Koog P. Hong, «The Deceptive Pen of Scribes: Judean Reworking of the Bethel Tradition as a Program for Assuming Israelite Identity.», Vol. 92 (2011) 427-441
Nadav Na’aman has recently proposed that the Judean appropriation of Israel’s identity occurred as a result of the struggle for the patrimony of ancient Israel. This paper locates textual evidence for such a struggle in the Judean reworking of the Jacob tradition, particularly the Bethel account (Gen 28,10- 22), and argues that taking over the northern Israelite shrine myth after the fall of northern Israel was part of the ongoing Judean reconceptualization of their identity as «Israel» that continued to be developed afterwards.
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Biblica_2:Layout 1 21-11-2011 13:02 Pagina 434
434 KOOG P. HONG
Blumâ€™s early dating might sound audacious, particularly in light of the recent
minimalist trend that favors later dating 27. In fact, a number of observations
appear to justify, if not favor, this early northern Israelite origin 28. At Bethel,
YHWH appears as a deity unknown to Jacob, in a way quite similar to Exod
3, where Moses first encounters YHWH. Jacobâ€™s vow, â€œYHWH will be my
Godâ€ (28,21b), is otherwise difficult to understand 29. This implies that the
Jacob story once existed without the preceding Abraham narrative.
Moreover, Jacobâ€™s vow to build a temple and pay tithe (28,22) is probably
designed to elicit the readerâ€™s response of support for the cultic function of
the Bethel sanctuary. It is, then, most likely that this vow was written at a
time when Bethel was functioning as a religious center 30. Besides, it is
difficult to imagine an exilic Judean scribe composing a founding myth of
Bethel, a major rival shrine of Jerusalem â€” and even calling for a continued
support for it â€” without leaving any explicit mention to Jerusalem in the
entire book of Genesis 31.
but rather focus on v. 15. Based on this partial literary connection of vv. 20-
22, Van Seters made a sweeping claim that the entire promise speech (vv.
13-15) must be assigned to the exilic J. Once the alleged unity of vv. 13-15
is dissolved, however, the entire argument can no longer stand.
For a critique of this movement, see J. DAY, ed., In Search of Pre-Exilic
Israel. Proceedings of the Oxford Old Testament Seminar (JSOTSup 406;
See CARR, Fractures, 204-215, 256-271, 298-300 for arguments for
the independence of the Jacob story in general. See also M.A. SWEENEY,
â€œPuns, Politics, and Perushim in the Jacob cycle: A Case Study in Teaching
the English Hebrew Bibleâ€, Shofar 9 (1991) 103-118.
The common explanation that a personal connection (not through his
father Isaac) is first made here is unconvincing and an imposition of modern
individualism on the ancient text. See, e.g., VAN SETERS, â€œDivine Encounterâ€,
In VÃ¤tergeschichte, Blum assigned vv. 20-22 to his â€œKompositionschichtâ€,
a layer through which the earlier etiology has been incorporated into the Jacob
story, which he dates to the time of Jeroboam I (97). To be sure, Bethel may have
continued to function in the later neo-Babylonian and Persian periods. See, e.g.,
J. BLENKINSOPP, â€œBethel in the Neo-Babylonian Periodâ€, Judah and the Judeans
in the Neo-Babylonian Period, 93-107; KNAUF, â€œBethelâ€; J. GOMES, The
Sanctuary of Bethel and the Configuration of Israelite Identity (BZAW 368;
Berlin 2006); and M. KÃ–HLMOOS, Bet-Elâ€”Erinnerungen an eine Stadt.
Perspektiven der alttestamentlichen Bet-El-Ãœberlieferung (FAT 49; TÃ¼bingen
2006). Yet the supposed revival of this ancient shrine in a later period does not
automatically exclude a possibility of its pre-exilic origin.
Against this, Van Setersâ€™s apology for his exilic Yahwist sounds forced:
â€œthis reinterpretation could have in mind the Jerusalem temple and its
restoration under the guise of this Bethel = â€˜house of Godâ€™â€ or â€œperhaps the