This article investigates the image of Jacob in Targum Jonathan’s interpretation of Hos 12. It presents a brief comparison between the Hebrew text of Hos 12 and the Targum’s translation, and focuses on those verses that are relevant to the image of Jacob (Hos 12:3-6; 12:13-14), looking first at the Hebrew text and then at their interpretation in the Targum. An analysis of the translation clearly shows the meturgeman’s concern to counteract any potential negative image of Jacob. The meturgeman does not present the relationship between Jacob and the prophet’s contemporary people as analogous, in the sense that the deceitful character of the people is a reflection of the character of their forefather. Instead, the relationship is seen as contrasting: Jacob functions as a role model.
This contribution shows that intolerance for foreign influence can lead to polemics against one’s own people. In the book of Jubilees, separation from other nations is explicitly required and is accomplished by refusing to conclude agreements with other nations, abstaining from common meals with foreigners, and refraining from intermarriage with them. This separation is religiously motivated and consists in the idea that there is one unique and eternal covenant between God and his chosen people, and it is this that establishes Israel as different from all other peoples. This corresponds to the polemical attitude against idolatry (Jubilees 11–12), which is related to the broader discourse of polemics against idols in the Hebrew Bible and early Jewish literature. In these texts, other gods and their worshippers are criticised in a particular way—by denigrating the gods as mere artefacts. The impotence of the statue-gods brings shame on the people who attribute power to them and is an expression of their lack of knowledge. What is interesting is that the idol worshippers do not always come from among other peoples, but can also be found within the Israelite group. One may suspect that the insertion of this theme into the book of Jubilees is motivated by historical events, although no specific historical clues can be found. The author integrates the broader discourse into his own narrative, where the polemical objects are members of Abraham’s family. What remains clear, however, is that the influence of idols is closely related to the influence of evil spirits and demons, and their origin is explicitly identified with Ur of the Chaldeans.
Deuteronomy’s description of the use of violence in the extermination of the people of the land in relation to the election of Israel has had important influence on Jewish and Christian literature. This chapter particularly focuses on its impact on the book of Jubilees, but some later reflections will also be discussed. In the book of Jubilees, the impact of Deuteronomy 7 and related texts is especially visible in Abraham’s farewell speeches. Several stipulations are very similar – for example, the destruction of places with foreign cults, the danger of participating in foreign sacrificial meals, the prohibition against mixed marriages, and the prohibition against making treaties. In Jubilees, these aspects are strongly related to the issue of purity and Gentile impurities, aspects that are not elaborated upon in Deuteronomy 7. Some later reflections on the reading of Deuteronomy 7 within Judaism and Christianity are also included. These indicate various strategies for dealing with the problems concerning the command to annihilate the Canaanites. Violent texts in the Old Testament were ignored, rejected, or interpreted figuratively. Sometimes, however, they inspired and shaped wars and violent behaviour in the real world – or helped to justify such acts.