Thursday, June 5, 2008

JSOT on Jeremiah's pun on 'brother,' 'supplant,' and 'Jacob'


Joachim Krause in JSOT:

While Jacob is liked for his shrewd tactics, people are well aware of the moral problem entailed. Unambiguous accounts are not wanting in the Bible. Hosea 12.4 interprets the prenatal struggle of the twins in an overtly critical account of Jacob’s career: ‘in the womb he supplanted (עקב)* his brother’. Harsher still sounds Jeremiah’s brief and unbalanced remark (Jer. 9.3), playing on the popular etymology of Jacob’s personal name as meaning ‘supplanter’: Trust not a brother, for every brother tries to supplant’ (אל־תבטחו כי כל־אח
עקוב יעקב וכל־רע

* The semantics of the root 􀀳􀁂􀀋 deserve careful treatment; see n. 5, below, and cf. M. Malul, ‘􀀡􀆖q􀆝b “Heel” and 􀀡􀆖qab “to Supplant” and the Concept of Succession in the Jacob–Esau Narratives’, VT 46 (1996), pp. 190-212. In the present instance, though (as in Jer. 9.3), the LXX’s 􀁑􀁕􀁆􀁓􀁏􀁊􀀑􀁛􀁘 (‘to outwit’) provides a well-chosen interpretation of an attempt whose factual outcome is illuminated by the English verb ‘to supplant’.


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