A Phenomenological Midrash of Genesis 22
Chapter V: Rebecca 78
Chapter V Rebecca I am reduced to myself in responsibility, outside of the fundamental historicity Merleau-Ponty speaks of. —Emmanuel Levinas1 Rebecca fter Sarah’s death and burial, Abraham instructs a servant to go find Isaac a wife. Upon hearing Abraham’s command, the servant asks if she does not consent to come, should he take Isaac back to the land from which Abraham has come. Abraham responds: On no account must you take my son back there! The Lord, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house, who promised me an oath, saying, “I will give this land to your offspring”–He will send His angel before you, and you will get a wife for my son from there. And if the woman does not consent to follow you, you shall then be clear of this oath to me but do not take my son back there. 2 Isaac is not allowed to return to Abraham’s ancestral land. If he does, Isaac no longer offers something new, a saying that has not been said. And Abraham is condemned to being no more than his past; that which has been said. Simply, God’s promise to Sarah and Abraham that many nations will descend from them goes unfulfilled. A A Rebecca B 79 Here, perhaps, Isaac is emptied of Abraham’s former history that sacri- ficed life to idolatrous traditions. Without the safe haven of his father’s tra- ditions, Isaac stands exposed or vulnerably open to the unknown, unable to move back,...
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