Thursday, April 3, 2014

Exodus: Chapter 1

Blessing and curse

drowning in the deeps

wild animals
fish-like herds

turned to death

[for full chapter, click here
Exodus continues directly from Genesis, the two books bridged by the re-iteration of the names of the sons of Israel. And then the fanality: "And Joseph died, and all his brothers, and that entire generation."
The tolling of death sets the tone for a chapter that is marked by an almost preternatural fecundity on the one side, and the presence of death on the other: "the girls let live, but kill every boy."The chapter keeps developing the motifs of Jacob's final blessings in Genesis, but here they are turned to curses. The animal imagery turns into a hate of the children of Israel, who "swarm" (ve-yishretuzu) and are "like wild animals." The blessing of the "waters below" and fish-like fertility given to Joseph ("Let them be like fish in the bowels of the earth") here turns  into death by casting into the river. The ability to birth the future (nolad, yalad) is directly attacked by the order to kill "on the birthing stool" (me-yaldot, be-yaldehem, ha-yeladim), an attampt to turn the teaming womb to death. The dark undertones of the closing of Genesis come out to the open)

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