The Ladder of Jacob: Ancient Interpretations of the Biblical Story of Jacob and His Children

By James L. Kugel | Go to book overview

NOTES

CHAPTER ONE
JACOB AND THE BIBLE'S ANCIENT INTERPRETERS

1This is the famous first question raised by the medieval commentator Rashi in his Genesis commentary (Gen. 1:1): why does not the Torah start with the first commandment given to Israel, namely, at Exod. 12:2? In so doing, however, he is repeating an earlier, midrashic tradition cited in the name of R. Isaac: Midrash Tanhuma (Buber ed.) Gen. 11 etc, see the list of sources cited in D. Heiman and Y. Shiloni, Yalqut Shim'oni (Hebrew) (Jerusalem: Mosad Kook, 1977), 2: 187.

2I have discussed these four assumptions more fully elsewhere; see, in particular, The Bible as It Was (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997), 1–49 (= Traditions of the Bible [Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998], 1–41). The connection of these four assumptions with, specifically, wisdom writings in ancient Israel was discussed in “Ancient Biblical Interpretation and the Biblical Sage,” in J. L. Kugel, Studies in Ancient Midrash (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991), 1–26.

3In particular, in Traditions of the Bible (see note 2). Methodologically, the present volume is intended more as a sequel to my In Potiphar's House (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1990), which also focused on the interrelationship of different sources.

4These titles also appear as subheads in the chapters of this book for easy reference; as subheads, names of motifs are always italicized to distinguish them from other, ordinary subheads. An index of motifs appears at the end of this volume.

5I discussed this motif in Traditions of the Bible, 299–301.

6Neither of these two phenomena is illustrated in the present study, but I have included them here for the sake of giving a complete account of how motifs interact; for further discussion of midrashic doublets and transfer of affects, see In Potiphar's House, 255–56.

7Traditions of the Bible, 351–401; 460–99; on Joseph, see In Potiphar's House, 28–154.

-223-

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