Sunday, December 14, 2008

More notes on the man who wasn't a man

The argument that Jacob encounted himself on the far side of the Yabok stream on the night before his reunion with Esav is bolstered by a neat bit of exegesis. The verse reads:
וַיִּוָּתֵר יַעֲקֹב, לְבַדּוֹ; וַיֵּאָבֵק אִישׁ עִמּוֹ, עַד עֲלוֹת הַשָּׁחַר
And Jacob was left alone, and a mand wrestled with him until the break of dawn
How can Jacob be described as alone, if a man was there? In what sense was he alone if he had a wrestling partner? Elsewhere, Jacob is described as אִישׁ תָּם, a man of integrity, yet nowhere in the subsequent stories does he ever demonstrate that characteristic. Instead he is depicted as a bargainer, and swindler. Could the wrestling match have been the final battle between the two different Jacobs, between the אִישׁ תָּם and the "one who acts crookedly?"

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