How the Story of Jacob was Created

Discussion about the Hebrew Bible, Septuagint, pseudepigrapha, Philo, Josephus, Talmud, Dead Sea Scrolls, archaeology, etc.
Post Reply
Posts: 165
Joined: Mon Apr 15, 2019 9:39 am

How the Story of Jacob was Created

Post by klewis » Thu May 09, 2019 4:32 am

The following represents several snapshots representing phases of the construction of the story of Jacob. We can see that it began with a parallel formation from a small section of Moses' life. From there the story grew many times its size. The result is that we can produce logical drafts of the writing process and thereby telling the story of the story making process.

Step 1: The creation of a story that has two parts to it, such as the marriage of Moses.

Step 2: Through parallel formation create a second story. In this case it is the marriage of Moses and the marriage of Jacob.

Moses' Marriage Jacob's Marriage
Prior to Moses’ Marriage Prior to Jacob’s Marriage (Jacob Deceives -- see below)
* Moses kills an Egyptian (Exod 2:12).
  • Moses tries to hide his crime from the Hebrews, his brothers (Exod 2:11-13).
  • Moses fails to hide his crime from Pharaoh (Exod 2:14).
  • Moses flees to a far away land so that Pharaoh does not kill him (Exod 2:15).

  • Jacob swindles Esau into giving him his birthright (Gen 25:27-34).
  • Jacob swindles Isaac into giving Esau’s blessing to him (Gen 27:1- 40).
    * Isaac Dies (Gen 27:41).
  • Jacob flees to a far away land so that Esau does not kill him (Gen 27:42-44).
Moses Encounters is Bride To Be Jacob Encounters His Bride To Be (Jacob Deceived -- see below)
  • Moses ends up at a well (Exod 2:15).
  • Shepherds try and stop the seven daughters from watering their goats (Exod 2:16-17).
  • Moses defends the daughters and help them water their goats (Exod 2:17).
  • The daughters went home and did not tell their father (Exod 2:18).
  • Their father sent his daughters to invite Moses to dinner (Exod 2:19).
  • They had a meal – implied (Exo 2:20-21).
  • Moses marries Zipporah (Exod 2:21).
  • A statement about Moses’ son (Exod 2:22).
  • Jacob ends up at a well (Gen 29:1-5).
  • Shepherds wait for Rachel so that they can water their sheep (Gen 29:6-9).
  • Jacob assaults (kisses) Rachel (Gen 29:10-11).
  • Rachel returns home and tells her father (Gen 29:12).
  • Laban, Rachel’s father, ran out to meet Jacob (Gen 29:13).
  • There was a meal (29:22).
  • Jacob marries (29:23-28).
  • A statement regarding the naming of Jacob’s sons (Gen 29:32:-35).

*Parallel elements out of order.

Step 3: Expand the second story, the marriage of Jacob, by parallel formation between the first half and the second half of the story.

Jacob Deceives Jacob Deceived
  • Jacob trades a cup of soup for Esau’s birthright making him the first born son (Gen 25:27-34).
  • Isaac cannot see well (Gen 27:1).
  • Rebekah, the mother, enlists the aid of the youngest son to take the eldest son’s blessing (Gen 27:5-25).
  • Isaac gives Esau’s blessing to Jacob (Gen 27:26-29).
  • Isaac realizes he has been deceived and Esau demands another blessing (27:30-41).
  • Isaac gives Esau a second blessing which he did not like (Gen 27:39).
  • Laban trades Jacob seven years of labor for Laban’s second born daughter (Gen 29:18).
  • Jacob did not see that he married Leah (Gen 29:22-25).
  • Laban, the father, enlists Leah, the eldest daughter, in tricking Jacob into marrying her (Gen 29:22-25).
  • Jacob consummates the marriage with Leah (Gen 29:23).
  • Jacob realizes he has been deceived and demands the youngest daughter (Gen 29:25-27).
  • Laban gives Jacob his second daughter with the condition that he works another seven years (Gen 29:27-30).

Parallel formation shows us how the marriage of Jacob is larger than the marriage of Moses.

Step 4: Why have one story of Jacob when you can make two of them through parallel formation.

Jacob’s Flight From Esau to Laban Jacob’s Flight From Esau to Laban
Jacob Takes Esau’s Birthright (Gen 25:21-34) (J)
  • Jacob second born takes the birthright of the first born (Gen 25:30-34).
  • Jacob sells Esau some stew for his birthright. Esau ate the lentil stew and despised his birthright (Gen 25:33-34).
Jacob Takes Laban’s Son’s Wealth (Gen 30:26 - 31:3) (J)
  • Jacob, son-in-law, take Laban’s wealth from his sons (Gen 31:1-2).
  • Laban’s daughters complain that Laban used up all the money that he earned by selling them to Jacob. They had no inheritance and were treated as foreigners by their father (Gen 31:14-16).
Isaac, Rebekah, and Abimelech (Gen 26:1-34) (J)
  • Isaac’s flock grew in number (Gen 26:12).
  • Isaac became mightier than Abimelech (Gen 26:16).
  • Isaac and Abimelech part ways (Gen 26:31).
Jacob and Laban (Gen 31:4-19) (E)
  • Jacob’s flock grew in size (Gen 31:4-11).
  • Jacob became mightier than Laban (Gen 31:16).
  • Jacob and Laban part ways (Gen 31:12-19).
Jacob Takes Esau’s Wealth / Identity (Gen 27:1-45) (J)
  • *Isaac, old and nearly blind, calls Esau and Esau responds “Here I am.” (Gen 27:1).
  • *Isaac tells Esau to hunt and return with a savory dish that Isaac may eat of it before he dies (Gen 27:2-4).
  • Esau leaves for the hunt (Gen 27:3-4)
  • Rebekah, conceives of a plot to steal Esau’s blessing when Esau is away (Gen 27:5-17).
  • Jacob deceives Isaac into giving him Esau’s blessing and then leaves (Gen 27:18-30).
  • Esau discovers that Jacob took his blessing (Gen 27:30-34).
  • Esau desires to kill Jacob (Gen 27:41).
  • Jacob takes everything Esau has (Gen 27:36).
  • Isaac makes Jacob Esau’s Lord (Gen 27:37).
Jacob Sends All His Wealth to Esau (Gen 31:20 -55; 32:1 - 21) (JE)
  • The angel of the Lord in a dream calls Jacob and he responds “Here I am.” (Gen 31:11).
  • The angel tells Jacob to take his possessions and go to the land of his birth (Gen 31:13).
  • Jacob arose early and packed up everything to see Isaac (Gen 31:17-18).
  • Rachel steals Laban’s idol as he is sheering the sheep (Gen 31:19).
  • Jacob deceives Laban by not telling him that he was running away (Gen 31:20).
  • Laban discovers that one of his idols was taken (Gen 31:19, 30).
  • Jacob tells that he will kill the one who stoled his idol (Gen 31:31-32).
  • Jacob sends everything to Esau (Gen 31:1-21).
  • Jacob calls Esau his lord (Gen 32:4).
Isaac Warns Jacob not to Marry Canaanites Gen 27:46 - 28:9 (P)
  • Isaac tells Jacob not to marry any Canaanites (Gen 28:1).
  • Isaac blesses Jacob that he may be fruitful and multiple (Gen 28:1, 3).
Laban Warns Jacob Not to Marry Anyone (Gen 31:45-55)
  • Laban warns Jacob be faithful to his daughters and not to marry anyone else (Gen 31:50).
  • Laban blesses his daughters and grandsons (Gen 31:55).
Jacob’s Stairway (Gen 28:10-22) (JE)
  • Jacob, all alone, dreamed of a stairway to heaven (Gen 28:11).
  • Jacob awakens and names the place Bethel (Gen 28:16-22).
Jacob Wrestles with God (Gen 32:22 - 32) (E)
  • Jacob, left alone wrestled with a man all night (Gen 32:24).
  • Jacob awakens and names the place Peniel; where he saw God face to face and lived (Gen 32:30).
Jacob Sees Rachael (Gen 29:1 - 30:25) (JE)
  • Jacob sees Rachel coming with the sheep (Gen 29:4).
  • Jacob kissed Rachel and lifted his voice and wept (Gen 29:11).
Jacob Sees Esau (Gen 33:1-20) (E)
  • Jacob sees Esau coming with 400 men (Gen 33:1).
  • Esau kissed Jacob and wept (Gen 33:4).

These parallels are taken from Journal of Higher Criticism, Vol 14, Issue 1.

Posts: 471
Joined: Sat Mar 08, 2014 6:27 pm

Re: How the Story of Jacob was Created

Post by semiopen » Fri May 10, 2019 5:07 am

Probably Joseph will be chapter 5 here, but there is an interesting parallel with Rachel stealing the Teraphim and Joseph framing Benjamin in Egypt with the wine cup he used for divination (Genesis 44).
It is the very one from which my master drinks and which he uses for divination. It was a wicked thing for you to do!'" (Gen. 44:5 TNK)
‎הֲל֣וֹא זֶ֗ה אֲשֶׁ֙ר יִשְׁתֶּ֤ה אֲדֹנִי֙ בּ֔וֹ וְה֕וּא נַחֵ֥שׁ יְנַחֵ֖שׁ בּ֑וֹ הֲרֵעֹתֶ֖ם אֲשֶׁ֥ר עֲשִׂיתֶֽם׃

נַחֵ֥שׁ יְנַחֵ֖שׁ

Divination but also serpent -

‎וְהַנָּחָשׁ֙ הָיָ֣ה עָר֔וּם מִכֹּל֙ חַיַּ֣ת הַשָּׂדֶ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר עָשָׂ֖ה יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהִ֑ים (Gen. 3:1 WTT)

Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made... (Gen. 3:1 JPS)
The 1985 guys decided "of the field" didn't belong with "beasts" anymore for some reason.
Now the serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild beasts that the LORD God had made. (Gen. 3:1 TNK)
That is my favorite, maybe because I feel a certain pride of discovery in noticing it, but it is relatively well known in Jewish exegesis I think, despite it being more or less unknown to the general public.

Posts: 165
Joined: Mon Apr 15, 2019 9:39 am

Re: How the Story of Jacob was Created

Post by klewis » Sun May 12, 2019 9:16 am

Thanks for the parallel.

The story of Joseph was formed the same way that Jacob's story was formed with a few exceptions. The Moses-Joseph parallel was taken from Exodus 1:15 - 2:10. The complete story of Joseph, is also a parallel to Jacob's story except that Jacob's story is structurally a simple parallel and Joseph's story is structurally an inverted parallel.

Post Reply