Background Probability

The Agnostic Popular Front has moved to its new home at Skeptic Ink, and will henceforth be known as Background Probability. Despite the relocation and rebranding, we will continue to spew the same low-fidelity high-quality bullshit that you've come to expect.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Genesis 36: Putting the tribes in their places

It’s impossible to write about chapter 36 without delving into a bit of history. Biblical Edom was the kingdom to the south of Judah, and may well have been the original birthplace of the cult of YHWH, as noted by Karel van der Toorn, which went on to become the monolatrous (and eventually monotheistic) religion of both Israel and Judah.

Penning Esau (Edom) into the story as the less-favored elder brother of Jacob (Israel), who is identified as the father of Judah (and eleven other tribes) is an ingenious attempt to knit together the sundry tribes of the ancient near east into a single coherent mythical narrative, which not coincidentally puts the Israelite authors in pride of place among all the surrounding nations. This motivation explains why so much time and effort in this supposedly timeless narrative is given over to explaining who fathered whom, which tribes came therefrom, who ruled over whom and where.

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