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Reuben And Bilhah ( Jubilees 33)

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Chapter Summary

The story of Reuben and Bilhah, which appears in an abbreviated fashion in Genesis 35:22, was expanded to an entire chapter in Jubilees. While Jacob is away, Reuben, his first-born son, sleeps with Jacob’s concubine Bilhah. According to 1 Chronicles 5:1, Reuben’s act resulted in the revocation of his birthright and its transfer to Joseph. Despite the negative assessment found in these two passages, neither of them prescribes a punishment against Reuben himself; rather, they describe the penalty incurred by the tribe of Reuben as a whole for the actions of their forefather. According to the legal passage, both people in a case of intercourse with a father’s wife are to be put to death because of the impurity created by their actions. Both Bilhah and Reuben should have been punished, but were instead pardoned because the law had not yet been revealed to them.

Keywords: Bilhah; Chronicles; Genesis; Jacob; Joseph; Jubilees; Reuben

10.1163/ej.9789004150577.i-372.22
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