[b-hebrew] Bek-o-raw and monarchy

Harold R. Holmyard III hholmyard at ont.com
Fri Oct 22 08:59:21 EDT 2004

Dear Sergio,

>Bekoraw, according to The Contemporary English 
>Version among others, can be rendered as "The 
>rights as the first-born son".
>Gen 25:31 also shows that those rights not 
>necessarily went to the firstborn. The fact that 
>the tribe of Joseph is reported in the AT as 
>having a "double portion" (it was treated as two 
>separate tribes with their own plot in the 
>Promised Land) seems to me to support the idea 
>that the bekoraw could be transferred from the 
>literal firstborn son to any other.

HH: But there was an interesting mechanism 
involved here. Jacob adopted Joseph's two sons as 
his own. So each of them received one share of 
Jacob's inheritance. Since there were two sons, 
and they represented Joseph, it could appear as 
though Joseph received a double portion and thus 
the inheritance of a firstborn son:

Gen. 48:5 ¶  "Now then, your two sons born to you 
in Egypt before I came to you here will be 
reckoned as mine; Ephraim and Manasseh will be 
mine, just as Reuben and Simeon are mine.
Gen. 48:6 Any children born to you after them 
will be yours; in the territory they inherit they 
will be reckoned under the names of their 

>And here comes my question:
>Some time ago I read that in the kingdom of 
>Israel and Judah, the heir to the throne not 
>necessarily was the first born, but the king 
>could appoint any of his sons. If this is so 
>(I'm not sure if there is agreement about this 
>or it is just a theory) is this linked to the 
>issue of the rights as the first-born son?

HH: I think it was normally the custom in Egypt, 
too, for the eldest son to be the successor to 
the Pharaoh:

The rules of succession provided that the next 
pharaoh would be the eldest son by the King's 
Great Wife.

HH: Surely, that was normally the custom in 
Israel too. It does seem related to the rights of 
the firstborn but also to the honor that a 
firstborn son would have in the eyes of his 
father as the eldest son. But David appointed 
Solomon to succeed him, even though there were 
older sons. So the king did have the right to 
name his successor, it seems.

				Harold Holmyard

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