By Frederick E. Greenspahn
Even if primogeniture is often assumed to have prevailed during the global and firstborns are considered as probably to be successful, the various so much in demand figures in biblical literature are more youthful offspring, together with Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Samuel, David, and Solomon. Adducing facts from quite a lot of disciplines, this learn demonstrates that historic Israelite fathers have been loose to decide on their basic heirs. instead of being both legally mandated or a protest opposed to the present norm, the Bible's propensity for more youthful offspring conforms to a frequent folks motif, evoking innocence, vulnerability, and future. in the biblical context, this subject heightens God's function in assisting ostensibly not likely heroes. Drawing at the assets of legislation, anthropology, folklore, and linguistics, Greenspahn indicates how those stories function advanced parables of God's dating to his selected humans, additionally reflecting Israel's personal pain with the contradiction among its theology of election and the truth of political weak point.
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Additional resources for When Brothers Dwell Together: The Preeminence of Younger Siblings in the Hebrew Bible
Further reason for doubting that Israelite religion ever required the sacrifice of firstborns can be gleaned from the Bible itself, which provides various exemptions from the rule, whatever it means, that all bekorot be "given" to God. 18 To the contrary, the text's point is to explain why that was not the case. The aetiological element seeks to justify the levitical priesthood and, perhaps, certain payments for the religious 14 The Targum renders the parallel bekori as ben, although some manuscripts have buklr.
25 Although these, too, have been occasionally cited as demonstrating that firstborns were actually sacrificed, they really show the opposite—that this practice was neither regular nor religious. These contracts invoke the most horrible consequence, that the guilty party would lose his chief offspring, in order to discourage default. What they suggest is how high a premium was placed on such youngsters and how their deaths could be invoked only in the most dire of circumstances. In sum, the available evidence does not justify the inference that firstborns, or any children for that matter, were actually killed on a regular basis, either in Israel or among her neighbors.
Kohlhammer, 1973] pp. 134 and 147). For biblical usage of adoption imagery, see Arthur M. Brown, "The Concept of Inheritance in the Old Testament," pp. 309-18. 24 When Brothers Dwell Together this image with the exodus in his statement, "I called to My son from Egypt" (11:1). 57 Alternatively, the description of Israel as God's bekor could be understood within the context of West Semitic terminology, which spoke of members of the heavenly court as bene 'elim (lit. "the gods' sons"), a usage also found in the Bible.