The biblical author had to demonstrate that the founding fathers of the model civilization-envisioned in Mosaic legislation intended as a model for emulation by other peoples and nations-were recognizably human-flawed as all humans are. One can empathize with Isaac or Jacob who are seen to be human with their faults and frailties-which one cannot do with a superhuman being. These stories illustrate dramatically there are no characters of mythic proportions, no superheroes, only normal people living in dysfunctional families, erring, doing acts that are occasionally senseless, and often embarrassing. Yet, these same people passed on an intellectual and spiritual heritage that will ultimately find full expression in the teachings found in the remaining books of the Pentateuch.
The Ordeals of Isaac and Jacob
focuses on what the biblical texts are telling us-explicitly and implicitly-about these men, the world in which they lived, and how they managed to preserve the covenantal heritage left to them by Abraham. Since biblical texts are not as clear as one might imagine, scholars have struggled for two millennia to comprehend what the texts are actually stating and attempting to convey to the reader. In re-examining these Texts, the author has consulted a wide range of commentaries and studies which approach the biblical narratives from a variety of perspectives, and offers some novel insights of his own.