ABH Gen 31:42, 51-53 the Dread of Isaac

Ben Crick ben.crick at argonet.co.uk
Mon Jun 25 17:30:27 EDT 2001

On Mon 25 Jun 2001 (20:42:30 +1000), bsullivan at dingoblue.net.au wrote:
> In Genesis 31 Laban and Jacob swear a covenant. Laban swears by the god
> of hiws forefathers but Jacob swears by the  ' Dread of his father
> Isaac ' (Rotherhams  transl ).
> To my ears this reads like a title. eg the NAB reads the Awesome One,
> but other renderings translate pachad as fear: 'the 'fear' of his
> father Isaac

> .'
> Is the word used as a divine title? Is it used as a title of YHWH?
> Or was such a title used for local gods in Canaan?

 Dear Brian,

 AIUI, Laban's gods were the teraphim that Rachel stole. The Ba`alim were
 conceived of as territorial godlings, so whoever owned the statuettes owned
 the real estate. That was why Laban searched so diligently to recover them
 when they went missing.

 Having failed to find them, Laban immediately proposed a real estate deal
 with Jacob. It was a real estate deal, because they set up a pillar and built
 a cairn of stones as a landmark on the edge of Laban's property. Laban cut the
 covenant in the name of his 'elohim, represented by the missing teraphim; but
 Jacob used a triumphalist phrase to underline the supremacy of his God: "the
 One whom Isaac feared" (verse 53). There is a deliberate constrast here
 between the impotent lifeless statuette-idols of Laban, and the omnipotent
 Covenant-keeping Creator God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob.

 The Canaanites called their gods 'elohim, the plural of 'el. Abraham's God
 was 'El Shaddai, the all-sufficient, the omnipotent PANTOKRATWR (Genesis 17:1
 etc); and `El `Elyon, the Most High God or Supreme Deity (Genesis 14:18 etc).
 Abraham identified both 'El Shaddai and 'El `Elyon as YHWH; the One and Only.

 Revd Ben Crick, BA CF
 <ben.crick at argonet.co.uk>
 232 Canterbury Road, Birchington, Kent, CT7 9TD (UK)

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list