The Documentary Hypothesis Eight Lectures

Umberto Cassuto
Trans. Israel Abrahams
(Magnes Press, Jerusalem, 1983)
An Outline

[[Cassuto’s book does not represent the position of Traditional Judaism. Some of his remarks would be considered false textually, and objectionable religiously. Nevertheless, his critique of the methods and results of “Biblical Criticism” are devastating and deserve to be known. – D.G.]]


Lecture 1: Introduction and History

The Documentary Hypothesis:

-Prevailing theory of origin and authorship of Torah:
-Torah compiled in Second Temple period from various sources/documents:
-“J”: Jahwist, source using divine name Y-H-W-H
-“E”: Elohist, source using divine name `Elo-him
-“P”: Priestly code, from priestly circles
-“D”: Deuteronomy, main part of book of Deuteronomy

(E, P refrain from using divine name J)

-Scholars often disagree about details of sources: age, assigning, strata, divisions

-but general agreement about basic principles

-but some beginning to criticize theory seriously

History of DH:

-Witter (1711): poetic compositions served as source for Moses

-Astruc (1753), father of Documentary Hypothesis (DH): two principle documents

-Eichhorn (1780-3): German professional better than Astruc, French amateur

-Vater(1802-5): Torah composed of many scrolls

-Graf and Wellhausen

-Parallelism of development of ideas, criticism and method with Homeric Studies, Why:

-reciprocal influence

-progress in techniques of research

-trends and demands of the time

-suspicion that investigators not objective

Cassuto’s Project:

-Approach text objectively

-not with aesthetic and literary criteria of modern time

-but of ancient East and Israel (re Cassuto’s Torah commentaries)

-Mainly focus on narrative, mainly Genesis (as does DH), not statutes or Deuteronomy

- if DH on Genesis is refuted a fortiori the rest

-Attacks five pillars of DH:

1. Use of different divine names

2. Changes of language, style

3. Contradictions, divergences

4. Duplication, repetition

5. Composite structure in sections

Lecture 2: God’s Names

As Evidence for DH:

-Historically main evidence for DH

- Torah uses different divine names: J, E and others

-Examples: Genesis 1:1=E

E always until G2:4=J+E, then

J+E almost (but G3:1,3,5) always until G4, then

J often in G4 until G4:25=E

Flood: sometimes J, sometimes E

Etc., etc.

-DH explains this:

-Documents JEP (D not in Genesis)

-Redactor selected sources, fused extracts

-but leaves each extract in original form and names

Cassuto’s Response:

-READ the verses

- notice that variation in choice of name is not accidental

-but intentional, by design

-Why we may not expect it to be accidental:

-Torah’s aim to guide man in knowledge of God

-Language of Torah is otherwise scrupulous in tiniest details

-in most important and exalted respect - Divine names - will not be careless and


-So what is method of choice of name?…

Character of the Names:

-Names of different type:

-E originally common noun, applied to both One God of Israel and to others (as

was `El).

-J is proper noun, specific name of Israel’s God

-Israel’s ancestors realized there is One God (Kings I, 18:39)

-common substantive E acquired signification of proper noun=J.

-but J for particular Israelite God; E also for gods of gentiles (note Zechariah 14:9)

-Analogy: certain city called Jerusalem or City

Usage of Names:

-reflects character of Names

-Cassuto interested in their use throughout scripture, but also only in reference to

Israelite God, proper noun (not simple appellative, pagan deities, in construct state,

possessive suffix, stereotyped composite phrases)

-Prophetic writings E never used in place of J

-exceptions Jonah (exception proving rule):

-content not prophetic but narrative literature

-also note second part of Isaiah usage of `E-l (lecture 2)

-Legal Literature (Torah and Ezekial) always J as name of God

-Poetic Literature always use J (except for Wisdom-Literature-like poems…)

-Wisdom literature (Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes) almost always E

-Ecclesiastes always E

-Proverbs E (and `Elo-ah) sometimes

-Poetic portions of Job always E (but 12:9, and some MSS read E here)

-2nd, 3rd books of Psalms (Wisdom literature influence) and Samuel I 23:1-7

-Narrative Literature (in Torah, Joshua to Kings II, Jonah, narrative portions of

Job) E and J used

Usage of names outside Israel:

-Wisdom literature of ancient East usually refer to gods by appellative rather than

proper name (as in Israel’s case)

-Examples: Egyptian ancient texts, only use proper name when (a) quoting

traditional sayings in fixed forms or (b) refers to particular attributes of the god

Babylonians, only use proper names similar to (b) above

Aramaic literature

-Universal character of Wisdom literature

Explanation/Method of Usage:

-J used when Israelite character

-personal conception and connection of J to Israel

-Prophetic literature emphasises this, oppose non-Israelite conceptions (for second

part of Isaiah see later)

-Legal Literature, J gives laws, chosen for Israel

-Poetic literature, expressing love for Israelite God J in personal way

-E used when universal or abstract character

-Wisdom literature

- influenced by neighbours?

-Proverbs exception

-scribes wanted to give it an Israelite flavour (?)

-Wisdom literature-like Psalms

-influence of Wisdom literature

-poet conveys general/universal idea of God or describes Him as God of

whole world, all peoples

Example Psalm 68, 47

- P47, eg., has both J and E: nations know E, but not as J; but J

reigns over all

-E used for specific reason often, so eventually used without special

reason (so some E psalms not wisdom literature-like)

-Sometimes J replaced by E since some thought universal E more

progressive (?)

-but note similarity (literary form) and differences (conceptual) between

Israelite and non-Israelite usage

-for Israel their specific God J is also and only E

Cassuto’s Strategy (or what I think it should be):

Criteria whether evidence (e) confirms hypothesis (h):

Explanatory Power: 1. Would we expect e given h? (hopefully, yes)

2. Would we expect e given not-h? (hopefully, no)

Prior Probability : 3. Simplicity of hypothesis? (hopefully simple; also scope)

Bayes’s Theorem: Pr(h/e.k) = Pr(h/k) x Pr(e/h.k)/Pr(e/k) (k is background knowledge)

Compare h=DH with h’=Cassuto, Pr(h/k) x Pr(e/h.k) vs. Pr(h’/k) x Pr(e/h’.k)


Lecture 3: More on Divine Names

Usage of Names (cont.):


-Different character of names maintained

-Sadducees (Minnim) v. Pharisees

-Sadducee aristocracy influenced by international (esp. Greek) wisdom literature

-Sadducee see general designation of God E as more progressive

-Book of the Covenant of the Damascus Community

-theology close to Sadducee

-Uses `El even in Biblical verses with J (re Psalm emendation above)

-Pharisee lower class support national outlook

-Pharisees/Rabbis preserve national form J

-Even in greetings J used (not innovative, even in Lachish Letters)

-Midrashic literature

-Many names for God (Master of Universe, Holy One Blessed be He, Father in

Heaven, etc.)

-But not E (only in construct state as common nouns, or gentile gods)

-Aramaic targums (Rabbinic)

-Tetragrammation as double Yodh even where E

-Liturgy (Rabbinic)

-Proper name is J (pronounced `Ado-nai)

-E used as common noun, construct or with possessive suffixes

-Middle Ages Philosophical literature

-E as proper name

-international culture of time

-philosophical/abstract conception of God

-Modern Hebrew

-Hashem personal

-E impersonal/abstract/universal/philosophical

-Narrative literature

-intermediate between literature of E and of J

-not entirely national-Israelite content

-Stories about/relevant to whole world

-incorporated with Israelite-monotheistic twist (re Cassuto’s commentaries)

Details of Use of Names in Narrative Literature:

J used when:

E used when:

Israelite conception of God

-especially ethical attributes

International/abstract conception of God

-Creator/Ruler of universe

Theme concerns Israel Theme concerns whole world
Relative to Israel and Israelite Ancestor’s Relative to non-Israelite
Personal, direct relations with people Transcendent
Divine attributes appear clear, more concrete Divine attributes appear superficial, general, obscure
Direct sense of God by multitude of simple faith and prophetic spirit Philosophical sense of God and problems
Wants to arouse sublimity, sense of Divine majesty/glory More ordinary, to avoid possible irreverence with Holiest Name (J)

-context may make it possible to use either J or E (more relevant prevails)

-Examples (confirmation):

Genesis, Creation = E

Creation of universe

(possibly also similar - but non-monotheistic - traditions of East)

Possible objection: Sabbath relevant to Israel

Response: Sanctity for cosmic reasons predating Israel

(Sabbath common knowledge to whole world?)

Story of Eden=J (J+E)

God as lawgiver, Moral content

Personal, direct relations with man

Not in conversation between Eve and evil snake, reverence

J+E, to identify for first time J=E

Creator of universe is Law-giver

See similar pattern in Psalm 19

Eve’s Birth of First Child=J

Partnership with God in creation (G4:1)

Nearness of God

Birth of Third Child=E

Bereaved of two children (note Amos 6:10)

But solace upon grandchildren=J (G4:26)

Cain and Abel’s Sacrifices=J

Offerings only to personal God (G4:3,4)

Sages note E or Shad-day or Se-baoth never used regarding

sacrifices (Sifre Numbers 143). Exception in Exodus 18:12

stresses that stranger brought sacrifice, lacks knowledge of J

Rest of story God in ethical role=J

Irreverent Expressions=E

In likeness of E (G1:27, 5:1)

Walked with E (G5:22,24- 24 ends with E since begins with E)

But walk before J (G24:40)

Son’s of E (G6:2, 4)

Lamech (G5:29)

Alludes to J’s curse on ground (G3:17)

Story of Flood

Universal, involves whole world (traditional story too?)

Almost always E

Parallel in covenants between Adam and Noah=E

Regarding punishment of wicked and salvation of righteous Noah=J

Regarding sacrifices, command regarding clean animals on Ark=J

Moral judge, Lawgiver

Direct personal relationship with God, fatherly mercy=J (G7:16)

Regarding curse upon the ground=J (G8:21)

Noah’s Blessings

Shem=J (G9:26)

Descendants of Shem attain knowledge of J

Japheth=E (G9:27)


Proverb=J (G10:9)

folk saying of Israel (who used J constantly in speech, see above)

The Tower=J

Character of story Israelite

Material is not foreign (re reworked creation and flood?)

Opposition to arrogance of man

Relationship between man and God

[also, moral judge?]


Only J from G12 to G16

Abraham is father of Israel

J’s paternal protection and providence

But E in Circumcision

Abaham is to be father of many nations (G17:2-8)

Circumcision for all Abrahams sons (eg. Ishmael) (G17:9-14)

Sarah also mother of nations (G17:15-16)

E parallels covenant between Adam and Noah (where E used)

Note 10 generation leaps

Similar wording in blessings, etc. G1:28, 9:1,7, 17:2,6,

47:27, Exodus 1:7

Sign of covenants, G9:12,13,17, 17:11

Establishing of Covenant, G9:9, 17:7,

Everlasting covenants, G9:16, 17:7,13,19

Same day, G7:13, 17:23,26

Cutting off, G9:11, 17:14

E in Promise of Land (G17:7, 8)

Common noun

J appears to Abraham in G17:1

J is to be Israel’s God, E (note Ezekiel 37:27)

Alien Peoples=E

Founding G19:29, 21:8-21,

Revelation of God to, G20:3,6, 31:24,

God’s conversations with, G20:11,13 21:22,23

Non-Israelite reference to God of Israel=J

G26:28,29, 30:27

Etc etc etc

Cassutos’ Conclusion:

-Names occur as required by their signification and rules

-not mechanical redaction work

-First pillar of DH crumbles











Lecture 4: Style and Language

Second Pillar:

-Changes in style and language

-vocabulary and grammar

-DH explanation: each source has unique style and language

-Example: sometimes “holidh” (“begot” in hiphil form);

but sometimes “yaladh” (“begot” in Qal form)

(Qal is usually of mother begetting, but occurs with respect to father in

J, where Hiphil is expected)

Cassuto’s Response:

-DH determines source by language differences, then determines language difference

by source (circular)

-DH amends verses to fit with theory

-DH fails to consider context of language differences

-Example 1: Begot in Qal (=J):

Irad begot Mehujael, and Mehijael begot Methushael, and Methushael

begot Lamech (G4:18)

Bethuel begot Rebekah (G22:23)

Seventy Nations’ genealogy (G10)

Begot in Hiph’il (=P)

Genealogy of Adam to Noah (G5)

Genealogy of Noah to Abraham (G11:10-26)

-Response: Circular Reasoning: passages assigned to J because of Qal,

then Qal supposed to be peculiar to J (?)

The name J not present in genealogy of Cain (in G4), only in

previous story of Cain and Abel

Similarly J not in Seventy Nations’ genealogy (in G10), only

in previous story of tower

DH connects preceding narratives with J to genealogies and so

assigns genealogies to J (but DH could have divided sections) (?)

Alternative Explanation: Usage/Rules in Hebrew:

-Yaladh occurs in sense of holidh (father) only in

perfect (past) and participle (present), not

imperfect (future)

-Qal in imperfect used only of mother

-For father in imperfect only holidh (but

Proverbs 27:1 has different sense of Qal


So Torah could not be otherwise in genealogies of

Adam, Noah (where father, imperfect with Waw


But for perfect where both Qal and Hiphil allowed:

-If passage starts with Niphal or Qal of mother, it

will continue with Qal even for father (Niphal has

affinity to Qal)

-If passage starts with Hiphil, it continues with


Changes of language here is not peculiarities of various authors, but language rules applying to all

-Example 2: Hekim/Nathan berith (“he established/gave a covenant”)=P, vs.

Karath berith (“he cut a covenant”) in other sources

-Response: Idioms not identical and used in different contexts

-Karath berith=give assurance/promise

-Hekim berith=fulfill assurance/promise

Examples: God promises covenant with Abraham (G17:4)

Soon after promises to establish (wahakimothi, of hekim)

covenant (G17:7)

Not redundant here, Hekim means to fulfill covenant

previous promise (G17:4)

Later God says he will establish (hakimothi, ‘akim) covenant

through Isaac not Ishmael (G17:18-21)

Clearly, God will fulfill previous promises through Isaac

-Example 3: Bring up Israel from Egypt=E, vs.

Bring forth Israel from Egypt=J

-Response: Idioms not identical

-Bringing up emphasises their coming to Israel, (goal in mind)

-Bringing forth emphasises their leaving Egypt, (liberation from

bondage in mind)

Examples: Jacob descending to Egypt fear loss of the Land

Reassured that he will have possession of the Land

So “bring up” used (G46:4)

Joseph says that God will bring up to Israel,

And his bones to Israel (G40:24)

In Covenant between the Pieces- go forth

Liberation from bondage is emphasis (G15:14)

-Example 4: Different personal Pronouns (I)

`Ani=J, E


In P `ani occurs about 130 times, but `anokhi only once (G23:4)

-Response: Context not considered

Statistics don’t consider context, sometimes unfair

Note “`ani Y-H-W-H” is stereotype expression, so counts as one case

even though used many, many times

Also `anokhi 3 syllables, `ani 1 or 2 syllable, so effects rhythm

[and emphasis]

-All Genesis shows the following rules of usage of pronouns:

1. If subject of verbal-clause, `anokhi is used (examples G 16:5, 30:3). Single exception (G14:23) is sentence of unusual rhythm

2. If pronoun is in compound subject, following the verb, always `ani (G37:10)

3. If pronoun in nominativus pendens, and subject of rest of sentence is that pronoun, `ani is used (G17:4); if subject of rest of sentence is someone else, `anokhi is used (G24:27)

4. If pronoun emphasises pronominal suffix in verb then `ani used (G27:34, 38)

5. In noun-clauses, if wants to emphasise subject, `anokhi (G15:1); if does not want to emphasise subject, `ani (G41:9)

Use of pronoun depends on rules of language not sources

-Example 5: Terem=J, vs.


-Response: Meaning not identical

-Terem means “not yet”, adverb

Example: Pharoah does not yet understand Egypt is ruined


-B’terem means “before”, conjunction

Example: Isaac to bless before he dies (G27:4)

-Example 6: order in numerals changes

Compound numerals sometimes have units, tens, then hundreds etc.

sometimes have hundreds, tens, then units etc.

-DH: descending order (e.g. two-hundred and fifty) =J,E and D

-DH: ascending order (e.g. fifty and two-hundred)=P

-Response: Consider context again, ordering based on rules

-When statistical or technical data offered, ascending order


-exactness needed and smaller numbers prominent

Examples: Numbers 7:86, 7:13, Kings I 9:23

-When in narrative or poem, natural descending order preferred

Examples: G6:3, Deuteronomy 31:2, D34:7, Kings I 9:14

But can it be a coincidence that ascending order occurs in passages

assigned to P?

-DH has P contain and characterized by statistical, technical

genealogical, chronological data

-Unsurprisingly, ascending order expected for these

-In (few) narratives assigned to P, descending order appears

Example: G17:24

As for Style:

-Difference in style between sections

-DH: P is dry

-meticulous with details

-stereotyped expressions

-DH: J, E are exciting and colourful


- Of course, statistical, chronological, technical, genealogical data, etc. ascribed to

P, will be dry!

-The (few) narratives ascribed to P are as exciting as J, E

-The (few) genealogical record in J are as cold as P

Cassuto’s Conclusion:

-Differences in style and language are reasonable in context and for rules of language

-Second pillar of DH crumbles




Lecture 5: Divergences and Contradictions:

Inconsistencies in text:

-in ethics

-in national/political issues

-in methods of worship

-in customs of time

-conflicting/contradictory passages

- DH explains by different sources/authors’ outlook

Example 1: Inconsistency in Conception of God

-Source J has God as God of Israel, righteous judge, personal being having

relations with humanity, accepting their prayers, humanlike attributes, revealing

Himself to man etc.

-Source E has greater distance between man and God, appears in dreams, less concrete,

reveals Himself to people awake through angels , etc.

-Source P has even greater distance between man and God, transcendental, etc.

Cassuto’s Response:

-All explained by the character of the Divine Names and their contexts, see lectures

2 and 3

-With respect to differences in P and E, note E occurs in narrative, P in doctrinal,

technical, etc. sections


-author writes biography of father, a scientist, academic

-describes father:

-at home

-with students

-as scientist

-writes book chronologically, different aspects occur together

-calls father “father”, when describing private life

-calls father “professor”, when describing scientific work

-Will later reader reason according to DH as describe different sources/authors to

explain different names and aspects father given?

-Similarly, Torah describes different aspects of God as relevant, God’s acts or the

perspectives He is viewed change, but God does not change.

-Compare Dante’s Divina Commedia

-colourful tales besides doctrinal sections

-but a single author

Example 2 (related to 1): Different Types of Divine Revelation

-Three types of theophanies:

-God revealed as more concrete, corporeal=J

-God revealed in dreams/night visions=E

-Speech only=P

Seven instances before Moses and Cassuto’s response:

1. At covenant between Pieces (G15:1)

-Use of Name J here contradicts DH

-So DH proponents (Gunkel) alter text, remove word “vision” (!) so text fits

with E (circular reasoning).

2. Revelation to Isaac (G26:24)

-Use of Name J here, again

-DH proponents remove whole verse!

3. Jacob’s (ladder) Dream (G28:12)

-Use of Name J, again (G28:13)

-DH proponents cut up entire section to produce parallel J section with more

corporeal revelation of J and E section with dream

4. & 5. Dreams of Abimelech (G20:3) and Laban (G31:24)

-Abimelech and Laban both strangers (King of Gerar and Aramean, respectively)

and do not know J (see lecture 3)

6. Jacob’s (flock) Dream (G31:10-11)

-irreverent to use J in context

7. Jacob’s (Egypt) Dream (G47:2)

-In all utterances related to Egypt, story of Joseph and brothers, Jacobs leaving

for Egypt and Israel’s settling and enslavement in Egypt, until revelation of J to

Moses at Horeb, J not used, only E

-J used in narrative of Potiphar’s wife, but not in utterances

-used only once in Jacob’s Blessing (G49:18), which is a poem with different


-In Egypt Israel in alien country, and oppressed not in Land given by J;

knowledge of J decreased

-Moses helps rehabilitation here (Exodus 6:2)

-So DH has to reconstruct text to fit with theory

-better consistent, explanation of text possible

Example 3: Differences in Ethical Standards

-J and E show morality and righteousness of Fathers, but also some questionable


Example: Jacob’s deceit in obtaining Isaac’s blessing (G27)

-P, in contrast, is never morally defective

Cassuto’s Response

-Jacob and Rebecca do sin

-What is the Torah’s judgement?

-Scripture tells narratives in an objective style; we learn God’s judgement in

subsequent events

-Consequences of Jacob’s deceit, Jacob & Rebecca’s punishment:

-He goes into exile

-Punished deed for deed:

-Jacob exploited father’s blindness; Laban exploits Jacob’s “blindness” in

substituting sisters in marriage

-Jacob substituted in his brother’s place; sisters substituted

-Note: G29:26 Laban says not custom in his country to marry younger before

first-born; just as not custom for younger to usurp blessing of first-born

-Rebecca’s Punishment:

-To send son away

-Note parallelism in command to deceive father, as to son to flee (G27:8, 27:43)

(other problems, G12:10-20, 20, 26:7-11, 25:29-34, 30:25-43, etc. see Cassuto’s La

Questione della Genesi)

-But why no problems/sins in P at all?

-P assigned little narrative (only Machpelah and Circumcision), but only dry records

Example 4: Differences in Customs of Family:

-In P new-born named by father; in J & E named by mother

-DH: P and J & E come from different times, when custom of who names was different

Cassuto’s Response:

-In J & E mostly mother names

-but a number of exceptions (14) versus rule (19 or 20)

-also note majority changes to father in J & E since naming of Jacob’s children is

one section

-In P only four cases

-but two assigned to P because father names child

-third instance is unclear whether father names son

-Better explanation of naming:

-if etymology of name relates to father, then father names

-if etymology of name relates to mother, then mother names

-if no etymology given, one case naming by father, another by mother, sometimes

indefinite who names

Example 5: Conflicting Passages

-Names of Esau’s three wives differ in two records

-G26:34, 28:9 Esau’s wives:

-Judith, Beeri’s (the Hittite) daughter

-Basemath, Elon’s (Hittite) daughter

-Mahalath, Ishmael’s daughter

-G26:2-3, Esau’s wives:

-Adah, Elon’s (Hittite) daughter

-Oholibamah, Anah’s daughter, Zibeon (Hivite’s) daughter

-Basemath, Ishmael’s daughter

(other cases also, but some examined under duplicate narratives, Lecture 6)

-DH differences from different authors

Cassuto’s Response:

-DH does not help here, explain inconsistency (?)

-Blame shifts to redactor

-Redactor/Editor should be more careful

-Redactor is often claimed to tamper with sources elsewhere

-Both records assigned to P

-So DH has redactor change one account in P and introduce inconsistency by

substitute another source

-Another explanation:

-Israelites have different traditions, include both, not favouring either, but for reader

to decide

-Many Talmudic instances of this(?)

Cassuto’s Conclusion:

-Most prominent evidence here; many more instances, see La Questione della Genesi

-DH ignores context, offers poor explanation and alters text

-No inconsistencies or better explanations for apparent inconsistencies than DH

-Third pillar of DH crumbles






Lecture 6: Repetitions and Duplications


-Same story reappears, different in form, details

Example: G1, 2


-Stories describe different events, but are very similar (in themes/motifs)

Example: Matriarchs at kings

-Sarah (G12:10-20; G20)

-Rebecca (G26:7-11)

DH on Duplications and Repetitions:

-Different sources told same story differently

-Redactor keeps repetitions and conflicting stories

Duplication: G1, 2, Creation Story(ies)

-First section:

-uses E, assigned to P

-describes creation of whole world, orderly

-God as transcendant

-Second section:

-uses JE, assigned to J

-vivid narrative

-ethical theme

-J’s direct relations with man

Cassuto’s Response:

-Different traditions in ancient east of philosophers v. masses

-of world’s origin, mysterious speculations v. folk-tales

-Torah maintained both, useful accounts, but refined with monotheism

-First section describes how entire world created by One God

-Second for moral teachings

-But details of sections conflict?

1. First section has creation in six days; second talks about “The day” God

made world (G2:4)

-Day is expression, means the time God made the world

Examples: Day mean time generally

-Day when God spoke to Moses on Sinai (Numbers 3:1); but

forty days

-Day when David delivered from all enemies (Psalm 18:1,

Samuel II 12:1)

2. First section creation begins with primordial waters; second section dry land

-Problematic only if assumed to be independent sections

-If we assume unity, then sections continuous

3. First section male and female created together (G1:27); second Adam first

(G2:7), Eve later (G2:21-22)

-General statement followed by detailed account

-First is general account, man within world

-Second is how created

4. First section plants are created before man on third day; second after man

(G2:5, 9)

-Plants in second section are “siah” (shrubs) and “esev” (herbs) of field

-But other plants existed, and (contra Dillman) shrubs, herbs not most


-Negation implies that other plants existed

-Note G3:18, thorns and thistles produced, and man punished to eat of “esev”

of field

-these species are consequence of man’s sin,

-“siah” of field is thorns and thistles; “esev” of field, wheat and barley,

etc. for food instead of fruit of Eden

But all plants created on third day including these?

-First section talks repeatedly about plants that yield seed (G1:11-12, 29)

-Plants of third day can so reproduce

-But “siah” and “esev” fields require God’s rain and Man’s tilling (which

is consequence of sin)

-As for G2:9, this explains earlier statement G2:8, general followed by detail

5. First section, beasts and birds before man; second formed from ground


-God showed man all animals to name, and find helper

-Cattle, important helper, not mentioned in G2:19

-Cattle already in garden (G2:20)

-But other animals throughout world, not in garden, so God forms them for

man there

-Second section does not offer detailed description of cosmology as first, only

heaven and earth incidentally

-Second section is detail of creation of man, detailed follows general as style

of Torah

-So unified, continues sections. Also note: first tells of how good world of God

(G1:31), second of how evil comes from sin (G3:16-19)

Repetitions: Matriarchs and Kings

-Sarah in Egypt (G12:10-20) assigned to J

-Story parallels Israel going down Egypt (noted in Bereshith Rabba


-compare G12:1, 43:1, 47:4;

G43:1, 47:4;

G12:12, Exodus 1:16, 22;

G12:14-15, Israel as slaves in Egypt;

G12:16, 13, 2, jewellery at Exodus;

G12:17, E11:1;

G12:18, E12:31;

G12:19, E12:32;

G13:1, Numbers 13:17, 22;

G13:3, E17:1, 40:36, 38, Numbers 10:6, 12, 33:2, 2

G13,3, 4, Israel fights first here in conquest west of Jordan

-also compare G12:1-9, Abram’s went to Canaan, story of descendants

entering land

Abram comes from north to Shechem (G12:6-7), to

Bethel-Ai (G12:8), note alter, to Negev (G12:9) and

Hebron (G23:17-20),

Jacob comes from north-east to Shechem (G33:18-20,

24:25-29), to Bethel, note put away idols (G35:2, 4), to

Negev and Hebron (G35:27)

Joshua conquers Ai (east of Bethel) first (Joshua 8:9), note

builds alter after battle (near Shechem J8:30), in Shechem

Israel to put away idols and builds sanctuary (J24:23, 25-

26). Same tripartite land division

-Parallels teach that fathers signs for children, symbolically conquered

land fulfillment of promise in children, God helps children as helped


-Similarly three stories of mothers advance Torah’s message here

-Something done repeatedly is established, confirmed and fulfilled

-note doubling of dream of Pharaoh proves that matter fixed, God

will bring it about (G41:32, Torah explicit of method here)

-Compare Roman historian Livy who incorporates similar stories

Cassuto’s Conclusion:

-DH has strange redactor repeating and contradicting himself

-But duplications explained, as details, contradictions re/desolved

-Repetitions easily explained in method, intentions of Torah

-Fourth pillar of DH crumbles









Lecture 7: Composite Sections

Composite Sections:

-Internal parallels between verses

-Superfluous, contradictory

-DH: redactor culls from different sources on same story (sometimes own comments)

Particular example (as method in previous lectures):

-Example: Isaac’s blessing of Jacob (G27)

-DH prizes this example

-DH attributes to J and E

-DH dissects for sources

-Gunkel from verses 15, 16 and throughout:

-15, Esau’s garments (noting God’s names, language, style)=J

-16, Kid’s skins (etc.)=E

The Story (read verses carefully):

-Jacob, Esau contending for blessing belonging to chosen one (G25:23)

-Don’t know which is chosen; doubt which is elder (G25:22, 26, both strive for first)

-but clear who deserves it (G25:27, and tenor of whole section)

-Isaac likes/weakened by influence of Esau (G25:28)

-Rebecca likes Jacob, mother understands character (G25:28, no reason given, contrast

Isaac for Esau)

-Each brothers believes he is worthy, strives; Jacob also attains legal right (G25:29-34)

DH and Cassuto’s Response:

-Isaac invites Esau (G27:1-4, dimness symbolic, not recognizing Jacob’s right)

-G27:1, DH deletes “and he said unto him, ‘My son’ and he said unto him ‘Here I

am’”, since verse assigned to J and such expression in opening conversation of E


-But so simple expression peculiar to an author?

-Even though sometimes found with E name (not used by J), also found where no

divine name, and where J name (G22:1 but DH delete J here and substitute E!)

-If words are deleted we need a new “elaw” (to him) in verse 2, showing verse not

conversation’s beginning

-G27:2-4, DH deletes “and make me savoury food…that I may eat”, attributes to E

since parallels “game/venison” and “savoury food”, showing two sources

(“savoury food” connected with Kid’s skins=E, “game”=J)


-New reconstruction of J and E strange:

-J=Now therefore take, I pay thee, thy weapons, thy quiver and thy bow, and go

out to the field, and take (hunt/prepare) me venison, that my soul may bless

thee before I die.

-main point is that he bring and prepare food for father

-E=And he said unto him, “My son”, and he said unto him, “Here I am.” He said,

make me savoury food, such as I love, and bring it to me, that I may eat

-valiant hunter is now a housewife

-but passage as is, is clear and understandable

-Rebecca overhears, can’t convince Isaac, so uses deception

-She prepares food; Jacob will offer it and say he is Esau to receive the blessing

-Blessing is rightfully Jacob, but should have trusted in God to intervene, not deception-


-G27:5-10, to “…bring me venison” assigned to J; “and make me savoury food…before

his death” assigned to E. Venison/game attributed to J; Savoury food to E.

-In E here J’s name occurs (G27:7), but DH deletes it

-Cassuto’s Response:

-At beginning of Rebecca’s words, assigned to J, is “Behold” (hinne); and in following

portion ascribed to E, is “Now therefore” (we’atta)

-but expressions “hinne-we’atta” are inseparable correlatives;

premise/conclusion; antecedent/consequent

-Check G27:2-3

-Jacob’s hesitation (G27:11-17):

-afraid to seem a mocker (G27:12; note seem a mocker, Jacob is genuine, thinks

he is really not a mocker, compare G19:14)

-not afraid of deception (sin here; but Jacob does not doubt his right)

-Words quick/short (G27:13-14) showing swiftness and exactness

-Rebecca dresses Jacob in clothes and skins, each assigned by DH to different source and

divide paragraph here

-Cassuto’s Response:

-Both clothes and skins necessary

-Blind person compensates lack of sight with all other senses

-Esau from Jacob differed in odour of the field and hairy

-Clothes and skins needed to counteract this

-Other senses also appear; taste- savoury food (Rebecca must prepare domestic animal

to taste as wild animal, and hearing- Jacob failed to imitate brother’s voice (G27:22))

-Also note G27:16, “hilbisha” (she dressed, perfect) in middle; why not

“Wattalbesh” (she dressed, imperfect with conversive waw) at beginning of


-When in biblical narrative prose verb is twice in succession, Bible changes its

tense and place:

-first it is imperfect converted to perfect, next it is perfect

-first it is at beginning of sentence, next afterwards

-Examples: Wayiqra-qara (G1:5)

Wayehi-haya (G4:2)

Wayave-hevi (G4:3-4)

Wayisa-sa’a (G5:4-5)

Watehi-haya (G11:3)


Watalbesh-hilbisha (G27:16)

-Verses are clearly linked, inseparable:

-hilbisha because previously Wattalbesh

-Jacob brings food to father (G27:18-20)

-Isaac first doubts, after convincing blesses

-DH divides between J and E

-Seems redundancy in parts

-Cassuto’s Response:

-No redundancy, every word is careful

-Opens (G27:18), “My father…here I am”

-parallelism with G27:1 shows antithesis/tragedy, Isaac’s original plan foiled,

father does not know which son, so he asks “Who art thou, my son?” (G27:18)

-Jacob answers “Anokhi Esaw”, recall Ani/Anokhi usage depends on emphasis:

-Usually at introduction is “ani”, since will want to emphasise predicate (note


-but here is anokhi, Jacob will not emphasise his ‘name’

-Jacob says he’s done as father told him (G27:20), very vague, afraid to get caught

in details; only later Jacob has surer flow, “Arise, I pray thee, eat of venison, that that

thy soul may bless me” (G27:20)

-Isaac uneasy, unconvinced, Jacob replies that he is firstborn Esau, Isaac then asks how

he found, prepared food so quickly (G27:20)

-Jacob insists God gave him success (G27:20) (maybe alludes that Providence guided

events so he’ll get blessing)

-Isaac still troubled, so feels son (G27:21, climax of tension 22, release 23)

-Lingering doubt (G27:24)- response ‘ani, Jacob cannot emphasise in deceit

-G27:25, Isaac accepts food

-G27:26, kissing and blessing of son

-Kissing of son not as confirmation, Isaac’s already accepted food, but for blessing

-But smell of Esau’s clothes reaches father, confirms further, and so Isaac blesses

son with reference to smell of field (G27:27)

-But isn’t narration after already told “Then he blesses him” (G27:23) a duplication?

-Rather, general statement followed by detailed, tension reduced for details of


-Also blessing is not to be divided among sources, unity evinced by:

-for example, seven benisons upon Jacob (G27:28-29, each verb a

benediction), as in blessings of Abraham (G12:2-3) and Isaac (G26:3-4) before

him (seven is number of perfects, re Cassuto’s commentaries)

-Same detailed reasoning, new exegetical method, applicable to rest of section as

well as to other putatively composite sections

Cassuto’s Conclusion:

-Fifth pillar of DH crumbles










Lecture 8: Conclusion


-Critics suggest DH must be refined, add detail change theories slightly

-but arguments for entire theory fail

-No cumulative argument possible:

-arguments together don’t make theory more probable than not

-each argument has no (?) explanatory power, so no cumulative force

New Directions:

-New theory

-different ancient traditions present in Israel

-Evidence: allusions to things not discussed in detail, but which Israel presumably


Examples: “The” cherub and sword of flame (G3:24)


G11:29 (Milcah and Iscah well known but no details given)


Etc. (re Cassuto’s commentaries)

-Also consider Midrashim (preserves some of these traditions in some form; also

note Shemoth Rabba 5:22)

-Recognise Torah’s unity

-Compare Dante’s Divina Comedia; many sources, themes, style changes, but work

is fused and unified

-Recognise Torah precedes prophetic writings

-Recognise Torah and Prophets are continuous