Sunday, November 21, 2004

Toldot #6: a neo-midrash on Yaakov and Esav's sibling rivalry

In several earlier posts, I discussed the midrash talking of fetal fighting between Yaakov and Esav, based on the words וַיִּתְרֹצְצוּ הַבָּנִים בְּקִרְבָּהּ.

I would suggest we can make an additional, neo-midrash on a pasuk in near proximity, Bereishit 25:27. After they are born, they grow, and go their separate ways, such that we see their separate natures.

וַיִּגְדְּלוּ, הַנְּעָרִים, וַיְהִי עֵשָׂו אִישׁ יֹדֵעַ צַיִד, אִישׁ שָׂדֶה; וְיַעֲקֹב אִישׁ תָּם, יֹשֵׁב אֹהָלִים.
"And the boys grew; and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a quiet man, dwelling in tents."

According to "Hebrew Cognates in Amharic" by Wolf Leslau, on the word gäddällä (I'm not going to write the Amharic with Ethiopic characters because I don't know how to encode it, but with try to encode the corresponding extended Latin characters he uses):

gäddällä 'kill':
G. tä-gadälä 'fight';
perhaps Hebr. גדל gådal 'be big'; for a possible passage of meaning, cf. Arabic ğadala 'be strong' but ta-ğadala 'to quarrel, to fight', that is, 'compete in strength' > 'kill'.

Thus, in Amharic it means to kill, and in Geez and Arabic it means to fight.

This would then extend the fight between Yaakov and Esav, already a theme in a few places both explicit and implicit, to a new venue.

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