By Michael Fishbane
An exploration of key texts representing using 3 specific literary parts within the Hebrew Bible: narrative textual content; sermons; prayers and speeches.
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What is the relationship between the acquisition of knowledge and death? Could the man, who knew nothing about knowledge, or life, or restraint, have been expected to understand this divine prohibition? Surely the very commandment is confusing and unexpected. However, when Genesis 2:4ff. is read together with Genesis 1:l-2:4a, the turn of events effected by the prohibition becomes more understandable. The very hierarchy of the divine dominion described in the opening lines of Genesis, particularly with respect to Elohim's lordship over man, implies a world of boundaries and subservience.
Between these two poles is the action: man schemes with man as the action builds from earth to heaven; God responds, confers with his pantheon, and the action shifts back to the earth. At the outset, men talk to each other in one language; and a t the end, no one understands his neighbor. In the opening geographical statement there is migration, settlement and common speech. The final notice is marked by a violent spatial dispersion correlated with the fracture of language and communication. The vessels of speech and space are shattered by human action.
Soon thereafter, Jacob deceives Isaac as well, wresting from his father the patriarchal blessing. Jacob is "put up" to this last gambit by Rebekkah, who then advises him to flee Esau's wrath and go to Haran in Aram, where her relatives live. She induces Isaac, moreover, to bless that departurewhich is to lead Jacob to the shrine of Beth-el, where he encounters the God of his fathers, and to Laban's home in Haran, where he indentures himself for Leah and Rachel. Rachel, his favorite, is initially barren and suffers shame before her fertile sister.