Bible Review 2:1, Spring 1986

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 in accordance with the Bible’s usual meaning of tām (’ îš unquestionably means “man”), we would say that Jacob was a “perfect man,” a “blameless man,” a “man of integrity” or an “innocent man.”

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