My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a commentary (peshat) on the grammar and words found within the Book of Genesis the seeks to understand the some of the more difficult and at times unique usage of many of the words found in the text be looking at etymology and potential antecedents outside of the biblical corpus (primarily Akkadian and Babylonian sources) as well as context of use within. As might be expected, there are areas where the authors find modern interpretations difficult or problematic where they attempt to introduce another interpretation that appears to be a better fit. Few, if any, change much of the over all meaning or intent of the text, avoiding any significant controversy while providing helpful nuance towards a better understanding for the reader.
Each chapter provides an analysis of a specific pericope taken in order, with subsections highlighting a particular term or phrase that starts with the current interpretation (and any problems and alternatives, keeping in mind the text doesn’t include vowels so there is the potential for several different terms using different vowels and some letters are visually similar), followed by any related usage within other places in the Bible (if any exist) and then external sources from which we see similar usage, idioms, and euphemism … which I found to be the most interesting and helpful part of the analysis (especially the examinations of idioms). There are a few limited observations with respect to style (prosaic and poetic), but most seems to focus of language evolution.
Again, this book is focused on what the words say and does not really venture into any theological explanation outside of explaining a few come idioms. This keeps each section very short where at times I wished for a bit more. And while there is a significant debate on some terms, there are a lot where they doesn’t seem to be any controversy at all and I am left wondering why it was included. However, overall, this is an excellent reference for any student of the Bible.
The chapters and sections in this work are:
Chapter 1: Creation
Chapter 2: The Garden of Eden
Chapter 3: Cain and Abel
Chapter 4: Noah and the Ark
Chapter 5: Babel
Chapter 6: Enter Abraham
Chapter 7: Allies and Foes
Chapter 8: Offspring for Abraham
Chapter 9: A True Heir
Chapter 10: Sodom and Gomorrah
Chapter 11: Abimelek
Chapter 12: The Binding of Isaac and Sarah’s Death
Chapter 13: Purchase of the Cave of Machpelah
Chapter 14: A Match for Isaac
Chapter 15: Isaac and Rebekah’s Legacy
Chapter 16: Esau and Jacob Part Ways
Chapter 17: Jacob in the House of Laban
Chapter 18: Family Matters
Chapter 19: Joseph in Egypt
Chapter 20: Joseph’s Downfall and Rise
Chapter 21: Jacob’s Family Get Down to Egypt
Chapter 22: Jacob Blesses His Family
Chapter 23: Jacob and Joseph Pass On
Glossary of Terms
Tables of Chronology
Some of the other points that really got my attention are:
In light of the above, it seems best to read Gensis 3:16 instead of “heronekh” (your childbearing), rather as “charonekh” (your distress). In biblical Hebrew, the letters heh and chet are interchangeable because of the graphic similarity.
In summation, to our mind, the phrase ve-el ishekh teshukatekh does not express a sexual desire, but rather an urge, yearning for economic and social dependency and protection.
This grammatical difficulty may be removed if one considers the Hebrew “rovetz” to be a loan word from the well-known Akkadian word “rabitzu,” a term for a “demon,” depicted both as benevolent and malevolent, often lurking at the entrance of a building to protect or threaten the occupants.
The traditional translation of the phrase ‘am ha-aretz is “the people of the land,” but a study of this compound noun reveals that this phrase has a different connotation, namely, “landed gentry.”
Returning to Joseph’s life span of 110 years, as told to us in Genesis, we note that Egyptian doctrine considered the age of 110 to be the maximal ideal span of life.
I was given this free advance reader copy (ARC) ebook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.
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