Another Look at the Speeches of Reuben and Judah in Genesis 37

In: Biblische Zeitschrift
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  • 1 Presbyterian University and Theological Seminary, Kwangjang-Dong 353, Kwangjin-Gu, Seoul, South Korea

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Using a narratological synchronic reading, this article argues that Reuben and Judah are contrastively juxtaposed in their rhetoric and intentions in Genesis 37. Reuben considers the brothers’ plot a criminal act and bans both their internal intentions and their external evildoings against Joseph, whereas Judah repeatedly forbids them from killing Joseph, their own brother, posing a moral argument against fratricide. Problematically, however, he permits another evildoing, the sale of their own brother. The contrastive parallel of the two brothers in Genesis 37 does not support the classic documentary hypothesis, nor the supplementary expansion in favour of Judah. Rather, Judah’s problematic dealings with his own brother harkens to the practice of selling of own “flesh” and “kindred” into slavery in the post-exilic period. Genesis 37 in its present position provides a natural link to Genesis 38, as both chapters are identical in their negative depiction of Judah.

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