#76. Was it 66 OR 70 OR 75 males from Jacob’s loins who came to Egypt? (Gen 46:26 vs Gen 46:27, Ex 1:5, Deut 10:22 vs Acts 7:14)

The passage in question is Genesis 46:8-27 which breaks from the narrative to offer yet another genealogy: “And these are the names of the children of Israel who came to Egypt…” We have seen elsewhere that such interest in genealogies, dates, and ages were evidence of the Priestly writer’s hand. Yet this passage also evidences editorial reworking, possibly even done by a scribal hand during the recopying of the manuscript. InRead More

#64. Does Jacob name Bethel before he leaves Canaan OR on his return? (Gen 28: 11-19 vs Gen 35:11-15)
#65. Does Jacob erect a stone-pillar altar to the god at Bethel before he leaves Canaan OR when he returns? (Gen 28:18 vs Gen 35:7, 35:14)

The book of Genesis gives 2 different stories about how and when Bethel was named, which was an important cultic center in northern Israel, until its destruction in 722 BC by the Assyrians. Stories about its founding were no doubt important and most likely played a prominent role in cultic festivals at Bethel. These stories were told from generation to generation with variations in narrative details and emphases until they were finally writtenRead More

#62. Is it at Penuel OR Bethel that El (Shaddai) changes Jacob’s name to Israel? (Gen 32:29 vs Gen 35:10)

The biblical stories of the patriarch Jacob preserve two accounts of his name change to Israel: Genesis 32:23-33 and Genesis 35:9-15. Unfortunately these two traditions do not agree on when and where this name change occurred, at Penuel before Jacob enters Canaan or at Bethel after he has entered Canaan. Both Penuel and Bethel were important northern towns and each one perhaps sought to traditionally align itself with stories about its founding patriarch Jacob.Read More

#59. Does Jacob split up his camp in order to save half of them from a vengeful Esau OR in order to placate Esau with an offering of livestock? (Gen 32:7-12 vs Gen 32:14-22)

The reconciliation story between Jacob and Esau is also variously told in Genesis 32, as we saw with the Jacob and Laban story (#55-56). In one version (J) Jacob’s return to the land of Canaan is presented under the ominous fear and threat that Esau will dispense his revenge and strike him (see #48-49 for the story). Compounded by the account of his messenger claiming that Esau is approaching him withRead More

#58. Does the naming of Mahanaim derive from Jacob’s vision of the angels of God OR the division of Jacob’s entourage into two camps? (Gen 32:2-3 vs Gen 32:8-9)

Mahanaim is supposedly located along the Jabbok across from Penuel and there seems to have been a couple traditions associated with the origin of its name, which in Hebrew is a dual noun meaning “camps” or “two camps.” Apparently the Elohist tradition from the north accredits Jacob with its naming because, as with his vision in Bethel when he left the land of Canaan (Gen 28:11-22), so too here upon entry Jacob seesRead More

#57. Is the mound of stones set up to ratify the covenant between Jacob and Laban called Gilead OR Mizpah? (Gen 31:48 vs Gen 31:49)

The book of Genesis preserves two different etiologies—origin stories—for the naming of the boundary marker set up to ratify the covenant-treaty made between Jacob (Israel) and Laban (Aram). Presumably they were originally from two different oral traditions that were both preserved at a later time. In one version, it was the mound of stones (gal), which served as the symbol of the covenant between, not only Jacob and Laban, but remembering that these names are eponymous,Read More

#55. Does Jacob initiate the spotted-speckled sheep and goat deception OR does Laban? (Gen 30:31-33 vs Gen 31:7-8)
#56. Is it through Jacob’s own cunning tactics that spotted and speckled sheep and goats are engendered OR is this God’s doing? (Gen 30:31-43 vs Gen 31:7-13)

The text of Genesis 30-32 as it now stands is actually a compilation of two different tellings of the same story. These different versions (the Yahwist and the Elohist) have been carefully stitched together by later editors that they past undetected by the casual reader. Nevertheless, attentive readers and scholars have long noticed narrative inconsistencies, contradictions, and differences in style, theological emphasis, and the portrait of Jacob, which in the end have revealed twoRead More

Contradictory Stories about Jacob: Yawhist and Elohist storytellers

This post follows from a previous post on the stories of Abraham (#44—scroll down), and will serve us as a brief introduction to the duplicate stories about Jacob by the northern Elohist and the southern Yahwist that we will start to look at tomorrow. We will then look at how the later Priestly writer also modified a few of these stories and amended them to the JE compilation. Remember stories were told, modified, and retold, and then later collected,Read More

#48. Is Jacob’s motive for leaving Beersheba fear of Esau’s revenge OR Isaac’s insistence that Jacob take a wife from Paddan-Aram? (Gen 27:41-45 vs Gen 28:1-5)
#49. Does Jacob go to Haran OR Paddan-Aram? (Gen 27:43, 28:10 vs Gen 28:2, 28:7)

Following what was said in #46-47, we now learn that the story of Jacob’s flight and the reason(s) why he leaves Beersheba are also variously given: to flee Esau’s wrath (Gen 27:41-45) and to find a suitable wife from among his own people (Gen 28:1-2). Additionally, the text also narrates Jacob’s departure twice and to two different locales: in Genesis 28:7 we are informed that he goes to Paddan-Aram, but then at Genesis 28:10 to Haran. Again,Read More

#46. Is Jacob blessed by a bedridden, blind, and old Isaac over a ceremonial meal OR by a relatively still youthful Isaac whose eyes are good via the transference of the blessing made to Abraham by El Shaddai? (Gen 27:1-29, 27:41 vs Gen 28:1-5)
#47. Does Jacob’s blessing come by means of deceiving and tricking his father Isaac OR is it knowingly and consciously given to Jacob by his father Isaac? (Gen 27:1-29 vs Gen 28:1-5)

The book of Genesis, as it has come down to us, recounts the blessing of Jacob on two separate occasions: Genesis 27:1-29 and Genesis 28:1-5. They are in fact doublets, and at this point it should not be surprising to learn that they are each a part of two, once separate, textual traditions which were later grafted together, and as a result created these contradictions. In the first account (Gen 27:1-29),Read More