Ishmael on the Border
Rabbinic Portrayals of the First Arab
Publication Year: 2006
Published by: State University of New York Press
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Ishmael on the Border: Rabbinic Portrayals of the First Arab builds on and develops the ideas explored in my doctoral dissertation, Rabbinic Portrayals of Ishmael. Although this work for the most part retains the overarching framework of the former, and reaches some of the same conclusions, the...
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More than any other figure in the Hebrew Bible, Ishmael evokes a variety of associations from nomads to Moby Dick. A recent question put to me by a rabbi highlights the unusual place Ishmael has in Jewish thought: “So, your work is not about Rabbi Ishmael, but the Ishmael of Islam?” Though Ishmael is a prominent figure in Islam’s...
1: Ishmael and Esau: Marginalized Men of the Bible
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The displacement of the firstborn by the younger sibling is a recurring motif found throughout the book of Genesis.1 Indeed, the central theme of Genesis, as Sarna states, is “the fortunes of those who are heirs to God’s covenant”2 and as Robert Alter asserts, the entire book of Genesis “is about the reversal...
2: Ishmael in Tannaitic and Amoraic Literature
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In the course of examining rabbinic texts on Ishmael, Esau, the Ishmaelites, and the children of Keturah, themes such as their unfit status and the election of Israel figure prominently. In the sources of the tannaitic and amoraic periods, these marginalized figures come to represent the Other rather than specific others, despite some instances where...
3: The Rabbis and Their Others
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The idea that the Other is a creation of the subjective self and not a discrete, objectively existing entity has been the topic of several works in various fields and disciplines.1 Indubitably, the study of the conception of Other in its myriad manifestations has contributed inordinately to our understanding...
4: Ishmael in Later Midrashim
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In our study of Gen. Rab. 48:13, the midrash on “and Abraham took a calf tender and good and gave it to one of his servants,” we had the occasion to see that reading this midrash through a historical lens is difficult but not impossible.1 We thus came to the conclusion that several...
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This examination of midrashim on Ishmael, and to a lesser degree on Esau, the Ishmaelites, and the children of Keturah, gives us the opportunity to make several significant observations about rabbinic biblical interpretation and the interfacing of historical phenomena and exegetical concerns. To begin with, the rabbinic portrayal...
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Page Count: 216
Publication Year: 2006