By B. G. Hewitt

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32:22-32). The tory opens with Jacob's journey from Laban home in Haran to hi father's in Canaan, and with the fording of the Jabbok. " With the break of dawn, hi opponent asks Jacob to free him, but Jacob refuses until the "man" blesses him. " Jacob names 12 The Hebrew Folktale the place "So it is: (or ( have seen Cod £ace to (ace, and my IJ e Is preserved. h a typical etiological pronouncement "Therefore the chil­ dren of Israel eat not of the sinew of the vein, whjch is upon the hollow of the thigh, to this day: because he touched the hollow of [Jacob's I thigh in the sinew of the vein" (verse 33).

It emphasizes that "My spirit shall not always strive on account of man, for that he also is flesh: and his days shall be a hundred and twenty years" (verse 3). In other words, the denial of the exis­ tence of demigods as these, who, according to common mythological beliefs, are immortal. This text preserves some of the most compelling evidence of Scripture's struggle against myth, a struggle that retained the original mytho­ logical story in conjunction with the monotheistic perception. This particular development is beyond the purview of this book and therefore will not be dealt with further.

Such a distinction is most important for describing the character of the folktale in the biblical period, and I intend to deal below only with those tales that can with (relative) certainty be considered folktales. 2 An examination of the biblical folktale repertoire must consider its variety and complexity. This is hardly surprising, as biblical literary creation spans a period of over a thousand years of culture. It follows that the folk literature cre­ ated during this time frame will also be complex and multifaceted.

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Abkhaz by B. G. Hewitt


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