December 04, 2006

Breadcrumb: An unpleasant first

In Gen. 35:16-19, we have another Biblical first: the first death from childbirth. Rachel had hard labour with her second son, Benjamin, and in fact died. It is not surprising that a matriarch died in childbirth; it is more surprising that it took so long for the text to mention such an occurrence. After all, one of the leading causes of female death throughout history, until very recently, was childbirth. The text, here, is only pointing out the obvious to its readers: women, even important women, often died while giving birth.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Again, this story is worked backwards from the name - "Benoni" in this case, rather than the other way round.

Notice how most of the names are given TWO different explanations - the doubling is subtle in translation.
Asher is explained by "beoshri" (my fortune) and then "ishsheruni" (fortunate).
Issachar by "sekari" (reward) and "sakor sekartika" (man of hire).
Zebulun by "zebadani" (precious gift) and "yizbeleni" (presents)
Joseph by "yosep" (add) and "asap" (remove)
Reuben by "raa beonyi" (saw misery) and "yeehabani" (will love me)

JEPD explains this with one of the pair of explanations being J the other E.