1.) Might Jacob’s cleverness be the biblical version of Odysseus’ metis?
2.) This part of our readings recount the life and struggles of Jacob. In what ways might we read his tribulations as a consequence of his theft of Esau’s birthright?
3.) Comment on the ways in which famines are a driving force in the narrative.
4.) Reflect on the parallels and divergences of Jacob’s and his father Isaac’s attempts at finding a wife.
5.) What is the relationship between God and Jacob? How do they communicate?
6.) Reflect on the theme of sibling rivalry in the text.
7.) Is Laban a jerk?
8.) How does the text reveal the existence of “other gods” of the Ancient Near East?
9.) How do the conflicts between Rachel and Leah reflect on the imperatives of biological reproduction?
10.) Who is the “man” who wrestled with Jacob? What’s the significance of the blessing and his limp? (cf. Odysseus’ scar)
11.) “And Esau ran to meet him [Jacob] and embraced him and fell upon his neck, and they wept.” Comment on this scene of reunion and recognition.
12.) We discussed sexual ethics in the last seminar—how is this problem explored in our reading for today?
13.) Notice the multiple times God reaffirms his covenant to his chosen people—to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—does it evolve or strengthen?
14.) What is the narrative technique of Genesis? What patterns of repetition, formulae, and set scenes do you notice?