Friday, November 17, 2006

Recurring biblical stories

We've all realized, I'm certain, that the Torah appears to tell the same sort of stories over and over again. for example:

* Again and again the younger son wins out (Hevel, Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov, Yosef, Moshe, Dovid, Shlomo)

* Again and again, couples meet at a well (Rivka and Yitzchak's agent, Yaakov and Rachel, Moshe and Tzipora, and even Yehuda meets Tamar in a town with a name that puns on "well")

* Twice townspeople brutally accost a set of unwanted guests (Sodom and Gib'e-ah)

* Twice mystics end up in the desert where they receive important revelations, and both of these mystics ultimately die on the far side of the Jordan (Moshe and Eliyahu)

And, as I recently learned from Slate's wonderful series "Blogging the Bible" the story of how Yaakov took Eisav's blessing is retold in the first chapter of Kings. Money quote:
As in the Genesis version, a scheming mother finagles her vulnerable, possibly senile, old husband to favor a younger son over an older one. Like Jacob, younger son Solomon is a pawn, a passive participant in his mom's scheme. Solomon, fated to become the wisest man on earth, reveals no wisdom at all during this drama. He manages to become king without saying a single word!
What to make of this?

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