Jubilees 34:1-9: Joseph, the “House of Joseph,” and the Josephites’ Portion

in Journal for the Study of Judaism
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This paper analyses Jub. 34:1-9, an extra-biblical account of Jacob and his sons warring against the Amorites. Herein, the Jubilean author portrays Joseph as an exemplary family man who assists his brothers in fighting for and occupying the allotment of Ephraim and Manasseh. While Joseph’s portrayal corresponds to the favorable presentation of the patriarchs in Jubilees, it also highlights Israelite solidarity in the face of an enemy attack. Enhancing Jacob-Israel’s military prowess, this unity leads the Israelites to victory and thus to inheritance of the land. While these themes appear apposite to the Maccabean period in general, the pericope does not reflect a historical military campaign.

Jubilees 34:1-9: Joseph, the “House of Joseph,” and the Josephites’ Portion

in Journal for the Study of Judaism




See B. BeerDas Buch der Jubiläen und sein Verhältniss zu den Midraschim (Leipzig: Wolfang Gerhard1856) 3. Gen 48:22 constitutes the only biblical intimation that Jacob took part in a battle. Some ancient translations and interpretations understood the term שכם as referring to the city (cf. LXX Gen 48:22 [Σίκιµα]; cf. Gen. Rab. 97:6) others rendering it as a “portion” (cf. Aquila Tg. Neof. Vulgate). Tg. Ps.-J. combines both meanings. While Jub. 34:1-9 takes the noun to designate the city (Shechem) Jub. 45:14 interprets it as a “portion.” All biblical quotations cited here are taken from the NJPS unless otherwise indicated.


R. Doran“The Non-Dating of Jubilees,” JSJ 20 (1989): 1-11esp. 1-4; cf. also Endres Biblical Interpretation in the Book of Jubilees 171-73.


VanderKamTextual and Historical Studies218; Berger Das Buch der Jubiläen 491; Endres Biblical Interpretation in the Book of Jubilees 171 n. 26. As in Gen 37:12-13 Jub. 34:1 states that Jacob is in Hebron when he sends his son(s) to Shechem (cf. also Jub. 33:21-23 34:3). For the question of whom Jacob sent see the following note.


VanderKamTextual and Historical Studies229. Thus contra Kugler (“Joseph at Qumran” 265) Benjamin did not stay at home to comfort Isaac.


Cf. Goldstein“The Date of the Book of Jubilees” 85; Werman “The Attitude Toward Gentiles” 16.


See KugelTraditions of the Bible371. For other reworkings of the theme of the curses against the surrounding nations cf. Jub. 10:29-34 23:30 24:28-33 36:8-11.


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