When Brothers Dwell Together: The Preeminence of Younger Siblings in the Hebrew Bible

Hardcover | April 1, 1995

byFrederick E. Greenspahn

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Although primogeniture is commonly assumed to have prevailed throughout the world and firstborns are regarded as most likely to achieve success, many of the most prominent figures in biblical literature are younger offspring, including Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Samuel, David, and Solomon.Adducing evidence from a wide range of disciplines, this study demonstrates that ancient Israelite fathers were free to choose their primary heirs. Rather than being either legally mandated or a protest against the prevailing norm, the Bible's propensity for younger offspring conforms to awidespread folk motif, evoking innocence, vulnerability, and destiny. Within the biblical context, this theme heightens God's role in supporting ostensibly unlikely heroes. Drawing on the resources of law, anthropology, folklore, and linguistics, Greenspahn shows how these tales serve as complexparables of God's relationship to his chosen people, also reflecting Israel's own discomfort with the contradiction between its theology of election and the reality of political weakness.

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Although primogeniture is commonly assumed to have prevailed throughout the world and firstborns are regarded as most likely to achieve success, many of the most prominent figures in biblical literature are younger offspring, including Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Samuel, David, and Solomon.Adducing evidence from a wide range of discip...

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Although primogeniture is commonly assumed to have prevailed throughout the world and firstborns are regarded as most likely to achieve success, many of the most prominent figures in biblical literature are younger offspring, including Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Samuel, David, and Solomon. Central to the plot of most biblical stories...

Frederick E. Greenspahn is at University of Denver.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:208 pages, 9.57 × 6.22 × 0.71 inPublished:April 1, 1995Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195082532

ISBN - 13:9780195082531

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"This volume is exceedingly well-researched and impressively documented....This volume should become significant for consultation on this subject."--The Catholic Biblical Quarterly