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Keeping It In The Family? Jacob And His Aramean Heritage According To Jewish And Christian Sources

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Chapter Summary

Genesis Rabbah's view of Laban and his family is a little more nuanced than one might have supposed, since the compiler has included a variety of opinions. On the positive note, where the biblical text describes Laban giving Rebekah the power to decide whether she wants to go with Eliezer to marry Isaac, the rabbis in GenR 60:12 use it as the precedent for the principle that a fatherless girl has to give her own consent to a proposed marriage. For both Jewish and Christian sources, denigrating Laban may serve the purpose of distracting from Jacob's own moral ambiguity in biblical narrative. Yet it also contributes greatly to the rabbinic and targumic readings of the story not just as a national aetiology but as a symbol of relations between Jews and non-Jews.

Keywords: Aramean heritage; Christian sources; Genesis Rabbah; Jacob; Jewish source; Laban; rabbinic readings; Rebekah; targumic readings



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