Saturday, December 06, 2008

Thoughts On Parshat VaYetze 5769

29:32-34 - The first three sons of Leah all have names that are derived from her feelings of anguish over Jacob's dislike of her. None fare well in Jacob's blessing either.

30:3-36 - Rachel gives Bilhah to Jacob with pretty much the same language that Sarah uses with Hagar: "ותלד, על ברכי, ואבנה גם-אנכי"Gen 30:3b vs. "ותאמר שרי אל-אברם, הנה-נא עצרני יהוה מלדת--בא-נא אל-שפחתי, אולי אבנה ממנה" Gen 16:2 But whereas Hagar named Yishmael, Rachel properly lays claim to her handmaid's offspring, naming them herself. It is also noteworthy that Rachel says "ותלד על ברכי" whereas Sarah does not. This too is a way of making it clear who the kid belongs to.

David H. Aaron notes that

"In antiquity, it was not uncommon for a woman from a family of means to be married with a concubine who would potentially serve as a surrogate in the event she proved infertile." (TMT Vayetze 5769)

This was the case with both Bilhah and Zilpah, and presumably they would have known it. It may not have been the case with Hagar who, it seems to me, may have been acquired during Abraham's stay in Egypt.

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