From: George Murphy (email@example.com)
Date: Mon Dec 02 2002 - 20:06:22 EST
> In a message dated 12/2/02 12:36:14 PM Eastern Standard Time,
> firstname.lastname@example.org writes:
> > While perhaps of interest, this would change the focus of the discussion
> > considerably. Putting aside a number of other caveats, I would just note
> > the following:
> > The notion that the ideas about breeding in Genesis 28 & 29 can be
> > equated with
> > "God's Law" cannot be maintained. Jacob is pictured as a good con artist
> > who knows some
> > practical facts about animal breeding, but also as making use of notions
> > that we know
> > today are incorrect, like the belief that a child's physical appearance _in
> > utero_ can
> > be altered by the appearance of some startling thing that its mother sees
> > while carrying
> > it. As Westermann (_Genesis: A Practical Commentary_, p.214) puts it:
> > "There are
> > magical notions in the background, but the critical element in the case of
> > Jacob is his
> > intention to breed for a specific purpose by using his knowledge of animal
> > behavior."
> Jacob is not simply regarded as a good con artist. Jacob stole his birthright
> from his older brother through cunning and his brother's failure to value it.
> Jacob is not condemned by the Lord. In fact the Lord has already predicted
> that the older will serve the younger. Isaac himself is agitated over Jacob's
> trickery but does not reassign the birthright to Esau. That suggests to me
> that cunning is favored in God's eyes.
The general point first: God doesn't choose people because
good. God elects people because God chooses to. Many of the people
regarded as heroes
of faith in the Bible have significant moral defects but they are
God's people in spite
of that. God is, after all the one who "justifies the ungodly"
description of the Christian as _simul justus et peccator"_, at the
same time justified
and sinner, sums this up.
To begin with, Jacob is at worst a swindler and at best a
how, after his dream at Bethel in which God promises him everything,
Jacob's response is
"Let's make a deal.") Jacob does "get religion" later on after his
encounter with God
at the Jabbok.
> Later, when Laban tricks Jacob into marrying his dull eyed older daughter,
> Jacob is incensed. That means for a period of years Jacob must father sons of
> a dull-eyed wife, producing dull-eyed sons. since the birthright goes to the
> oldest, jacob's later sons of the vivacious rachel will lose the greater part
> of their father's inheritance to their dull eyed older brothers who are less
> able to 'cunningly' hold onto it.
1st, your argument is based on a debatable translation. NRSV
says "Leah's eyes
were lovely" with a note "Meaning of Heb uncertain." Speiser (in the
Anchor Bible) has
"tender" and says: "Not necessarily "weak," for the basic sense of
Heb. _rak_ is
"dainty, delicate"; cf.xxxiii 8. The traditional translation has
been influenced by the
popular etymology of the name Leah as "weak." What the narrative
appears to be saying
is that Leah had lovely eyes, but Rachel was an outstanding beauty."
& there's no necessary connection between appearance of eyes
& lack of cunning.
In fact, the lethal trick that Simeon & Levi play on the Schechemites
in Ch.34 suggests
that they had inherited some of their father's cunning.
> It is best if the oldest son is the
> smartest son to protect the inheritance. In retaliation, Jacob weakens the
> breed of Laban's flocks while strengthening his own - it is a perfect analogy
> for what has Laban has cunningly perpetrated on Jacob.
Yes, Jacob outswindles Laban. But his weakening of Laban's
flock is not the main
point. He is pictured as making use of both common-sense breeding
knowledge (i.e., that
stronger parents will produce stronger offspring) and "magic" (the
idea that the parents
who breed while seeing the striped rods will produce spotted &
This results in the spotted & speckled animals - which Laban had
agreed should be
Jacob's - being strong & the others weak.
> This is proof that as animal breeders, Jacob knew that intelligence could be
> selected for in animal populations and human populations. It is the reason
> why Ashkenazi Jews have the highest mean IQ in the world. They still marry
> their smartest sons to the daughters of their smartest rebbes.
Nothing at all is said here about the intelligence of either
humans or animals.
> Is that a quote from westermann? what is the specific purpose Jacob is
> breeding for? Thanks for that reference.
Yes, it's a quote from W. The purpose is noted above.
> I had an aunt whose son had a strawberry birthmark on his face. The
> explanation: my aunt was struck on the face when she was pregnant. This is a
> common folk belief even today but has no bearing on the story of the flocks.
On the contrary, it's critical to Jacob's plan as described in Genesis.
> I think you've proven my point. human beings can be bred for intelligence.
Certainly heredity is a factor in intelligence but, as with
many complex traits,
intelligence is hardly inherited in the simple way that, e.g., blood types are.
> It's in genesis. You can yawn.
I'm not yawning, but you're just reading a lot more into
Genesis than is there.
> Me? I think that changes everything and I was
> excited to tell you about it.
> Breeding has everything to do with God's Law, as far as Ashkenazi Jewry is
> concerned and I do believe their religion also rests on the Torah. The
> efficacy of God's Law is manifest in their having the highest mean IQ in the
George L. Murphy
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