Zilpah

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In the Book of Genesis, Zilpah (זִלְפָּה "meaning uncertain," [1] Standard Hebrew Zilpa, Tiberian Hebrew Zilpāh) was Leah's handmaid, presumed slave, [2] whom Leah gave to Jacob "to wife" to bear him children (Genesis 30:9). Zilpah gave birth to two sons, whom Leah claimed as her own and named Gad and Asher (Genesis 30:10-13).

Contents

Zilpah is given to Leah as a handmaid by Leah's father, Laban, upon Leah's marriage to Jacob (see Genesis 29:24, 46:18). According to the early rabbinical commentary Pirke De-Rabbi Eliezer, Zilpah and Bilhah, the handmaids of Leah and Rachel, respectively, were actually younger daughters of Laban. [3]

Zilpah also figures in the competition between Jacob's wives to bear him sons. Leah stops conceiving after the birth of her fourth son, at which point [4] Rachel, who had not yet borne children, offers her handmaid, Bilhah, "to wife" to Jacob so that she can have children through her. When Bilhah conceives two sons, Leah takes up the same idea and presents Zilpah "to wife" to Jacob. Leah names the two sons of Zilpah and is directly involved in their upbringing.

According to Rashi, an 11th-century commentator, Zilpah was younger than Bilhah, and Laban's decision to give her to Leah was part of the deception he used to trick Jacob into marrying Leah, who was older than Rachel. The morning after the wedding, Laban explained to Jacob, "This is not done in our place, to give the younger before the older" (Genesis 29:26). But at night, to mask the deception, Laban gave the veiled bride the younger of the handmaids, so Jacob would think that he was really marrying Rachel, the younger of the sisters. [5]

In Jewish tradition, Zilpah is believed to be buried in the Tomb of the Matriarchs in Tiberias.

Family tree

Terah
Sarah [6] Abraham Hagar Haran
Nahor
Ishmael Milcah Lot Iscah
Ishmaelites 7 sons [7] Bethuel 1st daughter2nd daughter
Isaac Rebecca Laban Moabites Ammonites
Esau Jacob Rachel
Bilhah
Edomites Zilpah
Leah
1. Reuben
2. Simeon
3. Levi
4. Judah
9. Issachar
10. Zebulun
Dinah  (daughter)
7. Gad
8. Asher
5. Dan
6. Naphtali
11. Joseph
12. Benjamin

In the novel The Red Tent by Anita Diamant, Zilpah and Bilhah are represented as half-sisters of Leah and Rachel by different mothers.

Related Research Articles

Jacob Regarded as a Patriarch of the Israelites, later given the name Israel

Jacob, later given the name Israel, is regarded as a Patriarch of the Israelites and so is an important figure in Abrahamic religions, such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Jacob first appears in the Book of Genesis, the son of Isaac and Rebecca, the grandson of Abraham, Sarah and Bethuel, the nephew of Ishmael. He was the second-born of Isaac's children, the elder being his fraternal twin brother Esau. However, by deceiving Isaac when he was old and blind, Jacob was able to usurp the blessing that belonged to Esau as the firstborn son, and become the leader of their family. Following a severe drought in his homeland Canaan, Jacob and his descendants, with the help of his son Joseph, who had since become a confidante of Pharaoh, moved to Egypt, where he died, aged 147 years, and was buried in the Cave of Machpelah.

Asher, in the Book of Genesis, is the second son of Jacob and Zilpah, and the founder of the Tribe of Asher.

Bilhah is a woman mentioned in the Book of Genesis. Genesis 29:29 describes her as Laban's handmaid, who was given to Rachel to be her handmaid on Rachel's marriage to Jacob. When Rachel failed to have children, Rachel gave Bilhah to Jacob as a concubine to bear him children. Bilhah gave birth to two sons, whom Rachel claimed as her own and named Dan and Naphtali. Genesis 35:22 expressly calls Bilhah Jacob's concubine, a pilegesh.

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According to the Book of Genesis, Naphtali was the sixth son of Jacob and second son with Bilhah. He was the founder of the Israelite Tribe of Naphtali.

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Rachel Biblical character

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References

  1. Herbert Lockyer (22 November 2016). All the Women of the Bible. Zondervan. p. 242. ISBN   978-0-310-53108-1.
  2. In Context Josephine Rosman (27 October 2017). Claiming Bilhah and Zilpah. Jewish Womens Archive.
  3. Rabbi Eliezer (1916). "Chapter 36". Pirke De Rabbi Eliezer. Translated by Friedlander, Gerald (1916 translation ed.). London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Turner & Co. Ltd. p.  271-272.
  4. Genesis 30:3
  5. For Rashi's commentary on this, with English translation, see Rashi's notes on 30:10:
  6. Genesis 20:12 : Sarah was the half–sister of Abraham.
  7. Genesis 22:21-22 : Uz, Buz, Kemuel, Chesed, Hazo, Pildash, and Jidlaph