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GENESIS — 2:24 flesh

GEN331 [A] woman… can transmit the man’s essence to another man who lies with her, while for her part, he absorbs her essence. It is not lightly that the tradition in [this verse] describes man and woman as becoming one flesh, nor surprising that men become unclean by having intercourse with a woman who is unclean Leviticus 15:24. NIDITCH 85


GENESIS — 4:8 killed

GEN490 In discussing the roots of war and human beings’ reflections upon killing in war, the seminal contributions of René Girard and Walter Burkert should be taken into consideration. Girard and Burkert seek to explain the “formative antecedents” (Burkert, 1987:212) of central aspects of human culture, which they perceive to be rooted in the act of killing, an act that is later ritualized, centralized, and repeated. For Burkert, the formative “dark event” (Burkert’s comments in Hammerton-Kelly: 120) is set in the hunt for animal meat. Burkert suggests that the drive to obtain meat in order to live is a basic and fundamental aspect of primitive humankind’s emergence as a species, a view for which he has been strongly criticized [See Burkert’s own comments (1987: 167) and Jonathan Z. Smith’s cogent critique (Hammerton– Kelly, 179, 202 –5)]. Humans, he suggests, suffer shock and guilt from shedding the blood of living beings (Burkert, 1983: 15 – 19, 21).  This guilt is resolved by the ritualization of the kill. Girard’s thesis suggests that the fundamental founding myth of human civilization is not grounded in the theme of breaching divine territoriality, played out in a narrative pattern of interdiction and disobedience as found in the tale of Adam and Eve (Genesis three) but in the theme of “mimetic violence” played out in the fratricidal pattern found in the tale of Cain and Abel (Genesis four). Girard writes that humans by their very nature desire to be like those they admire. The need to imitate entails desiring that which belongs to the other. This rivalry results in killing the other to obtain what is his or to supplant him. The victim’s relatives in turn kill the killer in vengeance, whose relatives then must take vengeance for him-all of which plants a chaotic and ceaselessly violent picture of what it is to be human. Girard suggests that, subconsciously, in order to break this cycle of deadly violence, the first humans found the alternative of scapegoating. (Girard; 1987: 121 – 29) He writes “men can never share peacefully the object they desire, but can share hatred.” The scapegoated victim destroyed by collective violence provides the outlet for and the escape from mimetically induced perpetual violence. (1987:128). NIDITCH 24


GENESIS — 12:20 sent

GEN797 Deception is one of the ways marginal people imagine themselves improving their situation at the expense of those with greater power, as in the many underdog tales of Genesis or the Afro-American tradition of trickster-tales (Niditch, 1987: 44 – 50). The sons of Jacob use their own wits to succeed. God’s help is not mentioned. And yet, their success is of an unstable variety as are all tricksters’ victories. Abram deceives Pharaoh only to be thrown out of town [this verse], Jacob deceives Esau and suffers exile and the prospect of again confronting his brother, and so on. The old trickster himself, Jacob, warns his hot-headed suns at genesis 34:30: “you have brought trouble upon me by making me hated among the inhabitants of the land… they will gather against me, strike me, and I shall be destroyed, myself and my household.” The suns have the last word, again an appeal to honor based upon the man’s capacity to protect his women.” Should he be allowed to treat our sister like a harlot?!” The victory, how are, is not neat or final as the Karen text would have it. This tale of war comes from the time and people who enjoy and find relevant the image of Israelites as tricksters who defy those who would control them or there is. They do not defy the enemy directly, but employee with, while, and deception and assume that no victories are final or neat. Theirs is a world-review it Differs strongly of the bardic text NIDITCH 110-1


GENESIS — 14:2 war

GEN812 If Genesis 14 does not preserve a record of a battle of Abram or provide a guide to how wars were really fought at some point in history of ancient Israel, this text does record how its author pictures a battle of Abram, and that image is filled with informative significance for understanding the history of ideas of war in Israelite culture. The patriarch is portrayed as socially equivalent to the warrior kings around him, but a leader who undertakes war only for defensive purposes to right an injustice, and who does not seek to profit from the battle.  The author who creates such an image of Abram would presumably believe10 in the use of military power for moral purposes. This already says a great deal. NIDITCH 12


GENESIS — 22:12 not

GEN1139 Spiegel, The Last Trial, New York: Schocken 1967 and most scholars read Genesis 22 as a condemnation of human offerings since, dramatically, Abraham’s hand is staid…, but does the text condemn human sacrifice or do we want to read it that way? … No etiology is found such as “Hence we do not offer our children in sacrifice…,” no commentary directs this tale in a direction critical of child sacrifice. Rather, life is God’s to give and take.   He may on occasion demand the most valuable sacrifice a person can offer, a human who is his own child. Abraham’s son is redeemed, a ram is substituted, as the Israelites’ first-born are spared in the tale of Exodus, the blood on the doorpost being an adequate token substitute (or were the Egyptian children adequate to satiate the Destroyer’s appetite?). Redemption and sacrifice are the two options, but the deity is imagined not always to redeem. Even when he redeems, something else is offering instead. The banned person is a sort of human sacrifice that cannot be redeemed, but if someone should dare to withhold God’s herem, he himself may become the unwilling substitute as in the prophet’s interpretation of the Syrian king Ben-Hadad’s escape from death (1 Kings 20). As the tradition of human sacrifice is a recurring theme in Judaism, so the ban-as-sacrifice tradition is an ongoing thread in ancient Israelite religion. The ideology of the ban is thus not an ancient or primitive view of war that is later totally rejected, for Isaiah 34 testifies to its presence in a quite late poetic text, the symbols still intact. So Spigel shows how the notion of divine forgiveness through the death of a child surfaces in the 11th-century reflections on the crusade. NIDITCH 46


GENESIS — 34:2 force

GEN1413 Dinah who has gone to visit some of the non-Israelite neighbor women, (literally “the daughters of the land”) is raped by Shechem, Son of Hamor the Hittite, prince of the area.  The Hebrew reads he took her, lay (with) her, and raped her. The “rape” term literally means to afflict or oppress – thus are the Israelites treated by Pharaoh in Egypt. In spite of the etymology of rape, the biblical narrator does not treat Shechem’s rape as an act of violence and considers it compatible with love. At least so Shechem’s attitude is portrayed. The language of Genesis 34:3 thus softens: “His (Shechem’s) soul clung to Dinah … he loved the girl and spoke coaxingly to her (literally ‘upon her heart’),” and asked his father to obtain her for his wife. The language of victimization resumes in Genesis 34:5. Jacob heard that he (Shechem) had sullied his daughter, literally “rendered her unclean.” The body, especially the woman’s body, is a vessel that can be rendered unclean, a commodity, like an edible, that can be made unfit for consumption by improper use or storage. Jacob, the father, is silent about the matter, but Dinah’s brothers are enraged. The narrative paints a real difference between the more patient, acquiescent, deal-making old men and the impatient youths who grab what they want (in the case of Shechem) or are quick to vengeance (in the case of Dinah’s brothers) .… Shechem, they say, has committed an outrage in Israel.… the sons of Jacob and the point of view they represent—accused Shechem of acting in a barbarous fashion, breaking accepted rules of civilized interaction Genesis 34:7. Throughout, Dinah is called “daughter of Jacob,” for the injury is done to Jacob and his sons and not only to Dinah. Dinah herself recedes into the background and is mentioned only once more at the end of the tale, for though she is central to the story—without her there would be no plot—the story is not about her, but about the contest for honor and the struggle for power between two groups of men linked by her. NIDITCH 108-9


GENESIS — 34:27 despoiled

GEN1422 In this way, they employ trickery involving the seat of male reproductive power to despoil those who had despoiled their sister. The tale’s irony is grounded in themes of sexuality and vengeance. Sexual control, moreover, is a political matter. The brothers have restored the honor of Jacobs household and repossessed the woman, thereby rejecting Shechemite might overtures that would eliminated the difference between Israelite and Other, a contrast essential to the author’s self-definition. NIDITCH 109


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