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Patriarchial Narratives



2.3 Patriarchal Narratives:
    Genesis 11.27-36.43
Patriarchal Narratives
    Introduction to the
 Patriarchal Narratives &
  the God of the Fathers
  Similarities in the Careers of
         the Patriarchs
1. All these heroes leave their homeland [12.;
  28.2; 37.28]
2. All quarrel with their brothers [13.7; 27.41;
3. Three go down to Egypt, one to Gerar, i.e.,
  toward Egypt [12.10; 26.1; 37.28; 46.6]
4. Two patriarchal wives are seduced or nearly
  so; an Egyptian wife attempts to seduce Joseph
  [12.14-16; 20.1-14; 26.1; 39.6-18]
  Similarities in the Careers of
         the Patriarchs
5. Their wives are barren and quarrel (in
   Abraham's and Jacob's cases) [16.1-6; 29.31-
6. The younger sons are divinely favored (also
   Joseph's sons) [17.18-19; 25.23; 48.14; 49.8-12,
7. Brides met at well [24.15; 29.9]
8. Promises of children, land, divine blessing [e.g.,
   12.1-3; 26.28-29; 41.39-40]
  Similarities in the Careers of
         the Patriarchs
9. Gentiles acknowledge God's blessing on the
   patriarchs [21.21-22; 26.28-29; 41.39-40]
10. Buried in cave of Machpelah [23.1-20; 25.9;
   35.27-29; 49.29-32]

Wenham, Gordan, Genesis 1-15: Word Biblical
 Commentary, 257.
    Dating the Patriarchs
“The 480 years of 1 Kgs 6.1 has its lower end fixed
  at the fourth year of the reign of Solomon, for
  which a date of 967 B.C. seems probable. This
  figure, and the 430 years of Ex 12.40, together
  places the descent into Egypt at about 1877 B.C.
  This date should not be considered exact, since
  some small leeway must be allowed for the dating
  of Solomon’s reign, and the figures of 430 and
  480 may themselves be round estimates.” [Bimson, J.
  J. “Archaelogical Data and the Dating of the Patriarchs,” Essays on the
  Patriarchal Narratives, eds. D. J. Wiseman & A.R.Millard, 85-86]
 Chronological Chart
B.C.E.        Event                Ages            Gen.
 2092    Abraham's           Abraham at 75 yrs     12.14
         migration from
 2067    Isaac born          Abraham at 100 yrs    21.5
 2031    Sarah dies, aged 127 Abraham at 136 yrs   23.1
 2007    Jacob born          Abraham at 160 yrs    25.26
                             Isaac at 60 yrs
 1992    Abraham dies        Abraham at 175         25.7
                             Isaac at 75 yrs
 1887    Isaac dies          Isaac 180 yrs         35.28-9
                             Jacob 120 yrs
 1877    Jacob and family    Jacob 130 yrs          47.9
         move to Egypt
      Dating the Patriarchs
“This dating scheme places Abraham's life almost entirely
  before 2000 B.C., and therefore in MB I: part of Isaac's
  life, before his move form Beer-lahai-roi to Gerear (cf.
  25.11 and 26.1), is also allowed to fall within MB I,
  before the depopulation of the Negeb. It is tempting to
  speculate that the famine which drove Isaac from the
  southern Negeb to Gerar was part of the change in
  conditions which led to the depopulation of the Negeb
  as a whole at the end of MB I. Jacob's life after his
  return from the household of Laban falls satisfactorily
  within MB II.” [Bimson, J. J. “Archaelogical Data and the Dating of
   the Patriarchs,” Essays on the Patriarchal Narratives, eds. D. J. Wiseman
   & A.R.Millard, 85-86]
Customs & the Patriarchal Age
1. “The practice of granting a birthright, that is,
   additional privileges to an eldest son, is
   mentioned several times in the patriarchal
   narratives (Gen 25.5-6; 25.32-34; 43.33; 49.3-
   4; cf. 48.13-20) and was widespread in the
   ANE . . . . The double portion, well known in
   texts from the Old Babylonian to the Neo-
   Babylonian period, is clearly found in the OT
   only in Deut 21.15-17.” [Selman, M. J. "Comparative Customs
  and the Patriarchal Age," Essays on the Patriarchal Narratives, eds. Millard &
  Wiseman, 135]
Customs & the Patriarchal Age
2. “In Gen 25.23, the Hebrew term for the eldest son
   is not the usual reko=r but rab, which is
   used here only in this sense. The cognate Akkadian
   word, rabu=, is also used by itself of the eldest
   son, but so far has turned up only in tablets of the
   mid-second millennium, from Nuzi, Alalah, Ugarit,
   and Middle Assyria. Since the texts from
   Babylonia and those of the Neo-Assyrian period
   use different terminology, such as aplu(m) rabu(m)
   (‘eldest heir’) or maru(m) rabu(m) (‘eldest son’), it
   appears that this biblical datum has some
   chronological significance.”
Customs & the Patriarchal Age
3. “The alteration of a man’s inheritance prospects
   was never subject to a father's arbitrary decision,
   whether it involved the loss of the birthright
   privilege or total disinheritance, but was brought
   about in every case by serious offences against
   one’s own family. Thus Reuben’s sexual offences
   against his father’s concubine (Gen 35.22; 49.3-4)
   can be linked with behaviour of similar gravity
   elsewhere, such as taking legal action against one’s
   parents, the usurping of a father’s authority, or the
   despising of one’s parents.” [Selman, M. J. "Comparative
  Customs and the Patriarchal Age," Essays on the Patriarchal Narratives, eds.
  Millard & Wiseman, 135-136]
Customs & the Patriarchal Age
4. “A man’s ability to sell inherited
  property is documented at different
  periods in the ANE, though at the present
  time no clear case is known of an eldest
  son who, like Esau, sold either his
  inheritance or his rights to an
  inheritance.” [Selman, M. J. "Comparative Customs and the
  Patriarchal Age," Essays on the Patriarchal Narratives, eds. Millard &
  Wiseman, 136]
Customs & the Patriarchal Age
5. “While the inheritance relationship between
   Abraham and Eliezer may find its explanation
   in Prv 17.2, the examples of adoption of slaves,
   and the specific case of the OB letter from
   Larsa (where it is suggested that a man without
   sons could adopt his own slave), are also very
   apposite to this situation. it is precisely the
   custom of the adoption of one’s slave that is
   found only in the Larsa letter and in Gen 15.”
  [Selman, M. J. "Comparative Customs and the Patriarchal Age," Essays on the
  Patriarchal Narratives, eds. Millard & Wiseman, 136]
Customs & the Patriarchal Age
6. “The adoption of Ephraim and Manasseh by
   their grandfather (Gen 48.5) may be compared
   with a similar adoption of a grandson at Ugarit.
   Furthermore, the phrase, ‘they are mine’ (Gen
   48.5) is almost identical to the usual ANE term
   adoption formulae, as found for instance in the
   Laws of Hammurapi para. 170.” [Selman, M. J.
  "Comparative Customs and the Patriarchal Age," Essays on the Patriarchal
  Narratives, eds. Millard & Wiseman, 136]
       Customs & the Patriarchal Age
7. “The custom of bearing ‘upon the knees’ has frequently been
   interpreted as an adoption rite.... The practice is mentioned
   five times in the OT, of which three references occur in the
   patriarchal narratives [Gen 30.3; 48.12; 50.23; Job 3.11-12;
   Isa 66.12] A study of all these reveals no clear connection with
   adoption, however, an impression which is confirmed by
   similar references in two Hurrian myths and several Neo-
   Assyrian blessings. Rather, both the biblical and extrabiblical
   passages have associations with birth, name-giving, breast-
   feeding, and fondling of a child, and seem to indicate some
   kind of recognized welcome or acceptance of a newborn child
   into the family which could be carried out by parents,
   grandparents, or great-grandparents.” [Selman, M. J. "Comparative
  Customs and the Patriarchal Age," Essays on the Patriarchal Narratives, eds. Millard &
  Wiseman, 136-137]
        Customs & the Patriarchal Age
8. “The gift of a female slave as part of a dowry, a practice
   mentioned three times in the patriarchal narratives, is well
   known in the ANE at various periods. If the marriage proved
   to be infertile, the husband normally took matters into his own
   hands, but on certain occasions, the wife was able to present
   one of her slavegirls, sometimes specially purchased, to her
   husband to produce children for their own marriage. The
   parallels to the biblical references (Gen 16.1-4; 30.1-13) for
   this rare custom are found so far in the Hammurapi Laws,
   and in single instances from Nuzi and Nimrud. In each case,
   the authority over the children resulting from this union
   belonged not to the slavegirl who bore them but to the chief
   wife.” [Selman, M. J. "Comparative Customs and the Patriarchal Age," Essays on the
   Patriarchal Narratives, eds. Millard & Wiseman, 137]
Customs & the Patriarchal Age
9. “A father’s prohibition forbidding his
  prospective son-in-law to take a second
  wife in place of his daughter is found
  regularly in marriage contracts, as well
  as in Laban’s covenant with his son-in-
  law Jacob (Gen 31.50).” [Selman, M. J. "Comparative
  Customs and the Patriarchal Age," Essays on the Patriarchal
  Narratives, eds. Millard & Wiseman, 138]
Customs & the Patriarchal Age
10. “Since the function of Bethuel in the
  arrangement of his daughter’s marriage is
  rather ambiguous (Gen 24), one should note
  the several instances in the Old and Neo-
  Babylonian periods where a marriage was
  arranged by the bride’s brother, either by
  himself or together with their mother.”
  [Selman, M. J. "Comparative Customs and the Patriarchal Age,"
  Essays on the Patriarchal Narratives, eds. Millard & Wiseman, 138]
Customs & the Patriarchal Age
11. “The description of adultery as a ‘great
  sin’ by the Philistine king Abimelek (Gen
  20.9; cf. 26.10) is known also at Ugarit
  and in Egyptian marriage contracts of
  the first millennium B.C.” [Selman, M. J.
  "Comparative Customs and the Patriarchal Age," Essays on the
  Patriarchal Narratives, eds. Millard & Wiseman, 138]
Customs & the Patriarchal Age
12. “Certain oral statements were
  accompanied by recognized rituals and
  ceremonials which functioned as legal
  safeguards. These included the grasping or
  correct placing of the right hand, and
  actions of this kind may be seen as the legal
  background of Jacob’s adoption and
  blessing of his grandson (Gen 48).” [Selman, M.
  J. "Comparative Customs and the Patriarchal Age," Essays on the
  Patriarchal Narratives, eds. Millard & Wiseman, 138]
Customs & the Patriarchal Age
13. “The use of the phrase (a4kal
  kesep in the complaint of Laban’s
  daughters may be compared with the
  Akkadian equivalent (kaspa
  aka4lu), which is used five times in
  marriage contracts at Nuzi for the
  withholding of a dowry which was normally
  taken from the husband's marriage
  payment.” [Selman, M. J. "Comparative Customs and the
  Patriarchal Age," Essays on the Patriarchal Narratives, eds. Millard &
  Wiseman, 138]
 Themes of the Patriarchal Narratives

“It is possible.... to read through the patriarchal
  narratives as a whole and perceive one clear
  theme linking them. The theme is explicit in the
  actual words of God which promise blessing,
  land, increase, and influence. These explicit
  words then form the key which explains the
  function in their context of the stories which
  make up the bulk of the narratives as a whole.
  These stories illustrate the theme, often by
Themes of the Patriarchal Narratives

showing how God overcomes the obstacles to the
  fulfillment of his commitment of himself which
  arise from circumstances that surround those
  who receive God’s commitment or from the
  people that they had to deal with or from the
  recipients of God's promises themselves.”
  [Goldingay, J. “The Patriarchs in Scripture and History,” Essays on the
  Patriarchal Narratives, eds. Millard & Wiseman, 13]
 Themes of the Abrahamic Narratives
1. “The theme of the Abraham narrative... is that
   Yahweh undertook to bless him with
   descendants and land and to make him a
   blessing for other peoples, that obstacles to the
   fulfillment of this commitment presented
   themselves from many quarters, but that
   Yahweh kept reaffirming his undertaking and
   saw it to its partial fulfillment in Abraham’s
   own lifetime.” [Goldingay, J. “The Patriarchs in Scripture and
  History,” Essays on the Patriarchal Narratives, eds. Millard & Wiseman, 6]
 Themes of the Abrahamic Narratives

2. The Abraham narratives (chs. 12-25), have a
   strikingly elemental character in that they are
   often concerned with life and death. They begin
   with the motif of Sarah’s barrenness and
   Abraham’s childlessness, which would mean
   the end of the line and, in the understanding of
   that epoch, death. They continue through the
   narrative of Abraham in Egypt to the birth in
   ch. 21, and on to the mortal danger that
 Themes of the Abrahamic Narratives

threatens the child in ch. 22 (C. Westermann,
  ThB 24 [1964] 58f.). They are the proper
  setting of the motif of the promise. The promise
  of a son, to which the other promises are
  attached, is the guarantee to Abraham of the
  life of his family." [Westermann, Claus, Genesis 12-25: A
  Commentary, 29]
     Themes of the Isaac Narratives
1. “The Isaac narrative. . . is by no means
   identical with the Abraham narrative. It is
   more tightly structured and less episodic, there
   is more irony, and it introduces fewer heroes
   and more villains. Yet the major themes we
   perceived in the Abraham narrative appear
   here too. It relates that Yahweh reaffirmed to
   Abraham’s son and grandson his undertaking
   to bless Abraham with descendants and land
   and to
      Themes of the Isaac Narratives

make him a means of blessing to others, and that
 he kept this undertaking despite and frequently
 through the vagaries of those he committed
 himself to. This theme holds the narrative
 together by constitution both a thread running
 through it and the key motif to which the
 individual scenes relate.” [Goldingay, J. “The Patriarchs in
  Scripture and History,” Essays on the Patriarchal Narratives, eds. Millard &
  Wiseman, 10]
     Themes of the Isaac Narratives

2. “Here the main theme is what happens between
   brother and brother. Institutions that extended
   far beyond the mere family circle begin to play
   a major role. It is a matter of regulating
   ownership, making covenants, legal practices,
   privileges, and, in the realm of religion, of
   sacred places and events. All this is at most of
   marginal interest in the Abraham narratives."
  [Westermann, Claus, Genesis 12-25: A Commentary, 29]
     Themes of the Jacob Narratives
“As a redactional framework, Gen 37-50 provides
  necessary unity for including diverse traditions about
  the last days of Jacob in the overall narration about
  the patriarchs. The collection thus intends to close
  the large segment of Jacob traditions. In addition, it
  opens the door for the exodus traditions by
  accounting for the shift from Jacob in Canaan to
  Israel in Egypt. The unit thus functions as a bridge
  between the patriarchal traditions (Gen 12-50) and
  the exodus traditions (Ex 1-12 [13.1-16]).” [Coats,
  Genesis: FOTL, 261]
     Themes of the Jacob Narratives
2. "In Gen. 37-50 there enters an additional element
   which is completely absent from Gen. 12-36, namely,
   the encounter with the institution of kingship and state.
   This element is seen not only in the role played by
   Pharaoh and his court and officials, but also in the
   confrontation between brothers and the one brother in
   which the basic phenomenon of kingship, “dominion
   over brothers,” is determinative. The family too is
   different in Gen. 37-50; it is the family that has grown
   outwards into the surrounding world and become
  enmeshed with it." [Westermann, Claus, Genesis 12-25: A
  Commentary, 29]
1. “The promises to the patriarchs are the
  most frequent motif in Gen 12-50.
  References to them are frequent in other
  books, especially Deut, and are found as
  late as Neh.” [Westermann, “Promises to the
  Patriarchs,” IDBSup, 690]
2. “These promises are a part of the total
  complex of OT oracles of blessing, but
  are different from the others in not
  having been delivered by a cultic or other
  type of mediator; they are depicted as
  having been given directly by God to the
  patriarchs.” [Westermann, “Promises to the
  Patriarchs,” IDBSup, 690]
3. “A further hallmark of the promises to
  the patriarchs is that they are
  unconditional. What God proclaims does
  not depend upon on the fulfillment of any
  conditions. (Gen. 22.16-18 therefore
  apparently contains a late
  interpretations.)” [Westermann, “Promises to the
  Patriarchs,” IDBSup, 690]
1. “The following occur alone: a son, 18.1-
  16; the land, 12.7; 15.7-21; 24.7; God’s
  presence, 31.3.” [Westermann, “Promises to the
  Patriarchs,” IDBSup, 691]
2. “The promise of numerous posterity and of blessing are
   found only in combination with other promises: (1) son
   and posterity: 15.1-6; 16.7-12; 21.12-13, 17-18; (2) land
   and posterity: 13.14-17; 35.11-13; 48.3-4; (3) land,
   posterity, and blessing: 26.4-5; 28.3-4; 28.13-14; (4)
   posterity and blessing: 12.1-3; 18.18-19; 22.15-18; (5)
   posterity, blessing, and God’s presence: 26.24-25 (6)
   posterity and God’s presence: 46.3-4; (7) God’s
   presence, blessing, and land: 26.2-3; (8) posterity,
  God’s presence, blessing, and land: 26.2-6; 28.13-15.”
  [Westermann, "Promises to the Patriarchs,” IDBSup, 691]
3. “This survey shows that the most frequent
   promise in Gen 12-50 is that of posterity, with
   that of the land a distant second. The promise
   of a son is found only in the Abraham stories,
   and that of God’s presence only in the Jacob-
   Esau stories. The promises usually occur in
   groups of two, three, or more, with the greatest
   concentration occurring in P.” [Westermann,
  “Promises to the Patriarchs,” IDBSup, 691]
          PROMISE OF A SON
1. Texts: 15.2-4; 16.11; 17.15, 16, 19, 21;
  18.10, 14; [21.1-3]
2. Promise of a son elsewhere in the OT: Judg
  13.2-5; 1 Sam 1; 2 Kgs 4.8-17.
3. Parallels in Ugaritic texts: Kirta & Aqhat
4. “In Gen 12-50 the promise of a son is
  confined to the Abraham stories, where it
  dominates accounts.” [Westermann, “Promises to the
  Patriarchs,” IDBSup, 691]

1. Texts: Gen 26.3, 24; 28.15 [20]; 31.3;
  46.3; [48.15, 21; 50.24]
2. “This promise is found only in chs 26-50.
  In 26.3, 24 it is made to Isaac, and
  elsewhere to Jacob. Just as the promise of
  a son is the dominant motif in chs 12-25,
  this promise is dominant in chs 26-50.”
 [Westermann, “Promises to the Patriarchs,” IDBSup, 691]

3. “Maag was the first to draw attention to
  this promise, seeing it as loosely
  connected with the wanderings of the
  patriarchs. In each instance, God
  promises to be with them on a journey. It
  is given as part of the command to move
  (46.1-3), or to remain (26.1-3), or to
  return (31.3).” [Westermann, “Promises to the Patriarchs,”
  IDBSup, 691]
1. Promise of a New Home and New
  Pasture [12.1-3]
2. Promise of a Land Under Cultivation
  (12.7; 13.14-15; 13.17; 15.7-21; 17.8; 24.7;
  26.3, 4; 28.4, 13; 35.12; 48.4; 50.24;
  outside of Gen 12-50: Ex 13.5, 11; 32.13;
  33.1; Num 11.12; 14.16, 23; 32.11; Deut
  1.8, 35; 4.31; 6.10, 18, 23, and thirteen
  other passages).
3. “As can be seen from Gen 15.7-21 and
  13.14-17, the emphasis lies on the
  promise made to Abraham. The promise
  that Jacob would gain possession of the
  land is seen as a renewal of the promise
  to Abraham (Gen 26.3, 4; 28.4; 35.12;
  50.24). The story in Gen 15.7-21 concerns
  only the promise of the land; in fact, the
  story developed out of the promise.”
  [Westermann, “Promises to the Patriarchs,” IDBSup, 692]
4. “The language varies so little that we can
  assume a fixed form, utilizing the
  verb !tn. The promise is probably the
  basis for an accepted formula for the
  legal transfer to land (cf. Gen 48.22).
  Such an adaptation is suggested by 13.14-
  17.” [Westermann, “Promises to the Patriarchs,” IDBSup, 692]
5. “This promise probably was formulated
  when possession of the land was a life-
  and-death matter for the tribes that had
  settled in Canaan. At the end of the
  patriarchal stories (50.24) it is stated that
  the promise to Abraham, Isaac, and
  Jacob refers to the gift of the land of
  Canaan to the Israelites who leave
  Egypt.” [Westermann, "Promises to the Patriarchs," IDBSup,
6. “In twenty-one passages in Deuteronomy
  the promise of the land is formulated as
  an oath and has the function of
  legitimizing the occupation of the land by
  the tribes.” [Westermann, “Promises to the Patriarchs,”
  IDBSup, 692]
1. Texts: 12.1-3; 13.16; 15.5; 16.10; 17.2, 5,
  6, 16, 20; 18.18; 22.17, 18; 26.2-5, 24-25;
  28.3, 14; 32.12[MT 13]; 35.11; 46.3;
  [47.27]; 48.4, 16, 19; outside of Gen 12-
  50: [Ex 1]; Ex 32.10; Num 14.12; Deut
  1.10, 11; 6.3; 13.17 [MT 18]; 15.6; Isa
  51.2; Neh 9.23
2. “Promise of a son and posterity. The
   combination of these two promises is found, lie
   the promise of a son, only in the Abraham
   cycle. That they were originally separate can be
   seen in 16.10-12 (cf. 21.12-13, 17-18). Their
   interrelationship is made completely clear in
   15.4-5, where the opening of a new scene in v5
   shows that the writer was aware of the
   independence of the two promises.” [Westermann,
  “Promises to the Patriarchs,” IDBSup, 692]
3. “The language and form of the promise. Of all the
   promises this one most often had a fixed form and is
   found exactly or almost word-for-word the same in
   many passages. Characteristic also is the poetic
   comparison with the stars of the sky (Gen 15.5; 22.17;
   26.4; Ex 32.13; Deut 1.10; 10.22; 28.62; Neh 9.23), the
   sand by the sea (Gen 22.17; 32.12 [MT 13]; Isa 10.22;
   48.19), and the dust of the earth (Gen 13.16; 28.14). A
   variant forms of the promise indicates the transition of
   the family to the nations, ‘I will make of you a great
   nation’ (12.2; 17.20; 18.18; 21.13, 18; 46.3; Ex 32.10;
  Num 14.12).” [Westermann, “Promises to the Patriarchs,” IDBSup,
4. The origin of the promise of posterity.
  Westermann argues that many passages
  where the promise of posterity is
  promised along with a blessing indicates
  that they were originally connected and
  therefore late. (12.2; 17.16, 20; 22.17;
  26.4; 26.24; 28.3; 32.12 [MT 13]; 35.9-11;
  48.3-4 [16]; Isa 51.2)
1. “The distinctive nature of the promise. An
   independent pronouncement of blessing has
   been preserved only in Gen 12.1-3. Here all
   the other promises are subordinated to that
   of blessing, while in all other passages the
   promise of blessing is made specific in, or is
   more fully developed by, the promise of
   prosperity.” [Westermann, “Promises to the Patriarchs,”
  IDBSup, 692]
2. Expansion of the promise. Concerning (1)
  Cursed . . . . and (2) All the families . . . .
“In the patriarchal histories it is found only in P (Gen
  17.7-8), and is characterized as a covenant (tyrb).
  Elsewhere in P it occurs in Lev 11.45; 22.33; 25.38;
  26.45; Num 15.41; see also Ex 29.45; and Ezek 34.24. In
  all these passages Israel is the recipient of the promise.
  In Deut 29.10-13 it occurs as promise to the patriarchs
  and is characterized again as tyrb. It also occurs as a
  part of the covenant formula, which also says ‘and you
  will be my people.’ By citing this promise in the middle
  of ch 17, P builds a connection between patriarchal
  history and that of the nation.” [Westermann, “Promises to
  the Patriarchs,” IDBSup, 693]
1. “They witness to the earliest connection
   between what God says (the promise) and
   what he does (the fulfillment). When the
   people later were rescued or protected they
   saw this as the fulfillment of what God had
   said, and thus we can understand why the
   patriarchal traditions become a basic part
   of Israel’s traditions.” [Westermann, “Promises to the
  Patriarchs,” IDBSup, 693]
2. “The promises thus have the function of
  connecting God’s ancient word with what
  he had more recently done [Exodus] for
  his people. They give the assurance that
  God stands by his word, and that he
  trusted for the future.” [Westermann, “Promises to
  the Patriarchs,” IDBSup, 693]
“The God of the Fathers”
 Occurrences in Genesis and Exodus
1. “The God of my father”: Gen 31.5, 42; Ex 15.2;
2. “The God of your(2ms) father”: Gen 46.3;
   49.25; 50.17; Ex 3.6
3. “The God of your(2mp) father": Gen 31.29;
4. “The God of their father”: Gen 31.53
5. “The God of your fathers”: Ex 3.13, 15, 16
6. “The God of their fathers”: Ex 4.5
  Occurrences in Genesis and Exodus

7. “The God of Abraham”: Gen 24.12, 27, 42, 48;
   26.24; 28.13; 31.53
8. “The God of Isaac”: Gen 46.1
9. “The God of Abraham, your father, and the
   God of Isaac”: Gen 28.13
10. “The God of my father Abraham and the God
   of my father Isaac”: Gen 32.9[10]
11. “The God of your father(s), and God of
   Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob”: Ex 3.6, 15, 16; 4.5
 Albrecht Alt: “The God of the
1. Nameless:
  a. “the God of X”
  b. Emphasis is on a personal relationship
  with the deity
2. Siteless:
  The God who went with God’s own
 Characteristic Features of the
    God of the Patriarchs
1. Preliminary Observations:
    a. The non-cultic character is predominant. Therefore
       sacred places are not too important.
    b. Focus is on the “peaceful” presence of God in
       contrast to the Divine Warrior image of the Exodus,
       Conquest and Monarchical period.
    c. The divine promises that given to the patriarchs are
       unconditional in nature.
    d. There is a general lack of interest on the subject of
       sin. The connection between sin and
       guilt/punishment is almost wholly absent.
 Characteristic Features of the
    God of the Patriarchs
2. The Personal God
   a. Problem of “local” Connection
        i. “The gods of the ancient Near East were, to a
           large extent, associated with particular places
           and temples. Marduk was worshiped in Babylon;
           and Sin, in Haran.” [Mettinger, In Search of God,
        ii. Early Israelite fears reflected in Ex 17.7 may
           indicate that they carried this same baggage.
           Even Moses needs to be assured in this light (Ex
 Characteristic Features of the
    God of the Patriarchs
b. Personal Names with “theophoric elements”
    )a4b, “father” )a4h9, “brother”
     (am, “uncle”
    Abi-melech     >      Eli-melech
    Abi-ezer       >      Eli-ezer
c. Special Designations of the God of the fathers
    i. “The Mighty One of Jacob” ryba bq[y: Gen 49.24;
       Isa 49.26; 60.16; Ps 132.2, 5; and in Isa 1.24
       “the ryba of Israel”
 Characteristic Features of the
    God of the Patriarchs
c. Special Designations of the God of the fathers
    i. “The Mighty One of Jacob” ryba bq[y: Gen
     49.24; Isa 49.26; 60.16; Ps 132.2, 5; and in Isa
     1.24 “the ryba of Israel”
   ii. “The Fear of Isaac” dxp   bq[y: Gen 31.42, 53
         THE GOD OF THE
“These El names were originally pre-Israelite in
  their meaning. With the exception of El
  Shaddai, they generally appear in connection
  with particular Canaanite shrines and reflect
  ancient Semitic religion. When the Israelites
  came into Canaan, they took over these shrines,
  together with the religious traditions associated
  with them to the worship of Yahweh.” [Anderson,
  "God, Names of," IDB, I, 413a]
  Divine Name             Place                Text
El Elyon: “El Most   Salem            Gen 14.18-22
El Roi: “El of       Beer-Lahai Roi   Gen 16.13
El Olam: “El the     Beer-Sheba       Gen 21.33
El Elohe Yisrael:    Shechem          Gen 33.18-20
“El the God of
El Bethel: “El of    Bethel           Gen 31.13; 35.7
El Shaddai: “El of                    Gen 17.1; 28.3; 35.11
the Mountain”                         43.14; 48.3; 49.25
   EL SHADDAI: How old is this
         Divine Name?
“Of the forty-eight occurrences of the name, quite a
  number appear in late literature, such as Ezekiel
  (twice) and Job (thirty-one times). Nevertheless, there
  is practically no contemporary scholar who claims that
  the name El Shaddai was a late invention of the exilic
  period. This is because there is broad agreement about
  the antiquity of some of the other biblical passages in
  which the name occurs; for example, Jacob’s
  patriarchal blessing (Gen 49.25), the Baalam text (Num
  24.4, 16), and an ancient list of names (Num 1.5-16) in
  which Shaddai is the theophoric element in several
   EL SHADDAI: How old is this
         Divine Name?
personal names: Shede-ur, Zuri-shaddai, and Ammi-
  shaddai (vv. 5, 6, 12). There is also a single extra-
  biblical attestation. An Egyptian figurine bears the
  legend ‘Shaddai-ammi.’ Thus it contains the same
  elements as the previously mentioned biblical ‘Ammi-
  shaddai.’ The figurine in question is datable to ca. 1300
  BCE.” [Mettinger, In Search of God, 69]
  EL SHADDAI: O.T. References
 The Pentateuch: 9 times. Three occurrences are
  in ancient tribal blessings, like the blessing of
  Jacob (Gen 49.25) and Balaam’s blessing
  (Numb 24.4, 16); the other six occurrence are
  usually assigned to the so-called ‘Priestly
  tradition’ in the Pentateuch: Gen 17.1; 28.3;
  35.11; 43.14ff., 48.3; Exo 6.3.
 The book of Ruth: 2 times (Ruth 1.20-21)
  EL SHADDAI: O.T. References
 The Prophets: 4 times (Isa 13.6; Joel 1.15; Ezk
  1.24; 10.5)
 The Psalter: 2 times (Ps 68.14 [15]; 91.1)
 Job: 31 times
      EL SHADDAI: Theories on
1. “A common Greek rendering of ‘El Shaddai’ is
   pantokrato4r, ‘the ruler of all’ (16 times in
   LXX Job). It is clear, however, that this does not
   represent an actual attempt to translate the divine
   name. Rather, it is a conventional rendering and not an
   effort at a linguistic interpretation of ‘El Shaddai.’
   What we usually find in modern biblical translations of
   the name ‘El Shaddai’ are reflections of this
   convention. As a result, the expression ‘the Almighty’
   in the biblical translations provides no key to the
   understanding of ‘El Shaddai.’” [Mettinger, In Search of
  God, 70]
      EL SHADDAI: Theories on
2. “Early Judaism understood the contents of the
   name as ‘he who is sufficient’ (derived from
   Heb. s]e + day). This interpretation
   underlies the translation hikanos (‘he who is
   sufficient’), which we find in certain Greek
   translations. Today, however, this is not held to
   be a convincing alternative.” [Mettinger, In Search of
  God, 70]
      EL SHADDAI: Theories on
3. “An early interpretation associated ‘El
   Shaddai’ with a Hebrew root signifying
   violence and destruction - s]dd. This view is
   expressed already in the expression ‘as
   destruction of a s]o4d, ‘violence,
   destruction,’ which comes from Shaddai (cf. Isa
   13.6; Joel 1.15). But this is probably a pun, not
   a linguistic-historical derivation.” [Mettinger, In
  Search of God, 70]
    EL SHADDAI: Theories on
4. “The derivation that has won broadest
  acceptance does not associate the name
  with any Hebrew word, but with an
  Akkadian one found in Babylonian texts -
  s]adu= - the usual Akkadian word
  for ‘mountain.’ On this theory the name
  ‘El Shaddai’ would then signify
  something like ‘El, the One of the
  mountain.’” [Mettinger, In Search of God, 71]
      EL SHADDAI: Theories on
5. “The Amorites dwelt in northern
   Mesopotamia, at the upper course of the
   Euphrates; they were a nomadic people whom
   scholars have designated ‘proto-Arameans,’
   and they have been held to have been related to
   the tribal groups that eventually made up the
   people of Israel. These Amorites worshipped a
   god called ‘Amurru.’ In some texts, it develops
   that this deity was characterized as be4l
   s]ade=, ‘the lord of the mountain.’”
  [Mettinger, In Search of God, 71]
  EL SHADDAI: It’s Associations
1. “A number of scholars have felt that it was a
   notion of God as protector and refuge. Similar
   thoughts are presumably expressed when the
   god of Israel is characterized as the ‘rock’ of
   his people (cf., e.g., Deut 32.4, 15, 18, 30, 31; 2
   Sam 23.3; Ps 18.46). Another possibility is the
   notion that the name El Shaddai designates
   God as the One of the mount of the divine
   council (cf. Isa 14.13). In this event El Shaddai
  EL SHADDAI: It’s Associations
would be a name that characterized the God of
  the fathers as the chief of the heavenly council.
  The use of the name (El) Shaddai in close
  association with (El) Elyon, ‘God the Most
  High’ (Num 24.16 and Ps 91.1), provides a
  degree of support of this conjecture, as does the
  occurrence of the name in the Deir Alla
  inscriptions.” [Mettinger, In Search of God, 71]
  EL SHADDAI: It’s Associations
2. “. . . El Shaddai frequently appears in contexts which
   deal with a divine blessing; one has only to think of the
   blessings of Jacob and Baalam (Gen 49.25; Num 24.4,
   16 respectively). Most occurrences in the patriarchal
   narratives appear in similar contexts. Thus El Shaddai
   reveals himself to Abraham and promises him
   innumerable offspring (Gen 17.1); in the name El
   Shaddai, Isaac blesses Jacob and communicates to him
   the assurance of numerous progeny and the blessing of
   Abraham (Gen 28.3-4). The same motif recurs in Gen
   35.11 in the words, ‘I am El Shaddai. Be fruitful and
   multiply.’” [Mettinger, In Search of God, 72]
 Genesis 12-25
    Form Critical Outline
  A. Exposition [11.10-12.9]
  B. Threat to the Ancestress [12.10-20]
  C. Family Novella: Abram-Lot [13.1-14.24]
  D. Covenant [15.1-21]
  E. Tale of Family Strife [16.1-16]
    (Annunciation/Birth of Ishmael)
     Form Critical Outline
F. Covenant [17.1-27]
G. Tale of Family Strife [18.1-15]
  (Annunciation of Isaac)
H. Family Novella: Abraham-Lot [18.16-
  1. Intercession [18.16-33]
  2. Lot's Salvation [19.1-29]
  3. Incest [19.30-38]
     Form Critical Outline
I. Threat to the Ancestress [20.1-18]
J. Tale of Family Strife [21.1-21]
K. Beer-Sheba Etiology [21.22-34]
L. Abraham Legend [22.1-19]
     Form Critical Outline
II. DEATH REPORT [22.20-25.26]
  A. Nahor Genealogy [22.20-24]
  B. Sarah's Burial [23.1-20]
  C. Abraham's Deathbed [24.1-67]
  D. Abraham's Second Marriage [25.1-6]
  E. Abraham's Death [25.7-11]
  F. The Following Generations [25.12-26]
          [Coats, George, Genesis: FOTL]
          Thematic Outline
11.27-32 Transition to the Story of Abraham
12.1-9 Promise to Abraham and Migration
12.10-20 The Ancestral Mother in Danger
13.1-18 Abraham and Lot on the Way
14.1-24 Abraham and the Kings
15.1-21 The Promise to Abraham
16.1-16 Sarah & Hagar: Fight & Promise of a
         Thematic Outline
17.1-27 The Covenant with Abraham
18.1-16a Abraham and the three Guests
18.16b-33 Abraham Queries the Destruction
  of Sodom
19.1-29 Destruction of Sodom and the Rescue
  of Lot
19.30-38 Lot’s Daughters
         Thematic Outline
20.1-18 Abraham and Abimelech
21.1-7 Birth of Isaac
21.8-21 The Expulsion and Rescue of Hagar
  and her child
21.22-24 Dispute over well and treaty with
22.1-19 Abraham’s Sacrifice
           Thematic Outline
22.20-24 The Descendents of Nahor
23.1-20 Sarah’s Death and the Purchase of
  Burial Cave
24.1-67 The Wooing of Rebekah
25.1-8 The Conclusion of the Abraham Story

[Modified from: Westermann, Claus, Genesis 12-36:
  A Commentary, 10-14]
Genesis 25.19-36.43
 The Jacob Narratives
   The Paradox of the Jacob Narratives
1. “First, God has chosen and destined this man
   Jacob in a special way...(25.23).” [Brueggemann,
   Genesis: Interpretation, 204]
2. “But it is also this designation by God that begins
   the trouble (25.29-34; 27.1-45) that is to mark
   Jacob’s entire life. This is the second reality which
   holds the narrative in tension.... He has conflicts
   with all those around him. It is the juxtaposition of
   special designation and a life of conflict that is the
   mainspring of the narrative.” [Brueggemann,
   Genesis: Interpretation, 205]
 The Paradox of the Jacob Narratives
3. “It has been called ‘the Jacob story,’ but one
   must ask if the title is correct, for Isaac would
   the be almost ignored in the series of narratives.
   Actually the number of real Isaac stories is very
   small. But since our block of Jacob narratives
   is titled ‘these are the descendants of Isaac,’
   and since this narrative complex ends with the
   report of Isaac’s death (35.29), it is much better
   to think of the whole as an Isaac story intended
   by the collector.” [von Rad, Genesis: Old
   Testament Library, 263]
     Contrast with the Abrahamic
1. The Abraham narratives deals with a
  “vertical” = father-to-son movement
  while the Jacob narratives is a struggle
  within his own generation; a “horizontal”
  = brother-to-brother movement.
  Therefore is the realistic depiction of
  power and family position.
     Contrast with the Abrahamic
2. Abraham narrative deals with the issue
  of promise and fulfillment, while it is the
  blessing that is the main point of the
  Jacob narratives. Westermann points out
  that promise is dealt with in the Jacob
  narratives only in: 28.3-4; 28.23-25;
Westermann on Jacob Narratives
The blessing is central in the rivalry between the
  brothers both at the beginning in ch. 27 and
  again at the end when the brothers meet on
  Jacob’s return (hkrb = gift). It is central too,
  though in a different way, in the two insets, the
  blessing of the cattle, chs 29-31, and of the
  womb, 29.31-30.24. A blessing is wrested in the
  struggle in one of the encounters with God
  (32.24-32). It plays an essential role in the
  conflict between Jacob and
Westermann on Jacob Narratives
Laban in that God has blessed Laban for
Jacob’s sake (30.27, 30). When Jacob and Esau
meet, Jacob points to his children whom God
has bestowed on him (35.5, 11). The promise of
aid is close to the blessing, particularly with its
formula, ‘I will do you good’ (32.9, 12).
[Westermann, Genesis 12-36, A Commentary,
   God’s Presence & Promise
1. “H. Gunkel takes four main blocks as his
  point of departure: Jacob and Esau,
  Jacob and Laban, divine manifestations,
  Jacob’s children.” [Westermann, Genesis
  12-36, 406] (25.19-34; 27.1-45; 27.46-
  22-32); (29.1-30; 20.25-31.55); (29.31-
   God’s Presence & Promise
2. “A de Pury regards the Jacob story in its
  entirety as a coherent unified narrative
  which has its center in the divine
  manifestation of Gen 28 with its promise
  and vow....” [Westermann, Genesis 12-36,
  A Commentary, 406]
   God’s Presence & Promise
3. Brueggemann follows closely Gunkel, but
   sees the center in the “Births” (29.31-30.24).
   He writes, “ the center, is the narrative
   of the births which moves from barrenness
   (29.31) to the birth of Joseph (30.24). It is
   the birth of Joseph which marks a turn in
   the entire narrative (30.34). After that
   event, Jacob, looks toward the land and
   toward his brother Esau.” [Brueggemann,
   Genesis: Interpretation, 211]
  Jacob: The Moral Issue
"Jacob as a young man is not portrayed in a
  favorable light. First he acquires the birthright
  through his heartless exploitation of his own
  brother's misery; then he purloins the
  patriarchal blessing by means of crafty
  deception practiced upon his blind and aged
  father. In both instances, the outcome is legally
  valid and irrevocable, notwithstanding the
  unsavory aspects of Jacob's actions. it is
Jacob: The Moral Issue
evident that the successful application of
shrewd opportunism was well respected in the
ancient Near East as it is in contemporary
society. The two incidents also appear to betray
a thoroughly formalistic conception of law in
which the strict outward adherence to certain
practices or principles is decisive, irrespective
of the true spirit of the law and in disregard of
moral considerations. It is remarkable,
Jacob: The Moral Issue
therefore, that the biblical narrative has
succeeded in weaving the stories into the larger
biography of Jacob in such a way as to add up
to an unqualified condemnation of Jacob's
  Jacob: The Moral Issue
. . . the function of the divine oracle that Rebekah
    received during her difficult pregnancy is to
    disengage the fact of Jacob's election by God
    from the improper means that he employed in
    his impatience to formalize his predestined,
    independent right to be Isaac's heir. His claim
    rests wholly and solely on God's revealed
    predetermination, and the presence of the
    oracle constitutes a moral judgment on Jacob's
  Jacob: The Moral Issue
This clear, if implicit, censure is brought out all the more
  forcefully in the cycle of biographic tales. Scripture
  says of Abraham that he died at "a good ripe age, old
  and contented" (25.8). Isaac is similarly described as
  dying "in ripe old age" (35.29). But such notice is
  singularly and revealingly lacking in the case of Jacob.
  This patriarch can only report that the years of his life
  have been "few and hard (47.9). The reference, of
  course, is to the unrelieved series of trials and
  tribulations that dogged his footsteps form the day he
  deceived his father until the last years of his life.
  Jacob: The Moral Issue
The quite, mild, home-loving Jacob, favorite of
  his mother, was forced into precipitous flight,
  to be exiled for twenty years. Indeed, the
  catalogue of misfortunes that befell him reads
  like the retributive counterpart, measure for
  measure, of his own offenses, Just as he
  exploited his brother's plight, so Laban exploits
  his, He took advantage of his father's
  permanent darkness to misrepresent himself as
Jacob: The Moral Issue
his elder brother, so Laban makes use of the
darkness to substitute the elder sister for the
younger. When Jacob admonishes Laban with
the accusatory "Why did you deceive me?"
(29.25), he echoes the very Hebrew stem rmh
used about himself by Isaac to Esau (27.35).
The perpetrator of deception is now the victim,
hoist with his own petard.
  Jacob: The Moral Issue
When Jacob finally makes his escape from Haran
 and sets out for home after two decades in the
 service of his scoundrelly uncle, he finds his
 erstwhile employer in hot and hostile pursuit of
 him (chap. 31). No sooner has this trouble
 passed than he feels his life to be in mortal
 danger once again from Esau (32.4-33.16).
 Arriving at last at the threshold of Canaan, he
 experiences the mysterious night encounter
 that leaves him with a strained hip (32.25-33).
  Jacob: The Moral Issue
His worst troubles await him in the land of
  Canaan. His only daughter, Dinah, is violated
  (chap. 34); his beloved wife, Rachel, dies in
  childbirth (35.16-20); and the first son she bore
  him is kidnapped and sold into slavery by his
  own brothers. In perpetrating this inhuman act,
  the brothers use an article of his clothing in
  order to deceive their father (37.25-33), just as
  Jacob years before had used Esau's clothes to
  mislead Isaac.
  Jacob: The Moral Issue
All the foregoing makes quite clear Scripture's
  condemnation of Jacob's early moral lapses. An
  explicit denunciation could hardly be more
  effective or more scathing than Jacob's
  unhappy biography. Nevertheless, expressions
  of outright censure of Jacob's behavior are
  found in prophetic literature. Hosea tells us
  (12.3) that the Lord once "punished Jacob for
  his conduct, / Requited him for his deeds." And
  Jeremiah warns (9.3): "beware, every man of
Jacob: The Moral Issue
his friend! / Trust not a brother! / For every
brother takes advantage, / Every friend is base
in his dealings." it can hardly be doubted that
in coupling the term "brother" with an unusual
phrase life (akov ya(akov,
"take advantage," the prophet intends to signal
to the bearer an association with Jacob's
treatment of Esau, a notorious example of such
base behavior.
 Jacob: The Moral Issue
All of the above provide ample evidence
 that Jacob's duplicitous behavior with
 regard to the birthright was totally
 unacceptable to the biblical Narrator."
 [Sarna, Nahum, Genesis: The JPS Torah Commentary, 397-398]
     Thematic Outline
     Thematic Outline
26.34-35; 27.46; 28.1-9 JACOB’S
     Thematic Outline
     Thematic Outline
     Thematic Outline
  Palistrophy & the Jacob Narratives

25:19–34      First encounters of Jacob and Esau   A
26:1–33       Isaac and the Philistines            B
26:34–28:9    Jacob cheats Esau of his blessing    C
28:10–22      Jacob meets God at Bethel            D
29:1–14       Jacob arrives at Laban’s house       E
29:15–30      Jacob marries Leah and Rachel        F
29:31–30:24   Birth of Jacob’s sons                G
  Palistrophy & the Jacob Narratives

30:25–31:1      Jacob outwits Laban                   F1
31:2–32:1       Jacob leaves Laban                    E1
32:2–3          Jacob meets angels of God at Mahanaim D1
32:4–33:20      Jacob returns Esau’s blessing         C1
34:1–31         Dinah and the Hivites                 B1
35:1–29         Journey’s end for Jacob and Isaac A1

[Wenham, Gordon, Word Biblical Commentary, Volume 2: Genesis 16-
  50, (Dallas, Texas: Word Books, Publisher) 1998]
 Marriage of Isaac & Rebekah: Gen 24
24.1-9 Abraham Commissions his Servant
24.10-14 The Servant’s Prayer
  24.12-14: first person to in the scriptures to
    pray for personal guidance.
24.15-27 The Encounter with Rebekah
24.28-61 The Betrothal
  24.34-39 Servant’s speech
24.62-67 Rebekah and Isaac
 BIRTH OF ESAU & JACOB: Gen 25.19-28
• Purpose: “. . . the introduction to chs. 25-
  36 that the redactor has inserted shows
  clearly what this part of the patriarchal
  story is meant to be about: rivalry,
  opposition, is part of the coexistence of
  brothers in a family. The reason for it is
  that there are privileges which are at the
  same time vulnerable.” [Westermann, Claus, Genesis
  12-36: A Commentary, 418]
     BIRTHRIGHT: Gen 25.29-34
"hkrb “firstborn’s rights.” The first son in
the family was held in especial esteem in
Israel; he was regarded as the first fruits
of his father’s strength (49:3) and
dedicated to God (Exod 22:28 [29]). He
was in turn specially privileged during
his lifetime (Gen 43:33) and when the
inheritance was divided up. Deut 21:17
        BIRTHRIGHT: Gen 25.29-34
provides that the firstborn shall receive a
double share, that is, twice as much as
any other brother, of his father’s
property. Similar customs are known in
other parts of the ancient Near East, but
since it was not universal practice, we
cannot be sure that it is presupposed
here.” [Wenham, Gordon, Word Biblical Commentary, Volume 2:
Genesis 16-50, (Dallas, Texas: Word Books, Publisher) 1998]
Firstborn Cheated of his Blessing:
         Gen 26.34-28.9
  26.34-35 Esau’s Marriages
  27.1-4 Isaac and Esau
  27.5-17 Rebekah and Jacob
  27.18-29 Isaac and Jacob
  27.30-41 Isaac and Esau
  27.42-45 Rebekah and Jacob
Firstborn Cheated of his Blessing:
         Gen 26.34-28.9
  27.46 Rebekah and Isaac
  28.1-5 Isaac and Jacob
  28.6-9 Esau’ New wife

• "The relevant texts about Isaac's age are
  25.20, 26; 26.34; 31.38." [Sarna, Nahum,
  Genesis: The JPS Torah Commentary, 364]
  Note also 35.29!
Firstborn Cheated of his Blessing:
         Gen 26.34-28.9
Form: "27:1–40 constitutes a type scene, the
  death-bed blessing scene. Other examples in
  the OT include Gen 48–49; 50:24–25; Deut
  31–34; Josh 23–24; 1 Kgs 2:1–9; . . . .
  Usually when the great man knows he is
  about to die, he summons his nearest male
  relatives and blesses them. But here, as
  Keukens (BN 19 [1982] 43–56) points out,
  Isaac professes to be
Firstborn Cheated of his Blessing:
         Gen 26.34-28.9
 ignorant of when he is going to die and then
 summons only one of his sons for blessing.
 The whole procedure is thus flawed from
 the outset." [Wenham, Gordon, Word Biblical Commentary,
 Volume 2: Genesis 16-50, (Dallas, Texas: Word Books, Publisher)
  Jacob at Bethel: Gen 28.10-22

28.10-15 Dream Revelation
28.16-19 Bethel
28.20-22 The Vow

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