars.

17]

set

them

in

the expanse of the sky to shine

dominate the day and the night, and to separate

24] things,

and

God

said,

"Let the earth bring forth every kind of living creature:

and wild beasts of every kind."

cattle

was good.

of every kind, and 26]

light

And God

all

said,

And

it

was

25]

so.

kinds of creeping things

man

"Let us make

in

16]

Two

great

lights.

The sun and

as part of creation

the

moon

listed

are

the divine or semidivine status attributed to

them

all

with the other animals.

Yam,

are variously called Nahar,

The

latter especially recalls

Let us

make man. Either

or spoken to an angelic court

The great sea monsters. Elsewhere the Bible

popular legends about certain forces of the

'

deep that battled with God. Here they are simply

a

majestic

[4].

plural

[5].

Christian theology generally takes the phrase to

indicate the triune nature of God./

19

shall

the creeping

an ancient poetic tradition of a "lord of the sea" 26]

reflects

earth, and

Leviathan, and Rahab.

in other ancient mythologies.

21]

whole

The monsters

but have none of

creeping

our image, after our likeness. They

rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the cattle, the

mentioned

cattle,

God made wild beasts of every kind of the earth. And God saw that this

Genesis

Bereshit

2

1;

nbixb ivy p-rbo-nx rrn

tfsa

pxn

fan&x

-nam nfry nPx-Vs-nx tprfrx XT] ipTP] s

:wn

D'm?X

"?3'1

dv

"ij?3" ,

rm ansnrpi

pxm

0X3X^31

:

nx *

rnpyi

lVSft

"lai

ipKiTVy

x"i3'i

mi

nna

;

frann

»

iwnrrtei

inx xna nvfrx dVxa laVsa nnxn

anx ipa'i :onx xns

D'n'Vx Drib "iax'1 avfrx

"txa 3iu

D'»0n

dviVx



mi ma

nedsi rnxn-nx ixVai

nap'i nfry itfx iroxVa nraa^j dt»3

Di'3

iroxVa-Vsa

D'n'Vx ^*i3'] :nfry ntfx

-Vsa n3P

»a

til

s

Enp. r

inx

i

'y'atfn

yni 3t?y-V3-nx cob nan D'm?x -iax'i" »nra - " • ,T V T ,- T

]



mm

in^xb

"Vafrl t

t

:

:

t

things that creep

on earth."

"Be

fertile

sky,

and

all

God

29]

and increase,

fill

And God

27]

He

v

"See,

and rule the

it;

tree that has seed-bearing fruit; they shall be yours for food.

land, to all the birds of the sky,

breath of

life, [I

give]

vy-na -

yni ••

I

nisrWi rnxn T

VIT

I

:

la

h

;

n»n

T

fish

of the

of the

sea, the birds

is

upon

30]

all

And

the earth, and every to all the animals

and to everything that creeps on earth, in which there

is

on the

And it was so. 31] And God saw all that was evening and there was morning, the sixth

the green plants for food."

all

He had made, and found

-|r

on earth."

give you every seed-bearing plant that

I

t

28]

the earth and master

the living things that creep

said,

|

man in His image, in the image of God He God blessed them and God said to them,

created

created them.

ym

D3b

-.-

:

-Vy- fran Vo'Vi matfn -I- T -

created him; male and female

II

Drnx

'sratfn

dti^x xnantfx inaxVa

:nitpyV





it

very good.

And

there

day. 1]

The heaven and the earth were finished, and all their array. work which He had been doing, and He ceased on

finished the

work which He had done. on it God ceased from all

Be

28]

fertile

and

increase.

tion considers this to

613

A

first

age

more; "the

The halachah derived therefrom establishes man's duty to marry and have children [6]. Extensive passages in the Talmud and the codes deal with the question whether this duty devolves only

or also upon the

all

2:i]

upon the

commandments

men and

beasts

the

holy, because

beast will return to this original state

become

vegetarians once

ox"

lion will eat straw like the

Finished.

He

2]

to

Green plants for food. According to the biblical

scheme,

God

all

Heaven and earth "were

(11 7).

finished," in

Hebrew

are obliga-

tory at age thirteen)./ 30]

it

from

and in English, the word can have dual meanings. The same ambiguity is also echoed in the "Gilgamesh" epic.

woman. Preponderant opinion

other

the seventh day

and God too "finished" His work. Both

favored the male's sole responsibility (incurred at age eighteen, while

man and

of harmonv: beasts will

of the Torah's

commandments.

man

On

3] And God blessed the seventh day and declared the work of creation which He had done.

blessing. Jewish tradi-

be the

2]

the seventh day

became carnivorous only At first thev had been

na»

/ If

ceased.

Or

creation ceased "on" the seventh day,

related

was

this not,

another day of creating? This question

after the Flood (Gen. 9:3).

at least in part,

vegetarians. According to Isaiah, in the messianic

was much argued by the ancients

20

is

rested. ri3W (shavat)

(Sabbath).

[7]./'

God

in

with

Beginning Genesis;

God

it

taken

is

the

sentence

first

terms.

of

Nowhere

granted.

for

doubted or argued; neither, however,

would not have occurred

from

seeing, regretting,

the other books of the Torah and from the Prophets. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were

ing or descending.

Genesis

distinguished

radically different

they worshiped

that

in

One God and

is

Him

served

alone,

mitted their

God were thereby not diminished. For in"God said to Abraham," was the natural and even best method

but the

This

both

and the future of

lives

later

God

ascriptions of

anthropomorphisms) begin to create the kind of serious problems which are being experienced by the modern Bible reader. However one interprets the nature of

their

God — as person

the Creator of the world and the

reality

or as process, as individual

or generalized

principle

—there

are

three basic ideas which the contemporary

Friend of the Patriarchs. In speaking of God, the book has no difficulty in

human

did these

(called

pages of Genesis

in the

Only much

of recording a vital experience. 1

[8],

God appears

as

and occasional lv as walkThe divinity and majestv

stance, the expression,

was not monotheism theirs. Thev mav have even believed that other gods were real. But only One had made a covenant with them and to Him they comoffspring

to the

anv way other

of

the

of later days

exclusive

in

way one spoke of man (because man was created in God's image), and it was therefore most natural to think of God as speaking,

the

existence of other gods ever questioned. In this respect

God

than the

it

is

is

It

ancients to speak of

apparent that the existence of

is

himself be spoken of onlv in such

could

Genesis

moving from

reader can share with biblical

universal to personal proportions and con-

man

and which

are implicit in Genesis:

Modern man is likely to experience some problems here, for his relationship to and concept of God is not usually as inti-

that god,

as

provides

creation with purpose and that

matelv personal and direct

therefore

cerns.

man. To the

ancients,

as that of biblical

God was not an

force, principle, or process; rather.

Father, Friend, King



all

1

"It

was apparently

to tolerate the

and

easier in

that god.

the Creator

Old Testament

faith

by

human

own

means

to

potential;

as

Lawgiver, validates the prin-

ciples of justice

and righteousness which

must govern the

affairs

of

men;

Note also [erbert C. Brichto's important caution: "Nor may we summarily rule out the possibility. I

danger of lessening God's greatness

'absoluteness,'

understand God

to

He was

of which implied

God

Father or Creative Force,

understand one's

abstract

"person." Individuality was the highest expression of creation, and

all

may

nor even the likelihood, that an ancient author

description than to run

way .as

the risk of giving up anything of Cod's personalness

have formulated

and His

addressed simultaneously to the most naive and most

vital participation in

everything earthly"

Umberto Cassuto adds another Torah was not intended

consideration:

[9].

"The

but for the entire people, which

is

not concerned

bv each according to is

a

ordinary language plainly and without sophistication

part.

is

and pays no heed

but our

who

are

accustomed

to the Bible

to inferences that

to

may draw from

its

works"

uses

later readers

ways of thinking wholly

in

such

a

we

alien

It

deeper,

21

That

be

comprehended

Gulliver's Travels

more

serious intent

on the author's

not the reputation of the biblical authors

own understanding of them

arbitrarily accord

grant Jonathan Swift"

[10].

his level.

to

read by children as naive fantasy leads no owe to

exclude

It

message

sophisticated of his generation, to be

specifically for intellectuals

with philosophic or theological speculation.

a

them [11].

less oi a

that suffers

\\

hearing than

hen

we

Redeemer, guarantees the ultimate goals of existence and enables man to find meaning in his life.

that god,

Added

justice [15].

as

is

Man's likeness

a pervasive



through Abraham and

his

descendants the

realization of God's plan for

be hastened and,

in fact,

be

humanitv

made

tion of

is

[12].

crown of God's

is

found

make man"

reflect

dignity"

[17].

God found

man was

"very good": Being

nothingness,

this

is

created

His

He

better than

order superior to chaos, and



His co-worker.

labors. In anticipation,

The Seventh Day The Bible mentions the number seven

more than 500 times. Some trace the concern this number to the prominence of the sun, moon, and the five planets observed in with

almost contemplative in nature: "Let

The creature image of God,

it

bears

Creator in perfecting His creation, to become

represented as

followed by a creative act but by a further

us

human

Whoever

creation "good"; after

said" are not, as previously, directly

resolve,

all

called to be a revela-

Six times the Bible says that

the text shifts into a slower gear; the words

"God

above

blessing.

placed on the stage of creation after

has been formed; he

all else

the

man

recipients,

man's existence with all its difficulties But creation is never called perfect; will it in fact be man's task to assist the

moral purpose bound up with the

Man

and



not merely for the sake of existing but

creation of

as

to the Divine has a third

one certainty: Man. image is created and

The Rabbis said that God, the Master Architect, worked with a master plan of creation before Him. This plan was the Torah, which provided that His world would a

human

delineations even of gifts and talents stands

The Creation of Man

for

givers

servants,

will

possible

altogether.

exist

truly

and most important meaning: It stresses the essential holiness and, by implication, the dignity of all men, without any distinctions. "Above all demarcations of races and nations, castes and classes, oppressors and

theme which above all has made the Bible, from Genesis through Chronicles, a Jewish book that to these

Man becomes

he attempts to do godly deeds. 3

[13].

man

formed in the These words the Torah's abiding wonder over man's called

antiquity; others to the fact that the lunar

is

month

in His likeness.

falls

roughly into four quarters of

seven days each. Whatever the reason,

it is

potential. Man's nature is radically different from God's, but man is capable of approach-

most prominent number in the Bible. In to the weekly cycle, the Pesach festival is governed by seven; so are the seven weeks' period between Pesach and Shavuot and the sabbatical year. There are some scholars who suggest that the entire Book of Genesis and even the Torah itself are elaborately and ingeniously constructed around

ing God's actions: His love, His mercy, His

this sacred

unique which bears the imprint of the Creator. Marveling at man's powers,

special stature in creation, over his

the

addition

intellectual capacity,

the Bible finds

him

divine"

2

(Ps. 8:6).

to

be

" little less

than

This likeness also describes man's moral

2

In a

midrash the angels

divine person and sang

word salmu,

for

"image"

(t^e/em)

at first

hymns is

mistook to

him

related to the

man [14].

statue

for a

number

[18].

and which applied

specifically to divine statues

human guise. The biblical use is, of course, different. 3 The Rabbis said: "As God is merciful, so be thou merciful; as He is just, so be thou just" [16].

The

in

Akkadian

which had the double meaning of image and

22

When and how the seventh day became the

it

is

God's holy time; and Israel in ages to

holy day of Israel has never been ascertained.

come

A

center of

Babylonian division of the lunar

into four seven-day periods tion of the

are possible links.

and the designa-

moon

as shapattu

Whatever the

origins, in

day of the

full

to make it the mark of its covenant with God, "z memorial of the work of

month

And

Sabbath,

its

while

it

significance

Thus, in the biblical view, creation and

by a

first-day

Sabbath

of the Resurrection

is

the foun-

is

not yet called the

dation of a covenantal relationship between

is

unmistakable:

God and world

It is

5

Sabbath was supplanted

—"Lord's

Day"

—in

and, in a specific and im-

portant sense, between

So in the Sabbath Kiddush. In the major Christian

tradition, the seventh-day

existence, the

history belong together. Creation

built into the very structure of the universe;

4

be called upon

its

creation." 4

Genesis the day becomes the divine seal of creation.

will

God and

Israel. 5

Isaiah describes God's creation of Israel in the

same

terms that Genesis uses in describing the creation

memory

of the

45:n).

[19].

23

world

(Isa.

43:i,

7,

15,

21;

44:2,

21,

24;

GLEANINGS

Very Good

Created Unique

says that

It

God found

"very good," which implies

may

this, it

God would not have possible creations

midrash

created the world

it

if

it

had not been the

say

is

lives,

Then

creation, onlv in

this call

which

baal shem tov

[27]

epic dating probably to b.c.e.]

the lord [Marduk] paused to view her

[Tiamat's] dead body,

That he might divide the monster and do

He

refer to an

I

I,

an

I

the

metaphvsical

that does not

God

set

up and

ceiled

as a sky,

it

down the bar and posted guards. He bade them to allow not her waters to Pulled

outside

escape,

He

of pre-

franz rosenzweig

itself.

her like a shellfish into two parts:

split

Half of her he

Thou, that does not reveal anvthing

like

heed

his failure to

him

unique quali-

to perfect his

the early second millennium

the plural of all-encompassing

an impersonal

It is

face another

is

on

artful works.

term which does not

the self but majesty.

it

called

Another Creation Story

[2l]

God is still creating. He does not in He says "We," an absolute, all-

as

"I,"

inclusive

is

best.

were created "of of man; there is onlv one benno jacob [22]

species.

As long

And

ties.

Make Man

Let Us

Each

delays the Messiah.

says that thev

every kind." Not so

but

to be.

[From an Akkadian

Of Every Kind Of beasts

fact

such another, there would be no need for

[20]

among

GOTTFRIED VON LEIBNITZ

human

no other

be inferred that God had created and

destroyed previous worlds.

all

From

comparison.

a

man should know that since creation man ever was like him. Had there been

Every

His creation to be

crossed the heavens and surveyed

regions.

He

[23J

.

.

its

.

constructed nations for the great gods,

Fixing their astral likenesses as constellaIn the Image

Beloved of God.

is

in the

tions.

image

.

.

.

In her [Tiamat's] belly he established the

He

zenith.

the knowledge of his having been so

The moon he caused

ethics of the fathers [24]

created. Like

he was created

greater was God's love in that

Still

man

gave to

man for

him

entrusting.

None Other

[Marduk

A

Blood

his image on and are alike; but the King of Kings put the stamp of the first man on humanity, yet no man is like any other. mishnah [25]

king of flesh and blood stamps

a coin, hence all coins look

I

to shine, the night to

I

reveals his plan to create

man]

mass and cause bones

to be.

will

will establish a savage,

"man"

He

shall

among men, fellow:

"My

so

that

his

man

I

will create.

be charged with the service of the

gods that they might be

was created single

be

name. Verily, savage

Created Single

Man

shall

at ease!

FROM "ENUMA ELISH"

[28]

for the sake of peace

no one might sav

Ancient Cosmology and Biblical Creation

to his

Although the Bible takes

father was greater than yours."

mishnah

tours of ancient cosmology,

[26]

24

it

for granted the con-

has demythologized

The Hemyth which

the ancient understanding of existence.

brew

Bible contains no theogony, no

traces the creation to a primordial battle

no

divine powers,

ritual

which enabled

men

tion" for the exploitation of the environment,

natural resources

have been torn out of their ancient

new meaning

completely

a

language survives only

complete distortion of

... a

the contrarv, the

of nature but to enhance

God

"co-partner of [29]

.

.

.

All animal

life

all

on the seventh day

A

Cod

revealed by His rest

the

is

creation."

growing and

life-giving

man must own

cosmos that

against the spoliation of nature

and the pollution of the environment

world-principle without this limit to

tive activity

The war

survival.

His freedom.]

is

man

work of

the

in

and

because

it

things have rights in the

feature of

man

insists that

consider, even as he strives to ensure his

The Sabbath and God's Freedom first

Bible and

has an obligation not only to conserve the world

adoration of the Lord of History.

[The

Hebrew

Judaism goes much further and

within

BERNHARD W. ANDERSON

is

the Jewish interpreters prohibit such exploitation.

speech for the

as poetic

On

the truth.

The pagan

the historical syntax of Israel's faith.

and the spoliation of

of our water,

pollution

Mytho-

context of polytheism and nature religion and

have acquired

(Gen. L28)

It

that [this verse] provides "justifica-

leading to the poisoning of the atmosphere, the

to

drama and thereby en-

repeat the mythological

Earth and Master

To claim

between

sure the supremacy of the national god. logical allusions

Fill the

its

crea-

the

command

of the hour and the

would not be free like God but would infinite motion of its own develop-

call

therefore

is

of the ages.

ROBERT CORDIS

[33]

be tied to the

ment and activity

evolution.

would not really be process imposed upon necessity.

A

mine and

limit

has

its

In

would not

it

being

is

itself.

active but entangled it

and subjected

its activity.

i.e.,

belong to

when

free only

limit in the rest

by Himself,

unlimited creative

its

really

to

its

in

Truth at Creation

A

It

a

Adam,

higher

can deter-

it

God's creative activity

in this rest

is

said, 'Let falsity.'

a first criterion of

[30]

Dream of Perfection The Sabbath is the dream of perfection, but it is only a dream. Only in its being both does it become the cornerstone of life, only as the festival of perfection does it become the constant renewal of creation. franz rosenzweig [31]

to create

Some him be

not be created,' others, 'Let

do loving deeds.' But Truth

not be created, for he will be

Righteousness

said, 'Let

him be

do righteous deeds.' Peace

cast

her to the earth, as

'Thou didst

cast

Truth

it

is

all

created, 'Let

said,

of

strife.'

of Truth

said [Dan. 8:12], "

to the ground.'

That Truth alone is singled out for this treatsuggests the ominous possibility that all that

ment

might be

said in favor of the creation of

nothing but pious

illusion; that

rendous

as to destroy

shun

avoid

it,

it.

Truth

is

man

everything tor us unless

evade

is

so hor-

we

that only after having

it;

Truth to the ground can God create man at all. The midrash ends as follows: Then the angels

Uncompleted

cast

The Lord created the world beginning. The universe is always pleted state, in the form of like a vessel at

its

in in

an uncom-

beginning.

which the master works

of

state

a

It is

of service said to God, "Lord of the

how

not

to finish

Should these cease for only

Thou

Somehow

a second,

the universe would return to primeval chaos.

simchah bunam of przysucha

canst

from the earth, springs from the

it;

requires continuous labor and renewal by crea-

tive forces.

Rabbi Shimon

him not be created, for he will be full What then did Cod do? Me seized hold and

it

him

tor he will

the true deity of the Creator in the biblical saga.

KARL BARTH

him

created, tor he will

from His works determined

as follows:

when God was about

the angels of service were divided.

said, 'Let

the rest of the seventh day. His

freedom revealed

midrash begins

"In the hour

said:

and vet to [32]

it

be.

is

despise as

it

Thy is

said [Ps.

universe,

Truth

85: 12],

arise

'Truth

"

earth.'

possible for

man

to face

But do we know how 1

25

seal? Let

MIL

L.

Truth

?

FACKENHH1M

[34]

PART

II

Beginnings THE

LINES OF HEAVEN, EARTH,

AND PRIMEVAL MAN

Gen. 2:4-24

Man Chapter

2,

verse

4,

in

Eden

begins the tale of "earth and heaven" and partic-

ularly the epic of

rhythms mark chapter

man. Language and tone change markedly: spare 1

;

a familiar, personal,

and frankly

human manner

when speaking of God marks what follows. He is referred to as Lord God, while before He was merely called God. The order of creation is changed, too: in chapter

1

versed; in chapter

the animals precede 1

man,

in chapter 2 the

humanity begins with male and female,

order

is

re-

in chapter 2

Where before man appeared in generic form, he now becomes concretely human: he speaks and feels. Because of these differ-

with male only.

ences the

two creation

different traditions.

have been seen

stories

The former

latter to the J-source,

though

be seen

as the ideal

the derivative origin of

is,

in

is

disputed by other scholars. In

in the text as

and chapter 2

woman

stemming from two

usually assigned to the P-source, the

this division

the combination of the two (that

may

is

as

we now have it),

chapter

as the actual state of creation.

1

Thus,

chapter 2 reflected her prevailing social

condition, while ideally (as told in chapter

created equal.

28

1)

men

and

women were

nwia

DW

ym

Ufa-]? o\nVx ni.T

:,Tn

D'nVx nln? naxn :ns^ n^x Dixrrnx 1

boxa ?

ninn yyi

1

aaon

xm

jjbps

pxn

ann :nmn atripx nV'inn px-bs nx

Such

When

nnxn

field

earth and there was no

I

-Vrnx

>

niiV-in n"?x -|-

D'n'Vx

ntr

pxa

rwr

~

|-

T T

r |T

I

:

-

r

y ma fa

nptfni

v.

-

:



nVy? ixi :nanxnTix

>

Dixn-nx EPriVx nin' tx^i :nanxn a9

-idv

wn Dixn .._ D ._ TTT \ti

had yet sprouted,

man



natr: -:•

vaxa T-:

ns'i "--

'

nanxnia tt-:t>-

when no shrub o( the field was yet on earth because the Lord God had not sent rain upon the

earth and heaven

to

into his nostrils the

5]

but a flow would well up from the ground and Lord God formed man from the dust of the earth. breath of life, and man became a living being. the soil,

till

water the whole surface of the earth

He blew

-

rnx

Vdi :a»atfi

n'ir

t

heaven and earth when they were created.

Lord God made

and no grasses of the

?

»a -.

:o»#K"i ny^-ixV

at?

the story of

is

the

niptfn

]Jn-nx

|-

-paan -nyV- rx dixi rnxn-Vy dm^x nin t

xr

]iya

Dt?ai

t:

1

D"nn psn

]?n T> n3

r,T

I



:|T

nax» did mfrn aiwrVai

5

x?

1

pxm o'aipn

axnanD T

did mfrn

atf afrn

nvn Tis?

4]

niipy cfra

trs] ?

m nxna ? nam yv bD naixn-ja

3iBi

:jnj did

"inji

rrus"u

3 1



6]

the

7]

8] The LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and placed there the man whom He had formed. 9] And from the ground the Lord God caused to grow every tree that was pleasing to the sight and good for food, with the tree of life in the middle of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and bad. 10] A river issues from Eden to water the garden, and it then divides and becomes four branches. 11] The name of the first is Pishon, the one that winds through the whole land ot

2:4]

Such

is

the stery. rtrVfal

Genesis rendered (i.e.,

as

the genealogy),

nV«

is

elsewhere

"These are the

lines of.

in

might be: Clod fashioned an earthling from the

."

earth.

.

making descent a keystone mVn serves as a heading

of biblical history, nil'pin for the

major

we

here too

divisions of Genesis and, therefore,

(of

Shem

in particular);

(Abraham's The

Adam, Noah, and father), Isaac,

Lord

God.

Eden.

(see commentary "The Names of God").

pronounced

to

Gen.

2:4-24.

than the

translation

it

[1].

derived ultimately from the referred originalK to

first

for

a specific

but

Us fertilin

subsequently became barren. to

is

better

A word

we hear of Sumenan, where Noah locale noted at

and Jacob.

D , iT7N HilT

Adonai Elohim

8]

the sons of

and further, of Terah

A

being.

and soul was of postbiblical origin

should translate: "These are the lines

of heaven and earth." In later chapters

the lines of

living

older "living soul." The dichotomy between body

which

The word then came

have the meaning of the uncultivated Steppe

or hinterland generally. In the Greek translation. Paradise, an Iranian

word meaning

for Eden. In Jewish tradition,

pv

park, was used |J

(die

Garden

of Eden) came to Stand for the after-death abode 7]

Man. DIN (adam)

(na"7N,

adamah).

In

is

formed from the earth

modern

terms,

this

is

an

of the righteous;

it

was no longer thought

A

This

assonance rather than correct etymology. Like-

10]

sounding words were thought to hint

curs also in other cultures, notabh

association

of concepts.

An

English

at a special

equivalent

ot as a

geographic location on earth.

China 29

river

[2].

.

.

.

four

branches.

concept

oc-

India

and

in

Genesis 2

Bereshit

Kin rrn vsi

:iat?

oixn i"rxnp'

mxn

n'a»n niyVi nanarrkjb nine tjb xsa-x

:hj]3

5

:ninnn mn' p'i v|ip t

ne>3 T T

:

I

"inamreh :oniyn Taxi

-\b

-

xnp'i

-at?)

D'riVx 3jn»

bsn «

r

:

:

in

-

-

mxn t t

tfnea »a nt?x k-j/p^

t

nax'i |-

:mxn-Vx t I

nxtb nfcaa

->tp=n

1

vax-nx P'X'aty? IT ?*!

iax*nxi

:inx 102b

r

t

bax

nxs'i :t F

:nnat^n

- :-

n^xV °lNrn» npb~)&x s^srrtw d\tVx nxt axy Dysn -|T|«

r

flic^a nx 3310:1 xin |Wj Ttfn T

arts

:

W*p

nrnni

ta

mas'? psrpa mnan — P-

mxn

*

•nx D'nVx nin' np>i :jt» xin

vnybxa nnx »

nso'i-

nbian dp aiw xinn

mtfx naip nbnn xin bpin w'ron nnan

dtxVi mj?n n?n Vabi

?

aixn-by nar-in

np'i |0*i

TBto Vdi

-

'3



'axya

r

t

:

]jn-fv

rrtrp

I

:

:

yn

nxi nitrn

aiu

|

.

.

,

:



t t

nyin yyai :Vaxn

^3X

mrbs naixrqa &&%

_

T

T

t

o^n'Vx nin'

naV mxn nvn

xnp'-na nixnV oixrrbx T T

r,-

:man nia uaa

nax'i

ifroa niy iVti&sk

vm intpxa pan

I

baa naxV mxn-Vy

uaa Vaxn xV

d'h'^k

:nxfnnpV »

:

ova

aio-x

-t£p

r

"•

1

?

132

a-

niyVs W

X3'i n'atfn ~ T" "|- T "

T

\

Havilah, where the gold

is. 12] The gold of that land is good; bdellium is there, and lapis The name of the second river is Gihon, the one that winds through the whole land 14] The name of the third river is Tigris, the one that flows east of Asshur. And the

lazuli.

13]

of Cush.

fourth river

And

16]

it.

the Euphrates.

you

as

18]

the

the man and Lord God commanded

man, saying, "Of every

eat of

it,

you

tree of the

till

and tend

it

garden you are

of good and bad, you must not eat of it; for

as

shall die."

said, "It is not good for man to be alone; will make a fitting helper for Lord God formed out of the earth all the wild beasts and all the birds of and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man

The Lord God

him."

19]

the sky,

And

I

the

called each living creature, that cattle

placed him in the garden of Eden, to the

17] but as for the tree of knowledge

free to eat;

soon

is

The Lord God took

15]

would be

and to the birds of the sky and to

found.

21]

of his ribs

So the Lord

God

cast a

and closed up the flesh

all

name.

its

And

20]

the

the wild beasts; but for

man

gave names to

Adam no

deep sleep upon the man; and, while he

at that spot.

22]

And

the

Lord God

all

fitting helper slept,

He

the

was

took one

fashioned the rib that

woman; and He brought her to the man. 23] Then the man said, "This one at last / Is bone of my bones / And flesh of my flesh. / This one shall be called Woman, / For from man was she taken." 24] Hence a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, so that they become one flesh.

He had

12]

taken from the

into a

Lapis lazuli. Others translate as "onyx"; the

meaning of the Hebrew 13]

man

is

relates to a

uncertain.

meaning

Cush. Usually refers to Ethiopia or Midian,

but here

it

is

most probably the land of the

Knowledge of good and bad. Meaning "every-

thing"; see at Deut. 29: 18 for similar expressions.

Others translate

as

"of good and

As soon as you eat of

it,

you

You

"Ladv of the Rib" or "Lady of

name

23]

Woman. n»N

24]

Clings

simplv

may

evil."

shall die.

either

Life" (hence the

Kassites, in Babylonia. 17]

One of his ribs. Some scholars suggest that this Sumerian story that knew of Nin-ti,

21]

a

to

his

is

Eve, Gen. 3:20)

[3].

here derived from BTN (man).

wife.

This

mav

be more than

statement of personal relationship;

echo the custom of having the

it

man become

part of his wife's familv and household (see note

shall

become mortal.

to

30

Gen. 31:43).

as

Man

Woman

an amplification of Eloah

a poetic

(ribx),

of

form that does not occur in Genesis, and of EI (Vx), which in Genesis occurs only in con-

the pervasive bisexual pattern of nature and

junction with other terms such as El Elyon

humanity was not knew different from the rest of creation. But the Torah gives this fact a special dimension by

(God Most High), El Bethel (God of Bethel), El Shaddai (usually rendered God Almighty),

and

Biblical

man was undoubtedly aware

that in this regard

recognizing that

man

new

when he

state of life

The words,

"It

is

ceases to be alone.

man

not good for

to be

alone," speak about man's greatest need.

woman becomes

creation of

beginning of man's to fulfil social

and as a part of proper names such as Israel. Adonai (nim, Lord) is the unique, personal name of God and the name most frequently used in the Bible. The Torah gives

enters a fundamentally

in

social history;

The

man

is

ciation

being.

Aloneness, in turn,

man's

is

says:

has a wife"

"He

is

called

man

only

if

but that

3: 14,

not clear.

be voiced only by the High Priest

primary helplessness. Woman is more than man's female counterpart; like his rib, she is part of him, part of his structure, and without her he is essentially incomplete. The

Talmud

is

name

since Jewish tradition permitted the

destiny completely only as a

his

Exod.

in

The original pronunwas most likely Yahveh (mrr), but

explanation

able

mm

meaning of

the

the

effect

it

to

became

customary, after the destruction of the Second

Temple, to substitute the word Adonai (meaning "my Lord") when reading mrr. 1

The Masoretes who

he

Hebrew

vocalized the

text (see above, General Introduction to the

Torah) therefore took the vowels from the

[4].

However, the Bible does not see man and woman as equals. The Torah tradition is

word Adonai

frankly male-oriented.

but Adonai. Hence,

to

("Trx) and put them with mrr remind the reader not to read Yahveh

Bible

now

all

mm.

read

2

vocalized texts of the

A

Christian writer of

who was unaware

The Names of God In the opening chapter of Genesis, the Creator is called "God" (Elohim), and now He is referred to as "Lord God" (Adonai

the

Elohim). This difference has been noted since

(See further at Exod. 6.)

ancient days and has been the starting point

Jewish tradition interprets the names Elohim and Adonai as explanations of the two sides of the nature of God, the former

for midrashic

comment,

biblical criticism,

different divine

as

well as for

which has seen

of this substitution transcribed it,

namely,

entered

modern

clues to the

many

as

Jehovah, and

mercy. The Midrash world was originally created by God as Elohim (Gen. 1), but that afterward He is called Adonai Elohim (Gen. 2) because He saw that without the added quality of mercy creation could not have endured. reflecting the quality of

says that the

Orthodox Jews now go even further and use the "Adonai" only in prayer or actual

the sacredness of the divine

for

it

2

"Adoshem"

and, in similar circumstances, say "Elokim"

when speaking

of God.

They carry

name

into translation as

well and write "G-d" and "L-rd."

substitutional

substitute

he

representing the quality of justice, the latter

Elohim (D^nVx, God or gods) is the generic term for divinity most frequently found in the Bible. It is used as a plural noun for gods of other nations and as a singular noun when applied to Israel's God. Elohim appears

Torah reading. Otherwise they

as

this has since

Christian Bible translations.

authorship of such passages.

1

mm T

saw

in the uses of

names important

century

sixteenth

However, when the combination

curs, as in 15:2, the reading

this respect for

the vocalization

31

is

mm

.

is

mm

'JIN oc-

Adonai Elohim and

GLEANINGS [According to Islamic legend, the dust was red,

Another Beginning

When on

high [enuma'elish] the heavens had

white, and black

not been named,

kind.

Firm ground below had not been called by name, Nought but primordial Apsu, their begetter,

And Mummu-Tiamat,

she

Their waters commingling

who

bore them

— hence

"At home"

is

of finding a suitable permanent

Every

man

man-

the skin colors of

represented by the possibility

home,

i.e.,

a

grave.

can rest peacefully anywhere on earth.]

Solitude

all,

body No reed but had been matted, no marsh land had appeared, When no gods whatever had been brought into

naming

In the process of

as a single

realizes that

are the

two

when he

he needs

a

Man

related?

Adam How

2:20).

discovers his solitude

begins to give names,

and cannot say "man"

being,

the animals,

helpmate (Gen.

i.e.,

to use words,

any other creature.

to

Uncalled by name, their destinies undetermined,

Then

it

was that the gods were formed within

from "enuma elish"

them.

The Creation of

God

[5]

[The Sumerian is

epic,

also the

images of

"Enuma

lion, wolf,

Elish."

lamb, and kid living

used these images in

his

prophecy of

the end of time (11:6).]

is is

midrash

Adam From our biblical

the lamb,

.

Adam Kadmon (or Kadmoni) as He was thought to have preceded

Harishon or

the biblical

Adam

and

to

have been

be

at

man

.,

dust from the four corners of the

man might

a perfect

return to the world at the time of

redemption. The

[10]

Two Adams The Adam

and hence

was the

of Genesis

this ideal

Adam

man

1

was the idea of man,

never appeared on earth;

of Genesis

material dust and immaterial

God took

a considerable

Adam

who would

Dust

earth so that

grew

stories

it

the

text

about the "Original Adam,"

body of ancient he was called.

.

[9I

The Original

the kid-devouring wild dog, the grain-devouring

[81

is

The dove droops not the head, The sick-eyed says not "I am sick-eyed," The sick-headed says not "I am sick-headed," Its old man says not "I am an old man." FROM "ENKI AND NINHURSAG" [6] From

benno jacob

Man and woman were originally undivided, Adam was at first created bisexual, a herma-

ittidu-bird,

Unknown Unknown

divine creativity are

phrodite,

The land Dilmun is clean, the land Dilmun most bright. In Dilmun the raven utters no cries, The ittidu-bird utters not the cry of the

slept so as

the divine power.

Undivided

i.e.,

The lion kills not, The wolf snatches not

Adam

Note

peacefully in Dilmun. Well over a millennium later, Isaiah

while

The deepest mysteries of w ithheld from human gaze.

"Enki and Ninhursag,"

considerably older than

woman

him from observing

to prevent

The Sumerian Paradise

Woman

created

home everywhere. rashi

[7]

2,

fashioned out of

spirit,

who was

the

ancestor of the race. Fashioned as he was of antithetical materials,

he lived

as all

men

live,

under

the tension in which the material aspect of

32

him

lugged

one direction, the immaterial aspect

in

philo

the opposite.

in

[i i]

his

3

man

The I

quality ot

droppeth

It

from mercy

him

blesseth

that giyes

and him that

mightiest in the mightiest;

'Tis

The throned monarch

Adam

trast,

as a

com-

takes:

like himself. In startling con-

and

immediately

recognized the

woman

enthusiastically

companion.

as his

becomes

it

harlot, learned

even considered her

man

for a friend, a

twice bless'd:

it is

Enkidu enjoyed the

her, but not

after

yearned

still

panion. Rejected by the animals, Enkidu vearned

from heaven

as the gentle rain

pon the place beneath:

It

not strain'd,

is

was created

and

rejected the animals

for a friend.

Mercy and Justice

woman

wild beasts. Indeed,

the

ADRIEN

J.

BLEDSTELN [14]

better than his crown:

His sceptre shows the force of temporal power.

The attribute to awe and majesty. Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of But mercy is above this sceptred sway. enthroned

It is

in the hearts

an attribute to

It is

And

God

When mercy

kings;

Like man,

of kings.

woman owes

himself. likest

tion

God's

is

to assign the

which are not

seasons justice.

WILLIAM Ml

he

—of

double blessing Shabbat;

at

end

the

first

the

—on

the dual fate of

and

qualities over the

man

woman

power Bv contrast

in Genesis 2.

hangs bv a breath

dirt; his life

and passive while the Deity plans and

inter-

phvllis trible [15]

prets his existence.

first

Sin.

Natural

Good and Bad

man.

martin

bi

bur

(or Evil)

When God

Both together form the dual nature and

curse.

formed from

is

silent

first

man and the man is historical man by a

the

Between both stands

established bv a blessing;

Man

the

of the second creation story

stands a double curse earth.

man and

man

which he does not control; and he himself remains

creation story stands a

first

God. To

strength, aggressiveness, dominance, and

IRE [l2]

\K1 SP1

and Curse

At the end of the

solely to

life

in the narrative itself. Superiority,

do not characterize Blessing

her

claim that the rib means inferiority or subordina-

power doth then show

earthly

Man has no part in making woman. He exercises no control over her existence: He is neither participant nor spectator nor consultant at her birth.

created

man

I

le

created

him with

two impulses, the \el^er ha-tov and the ha-ra, both the good and evil inclination 4

[13]

\et~er

TALMUD

Woman

[16]

Sexuality was an aspect of beings created bv

YHYH

When God

and did not precede the existence of the

The animals were formed from

earth or man. earth as

animals

man had as

man

been, but the

companions. In contrast

the Gilgamesh Epic, the lone

man

clination

rejected the

to

Enkidu

in

Yes, for

3

man. No

woman came

According to Philo

original

Adam

(in

ith

of Gen.

There

is

man from

is

not for this impulse no

man would

diyidual earthy Mate

He

and the mind intent on salvation must therefore

is

the rational,

fashions'

joined to

him

the

itself of the

clay

it

[17]

from what pure, generic mind

became mixed with body

was before

lofty obligations into

Man (mind) thereupon

it

midrash

encumbrance of the bod\

tin

birth\ free

so as to regain

un pristine immaterial purity.''

earthy

4

H\e. sense-

This

is

derived from the spelling of 1S""1 ("formed"

in !->, with a

perception; but the serpent, pleasure, intrudes to divert

w ere

heavenly creation

becomes mixed with

from the earth when God

Adam

a

material things.

preexistent soul. This soul

1:~.

was

considered good?

at all

Adam from

Sandmel's words), "the

(of Gen. 1:27)

and unmixed w

to seduce

for the opposite.

impulse be

evil

build a house, take a wife, or beget children.

jected the animals, the animals did not reject the

good.

toward good and me-od

But can the

in Genesis re-

man He found His work Now tin stands for the in-

had created

tov me-od, very

was taken

harmful ones.

quite different in his in-

33

double

to stand for

*

instead of one; hence each

one "1X\

"

Gen. 2:25-3:24

The Expulsion from Eden

The its

tion,

two chapters of Genesis spoke of the

first

ideal condition.

Now,

it

origins of the

world

in

turns to growth, to man's actual condi-

and to the problems he encounters

in his

humanness.

Here, once again, the underlying Near Eastern traditions that helped to shape the biblical

Eden

story have been radically recast to express the specific

view of God and man: the transcendent Creator of

man that he might freely do His will.

all

who forms

In the Babylonian epic of "Gilgamesh"

the hero loses his immortality not only through weakness but also through accident, for the serpent steals the life-giving plant. In another tradition, the tale of

"Adapa," immortality

sentation. In the Bible, the loss of

own

volition

and no one

and

else's

action. If

man

Eden

is

is

34

by deliberate misrepre-

ultimately traceable to man's

fails to live

doing.

lost

Near Eastern

up

to his potential,

it is

his

n»wna

i

ayyh xinvnxn ]nn) Vaxni

Vaxab p yn aid

»ai

inaa npni

nrrotf -

i'y - -

mb

wan

nixn nb>y

t

l|-

:



nay n^xb-na T

ibax'i -

-

n^xn

T

onxn prong avss thi ™

iiB^ari' x'Vi in^Ki

n&y

qx nifxrrVx

D'n'Vx "iax*, 3

r

Vaa any nvi omani

rnfcn n?n

-ie>x

intzw

'39a

nirr

narm an

a»*vy

:nn nt?xn tfrarrVx It r r t-t -iaxni Ti-

»a

nin? Vip-nx jjra^i :nnin

xannn

D^stci

dvi'Vk ni,T x-ipn :jjn

'nyatf tiVptix

nax^

fy

D'nVx

sflrva

I"

n^rs "•

n

larnina

nnp

ni»n

:na'x \b nax'i

'dix 'a -iaxM :xanxi -T-I|T

-iax*i

»

aviVx nirr



,

in "l^nna dv6x

ran

t

?a

ryn nam)

Vafrri ?

runpsm

ivti r ;—

-"?x

1

jTUK"n

;a

mxn

xtxi na T»lT-

-]s b :

fyn

-ib>x

'"l^ai

n^xn^x

jinan nia-xV

':

*

x-ini

r•

av6x

'a

:

-ibk n

ibx*i :pnan

trnan

D'n'Vx «



:yn

=

nap

:bax3 13371?

Dfa inpsn maa DaVax » -

'

1

I

ibaxn x?

ia lysn irin raaa

nsxh x ?

ry- Vaa

an"m

aio 'y-p D'nVxa

yr

n

'a

"

aa'ry

The two of them were naked, the man and his wife, yet they felt no shame. the serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild beasts that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say: You shall not eat of any tree of the garden?" 2] The woman replied to the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit of the other trees of the garden. 3] It is only about fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden that God said: You shall not eat of it or touch it, lest you die." 4] And the serpent said to the woman, "You are not going to die, 5] but God knows that as soon as you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like divine beings who know good and bad." 6] When the woman saw that the tree was good for eating and a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable as a source of wisdom, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave some to her husband, and he ate. 7] Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they perceived that they were naked; and they sewed together fig leaves and made themselves loincloths. 8] They heard the sound of the Lord God moving about in the garden at the breezy time of day; and the man and his wife hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9] The LORD God called out to the man and said to him, "Where are you?" 10] He replied, "I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because was naked, so hid." 11] Then He 25] 1]

Now

I

2:25]

in

word plav on Dili? (shrewd), The above printings of the text group

Saked. D , ai")V,

Gen.

3:i.

plague

I

in the

wilderness

(Num.

21:6-9;

cf. II

appears to introduce the subsequent storv. The

Like divine beings. D*nVN (elohim) 5] means "Cod or gods" but at times also

verse should, however, be considered a bridge,

celestial

connecting one storv to the other.

and rulers

verse

3:i]

guile

with chapter

25

3

because

the

sentence

an old one. In Mesopotamian,

Human,

and Ugaritic myths serpents oppose the the

gods;

"snake"

was

alreadv

a

will of

6]

derogatory

fig,

term in an old Hittite document. A post-biblical book identifies the serpent of Eden with Satan and says: "Through Satan's envy death entered the world"

[1].

beings (as in Con. 6:4) or to (i.e.,

who

those

Another translation: "You telling good from bad."

The serpent. The association of serpents with is

Kings

18:4).

ucts

Serpents plav an important part

Fruit.

be

like

[2].

God

all

is

gen-

thought to be m\ apple, both because

was

popular

a

8]

in

prominent Near Eastern prod-

erally

means

fruit

V\

it

Europe and because the

in

(bad")

is

malum which

also

apple. See further in Gleanings,

Moving

about.

God

is

pictured in

as inspecting His creation.

35

will

In Christian tradition, the fruit

Latin translation of

two incidents in Israel's history: Rods are turned into serpents by Moses and the Egvptian magicians (Exod. 4:3; 7:9-15), and serpents are agents of a

in

human judges

are "powerful")

Jewish tradition suggests wheat, grape,

or citron, [3].

usually refers to

human terms

Bereshit

Genesis 3

2W2

i^rhtow

d

Vaxni

-ja

nnnx :*p*h

:awn

nax ? spfms -mx 1

1

afry-nx nbaxi

nsy-Vxi

"Who

»s

pm

air?

nsya

nnp ?

naaa

mn

intrx atf

mxn

xnp'i

mxn T T

n»n

tetfi

dm^x

I

rpfiw rrirp

*Vmn]

nxrna

:apy

xin

nay

'

:

ntyxV crfrx

nax'i :baxi 'jkoti T

nnx

nx-t

Vaxn nsyi nVn ^nrVy

laDitfn

-

-.

,V

!

^sw

nnxi cxn

nyy

m

t?n

v

n^x naw

pai ?jynT pai ntfxn pai ^ra

o

»s rf?

:nVax uaa-bax nax'i |T T p T

nanan-Vaa nnx

:?l*n »jbfV|

nnx

T

nax'i ibaxi ryn-ja

aman-bx

»3

Vaxn ?psx nyn 1

'

vmr\ nfcxn naxni

nV masri Tfiin pp)

ny

*|3»f

ax nn>n xin

nvr

I'Jasa na l?0

ffiss»3

"MX yvrnan nnx oi'y

'n "iv

-1

Vipb nyatf »? nax nix ?! x' ?

?]

,

nnni ntfx ntfxn T |-T » T

1

baxn

naixn-Vx

TiVnV

"lax ntfxn-Vx

^r^ki o'aa nWh

T

^n

laaa

nann

inp wn

wihi

w Va nabaxn

:n-rtfn

»3

^itoxv na~ix

"5ji*ihi

,

-

xin nyni

that you were naked? Did you eat of the tree from which I had forbidden The man said, "The woman You put at my side she gave me of the tree, 12] and I ate." 13] And the Lord God said to the woman, "What is this you have done!" The woman replied "The serpent duped me, and I ate." 14] Then the Lord God said to the serpent, "Because you did this, / More cursed shall you be / Than all cattle / And all the wild

asked,

you

told

you



to eat?"

On

you crawl / And dirt shall you eat / All the days of your life. / 15] I will put enmity / Between you and the woman, / And between your offspring and hers; / They shall strike at your head, / And you shall strike at their heel." 16] And to the woman He said, "I will make most severe / Your pangs in childbearing; / In pain shall you bear children. / Yet your urge shall be for your husband, / And he shall rule over you." 17] To Adam He said, "Because you did as your wife said and ate of the tree about which I commanded you, 'You shall not eat of it,' Cursed be the ground because of you; / By toil shall you eat of it / All the days of your life: / 18] Thorns and thistles shall it sprout for you. / But your food shall be the grasses of the field; / 19] By the sweat of your brow / Shall you get bread to eat, / Until you return to the ground / For from it you were taken. / For dust you are, / And to dust you shall return." 20] The man named his wife Eve, because she was the mother of all the living. 21] And the beasts: /

your belly

shall



than More cursed cattle, which at least have 14]

16]

.

In pain shall

.

all

.

you bear.

legs to

An

By work man

Lower than walk on.

cattle.

explanation of birth

pangs. Note also the expression

/

"woman's curse"

Cursed be

to share in

way

man's

the land

By

toil

the

is

shall

The Rabbis

of providing

problem

for menstruation. 17]

ground. guilt.

The earth was thought

"When man

corrupted" you

eat.

20]

dictum

able to fend for and feed him-

further

human

work

probably

ap-

The Rabbis, how-

living"

as a concession:

all

36

is

that

the

it

with "living"

name

('n, chai), is

an honorific

name

but the

obscure. This

is

"Mother of all the title, like "Mother of

a case of assonance.

may be

gods"

task

God's greatest

[5]./

true etymology of the to

interpreted

sustenance

Eve. nin (chavah); the text explains the

by connecting

[4].

Man's need

pears to be part of God's curse. ever, interpreted God's

corrupts his

is

self.

in the "Atrahasis" epic.

nnwoa :n#»

hj?V>

3

ntfx

naixrrnx

-ny ?

wnVi

nuns

1

pxr|3fc

tnvb

nasnnan annn onV nxi

ia»» |v •

:n M nn

d

pya

Lord God made garments of skins for Adam and 22] And the Lord God said, "Now that the man

-mxa - :

03

:at?3y?] -riy

mxn

rrai T

T T

T

ifrVa M

n'n'Vx nirp 6rejn

d -ry -i-n-nx "viwb

jvuk-q

T

?n • I

cnVx aiT VI

t

:

~iax»i |-

npty to nVfrjs nnyi jni niD Din

his wife,

^

'•

1

?

and clothed them.

become like one of us, knowing good and bad, what if he should stretch out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever!" 23] So the Lord God banished him from the garden of Eden, to till the soil from which he was taken. 24] He drove the man out, and stationed east of the garden of Eden the

cherubim and the

24]

fiery ever-turning

Cherubim.

has

sword, to guard the

way

to the tree

Legendary winged beings who protect sacred

The flaming sword may

represent

37

bolts

of lightning.

places.

of

lite.

The Tree of Knowledge Adam and Eve are depicted an environment of

from pain and worry. Man's only task is to till and tend the garden, as a steward of his Creator. The tale of expulsion, of "Paradise Lost." which relates how man came to forfeit this condition. which

much

middle

garden, stands the Tree of Knowledge.

unique

of man,' itself

"Bv one man,

literature.

says

Paul in the

judgment came upon all men to condemnation" [8]. An old New England primer put it simply: "In Adam's fall we sinned all." This was man's original sin. a fatal flaw, from which he could be redeemed onlv after Jesus came into the world as the Christ. Without faith in him as the redemptive savior men would live and die in their

turn has had a profound on the religious and psvchological orientations of Western societv.

The

fall

Christian Scripture and again: "by the offense

theological

story, as in the

"the

of one,

in

At the center of the

as

entered the world.'

sin

effect

ot the

known

and from Jewish

1

speculation,

to be

an expression absent from the Bible

ease, free

has been the subject of

come

has as living in

and

original sin. In the course of centuries the

three major interpretations have been offered

doctrine of man's inherent sinfulness led to a

tree

is

to explain

to biblical tradition,

thoroughlv pessimistic view of

it.

man and

heavy emphasis on the right kind of

The mainstream of Judaism refused make the tale of Eden an important part

Eating from the Tree Knowledge of good and bad (or "good and evil" as most older translations render it) provided man with moral discrimination and thereby made him capable of committing sin. Yielding to the serpent's temptation and eating the fruit were two parts of the same act; once it was done, the relationship of man to God was essentiallv changed. Man's expulsion from Eden meant that he could never return to his former state of ethical indifference; he had become a "choosing" creature. Ethical Interpretation.

of

Two

radicallv different theologies developed

from

this interpretation:

Christianity,

its

ently 1

In Babylonian

for the

of 2

(mitqyot), savior,

man

ants"

corrupt creature.

man

tended to corrup-

he was not basicallv

Though he was

a

constantly

evil impulse (snn iir), by earning out God's commandments he could overcome or at least control it and therebv could develop his impulse for good (aic ISf).

exposed to the

The more closelv he attended to mitrvot, the would be his protection from sin.

all

men were

Intellectual Interpretation.

In the Bible, the

expression "good and bad"

inher-

(s;ti

aio)

times means "everything" (Deut. 1:39; Ash Wednesday. The Mormons, however, believe that

"O it

thou

Adam, what

hast thou done!

was thou that sinned, the

alone, but ours also

who

are

fall

men

will be

punished for their

someSam.

II

sav:

"We

own

sins

of Faith). Original sin was also denied by the Pelagians

was

descend-

(fifth

4

you

Adam

shall return")

is

century

c.e.),

who

held that

it

was transmitted

by bad example.

[7].

priest as

than through belief in a

while

tion (Gen. 6:5; 8:21),

interpretation the event

mythology, the task of raising food

God's judgment on

to dust

that,

and not for Adam's transgressions" (Second Article

Especially,

not

this

[6].

thine

rather

and

greater

gods was the main reason for the creation

For though

3

In

of

world view and maintained that the onlv

building on certain, largelv

transgression

evil.

to

road to salvation was through godlv deeds

sectarian Jewish teachings, 2 taught that after

Adam's

a

faith. 3

Ethical interpretation: If

Adam

and Eve had no

("For dust you are and

understanding of right and wrong, how could they

spoken by the Catholic

be punished for their ignorance?

he puts ashes on the worshiper's head on

Intellectual interpretation:

38

Man, having eaten of

when we say, "I know its good and bad features," meaning that I know everything about it that can be known [9]. The tale may therefore be understood to say that

perpetuate his species through procreation,

19:35). a s

same way as other creatures do. But being man, his sexuality has a special dimension; his process of passing from childhood to adulthood, from innocence to maturity, is in the

its

primal

man

ate of the

Tree of Omniscience.

Having tasted of it, man forever after will attempt to know everything; he will, in other words, play the part of God. This intellectual overreaching is what the Greeks

called

to

become

him

Adam, man

ishment. Like his

own

powers,

and exact

to account

God

a terrible

will

lives in a

garden

discovers his sexual im-

must leave the garden

forever.

Summary. All three interpretations do

will

pun-

to

tice

went

tent

jus-

some Whatever in-

the story, although there

textual objection in each case. 4

have to leave

Eden, his desire for divine power turned

back by the flaming sword

when he

pulse and grows up, he

permit

he

a child

When man

one of us."

"like

persists in deifying his call

will not

of innocence;

As

man

from Eden

repeats in his person the journey into the world.

Man

self-exaltation.

be godlike, but God

strives to

him

hubris,

shot through with love and pain. Each

is

into the earliest strands of the

ethical or intellectual

major themes outlined above have been thoroughly interwoven so that the fabric of the text exhibits not one theme but all and each is discernible, depending on the light in which the text is viewed. This becomes particularly evident when we

sexuality.

ask the questions:

attainment

the gate of

story, the three

[10].

Sexual Interpretation. also

at

be read

The Eden

story

may

not of man's

as the discovery

knowledge but of his This is suggested by the Hebrew "knowledge" (nin), which has the

word for meaning of

experience, especially of sexual

from Eden begins with a discovery of and sexual shame (Gen. 3:7).

nakedness

(Other ancient sources also

theme, see Gleanings.) Reading the Eden tale

stress the sexual

we

the Tree of

Knowledge

cience. "It

is

ment

Note

man

is

said to

have become

a thing to

biblical text

the

be wondered

at that

is

a

difference

of the

truths. Before his sin

wards the

'necessary'

Adam knew

us,

here refers

man's punish-

and

arise not

also, in a

creation

apparent'

the former, after-

biblical

only from the

wider sense, from

of man.

Man

eats

meet with

frustration. His

39

says that

concept of a

a tinge of sexuality.

before

man

has

is

the

disap-

an act of

now "become

knowing good and bad." to sexuality, it would be in

gested that

Adam

God who For

this

If

contrast to the

otherwise never bears

reason the ancients sug-

and Eve had marital

they ate of the fruit

like

"knowing

[12].

The

relations

biblical

Eve

can also be compared to the harlot in "Gilgamcsh as

latter" [11].

God

fruit,

one of

Maimonides,

Maimonides' answer: "There

between

did he

Sexual interpretation: In Gen. 3:22, after the eating

like

granted a perfection that he did not possess before, intellect."

very

but

pointment and

for his disobedience should consist in his being

namely, the

What

to be?

human.

tantalizing fruit, only to

does not in fact attain omnis-

also the question put to

to be

These questions

see

between the Tree of (Sexual) Knowledge and the Tree of Life. The latter, whose fruit would have bestowed earthly immortality, is no longer accessible. Man must now a link

God. However,

God wanted man

demned" in this light

did the storyteller

Thoroughly obedient or potentially defiant? A moral automaton or a free spirit? Did God want man to stay in Eden? And what was the punishment? Man was, in the end, "conbelieve

experience. Note that the story of the expulsion

How

view the intention of God?

an agent of

civilization [13].

disobedience and defiance, yet at the

same

access

time of growth and liberation. God appears to provide

man

maining

Eden, but the very temptation

in

man

tempts yields,

God

with the possibility of re-

makes

of knowledge

to be

this

Him,

like

rejects the

impossible. but,

attempt

when man

contradictions.

bolism of

minor tion

at

and the theme of man's defiance runs through much of the Bible. For while man's freedom may be limited in all other he must

respects, his

freedom

is

without limits

God

cred substance might bestow eternal

a

death"

[15].

being offered

The "Adapa" life

choice

tale

who want

may

desires

Since

man

a

in this respect)

its fruit

caused expul-

human

sphere;

both but cannot have both. 5 is

now

human

life,

chose knowledge, mortality

procreating,

creature

man

from

Creator. 6

By

can in part overcome death,

but, like the rest of the creatures, he cannot

"be

human knowledge, also deals with man

6

like

God."

Midrash Tanchuma speculates that God created the

Angel of Death before He created man, thus relating

human

sin so

itself and that, in fact,

"death

man's mortality not

re-

be viewed as a guide

to mitigate

man

distinguishing

immor-

but choosing death, a theme

curring in the Bible, which to those

and

issued to

built into the very structure of

life.

the Greeks told of ambrosia, and the

life

is

tured as incompatible in the

Indians of soma. Gilgamesh was promised

"Only ignorance holds

Adam

it

prohibi-

from Eden and the permanent inaccessiany magical fruit from the Tree of Life. By choosing "knowledge," man attained death. Immortality and knowledge are pic-

sycamore

frofn which the gods obtained their

5

why no

bility of

widely believed that eating or drinking

tality,

The

sion

The Tree of Life Questions of immortality were of central concern to many ancient peoples, and it was

a

life-endowing tree, gives

a

role (which explains

of Death, for eating of

[14].

Egyptian mythology spoke of

reflect

motif.

and shifts its main attention to the Tree of Knowledge. The latter, whatever meaning assigned to its "knowledge," in effect became a Tree

of

a price,

believe that toward

still

however, while retaining the sym-

Bible,

decisively.

though

Christian sacraments,

origins in the tree-of-life

their

and the

plant,

spoke of magical bread and

they have long been spiritualized,

God

man is in itself a process Adam is free to defy God,

sea

life-giving

a

tale

Some

water.

Thus the emergence of that contradictory creature called

to

"Adapa"

Providence

The Talmud records

the effects of the

cludes that there

[16].

40

is

to

a rabbinical

much is

good"

as to [17].

debate which con-

"death without sin"

[18].

GLEANINGS

The Civilisation of Savage

Man

They Perceived That They Were Naked (Gen. 3:7)

Man

[Gilgamesh suggests that Enkidu, the savage

man who dwells with beasts, be seduced by a woman and thereby be enticed away from his

is

who shudders

the being

own

at his

naturalness.

CARL FRIEDRiCH VON WEIZSACKER

[22]

savage companions. Thus he would be civilized.

Compare

Where Are You? (Gen.

passage to the sexual interpretation

this

3:9)

Did God not know where

of the biblical Eden story.]

She treated him, the savage, to

Adam

midrash

task,

As For

his love

was drawn unto

mating with the

After he had his

/

of her charms,

fill

set his face

On

seeing him, Enkidu, the gazelles ran

his

Was

Afraid Because

wild beasts.

Man

received.

The wild

beasts of the steppe drew



it

was not

is

to

Enkidu:

loss of

Eden

Sing, Heav'nlv

become like a god." FROM "gILGAMESh" [19]

[To Milton,

art

.

Muse

as to

our woe,

all

.

.

.

JOHN milton

.

much of the

symbol of

human

a

take care to advocate

pleasure. voice,

dare to assert that

its

It

Man

is

interests

philo

has freedom, he can choose

God

or reject

God, he can lead the world to perdition and to

because

redemption. The creation of

this

being

such power of freedom means that

and

room

should exercise power

it

over everything.

tor

Himself.

[20]

a

God

Man has

with

made

co-determining power alongside

Man

is

that she

allowed to touch the

although

fruit,

part of the original prohibition.

the opening

wedge of sin.

[2t>]

Tht I'den oflhe Wcrld-tc-Come

was not even this was not

In

Jewish and Christian traditions. Paradise or

Gan-Eden also becomes

The Rabbis con-

embroidery of the truth

ol

the crossroad of the world.

HENRI SLON1MSK1

Or Touch It (Gen. 3:3) Eve said to the serpent

sider this (and any)

[25]

Christian tradition,

the serpent was Satan incarnate.]

pleasure employs innumerable champions and de-

who

[i-l]

Freedom the

have uttered

who

trulv naked.

Brought Death into the World, and

understand-

With

The serpent

fenders

is

Of Man's Hirst Disobedience, and the Fruit Of that Forbidden Tree, whose mortal taste

as

The Serpent Speaking

to

a nul^vah

MIDRASH

.

The harlot says to him, "Thou art wise, Enkidu,

said

without

Paradise Lost to slacken his pace

now had wisdom, broader

..

3: 10)

away from

before;

ing

Was Xaked (Gen.

oft,

body.

Enkidu had But he

I

Not physical, but religious nakedness is meant. Adam was afraid because by his transgression he was stripped of the one commandment he had

lass.

He

toward

[23]

her.

days and seven nights Enkidu comes

six

forth,

his

He

was?

asked in order to open the way to repentance.

woman's

a

to be

In the messianic era

mony

[21]

41

of

Eden

a projection oJ the future.

men

(see note to

will return to the har-

Gen.

2:8).

This expect ,1-

tion

is

who had

also applied to the afterlife of the righteous

who will join the angels in singing the God and in studying the holy books.

soul;

why He

House of Shammai

and the House of Hillel were arguing. The former said: "It

would have been better

been created." The

man

if

had not

latter said: "Better that

concluded that

would have been better

it

the

[27]

same

The Eve

According to tradition, they were angels of

From

if

this

we may

learn that

knowledge, which has

ability to distinguish

as its

between

thomas mann

kind.

[29]

ate

"fruit of the tree" is

it

was the 3:7);

fig

(because

subse-

it is

or the grape (because

its

if

the etrog (because the

from ragag, brew word [28]

to chet,

Not against God

word was seen

as deriving

wheat (because the Hefor wheat, chitah, was seen as related sin); or that it was the carob, the Hebrew to desire); or

word suggesting

can, objectively considered,

from which Adam and text. The Rabbis

not specified in the

abuse leads one to forget his senses, 9:2of.); or

not, those of Eden.

MOSHE MORDECAI EPSTEIN

We

is

quently mentioned,

trained properly he resembles the cheru-

of the ark;

with

speculated that

[Exod. 25:22] were guardian angels. All had the

bim

the question,

lies in

The Fruit

destruction, while those hovering over the ark

is

un-

would turn

a well-meant but not very pertinent addition of

The Cherubim

a child

He

test, it

his future actions."

TALMUD

faces of children.

this

how

good and evil but rather death itself; so that we need scarcely doubt that the "prohibition" too is

man

had not been created but, now that he has been created, let him examine his past deeds. Some say: "Let him consider

them

did not refrain

consequence not the

They

if

really set

really dealing

he was

created than that he had not been created."

been gen-

from issuing a prohibition which, being disobeyed, would simply add to the malicious joy of His angelic host, whose attitude towards man was already most unfavourable. But the expression "good and evil" is a recognized and admitted gloss upon the text, and what we are

Controversy a half the

God

if

and the only obscurity

out,

book has omitted the phrase.

For two vears and

creative aid

doubtedly knew beforehand

The traditional prayer book (siddur), in the memorial prayer (El male rachamim), asks God to accept the departed in Eden; the Reform prayer

A

own

with God's

erated out of the knowledge of matter by the

praises of

destruction

[30].

speak of a

"fall" of the soul of the

primeval light man, only by overemphasizing the moral factor. The soul,

Sex and Death

certainly, has sinned against itself, frivolously sacri-

How

Sex and death

become known simultaneously.

passional enterprise, for

two related? They constitute the opposing extremes of pleasure and agony. They are Conalso the beginning and the end of life. sciousness of sex and time is associated in the tale

such a prohibition, at least according to the doc-

with the fear of death which, according to modern

ficing

its

original blissful

not against

God

in

prohibition of His in

trine

we have

tradition has

God

its

received,

was not

handed down

man, not "knowledge of good and to the first

member

that

and peaceful

we

state

—but

the sense of offending any

.

psychology,

issued. True, pious

to us the

command

and

of

Our

to eat of the tree of the evil";

but

we must

human

his

is

.

.

the basis of man's self-awareness

need for self-expression

in art

and

religion.

present knowledge marks a time between

approximately 40,000 and 80,000 years ago for the

re-

are here dealing with a secondary

and already earthly event and with

are the

process conceptualized in this tale.

AVRAHAM RONEN

beings

42

[31]

Gen. 4:i-26

Jiwu

Cain and Abel

Man's

eviction

from Eden and

transfer of important tion

and termination of

help of the Lord" (Gen.

life

his

consequent mortality imply

powers from God

now

rest

with

to

man. Both the

man — the former

4:i), the latter in defiance

of

God

choices is

a social setting. It

between good and

is

in

the context of

evil will

in this context that the interplay

bility

human

crea-

"with the

(the killing of

God

Abel). In the story of Cain and Abel, man's relationship to

plored in

a

is

ex-

relationships that

henceforth have to be made.

And

it

between human and divine responsi-

must be viewed.

The

theme

story of the brothers also introduces a secondary

Time

recur often in the Bible: the struggle between siblings.

that will

after

time

our sympathies are directed toward the younger one, and. even when like

Abel he

dies,

it is

a

still

younger

sibling, Seth,

who

provides the link

with the future.*

*

Note the struggle between Jacob and Esau

and between Joseph and born

is

his brothers.

The

Aaron,

etc.

This pattern

against the institution ol

first-

often passed over: Ishmael, Reuben,

commentary

to

reflect a prptest

primogenitur


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1

12] If you till the soil, it shall no longer yield its strength to you. You shall become wanderer on earth." 13] Cain said to the Lord, "My punishment is too great to bear! 14] Since You have banished me this day from the soil, and I must avoid Your presence and become a restless wanderer on earth anyone who meets me may kill me!" 15] The LORD said to him, "I promise, if anyone kills Cain, sevenfold vengeance shall be taken on him." And the Lord put a mark on Cain, lest anyone who met him should kill him. 16] Cain left the presence of the Lord and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

your hand.

a ceaseless



Cain knew

17]

named

his wife,

and she conceived and bore Enoch. And he then founded

the city after his son Enoch.

To Enoch was born

18]

wives: the

name o{

the one

was Adah, and

who

bore Jabal; he was the ancestor of those

name of pipe.

As

23]

12]

for Zillah, she bore Tubal-cain,

A

settle,

And Lamech

my

ceaseless

but

said to his wives,

speech. /

wanderer.

in the land of

lessness" (Gen. 4:i6), for

I

who

have

"Adah and

slain a

man

The banished Cain did Nod, the land of "restnowhere could he be at

sustained

him

day from

this

as

access to

sacred;

against 15]

/

its

God himself

suredly),

life,

Sevenfold.

it is

a

promise

Adah And the

20]

21]

the lyre and the

play

iron.

also

is

1

voice; /

/

And

a

that

is

is

read by

some

warned men

i.e.,

against

scholars as:

p

?

from

{lachen,

me.

/

a

sign of

23-24]

It is

not clear

(Gen. 5:31)

as-

4:24-

[7].

45

is

a

the Lord

murder. Medieval Christr

why

fragment. Lantech's song relate his invention of

"And

Cain himself was the sign

anity justified the Jewish badge as a

seen as a crime

1

wives of Lamech,

brand of rejection but

"mark of Cain."

the Bible recorded this is

weapons

or brutal arrogance. His says

O

a lad for bruising

meaning "many times,"

lore

put Cain as a mark,"

soil,

accustomed

and

my

protection against blood revenge.

[6].

When God

to himself

Zillah.

implements of copper and

A mark. Not

according to the Bible,

wanton destruction

promise.

his

his occupation,

Human

God.

the

farmer. Cain

a

punished by being exiled from

environment, from

who

all

all

Zillah, hear

/nix ppV You have banished me

Which had

is

forged

was

and amidst herds.

wounding me,

for

rest.

14]

in tents

Lamech took

19]

the other

was Naamah.

the sister of Tubal-cain

give ear to

dwell

name of

brother was Jubal; he was the ancestor of

his

22]

And

the

and

Irad, and Irad begot Mehujael,

and Mehujael begot Methusael, and Methusael begot Lamech.

two

a city,

life

possibly

meant

to

to his vcngctulncss

span of 777 years - and 77 of Gen.

sequence of the

Genesis 4

Bercshit

iaernx xip'i ktiV' inn_ »a » .- I.. -, nitdj- n^Vi :pp |.| T l

..

d

:nirr db>3

a'yap

T

|T

:

xnpb bmn

xnprn

tk pijx

Van

24] If

Cain

is

provided

Seth, in turn, a son

the

/ It

in place ot

I

ja -rVrn intpx-nx -riy

>a

:vnanV » •

:

nix

T ,

-

:

*

y-pi :nyat?i

nrtn -inx y-n D'n'Vx 'Vntf 'a ne> inirnx

Abel," for Cain had killed him.

was born, and he named him Enosh.

is

+

25]

avenged two times seven, then Lamech

It

was then

that

26]

men began

has

And

to

to

invoke

22

at 5:23

3

is

based on the sequence

2X7=

26]

2

and Gleanings

God has provided.

A word

plav, IVB-T\V (Seth-

provided).

and 77 = 42 + 5 2 + 6 2 reflecting the pervasive number symbolism of Genesis [8]. See also

+

nyaiz>

•,-

/

has been suggested that verse 24 be understood:

seventy-seven." This 2

,

Lord bv name.

"If Cain

i

rp'op' I-, ll,T

Then Lamech seventy-sevenfold." and she bore a son and named him Seth, meaning, "God

avenged sevenfold,

Adam knew his wife again, me with another offspring

25]

•naVi lv,v:

,

Enosh.

Began

46

poetic

term

[9].

for

"man."

invoke the Lord. Antediluvian

pictured as being close to

by name

to chapter 25./

A to

man

is

God and knowing Him

an essentially tragic character; he reacts with

Farmer and Shepherd

Much of Israel's

early history

with shepherds, the nomadic

encountered

riences

The

desert lands.

is

life,

traveling

in

blind violence to a rejection he cannot

and expethrough

with revulsion: but the text of Genesis aims

were nomads or

Patriarchs

com-

connected

prehend.

"We are accustomed to think of him

rather at evoking our

semi-nomads, and both Moses and David

who

were shepherds. The nomad looked upon all urban as well as rural, with contempt: They were slaves to possession and therefore prone to corruption and idolatry. Cain is a farmer, a settler, and Abel is a

and fear

sympathy

man

for a

atoned for his crime with homelessness

— a fate worse than death"

[11].

settlers,

One

shepherd.

reading of the story suggests

two

that the brothers represent man's

orig-

inal cultures in tension. 1

It

is

note, however, that Cain

is

condemned to be

a

nomad.

the

If

nomadic way of

why

deed, superior,

interesting to

life is,

in-

choice of punish-

this

ment? Most probably, the farmer-shepherd theme contributed to the original story but was blurred in later generations. From time theme, and

to time, the Bible returns to this especially

when

the city

object of distrust (see

"The

ll:i-26,

portrayed as an

is

commentary

to

Gen.

Am I My Few

back at God. But the meaning from clear. The following explanations have been suggested: The question implies the answer, for by Cain

is

flings

far

God Cain acknowl-

asking the question of

edges a higher moral authority.

someone

to

whom man

God

—only

Abel's

is

The theme is human responsibility. God, by the punishment He metes out, asserts that Cain was indeed his brother's keeper. Cain's question I

know

is

care?"

Cain,

brings

merely "an

A

by which Genesis explains the

be found in the

offering," flock.

Abel brings

One performs

offers the service

[10].

God's rejection of Cain's offering

is

is

that

inexplic-

human terms. God with His own wisdom: "I will be

gracious to

whom

33: 19).

acts in accordance

able in

I

ability

be gracious" (Exod.

will

unknown

His

man. The inexplicof divine preferment marks Cain as

1

It

also

idea of man's

human

better interpretation, however,

reasons are

"The

man

rebelliousness,

outward motions, the other of his heart

himself.

first

a

is

origins of the

two worshipers. While Cain

"the choicest" of his

God

the

sacrifices to

may

God's preference

defies

"How

essentially defiant:

—or

accepted; the biblical

no explanation for God's choice. Some commentators maintain that the key

to

is

for

his deeds.

who

writer offers

intent of the

There

must answer

product of the post-Eden world,

The Rejected Sacrifice Both Cain and Abel bring

more

often than this bold counter-question that

would

City").

Brother's Keeper?

phrases have been quoted

to

mental idea of

is

a funda-

and of

literature

Israelite religion in general.

One might

the Bible a chronicle of human rebellion"

call [

1

2].

According to Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai,

when God asked Cain "Where Abel?" Cain answered

"Am

your brother

is /

my

brother's

keeper? You are God. You have created man. It is Your task to watch him, not mine. If I ought not to have done what I did, You could have prevented me from doing it."

Thus, Cain makes

God

responsible

least co-responsible for his

Note that God does not tion,

"Am

I

my

own

or at

actions.

replv.

The ques-

brother's keeper?" remains

unanswered and has remained so despite the

appears in Sumerian literature, but as a

47

condition,

biblical

more

friendly

rivalry.

questions of succeeding generations.

God

silent

when men

kill

each other?

does His power begin and where does

God

asks

man

in turn asks I

my

alone

as well?

against

is

Where

to account for his deeds.

Man

now,

God

my

Am

to account for His.

brother's it

Are You not

blood

cries

out

not cry out against You,

This interpretation

2

is

appealing not only

asks questions of great urgency

Rabbi Shimon emphasizes

a slight shift in

this

,l

by pointing out that

cries

difficult to say

ought

to

[as

it

it

out against Me." Rabbi his

such a thing

be read] and the

comment,

[i.e.,

to read

mouth cannot

man

would imply the blaming of God]." He triangle to two gladi-

ators fighting before a king.

Me," say sorrowfully,

Shimon, aware of the implications of

it

utter

"Your

to

and death; offers

choice, the choice

accuses Cain by stating,

?y instead of

life

God

between good and evil. Cain chooses murder, the ultimate evil. And having granted man moral freedom, God, in a sense, shares in man's transgressions. But though man may ask where God was in the hour of violence, God's failure to answer does not reduce man's responsibility. a

compared the God-Cain-Abel

"Your brother's blood

the text as

new

post-Eden world,

would

(

brother's blood cries out

is

,l

in the

?N)

Gen. 4:io

make God, who now

says: "It

allows for a direct

choice was essentially between

too? 2

it

it

end?

me, does

because

today but also because

continuation of the Eden story. There, man's

it

brother's keeper?

If

Why

The

ruler could stop the

contest any minute, but he lets

deadly end.

bitter,

in the killing [13]?

"Man

does not

above"

[14].

lift

Is

he not, by

it

proceed to the

his silence, involved

Also note the talmudic saying: a finger unless

it is

decreed from

GLEANINGS

Cain

Was Tested The text says of

From urge

sin that "its

is

toward

you" [Gen. 4:7]. This implies that sin wants to be conquered by man; but if man fails to conquer it, sin returns to God and accuses man.

we

this

equal to

all

also learn that

one man's

life is

midrash

of creation.

[20]

Cain Built a Ca\

SAMSON RAPHAEL HIRSCH [This interpretation suggests that Cain was tested

To the ancient way of thinking, nothing seemed more natural than to represent a murderer and outlaw as the first builder of cities. The

by God and that the temptation was instituted for

ancients did not think of a city as arising out of the

Cain's benefit. Such a

of

Abraham and

theme

is

explicit in the stories

human The Quarrel

Abel said: "My sacrifice was accepted because good deeds exceeded yours." Cain answered: "There is no justice and there is no judge, there is no world-to-come and no reward or punishment

and wicked." About this the brothers quarreled. Cain set upon his brother Abel

for the righteous

killed

life in

the larger centers

them proof that the dtv had sinister origins. Towns and cities were to them abnormal and the product of unnatural circumstances. The fact that to

my

and

The complexity, marked of population were

exigencies of barter and trade.

the turmoil, and the degeneration which

Job.]

him with

nearlv every town harbored refugees from justice

or vengeance gave color to the belief that the

corrupt character of town populations was due to the degenerate character of the founders

MORDECA]

a stone.

JONATHAN BEN UZZIEL

M.

KAPLAN

[2l]

[15]

To Conquer Death

One more

Cain's Freedom

Say not:

not desire to

"God

sin.

No

has led

one

me

astray," for

He

does

bidden to be godless, and

is

no one did He give permission

Let us fight so as to

war.

The

Who

conquer death.

himself aspired to be not

to sin.

ben sira

[16]

in

history

but the

They always say that no more. Let us kill so

last.

as to fight

as

last

knows, perhaps Cain

just

the

1

Who

is

strong?

He who masters

it

temperament may make

easier to act in a certain

way, but he

is

never

thereby forced to do or not to do.

pessimistic interpretation of 4:i7-12 [see-

from God] became prominent

[18]

is,

itself,

in

The Hebrew 'OT [Gen.

4:io] appears to read

collective: Abel's

descendants also cried out to God.

unborn

mishnah

mates that to

it

a

turning

the Occidental

in fact, closer to the tale

spirit ol

Greek mytholog)

which quite undranuticallv

relates the acquisition of technical skills

Your Brother's Blood

were

It

of Prometheus and the

than to the Bible

if it

wiesel [22]

ing the rise of civilization essentially as

Christian tradition.

MAIMONIDES

"bloods," as

IE

The Rise of Civilisation

The true that a man's

1

his urge.

ethics of the fathers [17]

It is

murderer

first

well.

and

inti-

was God who enabled His creatures

accomplish such

feats.

CLAUS WESTl KM \NN [23]

[19]

49

Gen. 5:i-6:8

Primeval

In

this section the Bible presents the

first

human

Man

second of its genealogical

was that of heaven and earth (Gen. progeny. The careful

listing of

2:4),

the second

names (which

is

lines.

The

the line of

occurs twice) and

the detailed accounts of legendary long lives find their parallels in other ancient Near Eastern traditions. These annotated genealogies bridge the

gap between

Adam

and Noah, show the

rise

explain the present-day limitations of man's

50

of civilization, and try to

life

expectancy.

rruK"o nso m

n

>aH» ran

:nan

o

»nn

:nuai craa iVin

nixa

natf

nixa

nit?

pan

ana?

ytfiri

dix anVx x^a era aix niVin

rnatfi

T

T T

v.

-r

oxna napai nai

tfi3X

:

naa&n

a^yanx bxVVna-nx iinin

n3tp

n»p itpy It v r

I

w'ja ran— :ni3ai ana T

:

VxVVna »nn o :T*vnx

»nn ...

ibvi

T

maun ...

man

T ,

:nan

nxai

natf

:nan

o

This

a^Vah

I'pin

is

nat^

:ni3ai

o'v^l

&*7?n

inn

:ni3ai

Adam's

male and female

sons and daughters.

When

Tram

3]

He

5]

n3ts>

nnx nunw)

iTVin

yt?ni

nnfry

natr

'fin

^ynx T>i

aWi

nw

nnipy

aw

When Adam 4]

pan

And when

they were created,

Adam

After the birth of Seth,

All the days that

Adam

lived

Seth had lived 105 years, he begot Enosh.

807 years and begot sons and daughters.

8]

came

j

-

-

a

'

:

r

nana^a :na»i

»nn

E>i3x

Jl'jrnic

had lived 130 years, he begot

ant?

dWn nnm nnx

natf

— When God created man, He made him

created them.

:nan

:2>i3x-nx

o

nac?

line.

o

ana iVip na^ nixa ftart

nixa

n3B?

nn

narnx

naatf

:^ton

ana iVin

nixa y^ni

the record of

2]

E>i3x-nx

awn?

nxa

rfitf

:

xnpn

iatrnx

:nc?

nxai ana* pan ncnrpi

h3t e/

I

nixa ytfn nntfx aix 'a^na

natf

yap

image, and he named him Seth.

6]

natf

'

I



:

nxai a'ent? bix

inn

ana iVin

nixa

nnin nnx rrami

tfhTfm

and called them Man. his



nw

tfrtP>tf|

iVin. nitr

rotf

awi

rati

Traaraa ran

nn

ana

nixa naaBh

natf

aw

1]

T

.....

:ni3ai

naatf

of God;

K>an

D'as*

:ni3ai

T

nixa

•qian

iinin

inn

t'

:

nixa

nnx

-

aatrnx xnpn- anx raan T t,t -

T T

:

iaVva iniaia r>in

ytfni antf



,.

,.

,

iVm

-nx

awi

TT



nnx

aVw t-ihik Vp&i nnx VxVraa ...._.

na&>

VxVVna , a ,r,73 ran o

nixa

natf

nats*

•I"

iVi'i natf • |T T

T

x

I

|T

v

new anVx ma-ra

:inx

mx

ova :axnan T

*

- ,-



:

-

triax

in the likeness

He

blessed

them

son in his likeness after

lived 800 years and begot

to 930 years; then he died.

After the birth of Enosh, Seth lived

7]

came

All the days of Seth

to 912 years; then he

died.

When

Enosh had lived 90 years, he begot Kenan. lived 815 years and begot sons and daughters. 11] All 9]

After the birth of Kenan, Enosh

10]

the days of

Enosh came

to 905 years;

then he died.

When Kenan

12]

Kenan

had lived 70 years, he begot Mahalalel.

lived 840 years and begot sons and daughters.

13]

After the birth of Mahalalel,

All the days of

14]

Kenan came

to 910

years; then he died.

When

15]

Mahalalel had lived 65 years, he begot Jared.

Mahalalel lived 830 years and begot sons and daughters.

17]

16]

After the birth of Jared,

All the days of Mahalalel

came

to

895 years; then he died. 18]

When Jared

had lived 162 years, he begot Enoch.

lived 800 years and begot sons and daughters.

20]

19]

After the birth of Enoch. Jared

All the days of Jared

came

to 962 years;

then he died.

5:5]

Adam

figures

We do not know had anv symbolic mean-

up

some

particular scheme. In the

the Septuagint to 1411.

Masorctic text the year?

lived... 930 years.

whether these

ing or followed

51

to 1656. in the

of"

the antediluvians add

Samaritan version

to 1307, in

Genesis iVi'i v|-

Bcreshit

6

5;

nxai -

raff tt

uawaa uanr a-nx t

:nin» t

Q»y$n

wi a#

tt

:ni:ai

ni "r^'i n

T-: t

t

'

v,v

I



d»» iVip niy nXa Q'V^^i yap

$ ™ xa 09TO

"=

nixa wbw rfcgXMSTH tvtyn

s

-nx

aw *

tfaoi

aaV^a^a d

:na»i

naaxa

mxn

'a

nija-nx

can M

dwi

natc?

nnx 'nVxrrnx ana iVin

»s?"Va »nn :nijai

^Vann ma? nixa

Bfafl niBi

inx

man

iD'n'Vx

-nx ibin 1-

a3t?

••

*

a>m •,-

"

nitf

]

=




n

fita



ibbti 'tfjx

v,T

I

:

n1.T nax'i

nUa-Vx B'nVxn

T

nanrnxaT anxnT nyn - T

nx'-bai T -.I"

ann

dji

nVi anxn

.

320

t1tt6

»rtn

p-nnx

ntfx

'

anV mp'i njp nab

anfryi nxa itt vrn nfra

:rtk?

DnVT DnSarj" nan T|-

nai lan'ipy 'a 'nan:

um

Vaa

ntfx

wi D'Vsjn

anxa TT -

nljrryi fcan-ny nana-ny v ,v T

a'atfn t -

:nna

'

II

I

aViya ntfx

»3 nin' T

xnn

n

men were and they took wives from among those The Lord said, "My breath shall not abide in man forever, since he too is flesh; let the days allowed him be one hundred and twenty years." 4] It was then, and later too, that the Nephilim appeared on earth when the divine beings cohabited with the daughters of men, who bore them offspring. They were the heroes of old, the men of renown. 5] The Lord saw how great was man's wickedness on earth, and how every plan devised by his mind was nothing but evil all the time. 6] And the Lord regretted that He had made man on earth, and His heart was saddened. 7] The Lord said, "I will blot out from the earth the men whom I created men together with beasts, creeping things, and birds of the sky; tor regret that I made them." 8] But Noah found favor with the Lord.

beings saw

how

that pleased

beautiful the daughters of



them

3]







Still

I

another interpretation takes "divine beings"

to refer to the descendants of Seth

daughters" to refer to the descendants of Cain

The phrase has

been taken

also

3]

Shield.

common

ideal life

expected age of

man

is

5]

live 120 years),

reduced to

One hundred twenty

1X^x3X4X5 lection for

and

/According

to

the

while the

ten"

(Ps.

6]

commen-

some, one hundred twenty years

is

77ie

[10]./

mind. This translation of

his

is

idiomatic, since the

The "temperament"

[11].

Lord regretted.

"comfort,"

The

1

Ichrcw root oni can

"to change one's a

word play

mind" and

referring to Gen.

also

s^.

re-

[9]./

translation

superhuman marriages

has been translated as

mean both

A

The Septuagint

"IS'

rather than "plan"

7]

ones."

result of the

Plan devised by

word

Together with beasts.

Animals are included

in

the impending destruction because, according to

borrowed term or an archaism. 4] Rashi, like most older sources, relates Nephilim to the word *?D3 {nafal, fall): They are "the fallen Nephilim.

and

13:33). In

heart was believed to be the scat of thought.

"The Seventh Day."

presents a probationary period

them" (Num.

multiple of

(see

[81

to

1

reflects the biblical predi-

number symbolism

tary to Gen. 1:1-2:3,

is

like grasshoppers to ourselves,

13 ? (literally, "his heart")

"The days of

70.

Moses had sent returned,

another view, the "heroes of old," not the Nephilim,

Becomes the

our years are threescore years and 90: 10).

married

uncertain.

is

years.

whom

we must have looked

so

were the

The Hebrew meaning

span (Moses will

the spies

"and we looked

[6].

folk [7]./

One hundred and twenty

When

they reported that they had seen Nephilim in Canaan:

recording inter-

as

class marital unions: sons of the aristocracy

daughters of the

/

and takes "human

the biblical view, thev existed for the sake of

man.

According to Rashi, what use would there be for animals

"giants."

53

if

man

ceased to exist?

biblical genealogies

The Early Generations

The reader

will look in vain for

planation of how the world suddenly filled

whom

became

women

and

Cain was apparently afraid and

would build

cities.

this difficulty

were

men

with people, the

The

There

speculation. If it is

this

probably because

is

story.

sisters

much

tion of

man's

as

it is

spiritual state.

on the matter,

as

there

2

Enosh Kenan

Enoch

3

Mahalalel

Irad

4

Jared

Mehujael

5

i

vlethusael

6

Lamech

7

Naamah

8

their king

lists,

as

deals with

differences.

significant

The

but the Bible treats the ante-

ancestors of one another and all

mankind. The Bible eschews

men and

lists;

that

is,

not with semidivine

thousands of years. In the Bible, a thousand

Enoch Methuselah

years

regarded

is

as a

day of God

and no one of the ancients

Lamech Noah

(Ps. 90:4),

in the biblical

account reaches the millennial age.

The longevity of the antediluvians should, therefore,

be seen in the context of such an-

cient

To say were meant as

traditions.

969 years

Noah appears when

ment.

artificial

the as

the seven generations of

have run their course.

his

between these

list

1

a

interpretation.

to

The Bible presents

of the primevals and their long lives

Adam possessed potential immortality';

immediate descendants had, by our standvery long

murderer.

term nnVin

It

may

(tokdot)

life

also is

midrash that suggests

54

shorter units, such

an intermediate stage in man's develop-

ards,

The inclusion of Seth and the change from Cain to Kenan w as probably due to the understandable disinclination to have all men appear to be descended from

that Methuselah's

months, merely subjects the Torah

as

parallels

visible,

Even the longevity attributed to Seth's line must be compared with that of the Babylonians, who were reputed to live for

Mehujael we arrive at a single basic list, which in the biblical tradition is presented in two variants. Mankind has one ancestor (Adam or Enosh) and one line of descent. 1

There are strong

biblical

kings.

and Enosh both mean "man." Other names in the two lists are like-sounding, and by exchanging the places of Enoch and

man

vital statistics

[14].

mythological allusions in these

all

Adam

prehistoric

also

diluvians

it

Cain

are

ultimately of

startling

similarity

Adam

from which

Babylonians attached these traditions only to

speaking of

a

with the remotest

These were

more ways than one"

"To dediunbroken

While the parallels between the and Babylonian traditions are clearly

an explana-

comparison between the names of Cain's

and Seth's descendants reveals and some duplication:

a secure link

to face the future. in

prototypes, not of actual people.

A

[13].

past and hence also a firm basis

Thus, the Bible

should here be understood

genealogical interest was character-

meant

lineage

not the purpose of

to present

The

cated guardians of sacred traditions,

chapter to present mankind's ongoing

story as

both cases

In

first cities.

of the Western Semites

istic

was populated.

silent

it is

"culture-heroes''

they end with the protagonist of the Deluge

student of the Bible to follow this line of the text

including the

tion,

however, no need for the modern

is,

lists

responsible for basic contributions to civiliza-

of

who

born to Cain, Abel, and later Seth, and

that in this fashion the earth

name

both cases they

In

ancients tried to solve

by suggesting that twin

and the Babvlonian

of antediluvian kings and their counselors.

an ex-

spans;

the

be that for

this

denied the Cain

Naamah was

Patriarchs,

reason the

line.

Note the

Noah's wife

[12].

Joseph, Moses, and Joshua,

only the "normal"

life

view, man's longevity

some

stage

and only

men have

is

Possibly because

again reach the high ages of old

history,

say:

man

may

be

size

nor

giants,

achieved renown

evaluated

own de-

neither

at his reputation

but

at

man's

at his heart,

God

devices evil. Hence,

its

make

resolved to

their

human

and were heroes by

and He found

re-

not excised?

it

such appeared to

He looked

velopment,

was

as

When God

values.

The Divine Beings The notation about the legendary "divine beings" and their giant offspring

and

Men became

in their time,

65:2o).

(Isa.

Why

served as an introduction

it

to the Flood story

limited severely at

the messianic days will

the one mythological fragment

as

retained in Genesis.

span. In the biblical

between prehistory and

in

garded

lived past the

all

century mark; thereafter, however,

a

new

start

with Noah.

GLEANINGS

Lamech

Ben Azzai

Marital problems, occasioned by the taking of

two women, brought him mental

distress,

which

tracing back the

SAMUEL DAVID LUZZATTO

Lamech's descendants were worthy of him: They developed great wealth and other doubtful acof his

enly Father

ment

of

is

One

M.

KAPLAN

greatest [for

what

in the

principle

is

[l8]

Genesis 5:i: "This

of one

man [Gen. 5:i]. This teaches man is as dear in God's eyes as midkash

[19]

Rabbi Akiba and

19:i8]

is

Men

said: is

The

of Renown

Human

the

hateful to you do not do

unto your neighbor]. Ben Azzai

life

the whole universe.

Torah

scholars,

yourself" [Lev. is

KASHHR

M.

and the creation of one

[l6]

Ben Azzai, debated which was the most important principle in the Torah. Rabbi Akiba said: "Love as

have one Creator

Man

that the

your neighbor

men

describe the creation of the

MORDECAI

Two second-century

by one God, the Bible

— the heav— and one ancestor— the human father. all

The same word, nnVin [lines], is used to w hole world [Gen. 2:4]

presumption.

The Most Important Verse

quoted, the scholar saw

human brotherhood: By whole of the human race to one

HBNAHI M

thus represented as the very embodi-

human

fundamental teaching of

they refined the art

war and altogether encouraged man's belief in own self-sufficiency. Lamech, the father of all

of them,

a

single ancestor, created

[15]

taught that

civilization;

down

in the verse

the basic declaration of

explains the violent song attributed to him.

couterments of

laid

Judaism. For

corruption began at that time, and

began with the heroes of

old. the

men

of

it

renown

(Gen. 6:4). Ever since, the debasement of society

greatest

the record of

has started with

Adam's line. When God created man, He made talmud [17] him in the likeness of God."

"men

those entrusted with ship. [20]

55

of renown." that Responsibility

is.

with

and leader-

Gen. 6:9-8:14 ro

The Flood A

/

Tany ^diverse

J-VX suggested either

by 4

cultures

tell

about

stories

a great flood.

that these recall an earth-wide catastrophe brought

_

scientific investigations

— between

have shown

account

themes are

(

%

\

03>9.

(~\^yj

t.1

There

j stories

is

details

noise, (disturb>>he slee p

In the Bible,

Noah

is

a story

biblical

—3

with

a

or a

moral.

Its

it is

'^

human

removed from human as the

is

human

boister-

.

_to react.

human voyage

over

elevated to immortal status) and

history.

Most important:

counteragent of

human

other Near Eastern traditions such a divine response

(A new weekly portion,

sin that causes

Arrahasis "

htrfie p ods a n cP can.setriem

Gilgam esh," the flood hero

institutes law

Tao^lM^Y^

and other Near Eastern flood

saved so that he might begin the

'f

God

may

— the ark, the raven, the dove—but there are funda-

onsness and

is

memory

prehistoric

the will of God.

to,

^Ppfne Floods /in the Babylonian-AkkadianJ e:pi'' of

thereby

the transition /' (}/

)

differences in approach. In the Bible,

again; in

Lo a)

righteousness, and man's second opportunity to live in

agreement between the

on many

£; Omental ~H

sin,

it

l

e^Iesop otaniian (valley .)&? jQ *vhich

terrestrial

resulted in a rise in sea level sufficient to cover

\

Wf^s

has been

It

JSoach, begins here.)

in

the^ftJranT^

wickedness, while in is

absent.

_

,

„•*;

*A

'~> '

m

JVDK

l 1

nsVan nax-Vxi nan ? nfewn nbyaVa nnsi - nni »|v T T -,,. T :

|-



:

pxn-by

nntfV

Va

D'atfn -

I"

••

I

ww

nfeyn nntfafl

nnna o»n nm "I" -



I'aa^

nann-Vx

Vaa

Tv ? a

:

mraV naixn

D'3» T

T

:

ti^ I

:

:

mm » T

mVx I

:

|v

3

n '0*V





tV k

T

:

-

:

|T

:

-.

:

~wx Vaa

m

-

:ns'-nxi ,,,

pan

xVani D'nVxn

»

nsaa

-I

mV

D'nVx naxp

"isnsy nan

D'ap

vinai

-

|

I

-



,-

T

:

T

:

-

1

uwbm nam

:nnaip nax

" 3

'

|T

T

'

:

xa T

ntryn :—. -

-

mi

ntfx -

-

*

-I

-.

'as ?

nanmnx

nnsai - T r

1

:

:jnxmnx amntpa

?]V nt?y

maa nnX



rpKT^s

o

nnX nax nixa wbv nnX nfryn »

:nfry

-

mm pxn

nipa-Va n'ntfrra nnniw T T r T ,r fi?

°

T

omasa can rixn nxVa-'a

»ani

:nVaxb M

&y»i



:

lipa-Va

-

^ aa

1X ?,

-

:

1 ntfx Vaxa nsoxi Vax = • T : - T 1

••

73 n\-frx inx nix

W

)

ianrnx

niVin nVx

a^Vxmnx amnx nirnx

-nx n'n'Vx xmi :oan

baa nraV nanan T

p

-Vaa ^Vnp- nnK 1 ^i'nnV on^i v T

"ID

,

,

1

m

03

iVri iru-nVnnn

rnxn nntfm 1T T

'3D ....?

nnx nann-Vx

na ^ 1

fran v

T-: T

1

n
a Viaan-nx x'aa »an

nxai nnx 'nna-nx 'papni

:nnx

,

awn

a»nnn

,D

,c

-

nax D^an nann iya-Va lypa? njn ni»a

dv D'yaix pxn-^y awn vpi nnroBh

ni

3

xa run btn oxya :nW> myanxi

r

nanan-Vai artft T T „._ T .

.

:

"

I

mhB

rm ia~itfx nfran-Vaa on* dip mx nirxa ixa ntea _ Vaa,nap3i nai

,d

ixa>i Itt If :«i3a-Va T

Lord

said to

found righteous before

Tty

Dwb

av

a^yanx

the earth.

4]

and

nights,

For

in

Noa h,

Me

|T

—.

••



xV

nanan-rai

-itfx

n?n Viaani

nstf

intfxi

minen nanan-]a

-^y &an-iB>x Vai niyn-jai

all

j

ni'nb

i

nyatf

»aftj

riVb D'yanxi

&yn :nanxn tt.t

:

nanan-iai

:intfxi

i_s

Vya

n

nixa tftna

nai T T

ni

nil

'

xa»i |T



:Viaan 'a *3sa

mm

n

n33'x ne*x

your househol d, for you alone

Of every

clean animal you shall take

not clean, two, a male and

its

seven pairs, male and female, to keep seed alive upon

all

make

will

I

from the earth

Lord commanded him. Noah was six hundred years

wnai

intfxi

yn

'is-^y

3

I

*

7

T

'\Go_into the ark.jwith

also,

m

nanrrVx tax na-'tni " - T T

in this generation. -^2]

seven days' time

will blot out

I

nanan

pxn-Vy tbbb

t: viuriBK Vaa

|

of the birds of the sky

3]

nnintsn

;n»n-V3

»|

seven pairs, males and their mates, and of every animal which

mate;

*|fiT£ri

naj nyatf nyatf D'atfn Hiya-a?

:pxrrVy d?b 1D

the

mtf xin

nyatf

rrrtrt'

iterSaT inraV _

Then

I]

have

e^x

^nx-»a

T nan :nann rwnb t|t-t-t: t-: -Tnn-Vai

D'xam :o«n D'nVx ink

nyat?

|

wxi

p*ra

'3sV

'nnpy ntfx aip'n-Va-nx

1

-

trx

niia

nBfafl ni nt^xi n3">33 na'i

liyn-Vai inra ? pK-i-Vv fcann franrrVai

nann-Vx nrVx T

:rnn

nap_3i

:inns>3 D'atfn

wa-^i

-Vx ddx

Van

T

I

all

rain

it

is

upon

existence that

I

the earth, forty days and forty

created."

5]

And Noah

did just

as the 6]

with

his sons, his wife,

Flood.

8]

Of

and

old

when

his sons'

the ark, as

7]

Noah,

of the

two of each, male and female, came

And on

10]

birds, to

and of

Noah

into

the seventh day the waters of the Flood

the earth.

In the six

II]

9]

God had commanded Noah.

the month,

came, waters upon the earth.

the clean animals, of the animals that are not clean,

everything that creeps on the ground,

came upon

the Flood

wives, went into the ark because of the waters o( the

on

hundredth year of Noah's that

life, in

the second

month, on the seventeenth day of

day

All the fountains of the great deep burst apart,

And (12]

the flood-gates of the sky broke open.

The

Noah's

on the earth forty days and forty nights.) 13] That same day Noah and Shem, Ham, and Japheth, went into the ark, with Noah's wife and the three wives 14] they and all beasts of every kind, all cattle of every kind, all creatures of every

rain fell

sons,

of his sons



winged thing. 15] They came to Noah into the ark, two each of all flesh in which there was breath of life. 16] Thus they that entered comprised male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him. And the Lord shut him in. kind that creep on the earth, and

7:2]

birds of every kind, every bird, every

Fit,

according to the laws of

sacrifice.

Rashi and others: "Clean"

Clean animal.

the Torah.for

all

according to dietary laws;

fit

for eating.

58

1 1]

In the second month.

Probably of the

fall,

the rainy season begins in the Near East,

when

n ixffn T |T -

lnxrnn V|T

I

pxrrVy

T

'

nan

D'an

~

I

:nana inx

n^nn-Va

-Vy

hn

Q'n'Vx nay?i

nrnx

^~

n'n'Vx

nan? inx

ntfx

nanxi ainn nrya nao»i :a'an

Vy

"

nanan =

nin' mp»i

"

nXa iXa naa D'ani reran ^s'Vy nann

»

H^^V

txa iami D'an

r

annrnVa

ioa*i

rnxn

iran n'an miry naa nVyaVa - -I :D'atfn -: * T * •|Tt:1-:- nax T :|i

Vya can

ntf»i

o^an nspa nyatra

:

acapnia

D'an

mpnn

own

mm

:trt»

ennb

t

'

t-:

- t

-

r,

nxai

-

T

r

T

train

nfca-^a

yin :annn wart «

-^y yiV7\

f jtf.jl'jai mnai nanaai qiya a»n mmnatn ntfx Va :mxn Vai pxn »

">

Vy B'lfib ni' n&y cam T :tmx nri mxa n*ipya n^yn trrnn iy mom

It

srtVn T7i t

f^crW

]

fwn

aian ^iVn

trma nann

'iraffn

xVa'i tratfn

r

pxn

D'an ian»i

ixe»i

-Va nnmntrx D'naan

pxn

latf'i

:nya

'mi

JTUK13

ran :p xn

TVpl

nan

Vnan

Vya nnni nanmnx

nxni Dtfan

nrnx

ron

-by dv o^yanx

V |V

:

ntz>xi

:Bt>

-Va-nxi

ran»

nisnsn

ina'i o'atfn T |- T -

I

;i

n

•Va-nx na»i :vm nanna nirx Vaa vsxa

T

nana-iy

mxa

naixn

'js-Vy

''

new mpSJ

w

uwdv> Ub ^c££/S^dcuj &{y &ci The Flood continued

17]

so that

forty days on the earth, and the waters increased and raised the ark

rose above the earth.

it

18]

The waters swelled and increased

and the ark drifted upon the waters. earth,

all

)

t

the high est_m ountains

When

19]

everyw here under



birds, cattle, beasts,

and

all

much more upon

the sky revere covered/)

higher did the waters swell, as thlTTmoun tains were covered. earth pe rished

greatly upon the earth,

the waters had swelled

the things that

20]

the

Fifteen cubits

And Ml flesh that stirred on swarmed upon the earth, and all 21]

was the merest breath of life, all that was on drv land, man, cattle, creeping things, and birds of died. 23] All existence on earth was blotted out the skv; thev w«re blotted oui from the earth. Qnlv Noah was ler t. and those with/him in the mankind.

^O

24]

All in

22]

whose

nostrils

&

all

F^P^y,had And when the waters



Oft. VL.

'

n>an" ntfT-ny- 3tent Kirt xx»i r

iVj^n

Vya D'an nnn r

t



Vya n'an

:

nixnV inxa nap-nx nbyy

nap t-

pixn-Va »3s-Vy D»a

:nanxn nxxa-x'Vi tt-:t 'as t:,t 'a

nann-Vx vVx

atfni

P

nVtf'i

:

Vrm :nann-Vx vb» nnx xan nnp 'i

re lann ram xti

trmV

jit ;

:|t

T

- -

T

-p nap-nx nbv

nn&yi nvatfa

Qfflo rty_d^sjNo^h

sent out(t he raven

.



pxn I

"

nixnwi nnxa

-

v.r T

I



pa

^pen£xi7fne

window

^0*1

annx

dw

nyatf niy

of the ark_that he had made ^7]__and_

wentn:o)and(froyntil the waters had dried up from the earth.

8]

Then he

out the dove to see whether the waters had decreased from the surface of the ground.

'^\ /9] But the dove could not \^there was water over all

find a resting place for

its

foot,

and returned to him

the earth. So putting out his hand, he took

it

to the ark, for

into the ark with

11] The 10] He waited another seven days, and again sent out the dove from the ark. — dove came back to him toward evening, and there in its bill was a plucked-off olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the waters had decreased on the earth. 12] He waited still another seven 3 days and sent the dove forth; and it did not return to him any more.

,^-f/o/__him. spx

'aya nvn T

75V

nna-nx 'man

-

:

nna

:

nfcanaa rrn atorba

ntpx

nnm

naib rpn'xm pya ntfpn ]'ai

d\-6x

d

ipxn-Vyn^xntpa-Va^arra'riapn-iB'x

orn

nsm

nxsa nVxai

at?

ym

ne»i :ana

nVx

naixn vrx

ni ^n»i

xti :nVnx ^ina V?rn

'ax an

mpj^

np'i :fina

man!

6]

image

/

Whoever

'ax xin

:pxnna

=

in

l'ax

natfi ]»n-]a

nny nx

jyja

7]

Be

'an

napm :pxn

Viaan 'aa

anVx r>ai

M

"riy

nax'i

'3xi

:naxb inx na-Vxi

°

:pxn

i3

j'ai

By man

Viaa iiy ,t.t"kVi

?ni 'jxntrx

nnl

1

?

nna

'?'a

shall his

"?aa

*

nnan6i aanx 'nna

nfra'Va

va

aa'3'ai

-it?x

nann 'xr

n»n baV

:pxn nn&V

'rie/p/nx laViy

sheds the blood of man, /

Did God make man.

n

1

nanx fnxn nnnaai nana? ^iya aanx -nx

D>

ntfVtp :iyja

dm'Vx obxa

rvnn csijna nxi :Dannx Daynrnxi oanx r

nann-ja a'xrn nraa rrn "

rtinaa

«

ixntf

vi



'nnanx cpa

nViy

nnan-nix nxi ni-Vx anVx naxji :pKrrVy

am

I

n&a-Va » |?a

ntpy

ninx anVx nax'i pxa :It|tt "I" o :roram

:

|

na DnxY :Dix.rnx

law

,::

nrwb Viaab tran riy rrnn6i nfranaa n»n v :ttt:t-

rjs^ iai Dixa Q-ixn dt nap iqikh

»a

oanx

3

'

nnan-nix nxi

ie/x n»n

vsrbD

«

1

nix ? nnni y;ya 'nru

blood be shed;

/

For in His

and increase; abound on the earth and

fertile, then,

increase on it." 8] And God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 9] "I now establish My covenant with you and your offspring to come, 10] and with every living thing that is with you birds, cattle, and every wild beast as well all that have come out of the ark, every living thing on





earth.

11]

waters of 12]

God

I

will maintain

My

covenant with you: never again

further said, "This

is

the sign that

every living creature with you, for it

shall serve as a sign

over the earth, and the

Me

shall all flesh

be cut off by the

flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth."

a

all

I

set for the

ages to come.

Me

of the covenant between

bow

appears in the clouds,

and you and every living creature among

13]

all

covenant between I

have

set

and the earth.

15]

I

will

Me

and you, and and

My bow in the clouds, 14]

remember

flesh, so that the

When

I

bring clouds

My covenant between

waters

shall

never again

become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16] When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures, all flesh that is on earth. 17] That," God said to Noah, "shall be the sign of the covenant that I have established between Me and all flesh that is on earth." Ham being 18] The sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem, Ham, andjapheth the father of Canaan. 19] These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the whole world branched out. 20] Noah, the tiller of the soil, was the first to plant a vineyard. 21] He drank of the wine and became drunk, and he uncovered himself within his tent. 22] Ham, the rather ot Canaan, saw his father's nakedness and told his two brothers outside. 23] But Shem and japheth took a



9]

My

made

covenant.

God now

fulfills

the promise

18]

(berit) is

often used with the

cut a berit"

is

Torah

is

all

Semites,

As far as the Ham's primary im-

being the father of Canaan.

concerned, this

is

portance.

idiomatic for "to conclude a cove-

nant." (See Gen.

Shem. Ancestor of

Ham

The term n"~)3 verb TH3 (cut). "To

before the Flood (6:i8).

15:io.)

20]

68

To plant a vineyard.

Wine growing

is

repre-

pen ns

,l

7

laVi omtf natrby i»nn nVafcrrnx ns'i dp

dviVx ns' :fob iay ]v:s \ti p

inx nrrn

:iaV

iay

iy]a

Br'Vnxa

»n*)

rmnx

n:!

w\ :n# onflam niff nixa pVp Vnan > :nb»i n# n^ani n# nixa ytfn rtfro

-Va

d

nx vti

nny nx

-iax>i :jDpn tia ft

•ana

»n'Vx nirr

loa'i

minx

:wi xb pnrnj nrwi «

fc*a ni fj?«i

13* T^a inx dp

cloth, placed

ams-i arrax

-i»x*i

nfrnffK



onay

»

:vnxV ,t.t

against both their backs and, walking backwards, they covered their father's

it

nakedness; their faces were turned the other way, so that they did not see their father's nakedness.

done

to

24]

brothers."

26]

slave to them. /

And

let

28]

When Noah woke

wine and learned what

his

youngest son had

his

The lowest of slaves / Shall he be to his And he said, "Blessed be the Lord / The God of Shem; / Let Canaan be a 27] May God enlarge Japheth, / And let him dwell in the tents of Shem; /

Canaan be

Noah

up from

25] he said, "Cursed be Canaan;

him,

/

them."

a slave to

lived after the Flood 350 years.

29]

And

the days of

all

Noah came

to 950 years;

then he died.

sented as an ancient practice.

represented or reinforced the blessing of the person

/Compare the Greek stones of Deucalion and Diony-

himself

sus and of "Gilgamesh" which

giving wine to his ark-building 24]

His

youngest

Ham

son.

tells

of Utnapishtim

is

as the

middle brother.

traditions here. est" to

is

the

as in

25:32). slave.

a

two separate

this

Advocates of the black

to base their beliefs

tion

and has nothing whatsoever

May

(iod

enlarge Japheth.

np^— rip\ Japheth here most Philistines,

Gen. 32:u.

on

this

passage deals with political subjec-

27]

listed

Older commentators took "young-

mean "unworthy,"

but

text,

here called

Critics sec

Sam. be

I

man's slavery used

workmen./

youngest; elsewhere (Gen. 9:i8; 10:i) he

(cf.

Canaan

while

Shem

to

likely

refers

do with

A word to

race.

pla\

on

refers to the

the

Israelites.

Genesis (unlike Judges and Samuel) envisions the

The lowest of slaves. "slave of slaves."

25]

26]

Blessed be the Lord.

The Hebrew idiom

Noah

Shem's God, for blessing

is

Philistines

and

Israelites as living in

verse, therefore, prohablv

blesses not

Shem

room

but

for the Philistines that

peacefully with Israel"

a person's divine protector

69

harmony. The

means: "\!av God

[4].

make

they might dwell

The Rainbow

The

In ancient mythologies a rainbow rep-

brevity of the biblical story

resented instruments used by gods in battle.

due

The bows would be hung

version, but even in the

in the sky as

sym-

bols of victory. In Babylonian tradition, for

example, the god Marduk suspended

his

bow

more

to the expurgation of a

may

be

detailed

condensed form the

ancient Israelites doubtlessly understood

its

implication. 2 In the context of Genesis, the

retained aspects of such myths.

was a subtle assertion that the Hamites (Egyptians) and the Canaanites were the descendants of sexual deviates. The crime of

word

Ham,

in the

heavens after he had defeated Tiamat,

The Bible has The Hebrew means both "bow of war"

the goddess of the deep waters.

ntf j? (keshet)

and "rainbow," but

usual the Torah has

as

assimilated the material to convey a deeper

meaning. believes that

It

of

all

God

is

the proximate cause

natural events and that manifestations

of the natural order are invested with divine portent. 1 Thunder, earthquakes, and floods

rubric as does the rainbow

fall

under

(see

commentary

sees the

this

to

bow both

Gen. 6:9-8: 14). The text

as a sign of

God's ruler-

ship over the natural order and as God's

permanent signature

to His

promise. The

tale

It is worth noting that the Bible assigned prominent place to the theme of sexuality in the stories of both the first antediluvians (Adam and Eve) and the first postdiluvians (Noah and his offspring). Further, the motif of sexual aberration linked to drunkenness occurs again in the story of Lot and his daughters a story that ends by asserting that Moab and Amnion also were nations of indecent sexual background (Gen. 19:32-



38).

The Noahide Laws

his Creator.

more

a transgression far

Uncovering

naked and a

Even before the revelation at Sinai there were certain laws, according to the Rabbis, that were binding on all men. This view holds that while Jews are subject to the extensive

serious than seeing

observe at least a

drunken stupor. nakedness was a

euphemism for sexual relations (see 18). The story of Ham and Noah should

be read, therefore,

1

A number

terprets

as

mean

that

while

who

He now

Ezra rejects

invested

it

with meaning

for

main-

the

were believed

to

fetched unless viewed in conjunction with an old

in-

God had [5].

of fundamental

have been incumbent on the sons of Noah and therefore to have become obligatory for man-

myth

Canaanite

previously created the rainbow as part of the natural

order

number essential

called "Noahide"; they

one of sexual perversion.

of commentators follow Saadia

Gen. 9:i3 to

non-Jews must

tenance of a decent society. These laws are

biblical

Lev.

deemed

precepts

all

Torah

provisions of the

in a

relative's

nearest

Israel's

a

The Crime of Ham The punishment meted out to Ham seems harsh in the extreme, and this harshness suggests that the Bible was referring to one's father

belongs to the genre of

neighbors and dearest enemies.

rainbow is thought to remind God of this promise and to remind man of the grace

and forbearance of

therefore,

polemics employed against

emasculated

Ibn

The Talmud records an argument on this matter between Rav and Samuel. One of them believed that Noah had been castrated, the other that he had been abused sexually [6]. The argument may appear far-

god Anu.

how

the god El-Kronos had

and with the Hurrian legend

how Kumarbis

that told

father, the

this view.

that told

his father

severed the genitals of his

In the

Midrash

[7]

trayed as laughing at his father, and so

2

who

like

Ham

is

Ham is

is

por-

Kumarbis

cursed for his deed. Evidently these

old mythic traditions were current millennia after

they were

first told,

were familiar

70

and we

may assume

to the biblical author.

that they

kind,

A

from Noah's sons "the whole

since

world branched out" (Gen. In interpreting chapter

verse

2,

16,

3

became the

the

six such basic laws: Man may not worship idols; he may not blaspheme God; he must establish courts of justice; he may not kill; he may not commit adultery; and he may not rob. A seventh law — that man may not eat flesh cut from a

Rabbis established

animal

living

(Gen.

—was

added

Rabbinic

9:4).

[10],

come

can arrive at and must

The prohibition

Jewish

who

also

man

and

the Get Toshav,

who

cide I

does not observe

privilege

I

fold,

non-Jews

17:23).

The

in the

(i.e.,

ethical

the

in

to save his

The

rewards

commandments"

[13].

fulfilment

God's

which

it

became

it

children it

(II

Sam.

were discussed in 6, which forbids

made man is

His

in

not redder

no man may take

if this

is

the only

way

it

in a different in

said

that

man

was

a blessing:

should be

1:28),

it

as

command, and

a

must be fathered

in

here

several

order to

fulfil

[18].

Him

abstain

fashion three other basic prohibitions are derived

The

rabbinic tradition

about Noahides.

taken

presuppose law hence meaning that every society

incident re-

[16].

first

issued

is

4

to

sui-

verse

verse, but reading

(Gen.

fertile

The command (in Gen. 2:i6) to Adam (i.e., to all men) is taken to imply that all men can have a concept of God and are therefore forbidden to blaspheme

bound

and

prohibition against abortion was based

When God

of

cove-

is

[14].

man" [17]. The duty to have children was deri\ed from "Be fertile and increase" (Gen. 9:i, 7).

3

"Commanded"

Jewish

way: "Whoever sheds the blood of man

possible to speak of law.

or to practice idolatry.

even

life

own

on the same

nant with Noah established the framework in

9,

better) than another's,

an innocent

all

come" [12]. most of these laws were already known to Adam, why were they named for Noah and not Adam? "The answer is that all law must be rooted in a covenant, and before Noah there was no covenant. There is a legal implied

limits of self-defense

image. Since one man's blood

if

relationship

a it

life-blood

the death of Ahithophel

bloodshed because God

of the world to

But

The only other

16: 18). is

the

observe the Noahide laws will

many

against self-injurv

reference to chapter

according to Jewish law,

and

foundation for

a

the

who

participate in salvation

Kings

officially declares

for,

9:4).

will require a reckoning" (Gen. 9:5) [15].

corded

Holy Land. "Unlike Christianity, Judaism does not deny salvation to those outside of its

(Gen.

was based on "for your own

does;

The latter was then given of becoming a resident alien in

however, eat

it"

Note that in biblical times suicide was rare (except under stress of battle; see I Sam. 31:4;

before a court that he will observe the seven precepts.

became

The prohibition

distin-

who

in

dietary and slaughtering regulations

guished between three types of Gentiles: the Nochri (Akkum),

life-blood

its

not,

While this was taken to refer primarilv to limb from a living animal ( , nn p "ON),

to observe a

the Noahide laws; the Ben Noah,

with

flesh

but the

tradition

consuming blood

against

was based on "You must

of religious and legal precepts. 4

Consequently,

reference points or proof texts

for certain regulations of later Jewish law.

the Flood

remains the same: every

basic concept

minimum

after

vary

lists

Law

Source ofJewish

Several biblical passages in this section

9: 19) [8].

He

is

requires of Gentiles that the\

from the pollutions of idols, from eating blood

and the meat of strange animals, and from

is

cation

to establish courts of law. In this homiletic

71

[9].

reflected in Paul's teaching

[11].

forni-

GLEANINGS

Carnivorous

Man

So

judges

man

to

have remained what he always was,

namely, "evil from diluvian

his

man had been man still

postdiluvian

youth" (Gen.

8:21).

The permission

ment

human

to the

—said the Lord, who takes vou back in love. ISAIAH 54:9-10

[Read

as

much

misery

reading

A New

as wine.

talmud

prophetic portion (Haftarah)

story

is

Creation

number

of ways

Noah

tions. [19]

Compare Gen.

1:27

and

Adam,

9:6 (created in God's

(commanded

given mastery over creation); story of Noah's drunkenness expresses the

parallels

both are the progenitors of succeeding genera-

image); 1:28 and 9:i-2

The

when

the assigned weekly Torah

(sidrah).]

In a for

as the

Noah

the

God said to Noah: "You should have been warned by the example of Adam whose perdition came about through eating the fruit of the vine." It is taught that the tree from which the original Adam ate was the vine, for there is nothing which

man

may move

the hills be shaken,

reality.

Noah's Drunkenness

brings

will not

My loyalty shall never move from you, My covenant of friendship be shaken

But

Nor

to eat

appears therefore as God's resigned adjust-

flesh

I

For the mountains

And

Ante-

rapacious and violent, and is.

swear that

I

Be angry with you or rebuke you.

God, surveying the survivors of the Flood,

3:

17

to

be

fertile;

and 8:22 (Noah

saved from the curse put upon Adam).

healthy recoil of primitive Semitic morality from the licentious habits engendered by a civilization

Humiliation

the salient feature of which was the enjoyment

john skinner

and abuse of wine.

The Torah condemns shedding "the blood of

[20]

man

in

man"

(a literal

reading of 9:6; see the ha-

lachic application above).

God

The Waters of Noah For

As

I

this to

Me

is

like the waters of

Noah:

swore that the waters of Noah

Nevermore would

will require the penalty also of

publicly humiliates a fellow

"shed" when he

is

made

him who

man, whose blood

to blush in

CHAFETZ CHAYIM

flood the earth,

72

is

shame. [2l]

Gen. 10:i-32

The Nations

Chapter It

10

is

an overview of the nations

belongs to the

universal;

thereafter,

last its

segment of the book

ground

is

therefore

more than

for the stories to follow.

73

who

will

a catalog

to biblical tradition.

which the canvas

in

focus contracts toward

emergence of one family and the people table of nations

known its

is

major theme: the

descend from

of names;

it

is

it.

The

the back-

Noach

Genesis 10

wbb &k

1

DnhsBto ?

ariiixa D'iJn »x

onxai

an

mm

onV n^Pi nsm an

orpin

jn

'jgi

:j»»i BiDi

'jai

xanaoi naini nnagi nV'im xap

tfia

»aai

1

Vnn xin TiarnK n ??

These are the

1]

tfia

:

of Shem,

"

ma

a

nam uatfx nas »ni DTm "wai Vani

j

i$

n.ai ftgn

na-iurn

nsn

i~

••

Ham, and Japheth,

:Viaag inx

*aa

:

Q'na nVxa iottTi v T

xatf na»"i

b^idi :p/7i

lines

:

ntta nlVta nVxi

at?





:

the sons of



BWim nt^x :

-

t

:



?v Itt

vi

Noah: sons were born

'jai • j

to

3 n

them

after the Flood.

The descendants of Japheth: Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras. The descendants of Gomer: Ashkenaz, Riphath, and Togarmah. 4] The descendants of Javan: Elishah and Tarshish, the Kittim, and the Dodanim. 5] From these the maritime 2]

3]

nations branched out. [These are the descendants of Japheth] by their lands

language



their clans

and

— each

with

its

their nations.

The descendants of Ham: Cush, Mizraim, Put, and Canaan. 7] The descendants of Cush: Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah, and Sabteca. The descendants of Raamah: Sheba and 6]

Dedan.

Cush

8]

also

Gomer.

10:2]

who was

begot Nimrod,

Probably the Cimmerians

which today's Welsh derive

their

(from

earth.

mighty

a

The bracketed portion

Descendants of Japheth.

5]

He was

9]

of the sentence was probably omitted through

name Cymry).

Magog. The land of Gog (Ezek. in Armenia.

man of might on

the first

scribal error.

38:2; 39:6),

Cush. Either Ethiopia or Midian (north of the

6]

Gulf of Akaba). 3]

/In other contexts the

Ashkenaz. Probably the Scythians. In Medieval

Hebrew

this

name was

who

people

a

given to Germany, and

name may

refer to the Kassites,

ruled Babylonia from the sixteenth to

the twelfth centuries b.ce. and then retreated to the

Jews from Central and Eastern Europe were called Ashkenazim, in contrast to the Spanish and

highlands east of the Tigris. That Cush

Oriental Jews, called Sephardim.

Midian

as

12:i [2]

4]

Tarshish. Best

Jonah

tried

to

known

flee.

It

is

as the place to

usually

seems to

lie

graphic range mentioned jn Gen.

name

given

I

is

10, this

may

refer

It is

Ham

also possible that Tarshish

millennium b.ce.) put

Nimrod. The brief reference to

8]

probably a fragment from a large

Rodanim, possibly referring to

in

its

time,

Ninurta refer to

and beyond, before the inva-

an effective end to Egypt's Asiatic empire.

word meaning refinery./ Chron. 1:7 and the Septuagint,

/Others have Dordanim, which would

Troy

descendant of

as a

latter part of the second

people from Rhodes.

dania, near

texts

sions of the sea peoples (the Japhethites in the

originally a generic

Dodanim. In the

into Asia, Canaan,

outside the geo-

by the same name, perhaps Tarsus

in Cilicia, Asia Minor.

was

Num.

suggests an age in which Egypt's rule extended

since Spain

to another place

refer to

and

by Egyptian execration

as

Canaan. His listing

as

Tartessos in Spain.

/However,

well

may ff.

which place Cush south of the Dead Sea./ Mizraim. Egypt.

which

identified

evidenced by Exod. 2:i6, 21

is

and

Dar-

(as

[1]./

74

I,

who

which

who

likely

dealt

ruled Assyria

ca.

Nimrod is known

epic, well

with

Tukulti-

1244-1208 b.ce.

controlled both Babylonia and Assyria

verse 10 suggests)

[3].

ro

JVUK"U

»

otm^s

-nxi v



:

:

ixrp

otya t •



p'rnx

:nn-nxt ilia

-itfx -:

D'nVoa-nxi ?

lb] jyjzn

:annp3

:

v

:

d

vim ...

lo

'inrrnNi rnt&TW nxi naxrrnxi 'Dia'rrnxi »

naxrrnxi 'rnxrrnxi i^yjsn

>rri

ninstfa

mu

nuny

n

:'rorvrixi 'p-iyrrnxi

ixa;

naxa

wasa

t*t*j«j

.

.

.

nirrnx

txr .

-rtaa

Tinas ...

xinn

y;

nftiV

-133

°

p-Vy ~iax' - T _i_

ib-> -t

anxm -r=-

»u

tw

pa lornxi :nVs-nxi

amV-nx

Via*

xr

-nato

jag]

l'3i ma>a

fa :tot?

rnfn-nxi *

Tyn

:nVtsi r

t

:

*

xin itVs -|r

r

a'Dinsvixi :o'nnD3-nxi D'anVnxi nvaay-nxi T

mayi nalo naxa

lytfViy D'axi naixi

'jsV :nirp _ T

rrn-xin :r-ixa

yixa naVsi tsxi "pja Vaa insVnn mron

'

•»

nanrrnxi

-inxi

T in5 H

Ttsv »3a V

:

Nimrod a mighty hunter by the grace The mainstays of his kingdom were Babylon, Erech, Accad, and Calneh in 11] From that land Asshur went forth and built Nineveh, Rehoboth-ir,

hunter by the grace of the Lord; hence the saying, "Like o{ the

LORD

."

10]

the land of Shinar.

Calah, 13]

and Resen between Nineveh and Calah, that

12]

And Mizraim begot

Anamim,

the Ludim, the

is

the great city.

Lehabim, the Naphtuhim,

the

14]

the

Pathrusim, the Casluhim, and the Caphtorim, whence the Philistines came forth. 15]

Canaan begot Sidon,

Girgashites, the

and Heth;

his first-born,

18]

Hamathites. Afterward the clans of the Canaanites spread out,

Canaanite territory extended from Sidon

Hunting was practiced

Hunter.

9]

Israel (see Lev. 17: 13)

a

and the Jebusites, the Amorites, the the Arvadites, the Zemarites, and

16]

the Hivites, the Arkites, the Sinites,

17]

small role in

in

/It served as

[original]

one of the great

as

known

Sodom,

capital cities of the

neo- Assyrian kings from 880-615 b.ce.

but apparently played only

largely agrarian and urban

its

The

Gerar, near Gaza, and as far

as far as

ancient

(19]

Today

it

is

Nimrud./

as

society.

/In later centuries Jews considered the hunt a cruel

and therefore uncivilized sport. "He with dogs

come"

as Gentiles

do

who

hunts

will not enjoy the

game life

to

13]

often

14]

Calneh. Probably a case of faulty vocaliza-

The

tion of the text.

original

(kalneh)

to

T\f?3

the sentence reads:

(kulanah,

all

of these),

"The mainstays of his kingdom

were Babylon, Erech, Accad, in

"was the ancestor and "son"

as

ancestor and descendant,

all

Philistines

A

Shalmaneser

Mesopotamian I

(ca.

to

its

make

text these

is

made

came from Caphtor

trans-

because the

(see

Amos

9:j).

are usually identified as Cretans.

the identification certain.

Sidon.

Heth.

area of Babylonia,

North of Acre.

A

reference to the "Neo-Hittites,"

founded

It

Hittite

(Hatti)

empire

in

Anatolia, about 1200 b.ce. Biblical references to

by

1274-1245 b.ce.), which has

who

established themselves in northern Syria after the

overthrow of the old city

been thoroughly explored by archeologists. a "great city" in

Hebrew

end of the sentence. The

of these [being]

and especially for Sumer. Calah.

Caphtorim. In the at the

However, no archeological evidence has been found

15]

name for the

the

The Caphtorim

[5].

Shinar. Biblical

And

position in this translation

the land of Shinar" (see Gen. 42:36, where

nj"?3 occurs)

12]

mean

words come

Hebrew manuscript

was written without vowels, which were added more than a thousand years later. By changing ruV?

To be understood

[4]./

And

10]

Begot.

of." Similarly, the expressions "father"

Hittites are generally to the Neo-Hittites,

whom

was

drifted into

also Deut. 7:i.

day.

75

Canaan

(see,

e.g.,

some

23:3).

of

See

Noach

Genesis 10

Vnx-nxi o-inrrnxi :irr-nxi ma-ixrrnxi nbv «

Vaiynxi :nVpHTixi

Vxa'axrixi

:xatfnxi

sa nVx-ba aav-nxi n^n-nxi

:iop>

ng rnso naxa xtfaa

:tnj?n

ion'U _ ..

1

Datfia

nnnstfaV nninxa ... aro&bb T T

?

.

.

.

T

.

.

.

-isix-nxi

.

Dtr'ja ...

»riT3

oninxa

ornja

onnstpa?

?

n=

o

M b

itfas-ixi

Ti*n

itfasnxi

..

:

:B>ai

3

orpin

»

iVttan

M

Vim fiy onx >ni :cnxi



1

?'

op »n

dV'v

-ntfxi

-inn

ntoc

ob^i

vix iasP93"Va 'ax xi.tqj i

nsj*

nVx * ..

onatpV

1

t

nVx *

nVxai orpin ornVinV nr>n nnstfa rViaan "inx

s

H Ka Q '^ n ! s

tnxn niVsj van t

?

1

t t



'

'T

:

:

-niabx-nx

-nxi

Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, near Lasha.)

tV

-nyVi nay-nx

-rV'

20]

I

»s sbs v

inxn T

.-

r

iV

loppi

:

tV »

nVtrnx

nVtfi

t

dip D»ja -

:|B|T



t

^ -

:

vnx dpi

13

These are the descendants of Ham,

according to their clans and languages, by their lands and nations. 21]

Sons were also born to Shem, ancestor of all the descendants of Eber and older brother of

22] The descendants of Shem: Elam, Asshur, Arpachshad, Lud, and Aram. The descendants of Aram: Uz, Hul, Gether, and Mash. 23] 24] Arpachshad begot Shelah, and Shelah begot Eber. 25] Two sons were born to Eber: the name of the first was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided; and the name of his brother was Joktan. 26] Joktan begot Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, 27] Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, 28] Obal, Abimael, Sheba, 29] Ophir, Havilah, and Jobab; all these were the descendants of Joktan. 30] Their settlements extended from Mesha as far as Sephar, the hill country to the east. 31] These are the descendants of Shem according to their clans and languages, by their lands, according to

Japheth.

their nations. 32]

These are the groupings of Noah's descendants, according

21]

Eber. See Gen. Il:i6

14: 1-24,

22]

"Abraham

Elam.

A

and commentary

(Shushan,

/The

cf.

to

by

their

Near East before 1,000 b.ce. By the sixth century b.c.e., Aramaic was widely used in the area and

Gen.

the Hebrew."

after the

country mentioned frequently in the

literature of antiquity. Its capital city

modern

to their origins,

and from these the nations branched out over the earth after the Flood.

nations;

Esther

1:2),

was Susa

southeast

located

Babylonian exile displaced Hebrew as

the popular language in Palestine.

Portions of

and Ezra are in Aramaic, the dominant language of the Tal-

the Books of Daniel

of

Luristan, in Iran.

which

is

also

mud.

Christian Scriptures note that Elamites along

with Parthians and Medes were found

on Shavuot

in

Jerusalem

(Pentecost); Acts 2:9./

Arpachshad. Identified by

some

Ur-Casdim, the place of Abraham's

25]

scholars as

word play on

lbs.

was

1

divided. HI ??)

The phrase means

is

a

that during

origin.

Aram. Ancestor of the Arameans whose

and language (Aramaic) began

In his days the earth

Peleg's lifetime the event described in Gen. 9:19

took place,

script

became

to spread in the

76

i.e.,

settled.

the whole world branched out and

the earth, related through this promise, as

The geographic mountains

of the text

in the

the highlands of Iran in the

east.

is

humanity. The implicit theme the unity of

framework of apparent

from the Caucasus

No

north to Ethiopia in the

in the

from the Aegean Sea

south,

by the

covered

area

reaches

table

biblical

common

one

The Table of Nations

man

within the

diversity.

reference to "race" or skin color can be

west to

detected in this

Broadly

the Bible

is

list.

This

is

not to say that

without prejudices or preferences

commentary

to Gen.

8:15-9:29,

"The

speaking, Japheth refers to the peoples at the

(see

northern and western periphery of the Fertile

Noahide Laws"). Occasionally it reflects certain political animosities, and repeatedly it

Crescent, including the Medes, the Cypriots,

The

the Scythians, and the Ionians.

Ham

of

condemns various nations because of immoral or idolatrous practices, but

offspring

dwell about the Red Sea and include

The

Ethiopians, Egyptians, and Canaanites.

descendants of Crescent

itself

Shem

the heart of the

live in

and include Arabs, Arameans,

totally

devoid of any notion of

ority.

The

chapter

This chapter represents the combination of

two separate

traditions.

10:8-19,

22-30)

with tribes and

mainly

is

The

of nations

is

5,

the

tiquity

[6].

20, 31, 32).

remarkable for

and may be considered

among

is

and

its

The

of an-

presented in a nonmytho-

just as in

Israel

genealogy

It is

to

Noah;

it

its

he

is

the stories of

Eden

Israelite territory,

territory there

listed last in the table of nations.

Most probably

this

was done because

commands

the

Bible's

his

eventual

focus and, after the brief interruption occa-

biblical

sioned by the

information.

an integral part of the story of God's

promise

devoted.

Although Shem was the oldest of Noah's

Eridu."

however, important to see the

is

pursue a special destiny.

sons,

more than ethnographic

fact,

inal distinction so there

way, unlike a comparable Babylonian which states that "when kingship came down from heaven the kingdom was in

as

of this

was no origwas none in its early ancestry. Its origins were seen as no different from those of any other nation. Only through its covenantal relationship with God would and

(as,

table

list,

It is,

the Bible

all,

and Noah) located outside

wide scope

inquiries

after

Israel's origins are (like

is

logical

list

character

indicative of the Bible's overall

not listed in the catalog. In

is

whom,

to

a pioneering effort

ethnographic It

is

the text underplays the origins of the people

recent one

nation)

and languages

a catalog of states

for instance, in verses

more

(goy,

^j

Israel

older one (Gen.

concerned primarily

clans; the

term

the

stresses

dispassionate

it

racial superi-

approach to the structure of humanity.

and Assyrians.

21,

is

their

Tower

of Babel story, the text

turns (Gen. ll:io) to a detailed description

of Shem's

portrays the peoples of

77

line, i.e.,

of Abraham's antecedents.

GLEANINGS

Nimrod

pretend that their crown

The name means "one who stirred up rebellion" (T"V?n) so that people no longer trusted God but their own power. "Nimrod knew his Master but decided to rebel against Him." TALMUD [7]

thus their

Nimrod was responsible for Tower of Babel; he wanted it

"the

acterized

power

politics

"by God's grace," and and hypocrisy are char-

is

by the expression, "like Nimrod, who in God's name."

pretends to hunt

SAMSON RAPHAEL HIRSCH But another tradition admired Nimrod for being first man of might on earth." As late as the Middle Ages Jewish fathers when blessing their sons would wish them "to be like Nimrod."

the building of the to be his throne so

would be accorded him. He was king when the boy Abraham was brought that divine honors

The Table of Nations

Nimrod worshiped fire while Abraham tried to convince him of the supremacy of God. Nimrod cast the boy into the fire but God before him.

Israel

without

therein, for Israel

saved him, thus demonstrating the supremacy of

midrash

His power.

cannot pass by the existence of nations discovering

of

mankind

as

"He was

a

mighty hunter" means that he hunted he ensnared them and incited them

The building

was the culmination of

Why in

is

of the

Tower

his activities.

Nimrod's name linked

name. He was the prototype of

moral intent

mordecai

The that

differences

is,

as

m.

tyrants

kaplan

among men emerge

[10]

naturally,

a consequence of the sinfulness of men,

amply

rashi

by their decreasing longevity. Looking out

in

[9]

attested in the generations after the Flood

who

at

the triumphant, unbridled paganism which surrounded them simply verified the biblical judg-

God

ment

God's

for the rabbis: nationhood

is

natural, but a

natural expression of man's will to do all

life

of Babel

to that of

Gen. 10:9? Because he oppressed people

profound

[8]

souls;

against God.

a

the poet of the spiritual

other peoples are the poets of

nature.

men's

is

EUGENE

piously

78

B.

evil.

BOROWITZ

[i i]

Gen. ll:i-26 ro

Babel and

after:

THE END OF PREHISTORY

The

Tower

of Babel story, interrupting the catalog of nations begun

in chapter 10

and continued

in

chapter n, verse

the universal tableau of humanity and that specific

which Terah, Abraham, and

The

stands between

10,

list

of families from

their line will spring.

Where

story attempts to answer

two

questions:

come from? How

man

disperse and populate the world?

of languages

did

These questions were not considered them, the Bible brings us

in

chapter

a special tradition,

10.

By

did the variety

setting out to

answer

one which must have existed

independently from the table of nations. For the Babel story presents

mankind

living undivided in

living space ends because

the

one small

area. This unity of

all

language and

man's rebellious action once again brings down

judgment of God. While there

is

a

Sumerian story of the confounding of tongues, no been found

parallel account has so far

in

Near Eastern records

that

would

afford us the kind of comparison and contrast through which the biblical

purpose of the Flood

tale

is

seen in high

relief.

Biblical scholars generally believe that the

which concludes here was

originally separate

opening section of Genesis

from the patriarchal

which follow. The joining of prehistory and history affords the biblical editors the opportunity to

and

his

descendants

in

(in its

show the

rise

wider sense) of

Abraham

the full context of God's plans for mankind.

79

cycles

Genesis

nnyi :

aVnn

rti&sfc

mi: nan T

Noach

11

-

nil

dVd ? nnx

-ib>x

nap



VVa

wan TV,

'is-by ni,T

atfai T

:

I

v ,T

:

1

an ?T

rnaVi] T -



:aff

nanfrV nsntrai T r -

\ifli-

v

:



I

:

;

nats> ffirp r

:fTKn-Va

nxi Ty.Tnx nxnV

ynxn-Va V,T T T

:

-

T ,T

,T

I

ayon

Ty nVmaa nan n»x*i :nanV nrh nvi Vy parja ny bVti&sjji a'atfa itfxni ^nan

:Tyn niaV

a

v

"

|

v

T

T T

:

tv

ay All the earth had the same language and the

1]

-

••

:-

T

I

nan inyr^x &»x nnx*i

naaVi

nanm pxb T

t

:

nyjp rnxa nypa ixsa'i anpa

&nb

dp nVan

-j



ntp'i

iVnng Vixn-Vs 'ls^y ntfa anx nirp fD*i Dtr>a Vaa nat? xnpt 73-bv

w

ana-n nnxv natr vixn-ba :DHnx \T1 :t T T T t,t I

nnx

Va ana- nxa'-x' ? - T

:|T

nse> b»x iyai^ x'V

nofen

1

inifryV iar ntfx -: -:

t |T

:inm

1

:

nax*i~ ?n rrtrp T ••

I

|

same words.

tvi :pxn-Va vf-

nin' T



I

T|T

T

:anxn »a uaT ntfx ~ v T T T -?

:

And

2]

as

»jb -

T

:

^uan t

:

*

-

men migrated from

came upon a valley in the land of Shinar and settled there. 3] They said to one "Come, let us make bricks and burn them hard." Brick served them as stone, and bitumen served them as mortar. 4] And they said, "Come, let us build us a city, and a tower with its top in the sky, to make a name for ourselves; else we shall be scattered all over the world." 5] The Lord came down to look at the city and tower which man had built, 6] and the Lord said, "If, as one people with one language for all, this is how they have begun to act, then nothing that they may propose to do will be out of their reach. 7] Let us, then, go the east, they



another,



down and confound

speech there, so that they

their

Lord

not understand one another's

shall

them from there over the face of the whole earth; and 8] they stopped building the city. 9] That is why it was called Babel, because there the Lord confounded the speech of the whole earth; and from there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth. Thus

speech."

the

scattered

The same words. The expression parallels

ll:i]

raised high the

head of

Esagila, the counterpart of

"the same language." (Chapter io speaks of yvsb

Apsu" (Apsu was

[tongue]; the author of the Babel story calls lan-

Herodotus describes the construction of

guage

PIDtP [lip].)

tamian moat

Historically, the principal lan-

guages of Mesopotamia in the third millennium

moat, the

were Sumerian and Akkadian. The

made

latter

is

a

Semitic language related to Hebrew, though not as closely as are

is

Amorite, Canaanite, and Aramaic.

Men

their

Shinar. See note to

east.

Where

they had

Gen.

10:io.

Bricks mortar. The Bible stone, bitumen 3] means to explain that in Babylon brick and bitumen were used instead of stone and mortar as in Israel. The entire story abounds in assonances .

.

and

alliterations:

/In

"Enuma

.

and when

a sufficient

number were

in kilns.

Then they

hot bitumen throughout for

[2]./

we

bricks.

When

note to Gen.

7]

Let us. See

8]

They stopped building

the tower that was

the

find this description of the first

in

story of

1:26.

the city.

And, of course,

it.

While Babylonian tradition explained "Gate of God," the biblical author substituted a satirical play on words: Babylon is only confusion. An English parallel might be 9]

non-ian, jaN^-rnaV.

Elish"

The Lord came down. In order to judge man.

.

building of a shrine to Marduk: "The

molded

into bricks,

cement"

[i].

Mesopo-

they dug the

The expression is also used in telling the Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 18:21).

settled after the Flood.

.

fast as

a

Arabic.

migrated from the

.

"As

for the abyss)

which they got from the cutting was

set to building, using

5] 2]

as follows:

term

completed they baked the brick

Today, the Semitic language most widely spoken in the area

soil

a poetic

year they

Babel.

name

as

Babel-babble.

the second year arrived they

80

ro

n'UK"Q

x>

-nx iinin

nw tt

ny-rnx ifcm v

anxai

|-

ijVstix

nixa '-.-; ysnxi

D'ja iVi'i H3B* v |T T T I

namm

nnx

T T

T

rw

iVi'i

yap jntrnx

d'?^

o vnfo 'mi

nim-nx

10] This

T

i^s-vm T T

DwVtfi

dw

iyn

n'i

d

i-pVin

nnx

ljn

'rm

nbenmi ...

D'3aT

:ni3ai T



.

iVi'i rutf

T T

nixa yanxi

:ni33i D'33 iVi'i njtf

.,...

navnx r

-rVi'i |.

,.

...

n3tf T

«

-

r

D'3B> tfVtf

d'e>Ve> .

n n^i .,_

.

nixa yanxi ant? vbv nay-nx iinin

mv onxai ,D'tfVtf nnfc* »m

ibft|-

nlVin nVx

de?

dip

7130

nnx '

nxa-]3

ibi'i |"

:nmi

o

D'33 T

:ni331

n3tf

nnx DB^mi :Vnan nnx ovutf i»3snx D'33 iVm n3e* nixa e>an itfas-ix-nx iinin -rVvp nw n*tfb&\ pan n "reosnxi o :ni33i nVtfnx iT"?in nnx ieos-jx »rn in'ptrnx

J.



irVin

ibn

-nx

nitf

nn^fc* jVs T

n3E>

anhti jVbtti :v,v

a']^ ytfn iy-rnx

:jn8mx

tVw

.

* .

nnx

T

w&yti\ ya~ix

nasnrn o

:ni33i D'33 ibi'i n3E>



Shem. Shem was 100 years old when he begot Arpachshad, two years After the birth of Arpachshad, Shem lived 500 years and begot sons and

the line of

is

after the Flood.

11]

daughters. 12]

When

Arpachshad had lived 35 years, he begot Shelah.

After the birth of Shelah,

13]

Arpachshad lived 403 years and begot sons and daughters. 14]

When

Shelah had lived 30 years, he begot Eber.

and begot sons and daughters. Eber had lived 34 years, he begot Peleg.

After the birth of Eber, Shelah

15]

lived 403 years 16]

When

17]

After the birth of Peleg, Eber lived

19]

After the birth of Reu, Peleg lived

430 years and begot sons and daughters. 18]

When

Peleg had lived 30 years, he begot Reu.

209 years and begot sons and daughters. 20]

When Reu

had lived 32 years, he begot Serug.

Reu

21] After the birth of Serug,

lived

207 years and begot sons and daughters. 22]

When

Serug had lived 30 years, he begot Nahor.

10-26] With the exception of Shem, all ancestral names down to Terah appear to reflect the names

of

cities

called

in

upper Mesopotamia,

Aram-Naharaim

Hence, the

Israelites

and

a

district

figures.

went

the birth of

on.

Seder

later used to this

their

is

not far from the archeo-

logically suggested age for the

children at thirty years of age. Further, note the

tion in

end by the

arrive at 3760 b.c.e. as the year

of creation. This date father

Nahor, Serug

The symbolism must once have been but became less so as time

/The numbers were Olam Rabba to

[3].

considered themselves to be

Arameans in origin (Deut. 26:5). Most of the pre-Patriarchs

Aher

comprehensible

later

Paddan-Aram

23]

emergence of

civiliza-

Mesopotamia./

round numbers 100 and 500 and that 403, like 30, occurs twice. Whether the system is based on multiples of six and seven, or of seven, ten, twelve,

and

forty,

scheme

is

exists

in

Literally, "after he begot."

11]

After the birth

16]

Eher. Ancestors of the

of.

doubt, but that an underlying

appears certain despite

that the ancient versions differ

somewhat

the

fact

tary to Gen. 14:1-24,

in their

81

Hebrews

"Abraham

the

(see

commen-

Hebrew

"V

Noach

Genesis 11

-wi d

:ni]ai n'33

-nxi -rinrnx _ T .

1^3

max-nx T

:

-

r

natf

nxai

n#

rntpy

iVi'i mtf D'yatf |TT ••

iV^

twa

13

*nx ibri v |-

:nn TT

"swn ' -

I

:

Q'pxa tternii iTVin nrix

'm o iniaan » Tim 'm :mn "= mrrnx n^in nnx "1

mn -|v

natf

nae? TT

-,v

anfcyi yen -11mT -

:-

f

"

T

T



:-

-|T

lived 200 years and begot sons and daughters. 24]

When Nahor

had lived 29 years, he begot Terah.

26]

When

25] After the birth of Terah,

and begot sons and daughters. Terah had lived seventy years, he begot Abram, Nahor, and Haran.

lived 119 years

82

Nahor

Conclusion of the Prologue This chapter is a transition from universal prehistory to a story of

Abraham and

that of

more

Interpretations

While we are told that God's judgment consisted of scattering the people of Babel

limited scope

The

his people.

and confounding

Bible

sees humanity's early history as a series of

transgression

The rebellion of the people of Babel prompts God to look for a new channel to man. To Abra-

and

rebellions against the will of God.

ham and

his

He now

descendants

the task of bringing blessings to of the earth (Gen. 12:3).

the Torah

is

all

devoted to the story of

follow in order to

fulfil

The Babel

of

summit would

of divine

Self- Aggrandisement.

"This

said:

first

refers to

not ex-

is

interpretations have

According to the great

Adam

if

not displace God. Just

God and

desired to be like

sequence was driven from Eden, so

drama.

men

too,

tower-like structure called ^ikurat

— — they

"that which has been raised high"

exhibited excessive arrogance.

invented

knew how

brick,

bitumen, and proceeded to build

exaltation.

("house of the foundation of heaven and

their pretentious enterprise collapsed.

to

toward

a flat top feet.

tion of the Flood, they

and

of the

designs.

and reaching

[4].

The

its

extent

Scholars have also

an enterprise.

peated.

A

of the story, with

sarcasm,

its

tower but also the its

style

obvious overtones of

repeated word

their

these elements were removed,

plays,

and

its

ex-

The

sin

of the generation of Babel "fill

to

the earth."

do

so but

God's action,

was not so much

Man

proposed, but

God

disposed

[5].

certain pathos adheres to this interpreta-

tion of the story.

his interpretation of the catastrophe that beits

encouraged

a punishment as Confounding the a carrying out of His plan. human language was merelv an assurance that the Babel incident would not be re-

therefore,

biblical

the city and

language

to self-

dwelling place

tried to defy the divine will.

still

writer's contempt for the paganism of Babylon determined not only

fell

were given

common

They had been commanded

confirmed the special use of hardened brick for such

Once

a

consisted of their refusal to

a height of

Archeologists have uncovered

of Babel

unified

Rebellion.

to coincide with the reputed size

Tower

a

Having

have consisted of

the foundation of this ^ikurat, and

would seem

use

to

with a skyscraping tower. Like the genera-

seven stories receding in pyramid-like fashion nearly 300

They

a large city

was a distinctive feature of all Babylonian temple complexes and may have served as the humanly constructed equivalent of the mythical holy mountain in Babylonian mythology. The ^ikurat called Etemenanki was reported

in con-

in Babel,

prided themselves on their accomplishments

Historic Background

earth")

is

(Gen. 11:6).

sents man's tendency to reach too high, his

attempt to equal

A

God

to act"

list

as

literally,

reach high into the heavens.

majority of commentators, the tower repre-

prologue and the introduction to the biblical

built

dis-

thus constitute both the conclusion of the

main

was

been offered:

this

pleasure and the subsequent genealogical

act of the

their actual city

must

their universal retale

A

and the builders hoped that

how they have begun What the word "this" plained. A number of

the nations

The remainder

a tower,

it

their speech,

not specified.

In viewing this activity,

entrusts

particular people and to the road they

sponsibility.

its

in

is

It

senses in the generation

of Babel not arrogance but anxiety, not a desire to reach the heavens so

need

planation of Babel as a place of confusion.

to

83

much

as the

on earth. According Benno Jacob, the tale is "a condemnation to press together

of extreme

quence

of

megalopolis bringing

all

centralization,

the

last

conse-

which is one huge universal which sees its final goal in men under One Tower" [6]. 1

Babel was

The is

City.

Related to the previous interpreta-

one that

sees the city as the center of

the account and

all

else

as

secondary

[8].

The tower is merely the embodiment of the city, and when the story closes it speaks only of the

city.

A

brief notation reveals the

whole

purpose of the Babel story: "and they stopped building the city" (Gen.

11:8).

This understanding reflects most clearly a pervasive

biblical

motif.

The

city

is

the

ultimate expression of man's presumption.

1

Still

another interpretation sees the town not

means of aggrandizement or

as a

rebellion but of sup-

city,

to the anti-urban

and,

tradition of the Bible,

its

downfall appeared

proper divine judgment. Babel referred

as a

of course to Babylon, but all

tion

the

it also symbolized empire building, corruption, arrogance,

craving to erect it

meant

monuments, desire for fame; away from what were

a turning

considered the primary occupations of

man

agriculture and the tending of flocks. Farmers

and nomads "fill the earth," i.e., they live close to it and its creatures; city-dwellers flee from the earth. Babel was an alienation of man from the simple life, and it is no accident that

the Bible next turns to

semi-nomad,

the

as

source

Abraham, of

a

future

all

blessings.

plication. In

to

God,

them

84

as

it

doing

so,

however,

men came

too close

were, and as in the Eden story

as a threat to

Himself

[7].

He

sees

GLEANINGS


u[^^

~X Babe l—A Problem

Men

%?o**jf4;/6>-n) %-i2>

Communication

in

-J

'

and "the same

spo ke ^ne) languag e

words?" The Hebrew could also be interpreted

"few words," which

is

God must draw

to say that

man had

a

heights and man's

as

ment must,

small

vocabulary. Since both the learned and the un-

He

or

technical

"jargon"

people from each other.

work

is

groups;

it

beliefs

The Tower

remark-

OTTO PROCKSCH

The Tower and

[l2]

life.

between

is

When

wept, but

tribes, nations,

of Babel

Human

Va/ue5

As the tower grew in height it took one year to get bricks from the base to the upper stories. Thus, bricks became more precious than human

also accentuates

between

erects barriers

regions, social classes.

it

and

move-

so small. God's

therefore, be understood as a

separate

to

Language promotes communication and underthe differences in traditions

near-

able satirical contrast to man's behavior.

ibn ezra, malbim

standing within the group, but

is

dwells at such tremendous

learned spoke "the same words," there was no philosophic

He

near, not because

sighted, but because

a

brick slipped and

when

a

man

fell

midrash

attention.

an

the people

fell

and died no one paid [13]

archetypal symbol of the process which turns the blessing into

reaching

into

a

According

heaven.

They drove

man from

and prevents

curse

to

Margaret

women

to

New

making

bricks

Mead, among the two million aborigines

in

which are

at

another.

among whom,

bricks;

was not allowed

to be released in

making

she was

permanent war with one arthur koestler [9]

and carried her child

bricks,

her apron, and continued to

make



Ancient Affluence v (TEe Torahysays that the people "settled" in

Why hy

BARL'CH BARLCH [14 [14]

Babylonians said to one another: Come,

of the people of Babel was their

build [Gen.

mindless affluence. For whenever the Torah uses overly at ease.

and

means that people are Rabbi Helbo said: "Wherever you it

find contented satisfaction, Satan

is

11:4].

harmony.

They worked This

let

us

together, in peace

them from

distinguished

the people of the Flood

who committed

violence

against one another and were, therefore, destroyed.

active."

MIDRASH

O^ddaWS.,

was the generation of the trie Flood destroyed destrovei

while that of Babel was merely dispersed? The

Shinar. This expression implies a social criticism.

the term atf* [settled]

in

bricks.

/?

The problem

men and woman

a

the hour of childbirth, but brought forth while

Guinea, 750 different languages are spoken in 750 villages

forth multitudes of both

make

The generation [to]

yet,

Tower

ot the

defied

God

openly,

because they practiced brotherhood toward

each other, they were merely scattered.

The Lord Came If is

this

midrash

Down

God himself

did

incumbent on

a

how much more so human judge who must

The City

personally examine the accused and gain the fullest

comprehension of

[15]

this,

all details.

midrash

\\ ith

the city as

its critical

story has a particularly

[ii]

85

object the Babel

contemporary

ring.

West-

man also struggles with his estrange-

ern urbanized

ment from God. He,

powers formerly ascribed

to achieve

may,

too, reaches for

One Language, Manx Tongues

and appears God. One

to

therefore, find in the Babel tale a suggestion

It is

possible that the report of all the earth

having one language

The

tion.

[ll:i]

has a historic founda-

and

co-existence of one lingua franca

that ever greater urbanization, coupled with a

many

concentration on technology and a reaching toward

of history. Greek, Latin, French, and English have

outer space as a step toward further conquests,

at certain times served as the

man

To put it other terms: Will modern man drive God into

leads in

not to unitv but to division.

deeper hiding and further dramatize His or will his actions

God who

days, a

will

man

then confound

eclipse,

manv

loss of a

must

"come down and look" and

strife.

A

impose one religion on mankind. God prevented this and, bv dispersing the peoples, kept to

alive a varietv of idolatries.

But He knew that out

of this diversity would eventuallv tion of the

Supreme

come

a recogni-

sforno

Ruler.





— like

the feeling in which a

john ruskin

tower of cards.

[16]

is

guage? Science

here,

and now.

Who

speaks

my

lan-

— no one.

is

so

tall

that

no

man

sees

its

face:

trick

is

this,

—and

it is

a

good

trick

worthv

To

communication

cyrus h.

Gordon

[18]

Fact of Existence (Ch. 10); a Consequence of Sinfulness (Ch. 11)

In chapter

10,

particularity appears to be the

natural consequence of the postdeluvian population explosion. in turn

Noah's children have children

become It is

who

"lands, families, tongues, and na-

obvious on

this level that

the biblical

tance

men

gave them,

in the biblical

separate nations

But Genesis

as a fact of existence.

Even

messianic passages, the existence of is

assumed.

11 gives

us a

somewhat

different

view. Here the division into languages and the scattering abroad

come

as a

punishment

for seek-

ing to build a tower into heaven and to wrest a

to do.

The Rabbis had little difficulty in seeing a unity the two approaches. The differences among men emerge naturally, that is, as a consequence of the sinfulness of men amply attested in the generations after the Flood by their decreasing

a divine

Chicanerv

international

times be the prelude to international

in

This tower will not touch God.

The

reported

name. God divides men so that by their unity they will not be able to do whatever they propose

Science

Babel

is

authors took these distinctions, and the impor-

From that day to this, whenever men have become skilful architects at all, there has been a tendency in them to build high; not in any religious feeling but in mere exuberance of spirit and power as they dance or sin with a certain mingling of vanity

"one language" for

pre-Columbian Central America. The

means of

at all

tions."

Not Sin But Exuberance

child builds a

attested at various stages

again?

The Blessing of Diversity The real crime of the builders was that thev tried

is

peoples, and such co-existence

also for the

thev did in ancient

call forth, as

national tongues

:

in

our impious determination

build this bean-stalk, Science; climb

On the ultimate Mvsterv; spv on No man can both climb and see. EDNA

ST.

it;

longevity.

peep

God; learn

VINCENT MILLAY

Looking out

at

the triumphant, un-

bridled paganism which surrounded

all;

verified the biblical

[17]

man's

tionhood

86

is

judgment

them simply

for the Rabbis: Na*-

natural, but a natural expression of

will to

do

evil.

eugene

b.

borowitz

[19]

PART The

III

Line of Terah

ABRAHAM

Book of Genesis now

new phase by moving from myth toward history. Abraham (although the Patriarch's name is Abram and that of his wife is Sarai until Gen. 15:5, 7, the later and more familiar names of Abraham and Sarah are used throughout this commentary) has been called the first major historical figure in the book; unlike Adam, Shem, or Noah, who were the symbols or legendary standard-bearers of

The

enters a

primeval memories and traditions, he appears

We

at a certain time.

reach this conclusion because of the nature of his

biography and because other sources

many

and references are corroborated by

details

— even though so far none has been found to mention Abra-

ham by name.

This

is

not surprising, for in

and commanding figure that he was

to

precisely, a difficulty

makes

day he was not the great

in the light of later history. it

difficult to date

we encounter with biblical figures until seem

in the patriarchal narratives

(fifteenth century b.c.e.) to the

Amarna

Abraham

Moses. Various

to correspond to different

from the old Babylonian (nineteenth century

periods;

Our

his

become

This absence of extra-biblical references

elements

an identifiable person

as

b.c.e.) to

the Hurrian

age (fourteenth century

b.c.e.).

data are not precise enough for a definite decision in favor of any one

school of thought

[i].

(On the

significance of the

Ebla

finds, see Hallo's

essay above.)

We

have

religious

life

beginnings.

a

good deal of information about the

where the Abraham

of the Mesopotamian lands

Documents and

cycle

and

had

its

archeological evidence tell us that the culture

of this area flowered during the second millennium social institutions

political, social,

were highly developed.

We

b.c.e. Science, law,

and

do not know the particular

circumstances that caused Abraham's father, Terah, to leave Ur and to settle in

Haran, nor do

that he

was

was

we know

his occupation.

semi-nomad with

a

his ancestors'

way

of

life as

cattle,

Of Abraham we do know

and we

may assume

that this

well, since in ancient days the sons usually

followed in the footsteps of their fathers. They were not Bedouin on camels, like the Midianites,

but rather nomads with small cattle whose move-

ments between the steppe and

tilled

areas

were determined by the

needs of their animals and by their relationships with the permanent population.

"A degree

of settledness

existence. Cities

would

at

do

attract

is

not at

all

incompatible with their nomadic

them, but not to

settle in

them by

once compel them to give up their nomadic

force,

life as

which

shepherds;

but they attract them rather because of their character primarily therefore for reasons of

Abraham

Calling

as cultural centers

commerce and connubium"

"historical" does not

mean

[2].

that everything the

Book

him is history in the accepted sense of the word. Our down many centuries after Abraham lived, and the in-

of Genesis says about

was written

text

tervening ages developed different traditions about him. There deal of

what may be

was added

it is

important

assume the form that we now

to

us.

not so important to

of the stories about is

Abraham

fix

Abraham's era or

are history

to

and which are legendary. What

While the authors

his role as the father of the nation.*

is

determine which

of the Bible were concerned with history as the recounting of the

good

to the basic tradition in the course of

came

time. Together these elements

But

a

called legendary embellishment, which, along with

interpretive material,

have before

is

meaning of

history that

was

their

primary

facts, it

was

focus, the account of a

message born of the continuing encounter between God and

spiritual

Abraham's descendants. The Torah does not purpose

to teach antiquities

as such but to give religious instruction.

The Torah docs not depict him as the founder

history of religion.

new religion. On the Kaufmann has shown,

sense has

of a

contrary, as Yehezkel

Genesis

in

mankind from Adam on appears

Abraham was

monotheistic.

who

kept the faith

bequeathed aside

from

According trasts,

it

a to

in the

to have been

the former a

Cod"

principles

one God pure and

to his descendants, setting

them

view

this biblical

is

man

(see

"Abraham's

not with is

.1

in the

narrower

Abraham

fighter for

but

mn\

of unusual piet) and moral also

Gleanings,

Monotheism")

held by Theophile

[3]. J.

11:27-12:9,

A

different

Meek. He

calls

Abraham and Moses "monolatrous" and gues that not until the Hebrew prophets

world which became idolatrous.

Kaufmann,

Monotheism

origins

with Moses. The hitler

primeval

"a prince of

its

view con-

however, with what we know of the

monotheism

89

arise [4].

ar-

did

Gen. 11:27-12:9

TS-Ymu

The

Call of

Abraham

The opening passages of the Abraham story relate the genealogy of the Patriarch and then of the family's migration to Haran. This —the name means "highway" or "crossroads" —was located in northtell

city

western Mesopotamia and played a large part in the patriarchal story.

was the crossing point of important highways and devoted to the moon-god in the

town of Nuzi

The

A

large collection of Hurrian records

Bible says that

must be read

Israel's history.

more than an

is

the Patriarch as the archetype

who

He

is

the forefather,

whose

life

of Israel. This prefiguration begins

Time and

For while Abraham's

biography of an individual, he (and

as the

to the other Patriarchs as well)

fate.

found

much about the area's life and law. God spoke to Abraham at the "crossroads" of his Divine to one human being, the message and its

portent form the starting point of story

a center of the cult

tells

This address of the

life.

Sin.

It

individual.

this applies

The

Bible s&es

represents his descendants and their hints at the later history of the people

when Abraham becomes

again his descendants will

wander

a

wanderer.

across the earth, along the

highways of history.* (A new weekly portion, Lech-Lecha, begins with *

Vnb

riety

the

y"TN of

1*7

other

thought

na Vs

S?TX!7 classical

that

the

sayings

stories

[i].

A

of their descendants

va-

[a].

There

is

disagree-

ment over whether Abraham's knowledge of God may be considered the beginning of

expresses

of the

12: i.)

fore-

monotheism.

fathers are signposts pointing to the history

90

-|S--|S;m

a'

S

3

TjrnViaai ^jinxa *fr*fe n-iax-Vx

en n&

vVx nan lino

nV'i nirr

inxsa

-wx I

o*»30l

-;

max

*nSi

nx

:naixn

nw trarqa nnaxi Bi nN D 1 3K n i?'}

1

n&

inVa

inx

?

rnn

nsbb

D na

tfsirrnxi raton -ipx DBna-rVa-nxi T T|» )T T V 1 T

vnxT

•ivpi-

:ntf

i&yt

mn

na»i T|T-

!|-

wis

ixa'i |

intfx

T-

I

-|-

:

'"]iT

nmx naW ixn :- pna IT T

v,v T

:|-

I

:

t

-

.

Q7\b

prna oiVran

-nxa Dnx ix:n

130*1:

r

mtf T T

pnny I

-rinrntpx

-

T t

D'nxai |T

I

:,-

-

mn- a' ,

27]

Now 28]

this

is

the line of Terah:

Haran died

in

the

-

"|

Haftarah Soach, p. 326

Lot.

nm

:

dip 0anT T



diiix

* wis nx-ix -|t

ix3'i p•

113

'nni

cnax

113

'is

D13X

-rinii

nV px rnpjy nip

:*iVi

nxi 113-73

d'-ie??

:



nj?»i

n3

t

pn-na naVa

:nao' 'axi naVa-'ax

:

runx t

nitf

olVnxi

-]a

winii nXx iVVjWi 1'a^aa

*|a

n m nri-nxi -rim

am

n-nx-nirx dp

,=

n"?xi

:qnf?a -nxs ini'pia fixa rax rnn

nj?»i

nznsxi :n:na rrni ?jw n^iix] ff^OK] Vrra nnstfa Vs

rnn niVin

-Vy pjg na;i :BiVnx T^in

ntp naxji

:^k*w "hmc vixn-Vx spax n?aan

?|&yxi

'iiV

mn

-nx a-iax-nx TVin

3

jrus-a

x'

;

:

-rm

Terah begot Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran begot

lifetime

of

his

father Terah, in his native land,

Ur of

the

Chaldeans. 29] Abram and Nahor took to themselves wives, the name of Abram's wife being Sarai and that of Nahor 's wife Milcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah and Iscah. 30] Now Sarai was barren, she had no child. 31] Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot the son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and they set out together from Ur of the Chaldeans for the land of Canaan; but when they had come as far as Haran, they settled there. 32] The days of Terah came to 205 years; and Terah died in Haran. 1] The Lord said to Abram, "Go forth from your native land and from your father's house to the land that I will show you. will bless you; / 2] I will make of you a great nation, / And I will make your name great, / And you shall be a blessing. / will bless those who bless 3] you / And curse him that curses you; / And all the families of the earth / Shall bless themselves by you." 4] Abram went forth as the Lord had commanded him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran. 5] Abram took his wife Sarai and his I

I

brother's son Lot, and

all

the wealth that they had amassed, and the persons that they had

acquired in Haran; and they set out for the land of Canaan.

11:28]

Ur. In southeastern

Mesopotamia, near the

mouth of the Euphrates at the Persian Gulf. / Or Ura in northern Syria, which is much closer

12: 1]

Your native land. However, according to a

3]

was Abraham's

""ia

(gov, nation);

Shall bless themselves.

ing they will invoke

native place (Gen. 11:26-28).

Harmonizers therefore render "land of your

great nation,

in the

land of

used in the

Abraham

as

well as to other peoples.

to

[3]./

/

A

they arrived

Bible to refer to the descendants of

Haran

different tradition, Ur, not Haran,

2]

When

When

Abraham

Gen. 48:20). Others interpret

thev utter a bless-

as a this:

model "In you

families of the earth shall be blessed,"

kin-

will be the cause of their blessings."

dred."/

91

(cf.

[4] all

i.e.,

the

"vou

Genesis 12

Lech-Lecha

'ym D»a ^xti's rfijfl*

dps

x-jp'i

n'Vnx d»i ^x-n'aV

np*b naia

map

a

srtoai

aipa

iy

aat? aipa

^iVn D-jax yo»i

ja»i

6]

Abram

7]

The Lord appeared

built

an altar there to the

hill

jrix

atfa pny»i :vbn

passed through the land as far as the

Moreh. The Canaanites were then

pxa max

site

iay»i :]yja

:y"ixa ix 'jyjsrn rnta jiVx

nxrrnx

nxtn

mnn

Canaan,

xti

-Vx nlrr

Dtp-jan d*7j?b

iy



Dnax

*jsnf? -iax^

naia dp

r

at the terebinth

o(

nvran

of Shechem,

>

rrtrrt

in the land.

Abram and said, "I will give this land to your offspring." And he Lord who had appeared to him. 8] From there he moved on to the to

country east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the

he built there an altar to the

Lord and invoked

the

Lord by name.

9]

east;

and

Then Abram journeyed

by stages toward the Negeb.

6]

Shechem.

Near Nablus, north of Jerusalem.

age the Canaanites were indeed living in the land

while the expression "then" (but not now) appears

The terebinth of Moreh. rnia (moreh, teaching, informing), a large tree famed as a

site

of oracles.

to

Trees played an important role in ancient religions (see

Deut.

12:2; Isa. 1:29).

Mamre"

in

difficulty; 7]

in

the

passage has been a problem to those

/

and Spinoza pursues

will give

this

(TN);

Ibn

this further [7]./

This promise

land.

repeated again and again to

Gen. 18:i./

The Canaanites were then

that the

it.

Ezra hints that tradition here faces an insurmountable

/Hence some render elon moreh as "oracle tree" [5]. The Septuagint mentions its height [6]. Note also the "terebinths of

denv

/Rashi substitutes "already" for "then"

land.

who

to be his

descendants.

This

believe

Torah was written bv Moses. For

is

Abraham and

8]

Bethel

about

in his

9]

92

.

.

.

Ai.

Located

a third of the

Negeb.

way

Or Negev,

to

north

of Jerusalem,

Shechem.

the south land.

The Call Did God

in face speak to Abraham and make the promise reported in this chapter? To biblical man and to believers today the matter was and is clear: God did speak, and

The second interpretation says that Abraham, like Noah before him, deserved to be chosen. Just as Noah stood out as a

Abraham

time,

qualities that caused

Canaan was secured by His promise. Many interpreters, however, would understand God's challenge as something Abraham believed he had heard and that

also.

consequently he acted

accordance with

in

this

belief.

The

issue here

of course, not subject to

is,

who cannot acGod communicating

objective verification. Those

cept the possibility of directly with

man

will not

God

to single

which

approach,

This

in

his

possessed and demonstrated

His relationship to Abraham's children and to the land of

man

uniquely righteous and moral

been favored by Jewish

has

him out generallv

tradition,

pictures

Abraham from his earliest youth in search of God. To put it differentlv: Abraham found God because of an original intuition [9]. Thus, when God addressed the adult Abraham, He was in fact responding to Abraham's earlier dedication and searching; God reacted to the

man's merits.

The

be convinced by

Bible at times seems to support the

the biblical or any other report. But they wall

former and

be able to agree that Abraham was indeed

approaches together appear to offer the best

impelled by a voice he identified

answer:

at

times the latter view. But both

acted

on

his

Man needs to be addressed bv God, and God needs men who are capable of responding. It is a mutual relationship. The

comprehension of the Divine, and

his

de-

text

We

of God.

"internal"

as the voice

stand here face to face with

Abraham

history.

forth!"

made

all

it

their

own.

with

begins

scendants appropriated his experience and

It

is

Abraham

"Yes"

by God. advanced text

is

is

Why

an old

on

God choose and why him

did

in age,

silent

man when

this

he a

is

called

man

at all?

urging,

demand

"Go

but, like

implies a question:

My

Abraham's

will?"

human

his

God's address to him

is

choice,

as

the divine choice.

Both find each other ready; Abraham is open to God's desire and God opens the

so

The

matter, but two divergent

it

do

to

therefore

is

divine

as a

divine demands,

"Are you ready

The Choice

the

couched

future to

Abraham.

interpretations have been suggested.

The first maintains that God's reason is not humanly discernible. He arbitrarily cast His favor on Abraham, hence the Bible says noth-

gressive sequence:

ing about Abraham's righteousness though

it

land and from your father's house." This

is

It

The Challenge God's challenge to

"Go

Abraham

forth

has a pro-

from your native

commented on

Noah's.

Abraham, through

more poetry than geographic information.

no merit of

own,

the vessel, the re-

emphasizes the

his

is

difficulties of the

challenge

cipient of God's grace. This reasoning has been

Abraham

favored by Christian interpreters of the Bible,

leave one's land and to he an unprotected

although

it

has had

some Jewish supporters

as well. 1

1

"Scripture does not begin by reciting Abraham's

merit in order to indicate that the choice was

mystery and by His will alone

a

is

about to accept.

even more

wanderer abroad;

it is

abjure

most dear

all

that

is

never be dissolved or denied.

main

dhine

—a choice that would

in

difficult to

difficult to

one's accus-

Israel will

always

re-

the holy seed.' tor though he sins Israel remains

what he 93

It is

is" [8].

tomed house;

most

is

it

The passage makes it

of

difficult

one's father's values

reject

to

all

evidence can be advanced

clear that God's

demand

—from the appear-

ance of the Prophets to the events of the

and standards.

holocaust

— to make a persuasive case for the

Abraham,

archetypal significance of Jewish existence in

of several fundamental choices he

the world, a significance that Jews themselves have considered central ever since patriar-

represents a severe

the

first

will

have to

make

trial

of faith for

in his life [10].

chal days.

Blessing

To be

and Curse

Few biblical

dicta

have been more clearly

reflected in historv than the statement that

who who who

those

those those

who

bless Israel will be blessed

curse

it

and

be cursed, or that

will

are blessed bless Israel and those

are cursed curse Israel.

The

decline of a

and noblest aspirations. Christians and Moslems have exalted Abraham as their spiritual father and at the same time have denied validity to the religious quest of the

The

Jews:

tained,

its

stands in direct proportion to

human

equity and

indeed

rests

at the

its

dignity. For

fulcrum of

prosperity

if

latter,

however, have stoutly main-

through ancient, medieval, and mod-

sense of

ern persecutions, that the blessing issued to

Jew

Abraham has not been abrogated and that it is more important for the children of Abraham to be worthy of it than that others accord them recognition.

the

spiritual his-

must be essential to the Enough historical

tory, his condition

has not usually seen

highest

nation can often be clearly related to the

has treated the Jew, and

world has but rarely given

this view. It

the Jews as a "great nation," typifying man's

way

it

sure, the

credence to

welfare of his environment.

GLEANINGS boy exclaimed:

The Fathers

Not

sole

was

I

For to the fathers that begat me, this Body is residence. Corpuscular, They dwell in my veins, they eavesdrop

to

him who

at fifty

parted in shame. Another story pictures as at

my

smashing the

father.

idols

circle, as

In exit

and

with Torahs, round

in entrance all

my

my

latches of

And

there look generations through

heart, descend,

ABRAHAM

and

rise

my

Abraham

"Who smashed

the

gods?"

his

demanded Abraham.

"The chief god there," said "You know perfectly well that clay idols don't move," said the father. "Why then do you adore mid rash [12] them?" rejoined the boy.

skull.

day pull

The

would

and facing the wrath of

Terah.

ear,

They

"Woe

worship a one-day idol." The customer then de-

born, but entire genesis:

eyes.

M. KLEIN [il]

A

Comparison

what way did God's choice of Abraham from the earlier choices of Adam and Noah? The blessing of Adam and the blessing of Noah were natural, bestowing natural gifts, promising In

Young Abraham

differ

Young Abraham was an a

dealer in idols. After

that there

assistant to his father,

Abraham became convinced

was only one true God, he

tried to con-

fertility

Once age.

a

On

man came

to

buy and Abraham asked

being told that he was

fifty

alone,

whereas

this

third

blessing

[to

Abraham] is dialogic, promising and demanding at the same time; promising the formation of a

vince his father's customers of the folly of idolatry. his

people and imposing the obligations of

years old, the

94

a people,

addressing the people in the person of

and demanding

in his

person from

An

father

its

Allegorical Interpretation of "Go Forth"

Depart out of the earthly matter that encom-

"become

to

it

MARTIN BLBER

man, from the

passes you: escape,

a blessing," a blessing for the world of nations.

house, vour body, with

[13]

foul prison-

vour might and main,

all

and from the pleasures and

lusts that act as its

philo

jailers.

A

[17]

Gift

until

aware of God

spiritual

environment,

Man,

Would know no need Man,

of his

as a condition

Abraham's Monotlieism

The

of prayer.

then, has not invented God, he has

developed a

Faith,

God

The Divine

already there

Gift,

.

.

.

which empowers

a

man

work: apostolic prophecv, the battle with idolatry, to

and the name of

believe, Is

marvellous and simple,

monotheism is postpatriarchal. Hismonotheism is associated alwavs with cerphenomena which serve as its organic frame-

torical

tain

To meet

Bible itself attests indirectly to the fact

that Israel's

like a gift of light

.

.

YHWH.

Patriarchal times

know

none of these. Genesis records divine manifestations and prophecies, but there is no trace of

.

Not to the sightless, but to men with eyes, who wander groping in the night. EDNA ST. VINCENT MILLAY [14]

apostolic prophecv.

No

patriarch

prophetic mission; the

Nowhere

Moses.

in

Genesis

battle with idolatry.

The

is

charged with

apostolic prophet

first is

a is

there reference to a

divine covenants with

the patriarchs promise personal protection and

Go Forth— ^b-f? Perhaps self."

alone. to

This

Hebrew

your-

a fight

with idolatry, nor do the patriarchs ever

appear

as

implies

One must become

view

point.

it

that of

clearly, a

Abraham

world's.

a stranger in the world

wanderer God's

is

The aloneness

all

"Go by

one journey which must be made

the is

future material blessings. But they never involve

of

to find

its

possession,

idolatry.

religious seekers and,

above

all,

Or the expression may be interpreted "Go to yourself," i.e., go to your roots, to potential.

that of

to

mean, your

find

Hebrew may not be

Nachmanides

interprets

it

as

"Get on with you" (similarly Hizkuni).]

A

Blessing?

is destined to make its mark The life of men with whom new begin can seldom or never be a sheer

ception of the deity

upon

the future.

histories

unclouded blessing; not

Why did Abraham have to go forth to the world? At home he was fitting lid.

like a flask of

Only when

it is

be scattered to the winds.

[l8]

It is unlikely that the word gives the true meaning of that which happened to him in his vision and which corresponded to his temperament and to his experience of himself. For the word "blessing" carries with it an idea which but ill describes men of his sort: men, that is, of roving spirit and discomfortable mind, whose novel con-

chasidic [15]

speaking the

their surroundings.

YEHEZKEL KAUFMAN*)

the

BASED ON SAMSON RAPHAEL HIRSCH

[Strictly

no religious contrast

is

Abraham foreshadows

the people of Israel in their historic solitude.

translated this way.

there

between the patriarchs and

resting

not

reproaching their contemporaries for Indeed,

mvrrh with

a tight-

open can the fragrance midrash

this

it is

which their con-

sciousness of self whispers in their ears.

[16]

95

shalt be a destiny": such

precise

guage

it

is

"And thou more

the purer and

meaning of the promise,

in

whatever

may have been spoken, thomas

m inn

lan[19]

Gen. 12:w-13:i8

TVtS

Wanderings

A braham emerges more

il band, danger

in

as

clearly as a person.

an uncle, and

what appears

to

tale of the ancestor of a

as a

man who

We

be an ambiguous manner. This

thoroughly

human

story) to the claim of all

men. The land

extended fashion, which

raises the

how Abraham's

is

as a hus-

attempts to meet personal is

an unadorned

people who, like him, must

respond to the claim of God, the claim of kin, and

of

meet him

finally (as in the

promised again,

this

Sodom

time in an

question for the contemporary reader

descendants relate to the land.

96

Ifcfl

ansx ? njns Knp »i 1

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:d-)3K

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r

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dp

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know what

"I

famine

a

famine was severe

in the land,

in the land.

a beautiful

me and

When Abram

14]

15]

kill

nansa T

:

|T

max ,

:

down

to

to enter

And

16]

nnK

71*1 :-

|T

«

:

.

I

njns

ibVn^i

mjna

Egypt

may remain

r

r

to sojourn there, for the

my

alive thanks to

how

,o

nnani np 3i

Egypt, he said to

13] Please say that you are

because of her,

slaves, she-asses,

:

his

wife Sarai,

Egyptians see you, and think, 'She

entered Egypt, the Egyptians saw

male and female

asses,

xi33

Dnasji

nnstzh

nifiw

sister, that

it

is

his

may go

you."

woman was. woman was taken into

very beautiful the

Pharaoh's courtiers saw her and praised her to Pharaoh, and the

Pharaoh's palace.

-

:

iVvpi rniaya ara»n nnaxVi

If the

12]

I

I

•by in'STiKi n'VnJ Q'ya nyns-nx ntr yan

are.

let

naxi

intfK -

:

,o

ixi'i ...

-.D'VaJi

n?n

you live. well with me because of you, and that wife,' they will

:,T

nnk ixti nka Kin ns^s n#xn"nx

and Abram went

woman you

mm nKt

T

-]Ki

As he was about

11]

:

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biVVtbi :nin s dps ansx nv

There was

10]

nvrwx

"lpjarjxs

I

3-

a



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!

iibbn - T

nnsan ....

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1

,

I

:

:

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:



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intfx



:•

syn

:rwa 3ynn

nn^a rpm anxan :- nnK It tt:

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-

T

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pxa

t-i»i

went well with Abram; he acquired sheep, oxen,

it

and camels.

But the Lord afflicted Pharaoh and his household with mighty plagues on account ot Abram. 18] Pharaoh sent for Abram and said, "What is this you have done to me! Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? 19] Why did you say, 'She is my sister,' so I took her as my wife? Now, here is your wife; take her and begone!" 20] And Pharaoh put men in charge of him, and they sent him off with his wife and all that he possessed. 17]

Sarai, the wife of

From Egypt, Abram went up

1]

together with Lot.

2]

into the

Now Abram

proceeded by stages from the Negeb formerly, between Bethel and Ai,

Abram invoked

there

herds and tents,

12: io]

rainfall,

while Egypt, with

n]

A

the

its

wife and

as far as Bethel, to the place

all

that he possessed,

where

And he

3]

his tent

had been

which he had built there at first; and 5] Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and the land could not support them staying together; tor their 4]

the site of the altar

so that

the

land.

which was often

Canaan

insufficient,

Nile waters, at times served

time the

12:4

woman. This story

slight variations in chapter 20

is

told again with

and then

a third

in

chapter 26, where Isaac and Rebekah plaj

main

enough

bread basket of the area. beautiful

his

rich in cattle, silver, and gold.

Lord by name.

There was a famine in

depended on as the

6]

Negeb, with

was very

we

roles.

The

tale

here sees Sarah

to attract the Egyptians,

as

whereas

young

in

Gen.

Abraham was seventy-five which would make Sarah (who w as ten

are told that

years old,

years younger, according to Gen. 17:i7) sixty-five.

97

Lech-Lccha

Genesis 13

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xb>

at??

V|T

T

1 ! T,TT

T

-nx nafei :nViyiy sjsn&i n

nanpi T ;I|"T

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f.T

mano

1

I ? n *P

pxn -isya ^y-n ^Vsgna mp :nia' ?jy-n a? pxn nsynx Vnx'i :n33nx ?iV 'a namVi nanxV pxa -]a»i jnana nipx xnaa rfaa aa^i xa;i max :ninn naia

:pxa

nax'i

nin>i

T

:

? nat? Fp 1

"

at?' tx

nana

'pa

'nsrn *ari

1§fi>3i DiV-nupa

Vxafen-DX

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n

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nnx D'tm-n

:ijmx

!

?pyn pai »sn

pxn

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X3

-

xti Trynx oib-xen n^xafcxi pan-nxi

niiaV b^k VaT-nx Tffx

ed

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tf»x

1

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* a'

were so great that they could not remain together. 7] And there was quarreling herdsmen of Abram's cattle and those of Lot's cattle. The Canaanites and Perizzites were then dwelling in the land. 8] Abram said to Lot, "Let there be no strife between you and me, between my herdsmen and yours, for we are kinsmen. 9] Is not the whole land before you? Let us separate: if you go north, I will go south; and if you go south, I will go north." 10] Lot looked about him and saw how well watered was the whole plain of all the the Jordan, all of it this was before the Lord had destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah possessions

between



the





way

garden of the Lord,

So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan, and Lot journeyed eastward. Thus they parted from each other; 12] Abram remained in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled in the cities of the Plain, to Zoar, like the

pitching his tents near

Sodom.

13]

like the land

Now

of Egypt.

11]

Sodom were very wicked

the inhabitants of

sinners

against the Lord. 14]

And

the

LORD

said to

Abram,

after Lot

had parted from him, "Raise your eyes and look

out from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west, land that you see to you and your offspring forever.

of the earth, so that counted.

you."

17]

18]

if

16]

I

will

for

15]

make your

I

give

all

the

offspring as the dust

one can count the dust of the earth, then your offspring too can be

Up, walk about the

And Abram moved

land, through

his tent,

its

length and

and came to dwell

its

breadth, for

at the terebinths

I

give

it

to

of Mamre which

are in Hebron; and he built an altar there to the Lord.

13:io]

Plain of the Jordan. Recent explorations

shown

that the area

It

promised to Abraham.

have

was once densely inhabited.

was probably one of the

first

14]

the country as well as one of its richest parts. remains today potentially what it was then

from which there

"It

southern Jordan Valley.

in-

18]

bron

n]

became the

God" [i]. Abraham stays in Canaan proper while Lot abandons it. One purpose of the

story

is

to underscore that

Lot's descendants, have in the passage

no

13:22,

Zoan

right to the land which, is

is

once more

Patriarchs'

primary

home

in

Canaan,

According to

Num.

Hebron was founded seven years before (or Avaris, in Egypt),

centurv

98

a

called Kiriath-arba (Gen. 23:2; 35:27). It

as well as their burial place.

Moab and Ammon,

immediately following,

is

Hebron. South of Jerusalem. Elsewhere He-

dubitably, a garden of

Thus they parted.

is, from good view of the

Look out from where you are. That

Bethel,

settled sections of

b.c.e.

i.e.,

in the eighteenth

My Sister

You Are

Abraham

to

tell

inheritance and family bonds were important.

sister.

She

Thus, in

wife

his

the Egyptians that she was his

was

to say nothing of their marriage. This

raises a

number

of historical as well as moral

There

evidence that Sarah was indeed

is

the story

had

In the second version of

sister.

we

different

learn that although the two mothers they shared the same

father (Gen. 20: 12).

It

possible that this

is

latter notation reflects a stage of civilization

which descent was traced through the

in

mother and marriages between offspring of the same father (but not the same mother) were permissible. Hence, according to this to say she

when Abraham

was

his sister,

instructed Sarah

he based

his request

on a real relationship. Another explanation is based on the assumption that Abraham lived about 1500 b.c.e., when the word "sister" could have an additional, special meaning [3]. In American

mean "nun."

English today, "sister" can

In

them would be

befell the couple.

the story was

intervention.

Whatever the

Abraham

generosity had

Abraham's behavior

A man

question.

treated

to a

a choice

man who,

It

Abraham have

metronymic,

astronomy

contrast to patronymic which considers children

born of the same father

as

members

of the family.

successful

He

Traces of a metronymic society appear in various parts of the Bible,

name

e.g., it is

the children; descent

mothers rather than

Amnon

and Tamar

is

have the same father 2

One

view:

The

gifts

usually the mothers is

at

fathers;

who

more

marriage between

Sam.

were

13:i3)

The

to feminine

99

another

when

believes he

What

danger?

is

could

done, given the knowledge mathematics

which made

Another

[6].

[7].

view:

Abraham's astoundmcK a virtue

out of necessity.

himself joyfully with

And: "That

moral considerations,

for teaching the Egyptians

still

is

his

whv

fact that their

forebears'

they are so

women

are

beautiful than those living in the city ... In

superior:

[2].

raises

Abraham,

proudly conscious of the

permissible even though they (11

lie,

identifies

like

and

lied

2

what choices are open

gloats over

sharp practice"

times traced through a

and

"The narrator

it.

can be judged guilty

— but

mortal

with

reply

latter 's

the Patriarch in the rather

left

having been rewarded for

thereby giving

called

the

since

embarrassing situation of having

faced

is

make

could not

reprimand

Pharaoh's

to

blood relative of her husband's family. may be assumed that such adoptions took

This system of family relations

Some

married, to take her into his house.

commentators excuse Abraham's behavior by saying that his ruse was meant to bid for time, until the famine in Canaan would be ended and he could take his wife and leav e Egypt [4]. Others frankly disapprove [5] and

as a

1

early context, the biblical

shows us how Abraham's action caused Pharaoh, who did not know that Sarah was text

he has

in

in this fashion that

Later on, however,

told.

knowledge of Hurrian custom faded, Abraham's request seemed incomprehensible except as a lie and the story became transformed into one of deceit and divine

adopt

would be

was

It

first

as

note that

special status, for she

treated with

Hurrian terminology and no harm

stood

German, and Hebrew, it can Abraham's time, "sister" "nurse." In mean was also a Hurrian legal term. Abraham and Sarah came from a Hurrian cultural background and it would have been natural for them to use Hurrian terminology. As documents from Nuzi show, a Hurrian could her

in-

The Egyptians apparently under-

respect.

English, French,

his wife as his sister,

Abraham

"sister" status, in order to provide assurance

1

assumption,

interpretation

this

structed his wife to mention her privileged

that both of

questions.

Abraham's

where

place in the upper stratum of society

instructed

city

too, they consider

themselves

weak and

susceptible

dwellers are

charm"

[8].

The

of the prospects available to him? as

it

leaving

it

ponder

to the reader to

it

even under duress, no or

man may

should be

open

left

a question of faith,

as

taking into account that for millennia Jews

further.

Jewish teaching has generally held that,

kill

passing legal and moral rights. But the matter

text,

does so often, merely states the problem,

have

believed

that their relationship to the

intentionally

land had the sanction of God. Thus their

commit a sexual crime on an innocent The application of this principle often

claim obtained a spiritual basis nurtured in

person. 3

thousands of years of possession and

poses agonizing questions that can be decided

presence and absence, reality and

only within a given context. (The

To be

war crimes attempted

after

World War

II

trials for

essentially

man's right to say, "I had no choice.") Since both Sarah and Pharaoh were put in jeopardy by Abraham, the proper judgment would seem to support Nachmanides' comment: "It was a sin." to define the limits of a

The Promised Land We can hardly overemphasize the importance of those biblical passages which, like

Gen.

13: 15,

God gave Canaan to From

state that

Abraham and

his

offspring forever.

and memories, amplified by grew a unique relationship between a people and a land. Some commentators deny the Abrahamic

sure, the people survived

without the

land and the land without the people

somehow God and Torah relationship

and gave

it

loss,

memory.

— but

entered into

To the Jew, therefore, Zion has been more than a place of pilgrimage or a collection of ancestral

sites. It

has been both sacred

dream

and holy potential, the place where God's kingdom on earth would first emerge. The

Jew has

steadfastly believed that

will that

possess

it

it

is

God's

he possess the land and that he in

land those

justice—for

who

defile

God casts out of this The Amorites lost

it.

thi se traditions

possession because of their sinfulness,

centuries of sacred sentiment,

Israel itself

antiquity of the tradition and claim that

it

arose in later ages to give the military con-

quest of the land by Joshua an ex post facto religious legitimation.

would emphasize

it

Even

that for

were so, Abraham's de-

if this

scendants military acquisition and physical

—sufficient for —were not the core

possession

claims

A man came

to

of my town told

Rabba and

15: 16;

Lev.

18:24;

Only a community of righteousness would match the dreams and prayers centered on this small strip of earth: "Zion shall be redeemed by justice, and those who return to her, by righteousness" (Isa. L27). Deut.

9:5).

In the course of centuries, and especially in

modern

times,

many Jews came

to feel that

God's role no longer needed to be considered

They were had forged an indissoluble bond between land and people and that as homeland and as the cultural and political center of Jewry it remained the

Palestine,

name it was known,

was linked to the will and promise of God, and hence it was a Holy and Promised Land, as it was later to be called. To someone who believes that God did indeed will the land to Abraham's people, the Jews' subsequent claim to it is beyond dispute. The claim has total force, encom3

of this possibility (Gen.

and

be heedful

to

other nations'

them Canaan,

Zion, Israel, by whatever

was warned always

of their relation-

all

ship to the land. For

this

stamp.

a special

told him:

"The governor would

me to kill a certain man, else

I

be killed." Rabba said: "You must suffer death rather

in their relationship to the land. satisfied

that history

focus of the age-old dreams. Thus, religion

and history became intertwined for Zion's children: Believers and nonbelievers alike took the land to heart in their own way and

made

it

the object of their hopes.

than commit murder. is

redder

[i.e.,

more

Who knows whether your blood valuable] than his: perhaps the

blood of the intended victim

100

is

redder than yours!"

[9].

GLEANINGS

how ever

Sarah's Beauty

Of

can compare with Sarah.

APOCRYPHON

GENESIS

When Abraham went The land was

all

made thoroughly

suspicious, insisted

That walk, beneath the canopy,

None

high, the tax collectors,

upon his unfastening the casket and letting them examine the contents. When it was forced open, the whole of Egypt was re-

the virgins and brides

all

with Sarah into Egypt,

[13]

In Arabic Literature

Abraham, was, according

Sarah, the wife of

illumined with her beauty.

HENRI WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW

midrash

splendent with the beauty of Sarah,

[io]

some

[il]

to

accounts, the sister of Lot and the daughter

of Aran, Abraham's paternal uncle. According to

The

Possibility of

Did not Abraham by

his

might not occur, and

such

in

executed under duress, was

Had

Abraham would have been

occurred,

her time and possessed

sembled Eve,

adultery

The Scheme Which Failed

On

this

Chaste

first

observed

the

beauty

to

gave two-thirds of

he

chest,

\\

of Sarah.

do so the

to

hen, on entering

obliged to give a tithe of

now, when they were wading through a stream, he saw the reflection of her beauty in the water like the brilliance of the sun. Wherefore he

ran and told the king. Ques-

official

When, on that supposition, marry her and reached out to

her to say the same. the king wished to

God

take her, Sarah prayed

and

and when the king promised not

me

no harm befall on account of thee." At the Egyptian boundary, put thee in

Abraham

replied that she was his sister, having instructed

spoke to her thus, "The Egyptians are very sensual, will

a casket that

she

him about the contents of and Abraham told them he had barley

prayed

God

to

restore

to

it.

wither to

his

Forgetful

promise, the king reached toward her once

the casket,

and

it.

"No," they

said, "it contains wheat." "Very Abraham, "I am prepared to pay on wheat." The officers then hazarded the

well," replied the tax

Abraham agreed to and, when they charged

interview

,

God

causing the walls of the house to

become transparent

for the purpose. Finally the

pay the tax on pepper, him with concealing gold

w

he did not

cious stones. Seeing that he

demurred

to

on pre-

more

hand was again withered. This was repeated three times. Abraham was a witness of this

king restored Sarah to

in the casket,

of his

his

guess, "It contains pepper!"

refuse to pay the tax on gold, and finally

hand;

touch her.

the tax collectors asked

in

all

refused to open the chest in

at first

tioned by the latter regarding Sarah.

at

her, but

I

all

Abraham

which Sarah was. and when he was Email) forced

Egypt,

he was, he had never before looked

as

a

Abraham was

his goods,

from Canaan

journey

whom Cod

transported her in

[12]

Egypt,

Abraham

to

ot

a perfect figure. She re-

beauty; indeed, she was so beautiful that

held guilty.

midrash

woman

Babylon. Sarah was the most beautiful

a case his plan,

justified.

the daughter of the king of Haran,

and her mother was daughter of Kutba, king of

deception expose-

Sarah to adultery? Yes, but there was a possibility it

w as

others, she

Adultery

ith presents.

self

for

no charge.

one of

whom

He

Abraham and

insisted

his slave girls,

loaded her

on her choosing for herand she selected Hagar

she had conceived a liking.

JEWISH ENCYCLOPEDIA 101

[14]

Gen. 14:i-24

TVtS

The War of the Four

against

the Five

The war of the four against the

five

wise smoothly flowing narrative.

from an Abrahamic

appears as an intrusion in an otherIt is

likely that this chapter

comes

tradition not otherwise represented in the Torah.

Despite enormous research, both source and purpose of this story have

remained an enigma cident?

Are we here

Does the event have some

enough knowledge

We

[i].

to

face-to-face

with a historic

special significance?

We

in-

do not have

answer these questions.

are told of certain kings

who were bound

for El-paran (near

today's Eilat, in the Negev), possibly for the copper mines located there.

The invaders had come from Mesopotamia, and objective in the south they returned prisoner. Subsequently

after

accomplishing their

home, carrying Lot with them

we meet Abraham in

102

as a

the unfamiliar role of warrior.

v-v nx

n.'pa xs'i

nxs

iy

p*rpT

xn aspa

py

:ian prena atpn

naxrnx

dji

m v by tx

nVayn

•qba-i

i-iami^s

b->n

ix3'i i3C7»i

D>»as ^Vjw

is*i

-itfx

1

1

na 1 x I ? 01 •?£$?

"I

?*

Qi7

1

idVx


y ibn

-™ ^a

nya/ix tdVk i^a ^inxi

D

•nx

anxiwni nacnbs'i may]

v

nan

-np das 2 .np onax n

Now, when Amraphel

^a

inx

v |-

T

axjt?

yba instincn -|r

j

|

' xn

"

:ma nitf nivy-vb&\ nayVna

-

mfcy

mtf

ya-ixai

la'i —

:,r

nanba

naix nVa

"iaxa^i

t

I

nay

mfry

nxi

1]

=

D^ax -

Vs-iaxi

iori

DV'y "iVa nay "ma

byim

nan nVxna anen paynx r,-

nx

U Aft a

*

-nVa

:n'l3

•]b^\

nnxa nnxa Dnfen payi intfanrrnx D'aVa u't

^inx lyw^bn bana* , a , 3 »rn

may nVa ycna-nxi did nVa yTrnx

n

:o'wn pays nan^a Dnx oisn -)yrxm yba o*fc

"qVa

~ie?x —. v

:nban

nvitf

craVam nayVna xaT niv T •

ana anurnxi

:

-

:

amp

I

I

T

T

:

T T

:

nnntfya

d^xd-i

nwa

Q'a'xn

"vvv annna nnn-nxi :a'nnp

'

king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of

made war on Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, which is Zoar, 3] all the latter joined forces at the Valley of Siddim, now the Dead Sea. 4] Twelve Elam, and Tidal king of Goiim

2]

years they had served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled.

5]

In the

who were with him came and defeated the Ham, the Emim at Shaveh-kiriathaim, 6] and

fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings

Rephaim

Ashteroth-karnaim, the Zuzim

at

at

which

the Horites in their hill country of Seir as far as El-paran, their

way back

came

they

En-mishpat, which

to

is

is

by the wilderness.

Kadesh, and- subdued

all

7]

On

the territory of the

who dwelt in Hazazon-tamar. 8] Then the king of Sodom, Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, which is Zoar, went forth and engaged them in battle in the Valley of Siddim: 9] Chedorlaomer king o( Elam, Tidal king o( Goiim, Amraphel king o( Shinar, and Arioch king ot Ellasar four kings Amalekites, and also the Amorites the king of



against those five.

Now

10]

14:il

was dotted with bitumen pits; and the kings of Sodom and threw themselves into them, while the rest escaped to the hill

the Valley of Siddim

Gomorrah,

in their flight,

A name

Shinar.

for

Babylonia (Gen.

10:

evil,"

Some

scholars suggest that Shinar

must here

refer /

to a location closer to

This

Arioch.

Canaan

name

is

[2].

The Ebla tablets were at first believed to mention two cities, as well as Sodom and Zeboiim averse

the

found

in

cuneiform

8),

sources, but Ellasar

Elam.

An

Tidal.

A

Goiim.

here to

is

eastern rival of Mesopotamia.

Hittite

name.

Literally,

mean

3]

.

.

.

"nations,"

possibly

"foreigners," a term, like the

Birsha.

now

considered un-

came

to

used

Greek

have contemptuous

Probably

two

[3]./

now the Dead Sea. In Hebrew The text recalls the time before waters of the Dead Sea had submerged the Valley of Siddim,

the "Salt Sea." the

valley at

overtones. Bera

but these identifications are

not. likely

"barbarians," that

2]

and the consonants of Birsha, "with wicked-

ness" (sia-saha).

io)."

its

southern end.

A

mythical nation of giants.

5]

Rephaim.

7]

Ha^a^on-tamar. Possibly another

unhistorical

names that refer to the depravity of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 18:i6ff.). Bera could mean "with

En-Gedi 103

(see

II

Chron. 20:2)

[4].

name

for

Genesis 14

niana

Lech-Lccha

nnx

laitf

Dio-^a

1

inx-ip ?

kx»i :nyn

-nxi

'nx-]a itfa-rnxi

pay-Vx inx -wx D'aVarrnxi -layV-na-nx

^a

dVp

uiVnx tnpn naVi nbax-^a

3'

o»Vsn Kin inlpa

atz»

p0

naxn xnaa

^na

-iax'i

:D"iaxTina

*|nx ]?a--i^x ji»Vy Vx

"fhrfi

n$?> va^rj-nx p-n rnx

Dnax-Vx alcr^a iak*j :Vaa

-ifey»

pbn*) :rriy

ww np ^ts

iV-jri'i

'V-]n

75*3

rra?

*

tfa-rVa-nx inp'i

ahb x>xin

inaSafi :fphs bvtb '.yyfft

pay xin

pis->3Vai :*nVan

mn

mayi cno

:y*ixi D'atf rtp

xini ]»i 1

ypbv bx ? tnax

max

nio -nVa-bx

jrfe

nax'i :"nVnp

]vby

bit.

Bonm

dj")

nirrbx >r 'nann

[The invaders] seized

11]

provisions, and

went

their

way.

12]

all

t^ain-ba

*pTW

They

also

onax

natf] 'a

'rix

yatf'i

T ,o

inayi xin nVjj orrVy

at5»i

ipx

:py$~tb Vxafea

a^n

,o

vnx DiVnx

itfa-n

Sodom and Gomorrah and

all

their

took Lot, the son of Abram's brother, and

in

>'

xim nayn Diaxb

rrixa B^tfi -ifcy rnat? ijva

aa^i

nx

anax

xini laVn

dhi i]y 'nxi ^atfx

D^arrnx on

the wealth of

and departed; for he had settled

possessions,

^ya

naimy asn-n

tfsan

-nxi

country.

^'Vxa

:ioa

his

Sodom.

A fugitive brought the news to Abram the Hebrew, who was dwelling at the terebinths Mamre the Amorite, kinsman of Eshkol and Aner, these being Abram's allies. 14] When Abram heard that his kinsman had been taken captive, he mustered his retainers, born into his 13]

of

15] At them and defeated them; and he pursued them as far 16] He brought back all the possessions; he also

household, numbering three hundred and eighteen, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. night, he and his servants deployed against

Hobah, which

as

brought back 17]

When

is

north of Damascus.

kinsman Lot and

his

his possessions,

and the

women

and the

rest

of the people.

he returned from defeating Chedorlaomer and the kings with him, the king of

Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh, which is the Valley of the King. And Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought out bread and wine; he was a priest of God Most High. 19] He blessed him, saying, "Blessed be Abram of God Most High, / Creator of heaven and earth. / 20] And blessed be God Most High, / Who has delivered your foes into your hand." And [Abram] gave him a tenth of everything. 21] Then the king of Sodom said to Abram, "Give me the persons, and take the possessions for yourself." 22] But Abram said to the king of Sodom, "I swear to the LORD, God Most 18]

14]

Retainers.

Meaning of VD^n

is

uncertain.

318.

Three hundred and eighteen. Probably a con-

ventional is

number used

number

for groups.

symbolism

also part of the

The number

built

around the

7

and 49

(7

x

7).

men

that the figure 318

is

memory: "To

this

in the tents of Arabia

/The number

20]

also

found

retinue of a Mitanni princess

noted that

in the Iliad the

in a description of the

[5].

It

number

has further been of

men

killed

actual

can recite the history if in

facts,

their

others

within hearing will immediately correct them, or

when added

supply forgotten details"

is

who

they stray but a jot from the

together, total 318. 318

is

very day there are old

of their ancestors for forty generations, and, recital

seven in the Book of Genesis. The prime

numbers between

Another opinion

ancient

is

104

A

[6]./

tenth of everything.

The

tithe customarily

given to the priests (see at Deut. 14:22). 22]

I

swear. Literally, "lift

up

my

hand."

*fin

oVn

-it?x

own pVm Dnyan i%« im :npT Vn injp on xnaai ^affx 13»

o

23]

what

I

my

'It is

servants have used up; as for the

Mamre

23]

yours; you shall not say,



let

them take

Will not take.

dition, does not

nsfa

:d-oxtix

Vyrfhfe iyi tyina-nx a 'flTtfyn '?x -iaxh

xbo

=>

I



their share."

Abraham, true

to

nomadic

tra-

wish to be beholden to anyone,

Besides, as a trader, he

p*i

np.x-Dxi

will not take so much as a thread or a sandal strap of who made Abram rich.' 24] For me, nothing but what share of the men who went with me Aner, Eshkol, and

High, Creator of heaven and earth: is

^pafrrVsa

need not rely on plunder

as a source of his

bruskness

of Sodom.

105

income

signifies

[7].

It is

also possible that

some contempt

for the king

Abraham For the

which they pronounced

Hebrew

the

first

time since

his introduction

Abraham

into the biblical text,

difficult to trace,

had disappeared as an identifiable group, the name lvnm was traced to the postdiluvian Eber ("I3y, Ever), who was installed in the

some

catalog of descent as the legendary ancestor

referred to

is

— without preparation or explanation — as an Hebrew. The term

Ivri, a

many

but

is

scholars agree that

way connected with

the

the

in

originally

may

Fertile

in

is

known

as

Habiru

They may

Crescent.

have come from Arabia

have been related by family

and

[8]

ties;

as

administrators. Although at

nomads

mercenaries and they were

first

or semi-nomads, they later settled in

Thev were,

the countries of their choice.

(Gen. Il:i6). Later folk etvmology

understood Ever to

mean

"the other side of"

presumably the Euphrates

— thus linking the

with Abraham who had come

Israelites

from Ur.

they

became prominent in Mesopotamia and later spread out all the way to Egypt. The Habiru were a group with distinct occupations and appear to have specialized

eponym

or

1

to fourteenth cen-

turies b.c.e. a class of people

lived

it

word "Habiru."

During the nineteenth

(nay; plural

Ivri

O—ny). After the Habiru themselves

Ivrim,

It is

Ivrim

possible that for some time the term was used only when the members of

the Israelite tribes spoke of themselves to

and when outsiders referred to them. Thus, Abraham is called Ivri vis-a-vis

outsiders

an

(Gen.

outsider

says, "I

am

by gentile

an

Ivri,"

sailors

14:i3) [11];

and Jonah

when asked

his identity

(Jonah

Otherwise the

1:9).

however, usually considered foreigners, which

people referred to themselves bv their tribes

means

(e.g.,

their

that they succeeded in maintaining .

group

when

modern

civil

they were sufficiently

would on giance,

was often and numerous they

identity. Their status

akin to that of

occasion,

influence

a

by

shifting

country's

their

What

for-

political

group but rather a

social or political significance is

common

mean "The King

Is

Justice"

in Phoenician records.

Elyon

the

(God Most High) was

God

of

non-Israelites in

of this term by

time caused the

Israelites

themselves to use the cognomen Habiru, The word

On

is

also transcribed as hapiru or

the possibility of connecting

Ivri

hap

to

Melchizedek with those righteous Gentiles who, like Job and Jethro, acknowledged the Lord of Abraham as their God. The Jews of Alexandria, who were interested considered Mel-

whom Abraham

ad-

mired and whose example other Gentiles followed. Thus, Melchizedek ject of speculation in traditions.

Or "King

biru.

with Ebrium,

to

also applied to

This identification led later tradition

or because of

identified with, the Habiru.

came

classify

chizedek a monotheist

application

was the priest

Abraham.

in proselvtizing the Gentiles,

were

name may

the expression El

occupied positions similar familial ties

2

Elyon later

mean "Most High," and

brews and these Habiru? Linguistically the words Habiru and Ivri appear to share a common root [10]. It is likelv that in Egvpt and elsewhere members of the Israelite tribes

The repeated

more

of El Elyon (Gen. 14:i8), a deity mentioned

[9].

the relationship between the He-

to,

their

ancestor, Israel.

Melchizedek The king of Salem, whose

alle-

They were sometimes feared, and their cognomen was "wanderers who are also known as robbers." Thus, Habiru was not so much a gentilic term referring to a parterm of

immediate

Ephraim) or by

servants,

tunes.

ticular ethnic or linguistic

Judah,

Alreadv in Psalms he of Justice," or

(Tzedek being

king of Ebla, see Hallo's essay.

106

became

a divine

a sub-

Jewish and Christian is

"The King

name)

[12].

called the Is

Tzedek'

prototype of the ideal king

from the

line of

who

will spring

David:

merit

wine

The Lord has sworn and "You

are a priest forever, a rightful king

My

by

decree"

dition

Christian Scriptures developed this tra-

further and

the

called Jesus

priest after the order of

"high

Melchizedek"

[13];

the ancient king was also said to have resembled the Son of God [14] and to have been superior to Abraham. Melchizedek's

and the and

tradition of bread

traced back to this story.

is

original

importance accorded Mel-

chizedek most likely arose from the fact

was king of Salem and that Salem Jerusalem (Ps. 76:3) [15]-

that he

(Ps. 110:4).

was

The

communion

The

will not relent,

recalled in the daily Mass,

is

entire

identified with

way

In this

tradition established a link be-

tween Abraham and the Holy Abraham was thought to prefigure

who

Temple

their tithes to the

where Abraham made

for

people

come would pay

the centuries to

in

City, his

in the very spot

his first

covenant

[16].

GLEANINGS

War

Three Hundred Eighteen Retainers

to

Abraham's victory over the kings was not due the assistance of 318 men but of one single

helper.

For 318

is

the numerical equivalent of

the letters in Eliezer, the servant of

Having established

that 318

further note that the

"God

is

word

means

Abraham.

Eliezer,

Why

with faith rather than force.

that

midrash

[17]

[The equivalency refers to an old method of biblical interpretation called gematria.

Hebrew alphabet

Is

there ever a

we

means Abraham's

get involved in the wars

MOSES AVIGDOR AMIEL

[19]

Eliezer itself

my help" — which is to say

(K=i, 3 = 2,

Abraham

kinsman Lot was taken war when Abraham does not hear the message, "Your brother is in trouble"? captive.

The Language of Prayer

Melchizedek and Abraham use the same term,

helper was God, and that he defeated the kings

of the

did

of those kings? Because his

Each

letter

has a numerical value

words of equal numerical value were compared and conclusions drawn on that basis. Thus the letters in Eliezer add up to 318: X = 1, V = 30, « = 10, i? = 70, T = 7, "I = 200. See etc.);

further at Deut. 1:1-5, footnote

El Elyon, it.

Each

but they attach different meanings to refers to his

own God — the pagan

king

pagan deity and Abraham to "God Most High." They worship together, each respecting the to his

faith of the other.

Thus, they set an example of

ancient "intcrfaith worship": lions,

They use formula-

wholly acceptable to each other, and thereby

make common

prayer possible.

2.]

Abraham's God

Abraham the lvri The word , ")3V [lvri] is said from "13S7 [ever], on the other side

There were no to be derived of,

or beyond.

According to Rabbi Judah, the words "Abraham

meant

whole world stood on one side and he on the other, i.e., Abraham's faith ran counter to what all other men believed. the lvri"

that the

midrash

stories

about God. That was

indeed perhaps the most remarkable thing: the

courage with which

Abram

pressed God's essence

from the

represented and exfirst,

without more

ado, simply in that he said "God."

THOMAS MANN

[18]

107

[20]

Gen. 15: 1-I6: 16

YhS

The Covenant between the

Pieces;

the Birth of Ishmael

For

a second

time Abraham hears the divine promise that he will be

the father of a great nation.

and most solemn form

A

berit,

offspring.

its first

is

made

to

him

in a special

—with darkness, smoking oven, and flaming torch.

or covenant,

move toward

The promise

is

made. Thereafter, God's promise seems to

stage of fulfilment:

But again there

is

Abraham

will at last

have an

a delay; the Patriarch finally fathers a son,

yet not with Sarah. Chapter 16 heightens the dramatic tension by intro-

ducing Hagar and Ishmael

as counterfoils to

108

the

main personages.

^vtdk

nnx ispV

pxm

nima

natfn»i

*l*fsrelf]

mm

-wx

:7\m-)b nxin

:^ini 'ix

n^T"?

ntfVpa im

mrp na

T

Q,,

T^ n$?

nt?Vttfa

,l

nVsy

iV

#? 1*5

nnm Kb

,

...

nsitn-nxi

,..

T

Abram,

/

.

T

m»i mipb nna-^x

Some time

1]

:Viin

...

I

am

later, the

nm

my



xr

nts>x

0-rt»

*

:

'vpm

^t?

nj

the

Lord came

seeing that 3]

shall

4]

Abram

x'V

:*|Bh w

xxi'i

be very great."

2]

in

'

y-11 -jr

-

xin

"Fear not,

But Abram

and the one

;

naxV ^bx

in a vision, saying,

shall die childless,

I

Abram

heir."

to

nam

:•

i

••



Din?

^-]T\r\

nax'i :~ny ?x pfcan

xraan nax>i rmnn inx

Your reward

my

steward will be

?pyaa

,

in*

Lord God, what can You give me, household is Dammesek Eliezer!" offspring,

tfVtfa T

*•

:

-

,l

1

word of

a shield to you; /

max

'V in

nxa nann pat? nVin 'aixi

*?*)?>

pffa-jai

nim-nai nam :»nx ~ t

nnx nna'i ..... nVx-Va-nx iyni?i I...

'ma

xin n

*

nnax xn'rrVx "iaxV mnaa

'aix

-na nftr 'nx a-jax nax*i

'

nnp vVx

?

pa

r\b

i

'nx nax*i

run*

ninpan mn nVxn anain nnx

o-iax-^x

iV nax*i

tVx lax*] :np is

jnx naa

nax'i :mtrpx '3

Vw

n'aaian "ibpi rwaafn

"O

said,

charge of my

You have granted me no Lord came to him in reply,

said further, "Since

The word of

the

"That one shall not be your heir; none but your very own issue shall be your heir." 5] He took him outside and said, "Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them." And He added, "So shall your offspring be." 6] And because he put his trust in the Lord, He reckoned it to his merit.

Then He

7]

said to him, "I

am

the

give you this land as a possession." to possess it?"

Lord who brought you out from Ur of 8] And he said, "O Lord God, how shall

He answered, "Bring Me

9]

a

The word of

15:i]

the

Lord came

The phrase

is

in

adopted him

was

I

am

all

these

The native-born

Abraham adopted

would be able

Eliezer could

tin

to obtain credit,

own

property, thus

[i].

6]

He reckoned

faithful

to

it

(repeated

in

Ins

Ps.

merit.

Clod rewards the

!06:3l).

Paul,

in

the

Christian Scripture, uses this verse to prove that

Eliezer.

as

He brought Him

Albright believes that

Eliezer so that he

Abraham"

Most likely Abraham's servant, "the Damascan." Abraham may have Dammesek

that

to

Jewish tradition

often referred to as "Shield of

the prayer book). 2]

10]

extending Abraham's credit base

in the first of the eighteen benedictions in

(e.g.,

Israeli law.

in-

occurs here, but

It

nowhere else in the Torah. I am a shield to you. Hence is

to.

Jeremiah and Ezekiel to

in

troduce a prophetic vision.

God

know

I

two, placing each half opposite the other; but he did not cut up

in

used frequently

Chaldeans

three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old she-

young bird."

goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a

and cut them

the

a son and, if

applicable, he

merit depends on faith rather than law [2]; but James draws the opposite conclusion: Man is justified by works and not by faith only [3].

Hurrian practice

would be Abraham's

benefi-

10]

And

cut them.

The

berit is

concluded through

Hebrew

ciary.

process of cutting, hence the

/This was not so in later Jewish (rabbinic) law, in

cut a covenant" (see note to Gen. 9:9).

to the

Roman

has a place in

modern

which technical adoption comparable adrogatio did not exist,

though

it

a

phrase, "to

Smoke and

flame are a frequent accompaniment of the di\ine presence.

109

Genesis

15; 16

Lech-Lecha

pa las -WN pk tsVi

nian

jtfy

cnax-nx nvr rna xinn

nam n?n

1

nxin ynxn-nx »gpa ^ini ? nbx ?

"inaa

T^n-nx

tiki

:n"js~ina Vian

^nan-nxi

nVi ft T

mV' xV anax nPx r

:

:

t

|T

n&

'jnxy xa-nan D-ax-^x

bird.

-

:

v |-

As the sun was about upon him. 13] And He

Dnax

Ql^xb

-iaK*i

r

arrasi Dnb kV

T

HE ¥T nav!

!KSfg

irnnxi

-iai?n

niVpa spnax-^x xian nnxi :Vna

]i

»3JK

1

deep sleep

wealth.

As

15]

old age.

Amorites

shall

-:

|V

fT

the carcasses, and

fell

upon Abram, and

shall serve,

nbxn

that

VI

*

the sun set and

saying",

"To your

the river Euphrates:

Perizzites,

and

go to your fathers

]iy Pi

-•

Abram drove them away. dark dread descended

a great

your offspring

in the

I

shall

be strangers

in a

14] but

will

I

end they

shall

go free with great

You

shall

be buried at a ripe

in peace; /

they shall return here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the

it

was very dark, there appeared

torch which passed between those pieces.

Abram,

io

not yet complete."

is

When

17]

You

for you,

And

16]

tfa-ia

'van Tim :naio na^a »

land not theirs, and they shall be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years;

execute judgment on the nation they

'Urrnx

"itfx

naVyi nxa PaPn :nan-ny tpi ~ :T|" T T T ¥

Abram, "Know well

said to

:

nani

:

came down upon

to set, a

12]



napn na^x

layi

* :d~qx T

*n*i :-

|v

yanx ank

*

T T

-.

xiaVT tfa&n v

:

TT?

n?rp

rrixa

:natt>

-

:

a^trx' ? 'a nan nitf*

nfin - T

naxrn :~nn n&tt

Birds of prey

11]

:B'xsnn

:'pnvrnxi

o

nnxa nnsp

D?i



nVia

pro? lit!

nxi '-upn

naxrrnxi

'ayaanTiXi

T

T



I

namm

nbsa

:vbv

nnarny ansa

whipa

-nxi '-nsn-nxi 'nnn-nxi

T

•bv nVsa T :,T

nna

1

amsrr^y tryn tti nna xV " r T-

atri

T

si^Kg arran

afca



anx

the

offspring

19]

I

On

18]

that

a

smoking oven, and

day the Lord made

21]

a flaming

covenant with

give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river,

the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites,

Rephaim,

a

the Hittites, the

20]

the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the

Jebusites." Sarai,

1]

n]

Abram's wife, had borne him no children. She had an Egyptian maidservant whose

Bird? of prey.

Most

commentary "The Promised Land").

of Israel (see

likely forces that try to

prevent the covenant from being concluded.

Four hundred years. In Exod. 12:40 the figure

13]

430.

is

We

have here an example of history pre-

sented in prophetic form: is

The sojourn

in

Egypt

in

Abraham.

16]

Fourth generation.

A

round

figure,

meaning

than

1948, or

1967

even

those after

I7-8). Certainly, the borders were

of the the

State

Six

of Israel

Day War

in

[4].

later."

Once it reaches its them to lose the land.

The iniquity of the Amorites. full

The boundaries of Land vary throughout the Torah

34:i-i2 and Deut.

greater

12:io-13:i8,

river of Egypt.

these ancient conceptions,

far in

"much

the

Num.

(cf.

envisioned as having been ordained in the time

of

From

18]

the Promised

to Gen.

measure,

it

will cause

This relationship of morality and possession

is

19]

The Kenites. Kenites and Kenizzites lived in

the Negev; Kadmonites cients."

part of the Holy Land's special nature, which

Gen.

was to have

shites,

a

profound

effect

on the children

110

On

means "easterners" or "anGen. 0:7; on Rephaim,

Perizzites, see

14:5; Hittites,

Amorites, Canaanites, Girga-

and Jebusites are mentioned

in

chapter

10.

Ifctf

nxba I-:- nxxa'i ti:-

nin' t:

^T3

3idh iTT^fS

Tjippa

naxM me*

-1



T|V -

:

'

man

naaa 'I-

marn -:- n& naym

:,Tsaa T p T

vna rynny

n|

innst? nan



-

13783 D'an j'yny

n



:

btsjctom natf

'sVn naxi nx3T nia-'x nfe nnstf -un naxrn ,-,— v T,T

1

?

'Vix 'nnDtrVx X3*X3 T T v ntz> np.ni

cap



mbn tf

2n# Vipb onax

nin' T :

yatz»i

]

ypa nnnstf nnxan "urrnx

niry

nirx dtjkV nnx jnrn jy33 ynxs onax

fc

:

»mM n»

isa -

nnn 'jynm nrnsrbx 'aw

nin'

:nnn3 nxVa -|I-:- nV nax*i f t

nax'i :n»T

'3ix r

nynrnx nanx nann

nVi

^n

nnn

bpm nnnn

1'Vy 'can d-qx-^x nfr - T |v T T T -I

I

-

nsn-Vx x3»i :nB*xb

-Vx

'3

r

T

I

naxm

:

Vpxi nnnn - x |T

nxba nV

nin?

xnm Tim

'3

-

:

-iaxi :ana isd' *

^x"?a nb

nfcp

- r

D

xnm if- -

r

:

-

nn-isa :n'3'ys T |s T :

:

n



ip'ns 'nnstp Tin:T '3ix T r II,-.-

,-

-

:

nn3x nax'i :wai vps l|r T

-

|

,-



:



nin' dsbt n'3'ys r T ,t

«



:

.H-iro

'•

Sy -npi n



has kept me from bearing. And Abram heeded Sarai's request. after Abram had 3] So Sarai, Abram 's wife, took her maid, Hagar the Egyptian dwelt in the land of Canaan ten years and gave her to her husband Abram as concubine. 4] He cohabited with Hagar and she conceived; and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was lowered in her esteem. 5] And Sarai said to Abram, "The wrong done me is your fault! I myself put my maid in your bosom; now that she sees that she is pregnant, am lowered in her esteem. The LORD decide between you and me!" 6] Abram said to Sarai,

name was Hagar.

And

2]

my

Consort with

Abram, "Look,

Sarai said to

maid; perhaps

shall

I

have

a son

the

Lord

through her."





I

"Your maid

is

in

your hands. Deal with her

and she ran away from

An

7]

Lord found her by

angel of the

and

said,

you going?" And she

said,

road to Shur,

And

9]

8]

10]

offspring, /

And

is

considered

"I

the

mark

said to her,

angel of the

many

of divine

Hannah). This theme makes the

cially /

first

(e.g.,

"One without

dead and razed to the ground"

late

a

[5].

child

word play on

Literally,

|3 (ben, son)

"be

built

is

a

and H33 (banah, build

up).

3]

also

11]

-Lord

[6].

A

said to her

and Nuzi contract

another wife. But

if

Gillimninu

fails

bear children, she shall get for him

as

concubine. In that case, Gillimninu herself shall

have authority over the offspring"

a slave girl

[7].

Sarai treated her harshly. Since in

Hagar could no longer be

her position

sold or expelled

[8],

Sarah abuses her maid, thereby causing her to

Concubine.

the

the

to

leave of her

The Hebrew word n?»a

mpai

:dv6kV

^vyn

nnvn

x'V ~ib>x

nna

nix

bian

1

?

inx nax'i anaxnx T:

nanxi

nna

?g»ai "»ra

vjsny anax

nna

-inx

-

,

.

nni

nnani :^nn] u«a :ixr ?jaa anVai

n;nxi

naxV anVx

^'^nx

wni

1

sprain

^ nin

1

3

:b?b jtan

ornax

spatf

iXa lXaa

:

«

-

j

?jnX

va nnanx napni

]ni 9u>ai

IsniVi an'Vx ?

n

jlsrrax

:ann nni

:nxa ixaa

Vs"i

nan '3X

a'ti ?

-

,.

nvn anax ^arnx Tiy x"ipn6i

tV? ^a?

tpraj

:

n?m

axV

ratorn anax vm

crjtp yttrn natf

inx iai']

*or|a baa qoa

njpai

^sioa

x*n

?inix

tV> aanniV narna aaV ^b»

n>a

nna

"Max*i

narVa nab

nx anVaai

-ifira

Vian :xm

'3dV hb> .- bx™»3x - -t: -iVnnn

nasto -wx 'nna

rabaqai :oaxpai >ra

croa;

pK-^a nx

T^nx isnn nnx ihvn nna

nxi innnlV

DanVny

ni.T

i

Drnaxnx anVx

nnxi

T^ox

jsna

nnn i^nnx

1

?

a^iy



nnaV anil ? 1

When Abram

was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him. "1 am El Shaddai. Walk in My ways and be blameless. 2] I will establish My covenant between Me and you, and I will make you exceedingly numerous." 3] Abram threw himself on his tace, as God spoke to him further, 4] "As tor Me, this is My covenant with you: You shall be the tather of a multitude of nations. 5] And you shall no longer be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I make you the tather o( a multitude ot nations. will make you exceedingly fertile, and make nations of you; and 6] kings shall come forth from you. 7] I will maintain My covenant between Me and you, and your offspring to come, as an everlasting covenant throughout the ages, to be God to you and to your offspring to come. 8] I give the land you sojourn in to you and your offspring to come, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession. I will be their God." 9] God further said to Abraham, "As for you, you and your offspring to come throughout the ages shall keep My covenant. 10] Such shall be the covenant between Me and vou and your offspring to follow which you shall keep: every male among you shall be circumcised. 1]

I

11]

You

shall

Me

between

circumcised outsider

17:i] is

i

at the

who

am

in doubt.

circumcise the flesh of your foreskin, and that shall be the sign of the covenant

and you.

is

12]

And throughout

the generations, every

not of your offspring,

13]

they must be circumcised,

The meaning of "Shaddai" "God Almighty" is the most frequent

El Shaddai.

scholars derive the

Akkadian

for

word Shaddai from

the

"mountain" or from the root "to send

rain." Rashi explained the

He whose

Ruth

divinity

shall

be

5]

is

name

sufficient

homiletically: "I (

,r T57)

to

am

all

crea-

the

same

name father

is is

probablv

added by God

likely an extension or

original

tion of

a contraction

The additional Abram's name is

exalted." to

enlargement of the

name [1], so that the biblical explanaAbraham ("father of a multitude") is an

assonance rather than correct etymology.

tion."/

Be blameless. Like Noah, tor

phrase was used (Gen.

"my

syllable (ha)

most

homeborn and purchased

2:io).

Abram. This

of Abi-ram.

translation.

/Some

male among you

age ot eight days. As tor the homeborn slave and the one bought trom an

whom

Abram threw himself on his face. The common 3] form of showing submission to gods, kings, and other important personages

10]

Circumcised.

By removal of the foreskin of the

penis (see Gleanings). Later in the Bible the term

6:9).

(cf.

1

Kings

18:7;

is

applied figuratively to removing obstacles to un-

derstanding (Deut. 10:i6;

30:6). Jer. 4:4

the "foreskin of the heart."

116

speaks of

:Vnj

bsw inx

n#a

-i3iV ^3*1 :rnnxn

Vxya^nx arnax

nW» ™)

ISO? rapa-Va nxi irra -it?a-nx Va^i

Dnnaxi

:d^x

:lrfn»

^a

°nnax

iVana

rf*p

amax *» mn

t*

nxa'naa-rupai kti

mi

ntf

ai>n

m

'1? pnnajrVx ovfrx

i3

:natf

W"™

te?

axya -

Thus

shall

is

My

» fcw*n

fails to

name

shall

be Sarah.

16]

I

hundred years that Ishmael

his face

old, or

might

spiwatf n-

ran -•

your

in

My

bxyatpbi tttit

:mnx

iy~nV

'/inSHI

flesh as an everlasting pact.

for

your wife Sarai, you

will bless her; indeed',

and laughed,

as

name him

I

will give

of peoples

at

19]

Isaac;

ninety?"

God and

I

everlasting covenant for his offspring to come.

shall

you

18]

said,

folk

14]

aViy

-

»fl3p3

And

if

any

not call her Sarai, but her

son by her. from her."

I

will bless her

Abraham "Can a child be born to a man a And Abraham said to God, "Oh 17]

"Nevertheless, Sarah your wife shall

will maintain

20]

a

shall issue

he said to himself,

by Your favor!"

bear you a son, and you shall

-

covenant."

can Sarah bear a child

live

"

pmr iarnx

*•

L

so that she shall give rise to nations; rulers

threw himself on

r^?

circumcise the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut

Abraham, "As

said to

pnri

nax>i

I

1X83 lnX WS"!^)

covenant be marked

»#S d^V nrmi

fc

asya :1n*vy *

off from his kin; he has broken 15]

nVa

*

W ^ W ^ ^^ ?»

-

m wbai !*

uncircumcised

And God

»h

»nra

nnx

a?i

W* "^ n ^ "* ***** »*«*! a^xrVx i» :f# ™ IT* ^ WR 3 * n#

Ha/wraJi Lech-Lecha, p. 330

who

*

Q

mtorp

',;

male

a

:*E

*&E *Sf**9

:inxiVana3-]a

alike.

™? a '*#

3 iV

^ ™™

HJW

I

nan 'nna

a

-vatfn

nfr natrnx x-ipn-xV -qrwx

»a

n*]fc

~

na-ifcraa

srsan nrnaai ttiViy -itz>a-nx

M

iajanai

n>l

M Wirta mn m

-to nx iVana ntf rrto

Vxya^i

ngg Tina ?

rorhax Vya B'nVx

njfn

DrtrV

1

rmab

not Vnsn :nViy

m rraya xinn

« iV T&j y$$ pnr-nx a'px 'nnrrnxi

n*i&

Va

Vian6 iro

l^tpaf ixa

i*nrm i*Vt* ax'iw

»tfp

As

My

covenant with him

for Ishmael,

I

as

an

have heeded you.

I

make him fertile and exceedingly numerous. He c hall be the father of twelve chieftains, and will make of him a great nation. 21] But Mv covenant will maintain with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this season next year." 22] And when He was done speaking with him, God was gone from Abraham. 23] Then Abraham took his son Ishmael, and all his homeborn slaves and all those he had hereby bless him.

I

will I

I

Abraham's household, and he circumcised the flesh of their foreskins on to him. 24] Abraham was ninetv-nine years old when he circumcised the flesh of his foreskin, 25] and his son Ishmael was thirteen years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. 26] Thus Abraham and his son Ishmael were circumcised on that very day; 27] and all his household, his homeborn slaves and those that had been bought from outsiders, were circumcised with him. bought, every male that very day, as

15]

Sarai.

for Sarah, ,~, /

This i.e.,

is

in

God had spoken

probably an older

linguistic

a u opinion that u The tTalmudj records the 1

c

••

Sarai

change symbolized the end of her barrenness 18]

O/i

that

form

rejoinder either of humility

[3]

or

ot

anxiety

[4].

"princess."

Ishmael might

live

s

name

[2]./

by Your favor!

l

9]

From pns '

20]

A

Isaac.

/

have

heeded

(to taugh). °

you.

^FSa^fi,

on Vxyattr (Ishmael— God 117

will

a

word

heed).

plaj

other hand, the discouragement of

Circumcision

Few,

than

significant

milah, the

berit

While

circumcision.

born

more

any, Jewish practices are

if

it

does not

covenant of

make

to Jewish parents into a Jew,

it

a child

appearance

the

of circumcision

all

reli-

virtual

dis-

with

and,

confirms

North America today, circumcision

In

the

encouraged by the medical profession

The Zohar considered

the

hygienic measure and

safeguarding of circumcision important to

all

mankind: "As long as Israel observes the custom of circumcision, heaven and earth will go on their appointed courses, but if Israel neglects the covenant, heaven and earth are

it,

widespread assimilation of the Jews.

God and

his 'special relationship to the

traditions of Israel.

gious practices has caused

accepted by most

is

Gentiles. This generalized practice has it

essential that

is

as a

made

Jews should re-emphasize the

religious aspects of the rite. Surgical circum-

by no means the equivalent of berit milah. The act obtains its value not from the physical operation and its presumed medical benefits but from the idea and the history that underlie it, from the prayers that cision alone

is

and was subject to divine punishment, to being "cut off from the people," i.e., from the covenant. Indeed, throughout history, the

accompany

it,

continued

baptism has taken the place of circumcision.)

disturbed"

Neglecting to circumcise a

[5].

child was, therefore, lect

of a

been while

a

rite; it

more than merely

neg-

a rejection of God's sign

observance

mark

its

was

of circumcision

has

religion of his fathers. (In Christian tradition,

An

of the Jewish will to survive,

is

Thus, during the reign of Antiochus IV (165 b.c.e), circumcision

was prohibited by

royal decree, but Jews observed the rite even at the risk of death.

Some one hundred

years

had changed dras-

Ancient Practice

The

discontinuance has been a signal of

assimilation.

and from the father's affirmabrought up in the

tion that his child will be

antiquity of the rite of circumcision

attested

by the

biblical record itself. In the

days of Moses and Joshua,

Age was coming

tom

to

when

an end,

it

was

the Bronze still

a cus-

to use flint knives for the rite, that

say, tools

going back to the Stone Age

is

to

(cf.

tically

Exod. 4:25; Josh. 5:2). Circumcision has been practiced by

of assimilation to the

peoples besides the Jews. Jeremiah indicates

later, political conditions

and many upper-class Jews desirous dominant Greco-Roman way of life began to neglect berit milah. Two hundred years later, during the Hadrianic 1

persecution

(ca.

135 c.e.), the practice of this

— as well as the teaching of Torah in general — was forbidden once again. Yet many rite

Jews defied the edict and suffered death. During the Nazi reign of terror, circumcision was often the means by which the persecutors determined the Jewishness of their male victims;

still

the vast majority of Jewish parents

continued to enter their children into the covenant. In present-day Soviet lands, on the

1

Often, in public athletic events, participants

were expected

to

compete

in the

who

nude submitted

to

many

and Ammonites

that the Egyptians, Moabites,

underwent circumcision (9:24); among the nations bordering on Israel, only the

all

Philistines did not practice

time (seventh century

it.

In

c.e.) it

Mohammed's

was apparently

by the peoples of the Middle East that the Koran no longer found it so generally observed

necessary to

command

it

specifically

[6].

Why

was it so widespread? Although Herodotus ascribed it to hygienic reasons and Maimonides claimed that it reduced sexual activity to a manageable level [7],

2

In Arabic, too, the

same term

(chatana)

means "to

circumcise."

"The commands were given

an operation so that the sign of their Jewishness would

3

be obliterated.

themselves"

118

[9].

to Israel

to purify

ubiquity was doubtlessly due to the per-

its

sistent

popularity of ancient fertility

marriage. This

names

The

Abraham and

Sarah and the sub-

names among Jews

suggest a lessening adherence to traditional values and an advance of assimilation.

The command to Abraham shifts the pracaway from young adulthood to the eighth day after birth and thereby from sexual to

still

be a "sign of the covenant."

strong, a change of

a family

now to (Women re-

purpose

Europe, where familial traditions are

In

tice

spiritual significance. 3 Its

as

stitution of fashionable

for circumcision. 2

fit

strands.

commitment to The recent neglect of such

religious tradition.

guage of the Talmud [8], where the word ]nn (chatan) means both a bridegroom and an infant

cultural

to Christians in Puritan

times expressed that age's

prior to

reflected in the lan-

still

is

manhood

names given

biblical

Originally, circumcision served as an initiation into puberty or into

of two

the joining

rites.

name)

difficult. In

is

name

(especially of

North America, name changing

easy and widely practiced. Thus,

is

made

discouraged and

is

names

ceived no such sign, because biblical tradition

are increasingly losing their significance, espe-

was male-oriented.) The

cially in

rite

of cutting, which

elsewhere associated with the

is

Gen.

15:io),

Abraham

here accorded special sanctity.

is

mentally changed, well

He

body.

as in

more

a

in

now a man fundaname and identity as

is,

as the

circumcised

a

human

nearly perfect

Sarai's to Sarah. Similar

times

several

Jacob's

name

in is

the

Bible:

changed

in

Abraham,

toward anonymity

Naming

changes occur For

to the community's lack of and the individual's sense of rootlessness. The giving of a Hebrew name, which may honor a member of the family or simply

counteragent tradition

the personality or status of the bearer.

as well as popes take on new names when they accede to the throne, and so do some nuns on entering orders. A woman

be

Thus, kings

upon marriage.

name

to

Names

the

which

some

membership

can add a religious element

important process of name-giving, is

nowadays primarily

a

matter of

taste.

blacks have signified their strengthened sense of identity by the adoption of

a recognition of the child's

in the covenant,

of her husband

In the United States,

for the individual.

a child at circumcision or in the

synagogue can, therefore, be an important

instance,

to Israel, Hoshea's

change of name symbolizes a change

assumes the family

often

distinguishable in an environment that tends to

to Joshua, Mattaniah's to Zedekiah. In each case, the

is

symbolic form by having the

in

name start with the same initial. Some people change their first as well as their family names and become even less

Identity

and

Many

child's

it,

being. 4

and Name Abram's name is changed

societies.

Jewish child after a deceased relative

done only

is

Midrash puts

modern metropolitan

people already bear the same name; naming

(see

berit

In Genesis,

new names. 5

God

The bestowal

express the predilections and tradi-

act so that one's

is

the

supreme name-giver.

and must remain,

is,

name may

a sacred

speak of identity,

and often say much about a civilization. For example, the medieval combination of Hebrew names with the Arabic

not only to be true to one's self but also to

word

that tradition for

commitment, and membership the Eternal People. "To honor a name"

tions of a family

4

for son (Ibn Ezra, Ibn

Why

Adam

was

everything

God

commentary 5

to

Chayim) expressed

not born circumcised? Because

created needed perfecting [10]

Gen.

tradition,

l:i-2:3,

"The Creation

(see

new name.

It

that the heavenly decree of death w.iv

his personality.

he was therefore thought to have recovery [u].

119

is

which the name stands.

issued against the person as he was. his

an integral part of

of Man").

Related to this was the widespread Jewish custom

of giving a desperately sick person a

was believed

in

With

name being new name

a

a better

chance of

GLEANINGS

Laws of Circumcision [Over the centuries,

body of laws and customs about circumcision developed. A few exa great

and festivals. If at all possible, it should be performed on the eighth day, not earlier and not later. [13]

cerpts follow.] If

the father

cision

knows how

he should do

the rite

is

to

perform the circum-

himself. Usually, however,

it

performed bv someone familiar with

After the circumcision the father of the child says this benediction: "Praised be

our God. King of the universe,

all

Thou,

who

O

Lord,

hast sanctified

required procedures and prayers, a professional

us with

circumciser (mohel).

to enter

Thy commandments and hast bidden us him into the covenant of Abraham, our

father."

Those present respond: "As he has been

Among

liberal Jews,

and

in

many

smaller com-

entered into the covenant,

munities, a doctor often takes the place of the

and the rabbi reads the accompanving

mohel,

may he

be introduced

to the study of Torah, to the nuptial canopy, to

and

good deeds."

prayers. [12]

The custom of naming a child Since the fulfilment of

postponed

in deference to

all

precepts must be

human

life,

extreme

care should be taken not to circumcise a sick infant. In such cases, circumcision

formed

life

of a

human

at the circumcision

of medieval origin, although traditional senti-

ment traces it back to Abraham who received new name at the time of his circumcision. [14]

a

per-

than that prescribed bv law,

at a later date

because the

may be

is

It is

being, once sacrificed,

customary

to

make

a feast

on the dav of the

circumcision. [15]

can never be restored. Creation Uncompleted If a

woman

circumcision cision

has lost two sons (it

weakened

from the

a

pagan sage asked Rabbi Judah: "If circumso beloved ol God, why was the mark of

having been proven that circum-

cision

their physical condition), her third

circumcision not given to

son must not be circumcised until he

and has

A

effects ot

is

grown up

The

is

during the

created

stronger constitution.

Adam

at his creation?"

rabbi replied: "Almost everything that was six

days of creation needs

—even man needs finishing."

finishing

Circumcision

is

to

day after birth and

be performed on the eighth

may

take place on the Sabbath

120

midrash

[16]

Gen. 18:1-15

The Messengers

A

brief interlude tells

how God

Abraham and this The announcement is made by three

once again assures

time Sarah, too, of an offspring.

"men," mysterious messengers of the additional characteristic of

Deity.

Abraham — his

The account

hospitality.

(A new weekly portion, Vayera, begins here.)

121

sets forth

an

Vayera

Genesis 18

DDE

p-Vsna nasn inx asaV nyoi anVna n»N*i Drnay^y

-wxs

ri&yfi

"i»x*i |-

mtrVx nVnxn amax TT

]3 T

»6wi nflV

:nijy

ip

aioi

nxari

|

T

1

:



I

1

?

p

xnaa

aaf xini

n

:ofai

xt?>i

ana bnxn

3

-f

nna

nnsa nnxipV

-:

,T

aVm

irrnx T

-iax'i -

:,T

nnpxi :ryn nnn

w&n\ uyhn

Vnkn .It

inr.#»i ,-

:^iay Vya "iayn xrVx

xrnj??

jri»i

xti vVy n'axj nnwx

th»i

nix »nxsaT xrnx T T

-ipan-Vxi

ina , i lyarrVx

vbx k-w

qfapp nirr

nti vry

nani

ntfVtf

:irtn r

-ina'i - :-

-

ntpy itfx np,arr]ai

jn»]

?

T

arnax

nj?»i

:inx nitpy

arras

T

nVb na^ n^xp uhw

"ipT 3"]a

nj?»i

wni

VI

una

MH3?

i

f^ya

]n

ixrrn a^a-uya

:

«

n

The Lord appeared to him by the terebinths of Mamre; he was sitting at the entrance of grew hot. 2] Looking up, he saw three men standing near him. As soon as he saw them, he ran from the entrance of the tent to greet them and, bowing to the 1]

the tent as the day

ground,

3]

he

"My

said,

lords, if

morsel of bread that you

way." They

servant's

may

"Do

Abraham hastened into the flour! Knead and make cakes!" it

and recline under the

feet

refresh yourselves; then go on

replied,

6]

choice, and gave

please you, do not go on past your servant.

it

water be brought; bathe your

little

and

to a servant-boy,

let

4]

me

Let a

fetch a

— seeing that you have come your

who

"Quick, three measures of choice

said,

Then Abraham

and the calf that had been prepared, and

And

5]

you have said."

as

tent to Sarah, 7]

tree.

ran to the herd, took a calf, tender and

hastened to prepare

8]

it.

He

took curds and milk

before them; and he waited on them under the

set these

tree as they ate.

18:

The Lord appeared. The aim of

i]

tion

is

to

make

it

A morsel of bread. The modest understate5] ment of a gracious host who expects to serve much more. Says the Talmud: The pious promise

this introduc-

clear that the visitors in the

following story are an apparition of the Divine. Terebinths

Abraham had

of Mamre. built

Near Hebron, where

an altar (Gen.

little

6] 2]

see

Three men standing near him.

Abraham

them coming and seems

startled

did not

My

lords.

'HS

much

[2].

Three measures.

WHO

(singular,

nxo), prob-

ably about twenty-eight cups, an overgenerous

by their

amount

sudden appearance.

3]

but perform

13:i8).

for three guests.

However,

may

it

have

been customary on such occasions to include the important members of the household [3] or to (or,

my

Lord).

The Hebrew

supply provisions for the way

[4].

sentences are couched alternately in the singular

and plural, suggesting the fusion of two traditions.

Maimonides understood

episode to have been a vision /

Harmonizers suggest that the

due

to

is

read as a

entire

syntactical variance

men

is

or represented God.

a controversy whether T*- here sacred word. See also Gleanings./

8]

They

ate.

is

to

Traditional interpreters experience

great difficulties here.

messengers,

[i].

Abraham's uncertainty over whether the

messengers were mere

There

literary

the

why do

If

the three

are divine

they eat? According to the

Midrash, they merely appeared to eat

[5].

Ac-

cording to Rashi, they pretended out of courtesy.

The

be

text

at the

122

is

of course oblivious of later Jewish

dietary laws which forbade serving milk

same meal

[6].

and meat

m

1

nab Dmax-Vx t,t T

T

:»nsg

-

:

I

-iax»i rrirp :]jn II r T |-t

:

'nxi•

nny T

:

«

.tn --

v

iVx max ^xn -iaxV 7n& npnx

'jxi

nya ^rVx

aitfN

-m

lyiaV

'npns xV naxb nnfc

tpnarii

:npns .|. TT

i^x- mac*! T

awx

:

ait?

:iVsx'i ryn |--I-t

I"

iax*i :Vnxa nan

They

tent."

said

10]

to

Then one

Lord?

I

will return to

ornaxi :Tnnx xini bnxn nns nyae* w

I"

"Where

nx-v T|-i

^

:D^a t-

is

at the

in truth

lied saying, "I did not

io] II

When

Kings

life

is

4: 16-17,

due.

where

so old?"

you when

After

nine

13]

time that

saying,

Then as

I

a^pi -I-:

rmpa m& pnxm

replied,

"There,

-

the

in

due, and your wife Sarah

"Now

the

Lord

am?'

14]

that

I

said to Is

am

shall

Now

11]

am

withered,

Abraham,

Gen.

He

name

15]

123

She

Isaac,

15]

Sarah

did laugh."

pns*

[yit^chak]

laughed openly"

(in-

To Abraham when he confronted

her.

has: "Sarah

stead of "to herself

Sarah's be-

"You

replied,

21:6).

The Septuagint

a child to the

have

to

anything too wondrous for the

havior explains the (see

I

"Why did Sarah

due, and Sarah shall have a son."

life is

months (see same ex-

(va-tit^c/iafc).

he

T

years; Sarah had stopped having the periods of

Elisha uses the

Sarah laughed, pnsrn

life is

laugh," for she was frightened. But

pression [n»n n5?3] when promising Shunammite woman). 12]

And

naxV

cxa

entrance of the tent, which was behind him.

bear a child, old

at the

p-nam

nitrV

mx D'a»a :- Vin -| mvb tt: nvrb -T T-

your wife Sarah?"

said, "I will return to

you

nya tVx

™i

— with my husband I

n»n

:p nifr^ rrn «

Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in women. 12] And Sarah laughed to herself, laugh, saying, 'Shall

^ritzx rntr

^nE^x

have a son! " Sarah was listening

enjoyment

iax^

men

xVsvi

nirra

»3 x'V -iax'i T

him,

=

:

T

*nvm vbz nnx

9]

DirVy nnn lay -,r

lied.

;.

Michael

Angels

The

"men"

three

whom

ot

speaks belong, according to the biblical ting,

They appear in a variety of forms, sometimes as men and sometimes in other shapes (such as cherubim). They can walk, be clothed; they can

have weapons, ride horses, descend from heaven on a ladder. Their function may be to worship God, to do His bidding (such as observing

the

activities

of men,

most frequently,

1:6-8), or,

Job

see

to carry a divine

message. Because of this latter function the

name ^N ?*? 1

(messenger)

these beings.

Its

is

often given' to

Greek translation

is

angelos,

Belief in

group,

a

had

singing His praises and acting at His counsel.

of Isaac's

were go-betweens. In this were thought to bring instruc-

individuals, they

tion,

transmit revelation to prophets,

nounce the coming of events

the

Hittite

their subordinate ministers,

[8].

by no more than an announcement forthcoming birth. There is no

is

similar

superhuman paternity as in myths of the Greeks. The announce-

ment

supernatural, but not the conception.

further hint of

an-

(here, Isaac's

in

In the biblical story, the "annunciation"

the angels

capacity they

was widespread Mesopotamian and

ture of "angelology"

tradition as a kind of nobility at God's court,

As

were

and Egyptian sources tell how the gods communicated with each other through couriers. In addition, the motif of hospitality to a divine being in disguise was well-known in ancient legend. 1 These ancient concepts formed the background out of which the biblical stories emerged. In post-biblical Judaism, as well as in Christianity and Islam, these concepts were developed into an elaborate strucdeities

were considered by

angels

angels

ancient Near East.

hence our English "angel."

As

Angels

10:n).

be generally benevolent to men.

to a category of superior beings with

sit,

9:2i;

of the world (hinted at in Gen. 1:26) and to

set-

special powers.

speak, stand,

(Dan.

believed to have existed before the creation

the story

is

Isaac will not

have the dual paternity of the

who assume

birth; in Genesis 19 the destruction of Sodom),

Homeric

Eden or Bethel) or individuals (such as Hagar and Ishmael, Isaac and Jacob). However, they were not

and derive their power from their divine fathers. Far from becoming a superman, Isaac will, in fact, be a rather un-

and guard places (such

distinguished by

1

Note,

who

e.g.,

the

name

as

men

are gods.

The couple

of a son

[7].

It

is

not knowing that these

also

a

However,

much

it

gift

other aspects

this

saga;

itself

the annunciation, which tianitv:

of the consequences of

came

to

reecho in Chris-

"Jesus derives his human-office of Messianic his divine quality

Moreover, the Church

from

his

tradition that

Christ apparently rests on sound exegesis, for the

much

sacrifice

and perhaps

sacrifice

conception through divine agency played a

The Bible reduced of some earlier Isaac

Judaism divested

connects the sacrifice of Isaac with the sacrifice of

l

larger original "Isaac cycle" existed in which

clearer role.

tive

Divine Father.

all.

has been suggested that something

the office of

fathers

King from Joseph, but

has been noted that the biblical

P-source does not speak of angels at 2

men

recompensed by the

heroes,

human

distinguished link in the patriarchal chain. 2

except for Gabriel and

Greek story of Hyrieus and Tamagra

entertain three

their

and norma-

124

of Isaac would have

meant not only the

of Abraham's son but of God's"

[9].

GLEANINGS

Once, however, Abraham's love of strangers

The Mit^yah of Visiting the Sick

Why

the storv of Abraham's circumcision

is

[Gen. 17:10-14] followed bv the visitation of

He came make

to visit while

clear the

to

Abraham was

God?

farer to his

recuperating,

importance of the mit^yah of

Talmud

visiting the sick.

He invited a wayhim praying to his idol, chased him away. God reprimanded Abraham severely: "1 have borne with him these manv

clashed with his zeal for God.

home

and, finding

years although he rebelled against

[io]

cannot bear with him one night?"

W'hv was Abraham

To watch

might

sitting in the

door of

his

whom

he

for passing strangers

midrash

invite into his abode.

the stranger back. [14]

[Benjamin

"My

Lord."

It

was addressing God but

men

suggested that that,

three

approaching, he excused himself in order to

show them

hospitalitv. Hence:)

Greater than the reception of

God

is

the practice

talmld

[12]

this

to

Abraham

[Gen.

18:i],

that

~)S73

than

[servant, his

his servant assist

him

in

"lad"]

own world he suddenly men standing before him [Gen. 18:2].

applies the vision to his three

Abraham is God

he sees

The

the religious in the

man

human

par excellence for

situation.

midrash

strangers

may

[13]

the dutv of hospiialkv to

appear superfluous

some parents and error.

in

teachers today.

in the eyes

They

joseph

[15]

Sarah laughed skeptically and

h.

are

said:

"Am

I

to

have enjoyment— with my husband so old?" [Gen. 18:12];

Such instruction

ROSENZWHIG

Tor the Sake of Peace

was none other

son Ishmael.

God appeared

order to

the mit^vah of hospitality.

literallv,

"Parable

when Abraham

but

FRAN/.

Abraham had instruct him in

his

theme.]

Men The storv opens bv saving

sees

of hospitality.

on

Three

Abraham

when he saw

composed

Franklin

against Persecution"

[ii]

(A rabbinic saving was based on the reading of 18:3 as

real-

ized his sin and did not rest until he had brought

The Mit^yah of Hospitality tent?

Me, and vou

Abraham

Abraham, ream." le did Abraham's feelings and to pre-

but God, repeating

ported her as saying:

of

this to .safeguard

in

serve domestic peace.

hertz

125

".

.

.

this to

old as

i

1

TALMUD

[16]

Gen. 18:16-19:38

NT1

Sodom and Gomorrah

No

Sodom

parallels in extra-biblical literature exist to the story of

and Gomorrah. Yet the destruction of the

referred to so

cities is

frequently in the Bible that only a historic cataclysm of startling proportions could

most

have impressed

itself so

likely stood near the south

Sodom

is

situated).

The

district

Valley.

rift is

presumed

which might have

cities

is

filled is

with bitumen and

part of a deep

rift

salt

formations

that reaches

from

and that runs north south through the Aravah

to Central Africa

The

memory. The

end of the present Dead Sea (where today's

(Gen. 14:io; 19:26; Deut. 29:22) and

Armenia

deeply on popular

to

be the result of a catastrophic earthquake,

raised the level of the

Dead Sea

was formerly the Valley of Siddim (Gen.

sufficiently to flood

14:3)

what

an d to submerge the

cities.*

The purpose

of the biblical tale

is

however, to report natural

not,

events as such but to present these events in the light of religious insight.

God

destroyed the

cities

because the people were

evil.

The

story therefore

intertwines the natural and the supernatural, employing symbols and folklore, in order to teach the effects of

A

moral depravity.

remarkable confrontation introduces the drama. Apprised of the

impending destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham God's justice and questions

*

The

destruction 19:25),

i.e.,

Him

to His face.

encompassed apparently the

cities

mentioned

all

in

126

the

Gen.

rises to

Abraham's pleading

"cities 14.

of the

Plain"

Only Zoar was

fails

(Gen.

spared.

argue not

13:i2;

because his moral stance are

no righteous

With

men

this story

it

is

faulty but because his premise

is

wrong: There

in the cities.

becomes

a set of cultic practices. It deals

with Abraham's faith in

a

God

clear that

with

Abraham's

human

is

more than

beings and their problems and

of righteousness.

127

religion

Vayera

Genesis 18

nson nxn

pm

nrnax B>n

-iax'i

n^an

np?ix

jyaV aipa ?

13T3 nfrya n> •

t -

T

I

yeha pnxa

:aaTpa T

t

••

I

.

-

.

v|T

I

t

t

-

nWn

1

nIt?

-:

t

|*

apnv

oizton

aipa xxax-ax

rfyT -i»x*i

T

T

nay T

T

:

alpan-VaV imiasa -:It- t:

ry»i

-

I

-,—

wwi*

t

:

--itpx -:

t

J

i

t

->a

iax'i xrren |T

-iaiV "-nVxin 'aixi 'Jlx-Vx - -: |T T •

Tin

'nxtwi |TT:

:

^w

ntfan

apHxn Q'^an potf

rvntfx

xV lax'T -pyrrbs-nx ntfana rvnGmn

arnaxa ax noaan

-iE7N

laa-nx nw| itfK ivaV t

nitpyb- nlrp t -:

:

T

I

v

nvr

:

|t

Qniaxi

n

t

:

-:

"in

:f*wn

mnx

naah

-.-

r

i\n

»a

ispp»i

"tax ninn

"

:

I

astra r

:

:

rnasn alp npyi nfi] nax>i :rhs nan

nxa rnaa

'

irva-nxi v

-

x'ant lyaV nfrp - |T

-

:

nxnxi xrnTTX

:*isxi

nm

nx annax-by T

as^y

annaxi did

"nbh

'tab

v

nmax

ax

npns

t

Bay

Va ianaiar Diiyi Vnj

I

^ina

?^

1

:ntj>y

QpWsn

-ibk -:

:l

pxrrVa os^n

x'V

.--:-



:

|-

lan

ytn-ny j?HS nv$f? run

rrni

n»y

:usb>» t

T

,o

o"»tMxn atfa iap»i

nson nxn Tya

xt5>rr*6i

nWn

:

^dV lay

0? 'Via :ytn-ay p»ns

1

aitfarj

rnjn?

=

anxpni nan «

»a

,l

?x nxan pmpjyxan

:nsnx xVaxi nVs i&y

inly arnaxi nalo iab"i a'twxn afca aa»i

M

The men set out from there and looked down toward Sodom, Abraham walking with them off. 17] Now the LORD had said, "Shall I hide from Abraham what am about to do, 18] since Abraham is to become a great and populous nation and all the nations of the earth are to bless themselves by him? 19] For I have singled him out, that he may instruct his children and his posterity to keep the way o( the Lord by doing what is just and right, in order that the Lord may bring about for Abraham what He has promised him." 20] Then the LORD said, "The outrage of Sodom and Gomorrah is so great, and their sin so 16]

them

to see

I

will go down to see whether they have acted altogether according to the outcry come to Me; if not, will take note." 22] The men went on from there to Sodom, while Abraham remained standing before the Lord. 23] Abraham came forward and said, "Will You sweep away the innocent along with the guilty? 24] What if there should be fifty innocent within the city; will You then wipe out

grave!

21]

I

that has

I

the place and not forgive

You

do such

to

and guilty fare 26]

And

it

for the sake

a thing, to bring death alike. Far

be

it

Lord answered,

the

of the innocent

upon

from You!

"If

I

five?

Lord,

I

who am

do?

Shall

hide

I

27]

I

to share His

He

wants

am

about

thoughts

Abraham

argue the justice of the divine plan. Rashi

writes:

God

has appointed

Abraham

as the "father

of a multitude of nations" (Gen. 17:5), and hence the people of

Sodom

God not

tell a

/Rashi's

argument

are his children, too. Should

father the fate of his children? reflects the

are in

Judge of

Sodom

Abraham spoke

but dust and ashes:

from Abraham what

God muses whether

with His chosen one. Perhaps to

who

28]

What

it?

mishnaic discussion

all

25] Far be

from

it

the earth deal justly?"

innocent ones,

fifty

up, saying, if

Will You destroy the whole city for want of the five?"

18:17] to

my

Shall not the

find within the city of

forgive the whole place for their sake."

speak to

fifty

the innocent as well as the guilty, so that innocent

"Here

I

I

will

venture to

the fifty innocent should lack

And He

answered, "I will not

about Hebrew prayers to be recited by converts. The proof text in the argument there

Abraham

is

of nations," and hence called sons of

22 ]

in

Gen.

Abraham

17:5,

because

all

converts to Judaism are

[1]./

Abraham remained standing

Abraham

begins the dialogue but

i n t hi s verse "the men" from God.

128

is

called the "father of a multitude

before

God

the

Lord.

finishes

it.

are clearly distinguished

RT1

&h) ansa naio D»a$Vag *W

2v->

ixaji

larV liy

*

trsx inntfn anxipb np'i bvVxti aio-iyca

mo

rva-bx X3

Dnp^ni cmaat^fl dd^j-i

aima

nanxs'i :pba

nwa

DnV

Tyn

*i»x*i

:nnx

ixrj-n ir)i

nanny

'nx xrnan

mo

nax*i trtWx wij??i :nxj?»

I

destroy

|

if

I

DX'xin nb'Vn "n'Vx » :|T p I

find forty-five there."

should be found there?"

And he said, "Let not And He answered, "I will

30]

to speak to

my

What

time:

last

'31X ? in'

^

r

xrVx

naxp

rnfcy

-itfxa

njn»

dp

if

it

29]

if

if

'

dp nxsa' ^ix maixi

faera* »Vix

-iax*i

db>

xsax-ax *

'nx-Vx laiV

:an&yn maya

jfltxa? 'Vix

rrntfx

aS

nysrnx rnsnxi

may a

:rn&yn

^V»i

rmtfx

x"?

3

^

nmaxi omax-Vx naiV nVa

:iapab ap

But he spoke

to

Him

I

find thirty there."

again, and said,

if

forty

of the forty."

thirty should be found there?"

And he

31]

"What

for the sake

it, if

I

not do

-nay a n&yx

itaxft :o'ya"ixn D'Bfttf

xxax-ax »

-I

said, "I

venture again

twenty should be found there?" And He answered, "I will not

destroy, for the sake of the twenty."

but this

1

db>

7ixna' 'Vik -i»x*i v"?x

xrnan -iaxp id'PVb

And He answered, "I will not do the LORD be angry if go on: What

What

Lord:

xrVx

xV naxp anfry nw

wan&x |T

dp

o'ya-ix

xV inx'i

'ripxin

>

rparrby iap] did vfix

onwxn rrx

wVx ny™ ::

Tti&x

nsx nisai

iiVax'i

"israa

:onx T

'31X ? in'

vbn no»i ixa

nyn-Va jp.pyi ft

1

a

n&Mft naa-nV

»a x'V

&y»i irpa-bx wa»i

nwxi laa^

x'V -iax'1

:n0»ni Q'yanx

*ioji

32]

And he

"Let not the Lord be angry if speak And He answered, "I will not destroy,

said,

ten should be found there?"

I

for the sake of the ten."

When

33]

the

Lord had

finished speaking to

Abraham, He departed; and Abraham returned

to his place.

The two

1]

When 2]

he said, "Please,

your

feet;

prepared

all

my

evening, as Lot was sitting

in the

a feast for

"Where

lords, turn aside to

early." But they said,

men

three

The

third messenger

spoken with Abraham had

in

will spend the night in

way and

entered his house.

He



beings, this presents

that Sarah

Sodom

left after

would have

in the evening.

from Hebron and Manure

to

Sodom

covered in an afternoon's journey.

who had

completing

his

Which can be quickly baked. clear now thai not a single man dwelled in Sodom. (Lot was a

3]

Unleavened bread.

4]

To

the last

righteous

distance

could not be

How ever,

to narrator or

man.

It is

sojourner, not a citizen.)

a child./

The

no problem

listener.

different sources for the story.

Arrived

"No, we

his

man gathered about the house. 5] And they shouted to Lot and said men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may be

(Gen. 18:2), suggesting that there were

announcement

ground,

them and baked unleavened bread, and they ate. down, when the townspeople, the men of Sodom, voting and old

are the

Rashi's explanation:

gate of Sodom.

yet lain

The two angels. Earlier, the Bible speaks of

19: i]

in the

his face to the

your servant's house to spend the night, and bathe

But he urged them strongly, so they turned

the people to the last

to him,

two

3]

They had not

4]

Sodom

may be on your way

then you

the square."

/

angels arrived in

Lot saw them, he rose to greet them and, bowing low with

since

the messengers are thought of as supernatural

5]

The Sodohomosexual or other (hence the term sodomy for

That we may be int&nate with them.

mites wanted the deviate practices

men

for

unnatural sexual behavior).

129

Genesis 19

Vayera

Tya fritfR b$\ hth aiparrnx umx

xxin -*3

un^i

:nnnB>? nin'

^ai

?j*i3fi

:mnx

jnn ns

ijd - T

T-: -

nVim nnnsn |T" I

T

l|T

xn

nnbx

BiV

-

-1

o'nrwa-'a :niparr)a

ni3at

w

anpyx nV-n

i&sn

Da'Vx jnnx xrnx'xix t^x SjH*i6 "i0x

ni,T '33-nx

ib

••:

I

xrnan nax'i :ijnnT 'nx - xrbx t * r

--n

nax*i vnia 'np'V l'JnrrVx nai'i Bib xx»i

wyrvbx Vxn d'WkV pn aarpya aioa

-nx nlrr n n^a-'3 ron Diparrja ixx

nxVn-t^j nax'i

,

"irw?n

nx

topi

np Dip

1

ytt nny

D'axVan ixwi nbv

"lax ? Diba

nsDrqs nxxaan

]iya

pnxaa »#i Tyn

»pya

:v;nn

-,aip

?|ffia

wtixi

nae*

7]

and

6]

my

friends,

b&Bh

Bist&>

]7\b

Vsa ixa p-Vsna nai

°

inxn nax'i

-iiiVxa

a^xn

;

^

in^tth :nVin

Dnflxn-nxi :ni.o nbi.rnxi nrrtn an'Vx *

Vnpyi ]bp a nnijoa ian n?an nns> ^iV-'a DiWx D'tfixn nax'i :nnsn xiaV

ixV'i

r

-rj? •"

I

v

:

So Lot went out to them

beg you,

said, "I

?

~wx

w

him.

n-ip

DiVnx ix'Ti dttix

Tjn^x

WKTSti ira niflxn ipwi nanan'i :*TWi rai ,nm»i mxri v^y ni.T nbana rnia nax'i nxinn anx ax^ina »m :iwb nna

intimate with them."

:

,

wpi ixa uiVa 0nq nxsn ana

1

'

-

t-: T

to the entrance, shut the

do not commit such

a

wrong.

8]

3

'

-

-it

door behind

Look,

I

have two

man. Let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you please; but do not do anything to these men, since they have come under the shelter of my roof." 9] But they said, "Stand back! The fellow," they said, "came here as an alien, and already he acts the ruler! Now we will deal worse with you than with them." And they pressed hard against the person of Lot, and moved forward to break the door. 10] But the men stretched out their hands and pulled Lot into the house with them, and shut the door. 11] And the people who were at the entrance of the house, young and old, they struck with blinding daughters

who have

so that they

light,

12]

Then

the

not

known

were

men

a

helpless to find the entrance.

said to Lot,

"Whom

else

have you here? Sons-in-law, your sons and bring them out of the place. 13] For we

daughters, or anyone else that you have in the city



14]

them before the Lord So Lot went out and spoke

"Up,

get out of this place, for the

are about to destroy this place; because the outcry against great that the

who had

law,

LORD

has sent us to destroy it."

married

his daughters,

and

said,

has

become

so

to his sons-in-

LORD

is

about

But he seemed to his sons-in-law as one who jests. 15] As dawn broke, the angels urged Lot on, saying, "Up, take your wife and your two remaining daughters, lest you be swept away because of the iniquity of the city." 16] Still he in the delayed. So the men seized his hand, and the hands of his wife and his two daughters 17] When they had Lord's mercy on him and brought him out and left him outside the city. to destroy the city."





8]

/

have two daughters. Lot's offer of his daugh-

ters to protect his guests

disproportionate.

however,

go

to

code.

is

may seem

fantastically

The implication in the is a model host who

that Lot

extreme lengths

to

9]

An

alien,

and already

he acts the ruler!

The

reaction of the native-born to the immigrant.

text,

will

honor the hospitality

15]

ters

Two

remaining daughters.

husbands.

130

The married daugh-

apparently chose to stay with their Sodomite

K3

pxrrVy xr TT

olVi

v,r

I

:

»

-

:m,ys

nirri

ij

an

bw »

Vxn onyn-nx "ism :D»a#,"na m.T nxa

Dnyn 'ai^Va

1



nxi nsarr^a nxi

-nx

mnxa _

:nba 3'X3 ?nm ... .

.

T

,...

']D-"73

Vyi rnasn

"ito'pja

pxn

nip 'B-Vy nVy

*ib»p

irwx tsam . .

..

lay-i^x alparrbx

db>

.

.

^g

r3

:nsorq? eVan rnnn iaan

r-

xi-nan :ttx

xrVx

D-

rvfry ~ipx T T

*non-

^lay xsa

:

nay

n3

:

I



^

1

T

nsxa

xini

:>PS3 •:-

'nm xin -iysa xVn nap T|T

natz>

T

vfoib i3iV .... run ... T , .

dj-

nxln -.

:

I

,

»a nats*

rDsnn ^ina DiV-nx

K*p |3-Vy nap ^xriy 131

nVtfn nrnax-nx D'nVx

brought them outside, one

said,

lord!

You have been

19]

20] Look, that

die.

there



it is

such a

town

little

noVax t:|t-

,

-ina irrni

-itfx

-

-iax»i ,-

"tsctwc 'ssn 1

nifry ?

by»

»

»

x'V

Do

not look behind you, nor stop anywhere

But Lot said to them, "Oh no, my have already shown me so much the hills, lest disaster overtake me and

life;

there

place

I

but

life!

18]

cannot

I

flee to

I

near enough to flee

is

— and

grant you this favor too, and 22] Hurry, flee there, for

X3T

3

so gracious to your servant, and

my

kindness in order to save

xrnan

you be swept away."

"Flee for your

in the Plain; flee to the hills, lest



|T T

T

: :

Tyn

Tjs 'nxtw nan vVx v

-)3n "laag ny-nx d\tVx nnra \ti :j#aa3

uVan

I



uVan^ Vsix xV ~

T

Tit

•/

ouV na

-.

|-

mnn

'apsirns T l|-

T



:



fix

"iaarj

:

ny-in «niai |- T T T T

..

:nirp »js

oi V "lax^i

'33xi ntfsrnx nl'nnb -: v T ,:i

ornax

-ip.33

xti

nani

^nnx B'srrVx ^prVy oVan

^TJ8J T,TV 3 10 •

Q3B»i ....

layn-Vxi

I

nnsa may-Vyi aip-Vy Tpan

:naixn nasi

V33

-pyrrotf »

nylx

tfntyn v,v -

-

let

my

life

to; it

is

such a little place! Let

me

flee

He replied, "Very well, will town of which you have spoken. you arrive there." Hence the town came

be saved."

21]

I

will not annihilate the

I

cannot do anything until

to be called Zoar.

As

23]

the sun rose

Sodom and Gomorrah

upon

and the entire Plain, and

cities

and Lot entered Zoar, 24] The Lord rained upon from the Lord out of heaven. 25] He annihilated those

the earth

sulfurous fire all

the inhabitants of the cities and the vegetation of the

26] Lot's wife looked back, and she thereupon turned into a pillar of salt.

ground.

Next morning, Abraham hurried

27]

28] and, looking

smoke of

to the place

where he had stood before

down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and

the land rising like the

smoke of

a kiln.

the cities of the Plain and annihilated the cities

29]

all

Thus

the

the land of the Plain, he it

saw the

when God destroyed God was mindful of Abraham

was

where Lot dwelt,

Lord,

that,

and removed Lot from the midst of the upheaval.

17]

Do

not look behind you.

Meaning

not waste a precious second," or

either,

"Do

"Do

not look

Zoar. Lot does not state

safety it

and why,

soon

why he

is

little,

24]

as

as

connected with the word "iyxa (mit^ar, a

means

to

name

emphasize the super-

natural origin of the catastrophe.

26]

Older translations: "Brimstone the proverbial "fire and

Pillar of salt.

To

this day, salt-encrusted

formations in the area suggest shapes. ologies,

insignificant thing) in Gen. 19:20.

The Lord. The repetition of the divine

in this sentence

fire.

from which

prefers Zoar's

he reaches

it, he finds even more unbearable than a cave. The name

Zoar

fire,"

brimstone."

back in regret." 22]

Sulfurous

and

all

rock

manner of

The legend has e.g.,

the

parallels in various mythGreek story of Orpheus and

Eurydice.

/Ancient tradition thought

it

could fully identify the

encrusted remains of Lot's wife

131

[2].

Vayera

Genesis 19

tin tfax Tiaatrp

nTyxrrbx m'aan

,-pmi iay 'aatf >xai nV'Vn-DJ

ny?a

j.Tnx-nx xinn

p

j'^ni

dj

-iaxrii

iaptw 'ax

:jnj iraxa

DiV by*) iDiV jna atpptrx

Dnvrrnx nana

wi

atf»i -iyixa "ina r r

nat?

?

I"

*

xt

1

:wsa

naxrii-

T

I

ynxa

naatfa vr-x^i iay aatpm n-pyxn Dpni 7» -rVrn

xin axia

axia->a*? iatf

x-ipni _ ?a T l

.

.

1

..

mb»

t :|t

jnnrn :napai

xipni

iatf

xirrm-

iDi'rny

30]

w

ifrraxa uiynija

7a

rrvaan

rrmm

rbVrrrs*

t

paima

:

-

said to the younger,

way of that

all

"Our

the world.

we may

maintain

father

32] life

is

Come,

old,

-

r 1

:

jp]

•.-,--

I

rnyaa

xin

'neh

B^n

rpBfrn :y~n

wax

:

atz»i v|-

-



,

nyixa ,

xin

-

mnaa T

in the hill

t:

T

and there

make our

nWa p T

:naipai naatfa \vi :~ t t 1

country with

:

his

man on

if.

,

yrn6i -t w

31]

And

wax

jV

.

T

.vax-nx ~ T T

*

|"

for he

was

the older one

earth to consort with us in the

father drink wine, and let us

33]

p

*

p'ax-nx IV -

two daughters,

lived in a cave.

not a

is

through our father."



•*

:

rrrysn-Vx n-raan

iraxa n'mi iay naatwi

aa#m .... rrvaan ,t: xam

nV

two daughters

let us

.

1

'ax xin 'asrjf

Lot went up from Zoar and settled

r

-nx nptw naV rfttcrVa sjto irVy xia ?

J

:

afraid to dwell in Zoar; and he and his

j'x

rma

*a iay

-*

'

*

That night they made

lie

with him,

their father drink

know when she lay down or The next day the older one said to the younger, "See, I lay with Father 34] last night; let us make him drink wine tonight also, and you go and lie with him, that we may maintain life through our father." 35] That night also they made their father drink wine, and the younger one went and lay with him; he did not know when she lay down or when she rose. 36] Thus the two daughters of Lot came to be with child by their father. 37] The older one bore a son and named him Moab; he is the father o( the Moabites of today. 38] And the younger also bore a son, and she called him Ben-ammi; he is the father of the Ammonites of wine, and the older one went in and lay with her father; he did not

when

she rose.

today.

37]

Moab.

father).

A word

play on

3N»

(me-av,

from [my]

38] is

Ben-ammi. "Son of

[paternal] kindred."

It

possible that this tale of sexual aberration arose

to explain the

132

my

names

of

Moab and Ammon.

Abraham's Argument with God

The

dramatic

(mDT), important in biblical

between with the utmost

confrontation

Abraham and God

is

told

and "righteous" Sodom's calamity by cent,

symphonic

theme. does not doubt the existence of

God's justice, he only asks asks altogether and that

God

question out of hand.

need not surrender

does not reject

is

if

with impunity,

submit

to

it

moral automaton,

Man

sense of

freedom

and

preserved. It

gains with God, but in fact he does

may

than plead. His pleas to

penetrate

the

be seen

earthly and heavenly realms.

Abraham

as

attempts

separating

division

intention, but neither he nor the reader

ceeded

more

in

Abraham

is

was

And

own

this

limited

them

much

larity

is

tribal

not, in

Abraham's His

considerations.

universal concept of justice.

He

is

is

is

a

not con-

for all

his tribe.

He

is

a

where we were

"filled

with

world While here

told that the

lawlessness." is

lacking, the simi-

of expressions suggests that comparable

strongly

condemned

in

the Torah (Lev. 18),

Jewish tradition stresses social rather than sexual aberrations as the reason for the

cities'

destruction.

man

Ezekiel, for instance, describes the sins of

men.

Sodom

terms: "pride, fulness

oi

bread, and careless ease was in her and

in

The Merit of the Few

Abraham does

"de-

deviation. But while deviate sexual practice

case,

cerned merely with Lot or his family but

with people outside

man

moral conditions existed in both instances. can infer from the story itself that Sodomites were inhospitable and that the\ were accustomed to some form or forms oi sexual

possible

as

"finished speaking" with

We

horizon of understanding.

horizon

by

as

is

such a general definition

merely learned what had been God's plan from the beginning. God's ways are ultimately "past finding out" (Job 9:io), but this does not prevent man from within his

go below the

ten.

justice,

Flood,

suc-

—he

trying to bring

does not,

stroy," are reminiscent of the story of the

changing God's mind, or whether

likely

Abraham

The Sins of Sodom and Gomorrah The terms "outrage," "outcry,"

has greater knowledge of the divine

given an intimation whether

Thus,

the

end,

the

In

it.

(Gen. 18:33) and when the punishment for unchecked evil will take its inevitable course and engulf all of society.

Abraham barno more

has been suggested that

with

The Rabbis advised that if one could not find ten religiously minded people in a city one should move away. They also set ten as the minimal number (minyan) required for communal worship [4]. There comes a time when God, with all His mercy

not reduced

is

his spiritual

they persist in living in such a society, they

number

— although he will have

in the end.

of like-minded

in his pursuit of divine equity,

Abraham,

own

his

even the best men.

they will be ineffective. Eventually,

will perish

he remains free to accept or reject

the divine judgment

to a

associates,

The Bible thereby

man may,

clear that

justice;

to

averted

their merit.

minimum

Unless they find a

that he

is

question the behavior of God. Like

man

men could have

limits to the influence of

extent and

its

The important thing

limitations.

makes

The concept

Yet the story also suggests that there are

Abraham

his

and especially

[3].

stipulates that a handful of concerned, de-

simplicity; the cadences of repetitions vary as subtly as the repetitions of a

religion

post-biblical

in

not plead merely

in

social

for the

her daughters; neither did she strengthen the

innocent but for the sinners as well, through

hand of the poor and needy. And the) were haughty" (16:49-50). The tradition of Sodom's moral insensitivity, based on the way the

the merit of the few righteous.

thereby

introduces

the

concept

The

story

of

merit 133

Sodomites treated strangers, highlighted, to biblical

man, the community's

essential de-

considered a touchstone of the community's

moral condition.

To the ancients, hospitality included more than good manners; it meant

pravity.

vastly

Lot

the treatment and acceptance of strangers

and was

a

10:19). If

Sodom had been

vital

aspect

of religion

(Deut.

a poor city, the

might have been understandable and forgivable. But the city was rich, "like the garden of the Lord" (Gen. 13: 10). The Midrash tells of the tradition that the streets were paved with gold and that the Sodomites flooded the approaches to their town so that strangers would be kept away and immigration effectively restricted [5]. sin of inhospitality

Social evil, then, caused

The

Sodom

to perish.

Bible thus takes the old story of the

physical destruction of the plain and turns into a all

moral

tale that carries its

warning

ages: Affluence without social concern

self-destructive;

it

against repentance;

hardens it

the

it

to is

conscience

engenders cruelty and

excess. The treatment accorded newcomers and strangers was then and may always be

Lot

He

is

in

many ways

the average man.

has streaks of greatness,

courage, but he attractions of

is all

moments

of

too often subject to the

comfort and pleasure. These

in

the end cause his downfall.

He appears in the text for the first time when he decides to leave the security of Haran to follow Abraham into an insecure future. Apparently he is a man of some conand initiative. But later, probably by Sodom's affluence, he chooses that city as his home, despite its debased condition. Whatever other customs and habits viction

attracted

of

Sodom he

adopts, he preserves his sense

of hospitality and decency toward strangers.

He

risks his

own and

his family's safety in

men who are under redeems much of his

order to protect the roof. This

courage

decisiveness, faint-heartedness,

in-

and anxiety,

which the remainder of the story

134

his

reveals.

GLEANINGS

/

Go Down to See (Gen. 18:21) God wanted to give the cities time

world

Will

him

to repent,

and the fulness oflife

exists,

in the

This, like the storv of Babel, teaches that a judge

world-to-come."

zohar

[9]

. ,

,

Because They Passed

must scrupulously examine a case before pronouncing judgment; and further, that just as God "went down" to see, so must man not judge his fellow man until he has come to see things from

reserved for

is

midrash,

Wisdom

isaom By

\\

man when

rescued a righteous

the un-

godlv were perishing;

he escaped the

fire

on the

that descended

Five

Cities.

miorash

the other's viewpoint. [This interpretation

question: Did

God

[6]

Evidence of their wickedness

also offered to counter the

is

know whether Sodom was

not

a continually

plants bearing fruit that does not ripen,

wicked?]

and

if

only those few

its

Sheldon

Sodom

people did but

no one

blank

11.

what they

in

failed to do.

raised his voice in protest

when

the

participate in the sin of a

community.

for

mankind

written that

everywhere [Gen.

1

3

:

1

o]

unwilling to share

who

even polled their

them. R. Hiva

it

it

;

luxuries of the world, and

ished anyone

its

From

crowd

ancient times right

the figure of Lot's thought

to

them with

was well-watered all

be

the

inhabitants were others.

would eat ot "They deserved punishment

is

salt.

is

for his sake that the

As early

as the

pillar of salt

time of the

was thought

to

Mount Sodom. Thus fosephus

saw the pillar of

salt

mv

on

travels, for

." it

exists to this da)

salt

salt

layers

other of these pinnacles which look like

shape

is

human

a

result of climatic

m

a

and geo-

constant state

formation and disintegration. This has given

rise to

various legends about the transformation of

Lot's wife.

135

a

regarded bv popular tradition as the wife

logical factors the "pillars" are ot

and

mu\ marl columns. One or an-

of Lot. However, as

generous towards the poor deserves to it

1

region of

the upper ot

world-to-come. Contrariwise,

world, and

to the present

and inquisitive wife

less

the lower parts of which consist of

does not deserve to exist in this world, and he also

whoever

down

Mount Sodom, at the southwestern corner of Dead Sea. is remarkable for its sharp pinnacles.

For whoever grudges assistance to the poor

exist in the

[10]

the

fig trees lest birds

forfeits the life of the

in the

writes:

They pun-

offered food to a stranger: they

said:

SOLOMON

who, for disregarding God's command, was turned into a pillar of

[8]

possessed

ot their folly,

go unnoticed.

day, popular imagination has been fascinated bv

both for their immorality and their uncharitableness.

to an

Site

Second Temple, the it is

reminder

a

w ISDOM Ol

Thus,

is

left

[7]

consisted not only in what

molested Lot's guests. Failure to protest

Of Sodom

monument

so that their failures could never

The

of

as a

good. but also

The Sin sin

standing

sail

they not onlj were hindered from recognizing the

— ten, even — had been

ot his prayer.

The

of

For because the\ passed wisdom bv,

Abraham ranks among the biblical personages whose persuasive pow ers God had to acknowledge. Abraham would have surelj snatched Sodom from destruction

a pillar

unbelieving soul.

Ike Promethean

worthy

remains:

still

smoking wasteland,

vuws or the

biblh u w

orld

[ii]

Gen. 20:i-21:34

KT1

Crises

After

a repetition of the "sister" incident, the Bible finally tells of the

long-awaited birth of Sarah's son. verses tell us that the divine promise

continuity of

than

difficulties arise

harsh

manner

Then of

Abraham in

guaranteed. But no sooner

is

the

first

anticlimactic

the spiritual stage reached

between the sons of Abraham. The text

which the rivalry

is

relates the

resolved.

follows a brief interlude dealing with another relationship, that

Abraham and Abimelech.

This too finds

reader with the impression that arch.

Two brief, almost is now fulfilled and

But the respite

is

all is

its

adjustment, leaving the

well in the household of the Patri-

short. This section

may

therefore be viewed as the

introduction to the story of the Akedah, which follows.

136

K"P1

Kor>2 B^Krrnwt

xin

JVUXIU

3

nnyi :,t£k yji?

atfn

'

pai -

EHpma -I T

I

nfepa yi

ipaa -I'wax

mm

fwnwi

aitfa

?pya VVsmi

T^a'ax xnp'i :nXa D'^xn ixm'i amj.xa u*? |T

I"

nVn

ni?ya

mfry-na t |-

-

t

T -

"

T

T



T

nxam

,l

t

T

:

a

V

T

'3

T

T

'max max-mi :wx narVy

»3

|-

,

T

,•

Abraham journeyed from

T

T

:

t:

I

"m

z

-

xin 'nnx n"?&»i -iVa'ax ,-. v|v

v|-.

-.

I

wrfm

T

-I

-



I

anp Kb nVa^xi mVx---It T|T T

rnax

|v

xa;i :n*tt

x'Vn

f

"|-.

-

I

_

pnra

:nnn

:

nax'i I

ib



:

nVys :Vya "|T

-:-

I

kti T

:

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vbK nax'i T

vi

-

-

T

t

:

Q'n'VxnT

-

ornax

|-

run y

I

^pnnrx'V

:

fr

|-

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:

:

p-Vy '"nuna

-

-:

|

vroy »S3 T'pni

:nxi

'a nxi rrtpy ?iaayana T T T |-

wim

*

xirrojTPm xin 'nnx xin tik nnax 'aaVana :,T t

-.

mxn na nnnax

yo'i aato - t



,-

ibn

-i"i3

I,- T

:

:

,

:

na ?pn ntyxmby Kim nnpViE'x T T nax'i

T -

T

|-

alpaa dviVx nx*irpN PI -na 'nnx

°

T

T

:,-

T

nV'Vn niVna nbanx-bx

:na» mfry i&yn6 new V

rmit :mn naimnx T T

nax'i |-

'"?¥

-nx np'i r—

annaxV -

lb "iax>i ,-

nxtpn 'na'paa'bvi

-Vx• n^a'ax nax'i l*|T " -1 |-

runx annax-

tfinntrVx nnnax nax'i :*roa t t t: tt T

intpx

nVxn anaimba-nx -ami viay-Va? xnp'i

nV TiXDmnai It

T :

nV-wx-Vai nnx man

aatf'i

3E»i a:an:;-

-

I

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:





:

dj n'Vna 'a:x t

,-T

?jnix 'ajx-o? nfrnxi

Negeb and settled between Kadesh Abraham said of Sarah his wife, "She is my sister." So Abimelech king of Gerar had Sarah brought to him. 3] But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him, "You are to die because of the woman that you have taken, for she is a married woman." 4] Now Abimelech had not approached her. He said, "O Lord, will You slay people even though innocent? 5] He himself said to me, 'She is my sister!' And she also said, 'He is my brother.' When did this, my heart was blameless and my hands were clean." 6] And God said to him in the dream, "I knew that you did this with a 1]

there to the region of the

and Shur. While he was sojourning

in

Gerar,

2]

I

blameless heart, and so

touch her.

you



7]

your

to save

I

kept you from sinning against Me. That was

Therefore, restore the man's wife life. If

you

fail to

restore her,

— since he know

that

is

a

why

I

did not

let

you

prophet, he will intercede for

you

shall die,

you and

all

that arc

yours." 8]

Early next morning, Abimelech called

all

his

servants

and told them

all

that

had

men were greatly frightened. 9] Then Abimelech summoned Abraham and said to him, "What have you done to us? What wrong have done you that you should bring so great a guilt upon me and my kingdom? You have done to me things that ought not to be done. 10] What, then," Abimelech demanded of Abraham, "was your purpose in dome this thing?" 11] "I thought," said Abraham, "surely there is no rear of God in this place, and thev will kill me because of mv wife. 12] And besides, she is in truth my sister, mv father's

happened; and the

I

Gerar. Between Gaza and Beer-sheba. There two other versions of the storv (see chapters 12

20:i]

are

and

26). Scholars assign

J-school.

Among

no excuse

for

this section

is

authorship of

this version

and authorship of the others

to the E-school

to the

the differences: Chapter 12 offers

Abraham's behavior; the excuse in what hapJ does not say

prophet. R"»3J {navi), one who speaks He is 7] up or announces God's will. He will intercede for you. Objectively, you have wronged Abraham and Sarah, but Abraham will not press his claim and, on the contrary, w ill speak ii

in

your behalf.

elaborate.

pened to Sarah in Pharaoh's court; E tells us she remained untouched. E is apologetic about Abraham and Sarah; J is not (for background, see

12]

She

is

in

meaning of 12:io-13:i8

Gen. 12:io-2o). 137

.

truth

my

"sister"

sister.

see

On

the position and

commentary

to

Gen.

Vaycra

Genesis 20; 21

npV

ann-Va nya nla? nxy niy-p rnVn

:annax nPx nnfr narVy T?apx

o

ni&b

nirp

vapib

p

pyn

nntrnx nps ninn

"i»k ">?*?

b

r

m&

xnpn ypnty inx narnPx Tina ? T :|T

ntfxa

-ip ai

1

Van :pmr iV-mV'--wx iViVian It:- mfr Trrv tt nx

xiaa

dw

naatrp

"rVjaa ,-»#

-

-:

-

T T

iaa-ap

aitsa

njwn arnaxV VVa

naxm

nx•

:12a

nay

't?yn ntfx

nnpn

'Vnax

I

™V

natr

:

T

I

'xnx- nan nVa'ax naxn|v •

••

:

'nna nan

inx n^x VaV

nn.'y



I

|-.-



vnnaxi

'a "iaxrii :*?ptf& yafe'n

T

-

intfx-nxi



-:

nax rn&Vi

moa

-:

:int5>x

:at?

nV-xin nan

^3'ya m 1

TO* ?

a'nVxrrVx arnax VVsnn :nnaai Va ran

prnr

>'

aPn DnnaxV nnsPi onayi - •Y|Ttt:-: inn T

iV |v T

px

dvj'Vk 'nx lynn ntfxa

)xi qVa-'aiK npn :xin 'nx

noa nVx

nxa-p arnaxi :a'nVx inx

-Va a'nVx 'V nfcy pm* nnfc

px npa

aipan-Va Vx

-it?x

I

pnx'-nx arnax

iaa

'ax-na xV nx xin

»V^Pijfii

nV naio

ill

annaxV mtp iVm -inm nan -wxa

-nx arnax

ms

'nn :ntfxV

nVapx-nx

p

xsn»i

a'n'Vx

my mother's; and she became my wife. 13] So when God made me wander from my father's house, I said to her, 'Let this be the kindness that you shall do me: whatever place we come to, say there of me: He is my brother.'' 14] Abimelech took sheep and oxen, and male and female slaves, and gave them to Abraham; and he restored his wife Sarah to him. 15] And Abimelech said, "Here, my land is before you; settle wherever you please." 16] And to Sarah he said, "I herewith give your brother a thousand pieces of silver; this will serve you as vindication before all who are with you, and you are cleared before everyone." 17] Abraham then prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech daughter though not

and

his

wife and

womb

every

The Lord took note of Sarah

1]

spoken.

2]

bore children;

his slave girls, so that they

18]

for the

Lord had

closed fast

of the household of Abimelech because of Sarah, the wife of Abraham. as

He had

promised, and the

Sarah conceived and bore a son to

Abraham

in his

Lord

did for Sarah as

He had

old age, at the set time of which

3] Abraham gave his new-born son, whom Sarah had borne him, the name And when his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God had commanded him. 5] Now Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. 6] Sarah said, "God has brought me laughter; everyone who hears will laugh with me." 7] And she added, / "Who would have said to Abraham / That Sarah would suckle

God had of Isaac.

13]

4]

God.

(elohim)

spoken.

is

The verb form attached

According to the Talmud passage in the

not holy, (see

to

D'H'Vx

say

I

cast

you out because

i.e.,

Abraham where

commentary

it

this

[1],

story

is

the only

where D'n'Vx

is

mean "God" "The Names of

does not

to Gen. 2:4-24,

God").

17]

Abraham

prayed.

then

prayed previously,

you

[2].

this

is

While he probably the

first

mention of

prayer in the Torah. In early cuneiform sources, too, individual

prayer

/The development 16]

tired of

is

rarely

mentioned and

seems to have evolved rather slowly.

As vindication. Literally, "a covering of the

eyes."

was

I

here used in a rare plural construction.

The meaning

probably

it

of this

implies: In this

is

obscure but most

deity to a fixed poetic

laments of the

fashion people cannot

138

of personal prayer in Mesopo-

tamia has been traced from the early letters to the

form much

like the individual

biblical Psalter [3]./

J1>UK"U

xa

pnra

D?i 'y\] tf? K"^(? ,

laawx

aat??i :xin Tjxni >a

utVx

ann

yw")

i/jarn

I

have borne

whom

a son

of his.

continued for you. is

"DiTPtk

pmn

naxn

arnaxV

-iaxrp

Bhfl

n

Dmax

sp^K naxn

'

The

8]

nam

»psa -rxa

o'n'Vx

Va

-ib>x

child

D

:pnxa DrnaxV nja-nx? nxin

x'V »a

0t»

y-rbx nrnax-Vx

iVjn

D'3a

xnm

mfr

:pnxTi» ^a

«•

:tia

mix

3-

-lyin^y

^rya

jn»i

-iax*i

?]riax-Vyi

grew up and was weaned, and

13]

your seed."

and gave them her away.

And

was gone from at a distance, a

to

my

son Isaac."

But God

tells

As

11]

said to

for the son of the

He

The matter

Abraham,

you, do as she says, for

Early next morning

14]

Hagar.

she

Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham, playing. slavewoman and her son, for the son of that slave

that

12]

whatever Sarah

slave;

for he

nnxan

a son in his old age."

Abraham, "Cast out

concerned

your

iVvrnx «

a&rti

mtp

held a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned.

share in the inheritance with it

de>

m^-itfx

Vy

im

p 'mV^a

:pn? v nx Vaan ova Vni nnra arnax &y»i

mx nnn

xfrni

Sarah saw the son,

9]

said to

:npiV

-Dy nxin naxn-]a

nvp 'inuaa

'a

nVp-nx

children! / Yet

Abraham

max

i^n Vwi

Vaa-'i

:ya£ -ixa naiaa »

iVa»i

"iVm :arrfcn

niaa nxnx-Vx

*

naxn-)a-nx T

*U*?

iVtitixi naatrVy

nanrna D'an

-ma nV

nnfr

nam Dnynp'i ipaa Dmax

hvi d'b

ynm i^m nnVan libpn)

nVpa yap

»3

distressed

"Do not be

it is

Abraham

10]

She

shall

not

greatly, for

distressed over the

through Isaac that offspring

slave-woman,

make

will

I

a

boy or

shall

be

nation of him, too,

Abraham took some bread and

of water,

a skin

placed them over her shoulder, together with the child, and sent

wandered about

in the

wildnerness of Beer-sheba.

the skin, she left the child under one of the bushes,

bowshot away;

me

for she thought, "Let

16]

15]

When

water

the

and went and

sat

down And

not look on as the child dies."

sitting thus afar, she burst into tears.

A

21:8]

great feast.

Probably

connection with a

in

weaning ceremony. According were

children

to

the

Talmud,

weaned between eighteen and

twenty-four months; the Book of Maccabees puts the age at three years; in

weaning 9]

is

some

[4].

Some commentators have

suggested

was sexual play that brought forth Sarah's strong reaction [5]. There is nothing, however, that

it

to substantiate this. is

The

use of pnST? (met^achek)

to

an inheritance

[6]./

12]

Shall be continued. Literally, "called."

13]

A

nation.

Some

versions have "a great na-

Abraham's

tion." Ishmael, too, will relied ness. In

Arabs are considered Ishmael's descendants. Together with the child. The

14]

I

lebrew text

clear.

The Septuagint portrays Ishmael

play seems to indicate that Sarah, seeing the

child

whom

i.e.,

Isaac).

children together, suddenly realizes their close affinity.

It

is

then that she resolves to end the

relationship by freeing

/According to the laws of Lipit-Ishtar

which

carries

as a

is

not

small

on her shoulder, even 16: lb

he

is

fourteen

years older than Isaac. Beer-sheba. See ib]

(25),

Hagar

though according to Gen.

Hagar and sending her

away.

great-

both Jewish ,md Islamic traditions, man]

The

an allusion to pT\^" (yit^chak,

word

the slave-girl and

not then entitled

parts of the Orient

delayed even further

Playing.

Hammurabi by 150 years, may become free but are

antedate

her son

A

profession as a

139

Gen. 21:31.

bowshot away. Alluding to Ishmael's later

bowman

(Gen. 21:20).

Vayera

Genesis 21

nnnax nax>i :na nnnrnpx pxn-nyi nay * •by nba'ax-nx omax naim :yaB>x ^aix ™ .,.

I

-

naxn in^a'ax nay nan

mn nannmx 1

»nVa

'fiyat?

i|VBKfi&

t

r

x' ?

iftm

- - T

"

-

:

'

'iwt

x'V

nana yatfnx nnnax

aara

:nna

»1ite

:ol»n

'

DD

naxp

*

]a-by :nxtn

nxa.rnx 'itian

:DiT?^ iyapj db> »a

yats>

'a

nnyV

mn

'V

"n^nx 'i?Wl nyan-nx »x&

ia

ovi'toc

>n*i ...

nanaa t

:

ntfx iax



-

a#»i V|-

iVnprn

,

nbm

v

nxa xinn DipaV xnp

•>b

?T

Va'si nVa^ax _ nax'i xinn i,. |v .

r

npprrnx nan a'a'Vxa

ntpyn

ti

:QV

nnx-ntfx Vaa nay D'.nVx

•*

T|ay

Vna

n~

°

-

d'b

nyan-nx npn'Vx tw 3 Vnn T:-I-pxs nanaa atf'i :n*p_ nan «

s

ixamip

^aij?

nps'i naafMt

inyanmx ptfm o»a nanrrnx xVani

3

ESt»a» vf»D»i nD

nfraa yatf nx »a

Vip-nx oyfrx

nyjn Vip-bx DTfrx yatfa

nxa xnm n'ry-nx

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>gpafth

God heard the cry of the boy, and an angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said "What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heeded the cry of the boy where he is. will make a great nation of 18] Come, lift up the boy and hold him by the hand, for him." 19] Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. She went and filled the skin with water, and let the boy drink. 20] God was with the boy and he grew up; he dwelt in the wilderness and became a bowman. 21] He lived in the wilderness of Paran; and his 17]

to her,

I

mother got a wife for him from the land of Egypt. 22] At that time Abimelech and Phicol, chief of his troops, said to Abraham, "God is with you in everything that you do. 23] Therefore swear to me here by God that you will not deal falsely with me or with my kith and kin, but will deal with me and with the land in which you have sojourned as loyally as I have dealt with you." 24] And Abraham said, "I swear it." 25] Then Abraham reproached Abimelech for the well of water which the servants of Abimelech had seized. 26] But Abimelech said, "I do not know who did this; you did not tell me, nor have heard of it until today." 27] Abraham took sheep and oxen and gave them to I

Abimelech, and the two of them made

by themselves, you have that

19]

I

dug

set

apart?"

this

Opened her

before.

well."

eyes.

The Torah

figurative sense 21]

29]

To

a pact.

30]

He

31]

Hence

see

replied,

"You

that place

what she did not

are to accept these seven

notice

uses this expression in

the

25]

The well of water.

The

incident has not been

mentioned previously,

[7].

Bis mother got awifeforhim.

At

Abraham then set seven ewes of the flock "What mean these seven ewes which

ewes from me as proof was called Beer-sheba, for there the two of them

As was the custom.

homeland. Most probably

Egypt. Hagar's 22]

28]

and Abimelech said to Abraham,

that time.

at the

weaning

Well of seven, or well of oath. Abraham and Abimelech conclude a mutual non31]

Beer-sheba.

aggression pact

feast for Isaac.

140

[8].

xa

K-ri

-in raViy bx nirp dps atrx-ip'i yat? -1x33

s

dwVs proa

:d*3"i d*»*

swore an oath.

32]

When

*

nrnax

Vi^si -iVanx op»i

bm

idwVd

yen

they had concluded the pact

yiw

-ixaa

fiN"*?N

33]

34]

And Abraham

in

Jewish

later

ixax-ifr

3'

J

'

name of

33]

[Abraham]

the Lord, the Everlasting

resided in the land of the Philistines a long time.

Planted a tamarisk. Similar tree-planting cere-

monies survive

wna*i

Beer-sheba, Abimelech and Phicol,

at

planted a tamarisk at Beer-sheba, and invoked there the

nna

n^i

chief of his troops, departed and returned to the land of the Philistines.

God.

n'US13

tradition.

Later

34]

A

long time. This appears inconsistent

with

the immediately preceding passage wherein Abra-

they are called "a planting of joy." At Betar they

ham

planted a cedar at the birth of a boy, a cypress

should not be read as an end to the passage but

when

should be detached and taken as a general post-

a girl

was born. Later, the

for the marriage

canopy

Everlasting God.

trees

were used

script to the

[9].

DVis?

Vn

(El

Olam), an

un-

usual name, occurring in only one other verse in the Bible

where God

is

dwells

called

D^iy

"•riVx

(Isa.

at

Beer-sheba. Therefore, the verse

preceding chapters and as an intro-

duction to what follows. In other words, during this

later

40:28).

141

time of

known

his life,

Abraham

as Philistia.

lived in the area

Human

Feelings

Underlying

and Divine Purpose

this

episode

is

between the Israelites and Ishmaelites; there can be no question over the writer's sympathy for his tribal cousin. As in chapter 16, this sympathy is elicited for Hagar and her child, and again Abraham and Sarah are depicted as human and fallible. The aged Matriarch prevails upon her husband to relieve her of the presence of her maid. The Bible attempts no justification of Abraham or Sarah, nor certainly of God. In affinity

the story, His ultimate designs prevail; directs the actions of

terious way.

What on

He

men in His own mysa human plane appears

harsh and overprotective behavior on the divine level part of God's plan.

as Sarah's is

desires

Sarah's

coincide

Hagar and Ishmael must yield scheme in which Isaac and his descendants will have a special place. The passion for

the essential

with the idea of

to the divine

Bible portrays the

Patriarch

in

human

tension

divine choice, a tension

and divine This

is

between human love

will [10].

theme of

also the

Isaac's sacrifice,

too,

sentiments of the

with the inexplicable

the Akedah, of

which follows

Abraham's human love

at once.

is

There,

pitted against

demands of God. Thus, the stories complement each other: Both deal with the mysterious purposes of the One who encompasses the whole world and is at the same the stern

time the Guiding Force of the people of

Abraham and Isaac. The Sages arranged

that both

stories

Orthodox and Conservative syna-

destiny; hence her actions find God's approval

custom

while Abraham's do not.

gogues, which assign chapter 21 to the

Here may be seen the deeper meaning of the story. Abraham's natural feelings of com-

and chapter 22

in

1

Various reasons have been advanced for the choice

the opening sentence of Gen. 21,

note

.

.

brance

.,"

fits

e.g.,

that

synagogues, observing a single

"The Lord took

with the holy day theme of remem-

(^ichronot)

and that Gen. 22 was chosen be-

cause a

ram

first

Reform day of Rosh

to the second day.

Hashanah, read only chapter

of these Torah readings on Rosh Hashanah,

be

read on Rosh Hashanah. This remains the

22. 1

figures in the story, connecting

it

thereby

with the practice of blowing the shofar on Rosh

Hashanah. However, there

between chapters

21

and

may

22:

be a relationship

both

juxtaposed in the Torah as initiation

and

142

Isaac, similar to

Greek

may

have been

rites for

traditions.

Ishmael

GLEANINGS

Elohim (Gen. 20:13) Since the

Also mention in the Book

word

is

in the plural construction

it

mean "God," but must mean "rulers." Abraham must therefore be understood to say: "Rulers made me go into exile because was a cannot

I

haketav ve-hakabbalah

God-seeker."

Abraham Prayed to God R. Hama ben Hanina

The

story of Ismail:

He was

strictly true

To what he promised,

And he was an apostle And a prophet. Where He

"This expression

said:

[praved] occurs here for the

God

first

time

[14]

(Gen. 21:17)

hears Ishmael's cry "where he

man on

always hears and judges

is."

God

his present cir-

the

in

Book of Genesis. When Abraham prayed, a knot was untied, i.e., the tangled relationship between man and God was straightened out and from now midrash [ii] on men could pray."

cumstances, not for where he was or will be.

midrash

was Abraham's prayer necessary? To emAbraham and his wife were totally

[15]

Sarah's Laughter

The

Why

Is

KORAN

entire beginning of the Jewish people

laughable,

history,

its

God waited with

its

expectations,

its

is

hopes.

the foundation of this people

phasize that

forefather had reached a "ridiculous" high

until

its

age;

therefore

vindicated.

promise only

The duty ham,

for he

to pray

had

to

was

a

punishment

humble himself

for Abra-

before God.

an end. For

was

BENNO JACOB

Christian tradition utilizes the Ishmael-Isaac is

born

in

bondage

but Isaac in freedom, so the first-born religion (Judaism)

is

in the

(Christianity) free

bondage of law and the

from

it.

later

its

whole existence

who

in their shortsightedness

deny God,

people must appear as the most ridiculous

joke of

all.

The

derisive laughter

lowed the Jew through history

is

which has

fol-

the surest proof

The Jew

of the divine nature of

its

touched by

because from the begin-

this ridicule

path.

ning he has been prepared for

[12]

in contrast

to all historical experience. Therefore, until today,

this

storv as an allegory: As Ishmael

people was about to be created which

a

to stand with

to those

Christian Scriptures

He began the realization of His human hopes had come to

after all

is

not

it.

SAMSON RAPHAEL HIRSCH Islam

In

Moslem

tradition,

Hagar (Hadjar) went

to

Abraham Planted

Arabia after her quarrel with Sarah, and Abraham (Ibrahim), guided by God, followed her there.

Ishmael (Ismail) and

Abraham became

founders

of the Kaaba in Mecca, and both were buried in that city. Ismail

is

The Hebrew its

a

Tamarisk (Gen. 21:33) for

tamarisk

is

V^N

[esfcd]

and

three letters signify the essentials of Abraham's

hospitality:

and b

for

K for nV-SS 1

rn ?

[food],

[escort].

V

for

JW«J

[drink],

MIDRASH

[it>]

considered the ancestor of one

of the three major Arabic groups.

Beer-sheba stands

[13]

143

at the

edge of the desert. The

verse life

is

the

with

notice of the transformation of the

first

of Abraham

from

that of the

wandering nomad

his flocks to a settled agriculturist. Is

it

not

Abraham was

reluctant at

would

flesh

raise a barrier

between himself and

possible that he planted those tamarisks for the

the rest of mankind. But

God

same purpose as thev are being planted todav, as a windbreak against the sandstorms which blew rabinowitz [17] louis in from the desert?

it

suffice thee that

am

thy

as

it

i.

[The

comment

Abraham

implies

planted an

orchard which, unlike the low-growing grain of the Negev, needed a windbreak.]

Ishmael

Abraham, modest and unassuming was ready

do

justice to Sarah

as

he was,

and he conferred

Hagar according her pleasure. He added but one caution, "Having

full

to

to

power upon her

once

made

her a mistress,

the

cannot again reduce

world that

said

unto him, "Let

God and thy Lord, I am its God and its

Lord."

A

midrash

Abraham finally submits, but to the divine command, not to Sarah's demand. God intervenes and orders Abraham to obey Sarah. Here we have another example of compliance with

command

God's

human a

feeling

in

—and

contradiction

to

of Isaac. Here

Abraham

is

called

he

upon

upon

God on one

tains.

finally she cast

unborn

child

an

this,

evil

she tormented her,

eye upon her, so that

dropped from

her,

and she ran

away. On her flight she was met by several angels, and they bade her return, at the same time making known to her that she would bear a son who should

be called Ishmael

been given

a

—one of the

name by God

six

men who

have

before their birth, the

extent

preparation for the great example of the binding

of

bondwoman." Unmindful

natural

a

this case is to a certain

warning, Sarah exacted the services of a slave

a

[18]

Clash

as

from Hagar. Not alone and

we

sufficeth the

I

Ishmael into the desert,

her to the state of this

to dispose of

do the bidding

to

first

of God, for he feared that the circumcision of his

to sacrifice Isaac to

is

to send

out

afterwards called of the

moun-

the force of the divine

human feeling command which is

in accordance with God's will

and the destinv of

there

Israel.

Superior to the "natural" is

Abraham's natural

feelings are here in con-

tradiction to the idea of the destiny

and the

choice,

and therefore they are rejected, while Sarah's natural feelings are in keeping with the idea of the destiny and therefore they are approved:

ever Sarah

tells

"What-

you, do as she says" (21:i2).

When

between the human principle of

others being Isaac, Moses, Solomon, Josiah, and

there

the Messiah.

fatherhood and the principle of the choice of

Thirteen years after the birth of Ishmael the

command was

issued to

Abraham

that he put the

sign of the covenant

upon

his

body and upon

the bodies of the male

members

of his household.

is

rael, it is

a clash

the second that

is

guiding force in Abraham's the stories of

144

Abraham

preferred, for life

and

it

it is

joins

up

Is-

the all

into a meaningful cycle.

zvi

adar

[19]

Gen. 22:i-24

$v\

The Akedah 3jodW-jJ>W< Scad- Qvd doial&ik 'ew narrative sections of the Torah have been subjected to

comment and study as the rnj?s (akedah, Christian, and Moslem theologies have tried his introduction to this chapter,

binding [of to

fathom

Isaac]).

its

mucl

as

Jewish!

the_ God

to the

who

demands

it

it

^ fT~ln

Abarbanel called the story "worthier of

tests to(the manJ_wJio_is_i£sxe^d,

makes, and

.

\\/2

intention.

study and investigation than any other section. ''Iis_subj£ct matter ranges

from

*

considers

many

fax/

from the nature of

faith fPy^-JO'^%

other questions as

weWl^f'l.

'

Von Rad: "One should renounce any attempt to discover one basic ^5.// idea as the meaning of the whole. There arc many levels of meaning. 7-^/^^ ^y 7 The literary pattern of the section is reminiscent of the first passage^ V^?of the Abraham story (A divine/command J sJ^sii^o asking Abraham^ to Says

"

1

:

t

set

out toward an"as'yet unannounced" pfa?

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run

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io

{^M^^f^M'And Abraham

10]

picked up the knife to slay his son.

him from heaven: "Abraham! Abraham!" And he answered, "Here am." 12] And he said,' "Do not raise your hand against the boy, or do anything to him. For now I know that you fear^T,7y God, since you have not withheld your son, your favored one, from Me." 13] When Abraham looked up, his eye fell upon a ram, caught in the thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering in place of his son. 14] And Abraham named that site Adonai-yireh, whence the present saying, "On the mount of the I

S

Lord

there

is

vision.'

15] The angel of "By Myself swear,

^^f^ayyVU Lord Lord

^^pXMLt3t