Birth of a Nation
The metaphor of national birth is probably the most resonant anthropomorphic image in national biographies from antiquity to modern times. In fact, it is so resonant one tends to forget that nations are not born literally but rather are imagined in these terms. Every nation, however, has its own birth story, or birth stories. The Book of Exodus provides an intriguingly complex representation of Israel's birth in keeping with the preliminary imaginings of the nation in Genesis. The opening verses of Exodus 1 make clear that God's reiterated promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—the grand national annunciation scenes of Genesis—are finally realized. The descendants of Jacob, whose names are listed solemnly, multiply at an uncanny pace and turn into a “mighty” nation: the nation of the “children of Israel. ” 1 “Israel” for the first time is not merely Jacob's second, elevated, name but rather a collective designation of a burgeoning community that “fills” the land. But then we discover that God's darker
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Publication information: Book title: The Biography of Ancient Israel: National Narratives in the Bible. Contributors: Ilana Pardes - Author. Publisher: University of California Press. Place of publication: Berkeley, CA. Publication year: 2000. Page number: 16.
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