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Bible Review, Spring 1986


Special Section

The Jacob Cycle in Genesis


The Jacob cycle, heart of the patriarchal narratives, has moved, intrigued and inspired generations throughout the millennia. The characters are as real as we ourselves—and as elusive. Seen through different prisms, they continually reveal new facets. In this issue we examine these stories and the people in...Read more ›

The Jacob Cycle in Genesis

Deception for Deception

Who breaks the cycle?

By Richard Elliott Friedman

The biblical story of Jacob is artistically an exquisite creation, psychologically an intriguing portrait, and religiously an interpretive treasurehouse—but it has always been a problem. Even Sunday school children ask why the hero Jacob, the great patriarch, withholds food from his own brother Esau to get his...Read more ›


The Patriarch Jacob—An “Innocent Man”

Moral ambiguity in the biblical portrayal

By Carl D. Evans

At the beginning of the story of Jacob and Esau, the Bible tells us that Esau was a hunter, a man of the outdoors; Jacob, by contrast, was an ’ îš tām (Genesis 25:27), (pronounced ish tam). If we were to render this expression...Read more ›

Joseph—the Brilliant Failure

The true character of the biblical Joseph

By Maurice Samuel

Published 30 years ago, the following analysis of Joseph’s character has become a classic among a small group of cognoscenti. The author, Maurice Samuel, was a Jewish literary critic and novelist whose work appeared in Saturday Review of Literature and other journals. He died in 1972. According...Read more ›

Jacob Takes His Bride

The tales of Jacob

By Thomas Mann

Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife, for my days are fulfilled, that I may go in to her.” And Laban gathered together all the men of the place and made a feast. Now it came to pass in the evening, that he took Leah...Read more ›


By Eva Avi-Yonah

If I had a little sister, Rachel with sparkling eyes, wooed for seven years and loved by him, I’d swathe myself in her mantle, enwrap myself in her night. … One single night! Rachel, to taste his tender touch till day unmasks. One single night, till dawn...Read more ›

The Mothers of Israel

The patriarchal narratives from a feminist perspective

By J. Cheryl Exum

When one thinks of the narratives of Genesis 12–50, one thinks of the patriarchs, of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, and of their special role as bearers of God’s promise to the chosen people. But what of the matriarchs—Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel and Leah—what...Read more ›


Bible Books

Reviewed by Avigdor ShinanHenry O. ThompsonLeslie C. Allen