Going Up and Going Down: A Key to Interpreting Jacob's Dream (Gen 28.10-22)
Rozen, Betty, translator
London: Bloomsbury, 2015 pp. 312. $120.00
Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies, 609
Description: In Going Up and Going Down Yitzhak Peleg argues that the story of Jacob's dream (Genesis 28.10-22), functions as a mise en abyme ('as a figure, trope or structure that somehow reflects in compact form, in miniature, the larger structure in which it appears', Greenstein). Close examination reveals that focusing on the vision of Jacob's dream and understanding it as a symbolic dream facilitates an explanation of the dream and its meaning.
Scholars have historically classified the dream as theophany, the purpose of which is to explain how Beth-El became a sacred place, and as such the vision in Jacob's dream is generally accepted as merely ornamental, or even lacking a message in itself. Whilst Peleg does not contradict or seek to go against identification of the dream as theophany, he sees a more nuanced purpose behind its presentation. Peleg's proposal is that the description of the vision, and especially that of the movement of the angels, is not embellishment, supplementation or scenic background, of God's message, but that it directly symbolizes the path taken by the Patriarchs to and from the Promised Land. Furthermore, the narrative context and visual description in the dream in which 'Angels of God were going up and down it' appears when Jacob is on his way to Harran, that is to say, when he is about to leave Israel.
Subjects: Bible, Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Pentateuch, Genesis, Ancient Near East, Literature, Methods, Historical Approaches, History, Form, Tradition and Redaction Criticism, Literary Approaches, Source Criticism
Review by Karolien Vermeulen
Citation: Karolien Vermeulen, review of Yitzhak Peleg, Going Up and Going Down: A Key to Interpreting Jacob's Dream (Gen 28.10-22), Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2016).
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