Genesis Overview: Jacob's Return to Bethel &c

a) Jacob's Return to Bethel (35.1-8, 14-15 in JE)

35.1-5: Jacob no doubt left because of the unfortunate events in Succoth but it results from a command from God. It looks like a pilgrimage involving renunciation and purification, involving sexual asceticism and changing clothes. "Holiness in the Old Testament is least of all a special quality which can belong to men or things, but rather simply the state of belonging to God made possible ... by God's preceding choice or call." (p336). The pilgrimage is framed in terms of the cult, relating to the God of the Judges, referring back to Jacob (cf. 35.5), rather than the "God of the fathers" and is aware of syncretic pollution. It may relate to the transfer of the sanctuary from Shechem to Bethel cf. Joshua 24.1-25; Judges 20.26 f.

35.6-8, 14-15: The natural conclusion to the story in 35.14 combines JE with P, cf.  28.10 ff. The Deborah story is obscure.

b) God's Appearance at Bethel (35.9-13 in P)

35.9-13: This extract contains almost all P has to say about Jacob, confining itself, as elsewhere, to God's words and ordinances in sketchily historical garb.

c) Benjamin's Birth, Jacob's Sons & Isac’s Death (35.16-29)

35.16-18: There were no solid traditions to conclude the Jacob story, only "rubble": Rachel's death 35.16-20; Reuben's crimes 35.21-22; and a genealogy (p) 35.22b-29. The narrator did not think of Bethlehem as the place of Rachel's grave; 35.19 is a later gloss. Jacob also changed the etymology of the name from negative (relating to the early death in his life of his mother) to positive (quarter of heaven).

35.19-20: Burial lacks religious pathos.

35.21-22a: There is clearly something missing, partly made up for by 49.3 f.

VR gives no source for 35.9-22a.

35.22b-29: This table in P follows directly from 35.11 ff. The death of Isac cursory.

d) Edomite Lists (36.1-37.1 in P and J)

36.1-19: Entries from P's Toledoth list interpolated with sketchy narrative. Difference about Esau's wives in 26.34, 28.8 and 36.2 f. But these historically unreliable lists veer towards completeness rather than harmony.

36.20-30: An entangled and unreliable list.

36.31-37: The Edomites belong to the Aramean invasion, of which the Israelites were a part, c1200 BCE, but apart from Biblical sources we know nothing about them. They achieved statedom, with an elective kingship, long before Israel.

The last two lists are J not P.

37.1: The conclusion of Esau's Toledoth.

KC VI/14

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