Posted by: mattcolvin | August 21, 2014

Purify Yourself From…?

Genesis 35:2:

Jacob told his household and all who were with him, “Get rid of the foreign gods you have among you. Purify yourselves and change your clothes.”

Who among his household was known to have foreign gods? And how did she keep from being found out with them when her father came looking?

Victor Hamilton (New International Commentary on the Old Testament, Genesis, vol. 2, p. 375) notes that “The verb used for the gods’ burial… is taman (see Exod. 2:12), rather than the more common qabar. This verb choice may have no special significance…” He then suggests tentatively that “Job 3:16 uses the root to refer to a miscarriage, literally, “a hidden abortion” (nepel tamun); perhaps some such connotation is present here?”

The connection between menstrual blood and idolatry — either using the former as a metaphor for the pollution of the latter, or else mentioning both in close connection — continues in the rest of the OT (Isaiah 30:22, 64:6, Ezekiel 18:6, 36:17, etc.). But whether it is really present in Gen. 35:2, I leave an open question.

(Originally posted on my old Fragmenta blog, Oct 7, 2006.)


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