Ya'akov (Jacob)

יעקב


The notes that follow are still in preparation.


His story starts at Genesis 25:19.
Hosea 12:4 references Penu-El
For Elohey Ya'akov - Isaiah 2:3; Psalm 20:2
For Land of Yisra-El - Genesis 49:7; Isaiah 41:8 ff. 
Synonym for Ephrayim - Micah 1:5, Isaiah 17:4
As synonym for Yehudah (!) - Obadiah 1:18 ff; Nachum 2:2
The heel incident: Hosea 12:3


1 Chronicles 4:36 has the interesting Ya'akovah (יעקבה), the feminine form of Ya'akov. It comes in an interesting genealogy of Ya'akov, in which the Negev desert residencies of the great grand-children of Shim'on are listed in surprising detail (presumably someone found some old tribal records and felt they needed including) where various other characters from the story also crop up, not as people but as places. This is worth some detailed investigation.


Yah-Ekev the heel god, the limping goat of the Pasach or Pesach rites, Beney Yisra-El Pan. Two different goat-cults seem to be mixed up, one a heel cult, the other a thigh. When he is born he comes out clutching Esav's heel. When he wrestles with the angel it is his thigh that is dislocated. He is linked thus to Oedipus and Dionysus among others.

The name means "taker hold of the heel", "supplanter", "layer of snares", for all three of which there are wonderful mythological explanations.

The sacred heel. Achilles pierced by Paris' arrow, wounding the only part of his body that had not been rendered immortal by "baptism" in the river Styx (does the name Achilles contain Ekev = the heel? No one knows, because no one can explain the meaning of the name. It probably comes from the root "achos - αχος", which means "pain", and even more probably that pain and the making sacred of his heel are profoundly interconnected). Talos pierced by Medea's pin. Diarmuid pierced by the bristle of the Benn Gulban boar. Harpocrates (Horus) stung by the scorpion. Baldur pierced by the mistletoe flung by Holder at the instigation of Loke. Ra stung by Isis' magic snake. Mopsus the Lapith stung by the black snake of Libya. Krishna pierced by an arrow fired by his brother Jara the hunter. Plus Ya'akov of course. And both Attis and Adonis, gored by boars...

Note the Yah-link again.

Esav is Edom, the red-haired twin brother (the repetition of the story which is Kayin and Havel, Yishma-El and Yitschak, Zerach and Parets, Sha'ul and David); the battle of the waxing and waning moons. The Tanist cult in which the elder brother rules for half the year and is then supplanted by the younger.

The story of Ya'akov's birthright is really the usurpation by the Ya'akov tribes of the priestly and royal prerogatives of the Edomites. Ya'akov's goatskin was the Azaz-El; Rivkah (Rebecca) as priestess.

The Teraphim that Rachel stole were probably oracular heads mummified. Did Sha'ul's Beney Yamin steal the shrine from the Beney Kalev (Calebites)? Lavan is obviously ha Lavanah, the white moon god(dess?). Is he, like Dinah, an original female made to appear male? In this sense there would have been more than one Ya'akov, the Hercules who put on the goat-skin as Tanist to his sacrificed brother Esav; the one who served seven years at Lavanah's shrine as consort of Le'ah the cow-goddess, his successor (or more likely an Egyptian equivalent later identified with him) who served seven years as consort to Rachel (Raguel?) and fled to avoid being sacrificed.
The Talmud says: Esav objected to the burial of Ya'akov at Machpelah; Yoseph insisted that it went with the birthright; in a fight Esav was beheaded by a dumb Danite; after which Esav was buried on Mount Se'ir but his head in Chevron (Hebron). This is not as odd as it may sound; shrunken preserved heads were commonplace in the ancient world, used for the giving of oracles, just as Hamlet does with Yorick's head - St George's monastery at Yericho remains to this day full of such reliques. 

To distinguish the sacred king from ordinary mortals, they are not permitted to physically touch the ground. Canaanite Agag for example walked on his toes. Dionysus wore a high-heeled buskin called a cothurnus. Japanese Geisha girls had their feet bound. So the sacred king is ritually immolated, rendering his feet holy - the ankle on Achilles' case, the heel in those of Ya'akov and Dionysus. The festival of Passover is known in Yehudit as Pesach, which comes from the root-word meaning to limp, probably because it was originally a New Year festival, and the annointment and immolation of the new king would have taken place at that time. The wrestling-match at Penu-El is almost certainly a variation of this, with eunuchisation (ritual castration) replacing heel-immolation ("and he touched the hollow of Ya'akov's thigh... and he limped because of his thigh - Genesis 32)

The merry men who attend Llew Llaw etc are usually goat-legged satyrs. Shoemakers often appear in the myths, because the goat-shoe or ass-shoe was part of the laming ritual (Cinderella's slipper may be connected too). The magical power of Arianrhod rested in her feet; when Llew Llaw took her foot in his hand to make a shoe for her he had in fact seized her power. Likewise the buskin (see 
cothurnus, above) worn by Greek tragic actors reflected those worn in earlier rites. Ya'akov grabs Esav's heel in the womb and thereby supplants him (latin sub plantummeans "under the foot", because to supplant someone you trip their heels).

In Ya'akov's case there is a confusion between his scared thigh and sacred heel. His supplanting of Esav suggests Frazer's Diana Nemorensis; the thigh is really the genitals, on which the hand is always placed for covenant swearing, and sacred for obvious reasons in any fertility cult. Jews do not eat it, but not because of Ya'akov, despite what it says in the tale!

The tale of the heel begins the epic journey, feeling from Esav; the tale of the thigh ends the epic journey, returning to Esav. But the tale of the heel also crowns him as Yisra-El, and we need to look at the possible meanings of Yisra-El to understand why this name was the one given.

The common pronunciation is Yisra-El (ישראל), and explained as meaning "he who wrestled with El". This unfortunately does not work, as "he who wrestled with El" would be Yisar-El (ישר-אל) and not Yisra-El; a different root. Raphael Patai has made the case for Yisra-El as a short form of "Hu yiheye sar (shel) El (האו יהיה שר אל= he will be a prince or minister of El". This makes more sense as a kingly name, but the long-windedness mitigates against it linguistically, and the wrestling-match is removed. Other conjectures include a root connection, not with Sar but with Sarah (שרה/שר) = "princess", which would take us back to the mother-goddess as Asherah; this works for the wrestling-match, because it is clearly one of her night-spirits with whom Ya'akov wrestles, and in her name that he receives the blessing and the name-change - all done of necessity before the sun comes up. The only difficulty with this conjecture is: how do you get from the idea to the actual name, as Yisra-El clearly associates him with El not Asherah, unless it is a combination of some kind: Asherah-El. At least one conjecture can certainly be rejected: that Yisra'el is in fact an abbreviation of Ish-Rachel (איש-רחל) = "the man or husband of Rachel", which he is of course; and not only in the obvious sense of the Genesis story but in the sense of Rachel as goddess and himself as her priest; unfortunately Rachel is spelled with a Chet (ח) not a Hey (ה) or an Aleph (א).

Returning then to the sacred heel, the Three Graces of Elis shared an altar with Dionysus; but his goat-foot is here replaced by a bull-foot. Presumably Set shrines would have had an ass-foot. Until modern times, matadors were always given the foot when they killed the bull (nowadays they get the ear), and a rabbit's foot is likewise a holy ikon, or at least an artefact of superstition.

The rites of Elis link to those of Elijah according to Graves. 1 Kings 18 has the Priests of Ba'al dancing on their altar to get Ba'al to kindle it; presumably a spring burning of the corpse/effigy of the old year to make way for the new, as in the "Guy Faux" (deliberately mispronounced Guy Fawkes) corn-harvest ceremonies of western Europe. The dance involved leaping up and down as sympathetic magic; did it also involve limping? Was the god of Karm-El (Carmel) before whom the Ba'al priests danced Yah-Ekev the limping heel-god?

Pesach means "to wrench" or "dislocate", i.e. "to lame"; and is obviously linked to the Penu-El story. The laming festival took place on the 14th of Nisan, the feast of unleavened bread which became the Jewish Passover; an entirely different festival began on the new moon of Nisan, known as Macharat ha Pesach. The latter was obviously the barley-goddess, as that is the grain harvested in the spring; what was the former? Unleavened bread was a Kena'anite barley-feast which Yoseph adopted.

Between Yericho (Jericho) and the river Yarden (Jordan), south of Gil-Gal, is Beit-Hoglah, the shrine of the limping-god; presumably a Jacobite shrine. Epiphanius says it was the threshing floor of Atad where Yoseph mourned for Ya'akov (how did he know?). Jerome says a round dance came from here in honour of Talos the Cretan (citation needed); Talos, or Talus, means "ankle-bone", the same ankle-bone connected with Ach-Lis or Achilles, famous for his sacred heel, and with Oedipus, "swollen-foot" (and with Dionysus - see below), all of whom reflect the practice that we also know from China and Japan, of sacred kings being ritually immolated in their feet to ensure they have to walk on tiptoe and therefore are literally elevated above the status of ordinary mortals because they never touch the ground) - all of which has already been pointed out, above. 


The Greeks identified Talus with the sun. His mother was Perdix and her rites included ritual sodomy. Talus was killed by Medea, identified with the partridge and rites which included a hobbling dance in imitation of the bird. The Arabic word Hoglah means "partridge" (see Beit Hoglah, above); Yirme-Yahu (Jeremiah 17:11) complained that "the partridge gathers young that she has not brought forth", i.e. too many Jewish ravers at the love-goddess' orgies.

Graves therefore concludes that the Pesach was originally a partridge cult on which a bull cult was superimposed. Large pinches of salt need to be taken with much of what Graves surmised, but his instinct was often very sound and his scholarship enormous.

The lame king is often connected to the smith-god: Ya'akov thus to the Kenite smith-god Tuval-Kayin, who great-nephew he would have been; Talus was the nephew of the smith Daedalus, or alternately Hephaestus. Dionysus may itself mean lame-foot (as Oedipus means "swollen-foot") from Nysos = "lame" in Corinthian Greek. Talus also means "a heel".

Graves suggests that emasculation and laming were substitutes for death for the king; later circumcision for emasculation and wearing buskins for laming.

The tradition of sacred lameness appears to be Dana'an not Cretan, which makes sense in our context.

One of Dionysus' titles was Merotraphe which means "whose thigh is sacred". Legend says this is because he was sewn into Zeus's thigh while an infant to hide him from Hera's jealous anger after he fathered the child on Semele. Mercury was always depicted as standing on tip-toes with eagle-wings on his sandals (Perseus borrowed them to kill the Medusa). In Latin sandals were called Talaria, from Talus, which by then had come to mean "a heel" in the Roman language too. The sandals were made from the heel bones of sheep or goats sacred to Hermes/Mercury; the Libyan antelope boibalis being the favourite. The laming is reflected too in the spearing of Jesus while on the cross.

What then was the birthright that Ya'akov stole from Esav? Presumably the sacred kingship.


*

My general view is that Ya'akov and Yisra-El were not the same person. Yisra-El is a royal title, though which kingship and which people is far from clear, given that the 12 tribes of Yisra-El only existed as an entity for the brief period of David's and Shelomoh's (Solomon)'s reigns, before which time each tribe seems to have been entirely independent, and after it Yisra-El quickly disappeared, leaving behind only the expanded Yehudah. But even in David's time it was not just the twelve tribes, and anyway the twelve seem to have been confederate astrologically rather more than politically. So was Yisra-El a religious priesthood like the papacy and not a secular kingship at all? Impossible to know for certain. Where did it come from, and when? Why was Penu-El its place of coronation? The wrestling-match needs much explaining, and especially its similarity to other initiation rites and kingship competitions in other cultures.

As heel-god Ya'akov is the immolated or sacrificial priest-king of the very ancient cults. Compare Achilles' heel, and that of Parets when the scarlet thread was attached (Genesis 38:28). The Golden Bough has a lot to say on this in Africa and ancient Egypt as well as elsewhere.

And as Yisra-El, what precisely is the cosmological role? Is he the sun, and Rachel the moon? Presumably. The twelve tribes represent the twelve constellations.

At what point does the story of the Aramaean arrival in Kena'an (Canaan) become confused? Are the Lavan stories in some way transferred to Av-Raham, or were there several stages of Aramaean colonisation? Did Ya'akov really go north before he came south? Were the Aramaeans themselves Beney Chet (Hittites)?


The wives/mothers:

Le'ah (לאה) = "to labour", also "to be exhausted", also "to labour in vain" - mythological links connect her with the cow, and thence symbolically to Hat-Hor and other goddesses.

Bilhah (בלהה) - probably from Balah (בלה), itself a corruption from the same with an ayin (ע) second letter = "to fear" or "be terrified" but usually "to be modest" or "feeble". 

Balah (בלע) = "to fall", "fall away", "be worn out", "wasted" - whence perhaps Belial (בליעל) [though I actually regard בליעל as an error for Bli-El, בליאל = "without any god", an ancient construction for what we would now call atheism], and also perhaps an unrecorded Beliyah? Either way the name suggests Ya'akov visiting worn-out shrines and getting kids or cults or disciples or followers there; perhaps through forced conversion. Yisra-El itself grows we are told from Rachel only (through Yoseph and Bin-Yamin, both of whom were Egyptians!)

Zilpah (זלפה) - root = "to drop", whence Zilpah (זלפה) = "a dropping", probably connected to Zilaph (זלעף) = "to be hot" or "to cause famine" – this name too may possibly connected to the cow, as Le'ah is reckoned to be (hints of previous cattle-cult again?).

Rachel (רחל) - given as "to cherish" or "to possess lambs" - Rachal (רחל) = "a ewe" or generally "a sheep" (and following the above, the cow-cult is replaced by the sheep cult - i.e. agriculture and shepherding have taken over from cattle-breeding; as in the Kayin and Havel story, as in the Ya'akov and Esav story etc etc; but also Aries has become the prime constellation of the year, replacing Taurus).

Leviticus 18:18 prohibits marrying two sisters.


I have a theory that the Jacobite clans - which is to say Yoseph, Ephrayim, Menasheh and Ben-Oni (Benjamin) - had their origins in Africa. All are clearly Egyptian, but aboriginal (i.e. African) or Aramaean? Evidence in the Nubian/Ethiopian legends of Akaf:

"The King (or Nap) of Napata, a tribe of Kordofan in Kush (Ethiopia was divided into four regions, of which this was the richest; and we have seen in the many descendants of Av-Raham that both Ethiopian Kush and Arabian Kush were known and connected), had his capital at Hophrat-en-Nahas ("the serpent of the sweet water"), and possessed all the copper and gold of the region, which he sold to Nubia and over the seas (the Eden story confirms this!). But his reign was limited to a set span of years; every night the priests watched the stars, made offerings and lit sacred fires, in order to know when the king should be killed. The day arrived (we can presume Jupiter had completed its cycle through the Zodiac and returned to Cancer".

This is the case in Malabar according to Campbell p166 - the relation of the planets to the moon was the key; it was usually 7 or 8 years, as in the Jubilee, or it could be earlier if the crops failed; for which cf Yoseph in Mitsrayim). "The hind legs of sacrificial bulls were slashed; all fires extinguished; women locked indoors; (we are not told the old king was killed, nor how; but it is presumed by the story-teller who recounted all this to Frobenius; it would have taken place on a dark night between the last and first quarters of the moon, in the dry period before the first rain, and before the seeds were sown, in order for it to be efficacious; it was done in secret and without weeping, the chief noble presided; the king was strangled or ritually immolated, and then buried with a living virgin at his side; which may explain the Abishag story; their rotted bodies would later be gathered in a bull's hide; the interregnum would last one year, during which time no new fires were kindled) - priests then kindled the new fire (we can assume too that cattle were speared to death on the old king's grave) and summoned the new king, the son of the sister of the one just killed, in this case named Akaf. But Akaf changed the customs and Frobenius (see Campbell 152ff) tells us what followed."

Was Akaf the sacred king's name? The slashing of the hind legs and the ritual immolation suggests the heel god, Yah Ekev = Ya'akov = Jacob. The new king would have won an athletic competition to gain the honour; as in the wrestling match at Penu-El. In Malabar he had to kill himself.

This was all part of the New Year festival - songs and dramatic representation accompanied it, the god goes down into the underworld or inside the mountain; the goddess follows and releases him (the Greeks changed it round as in Orpheus, Persephone etc) Usually the god is the moon and his 2nd wife Venus (i.e. the virgin).

The humiliation 
of Haman, in the Beney Yisra-El version of the Persian spring myth, reflects this; as does the Scheherazade tale which is akin to that of Ester (Esther/Ishtar). In Africa no holy fires were kept during the interregnum; the virgin would normally have kept the vestal fire, which would be rekindled by a pubescent boy and virgin girl, using fire sticks (swastikas, in their original form and purpose): the twirling stick being male, the base female. They would then copulate publicly before being buried alive in a trench.

The tricking of Lavan mirrors the Greek myth of Autolycus (Graves-Patai 224).

It is not exactly clear what were Lavan's teraphim which Rachel stole (Genesis 31:19), but they were small enough that she could put them in the saddle of her camel and sit on them (verse 34). Our understanding is helped by tales of teraphim in 1 Samuel 19:13 (where Michal puts a teraph in her bed and covers it with a sheet, so that Sha'ul's soldiers will think David is sick), and Judges 17:1-5, where Micha-Yehu's (
מִיכָיְהוּ) mother has a molten image and a graven image made (פֶּסֶל וּמַסֵּכָה), so that her son can consecrate a shrine (Judges 18:31), and he then adds an ephod (priestly gown) and teraphim, something akin perhaps to the alabaster statues that can be found in many Catholic churchesHosea 3:4 mentions them with sacrificial pillars (cf Beit-El) and sacrifices. See also 2 Kings 23:24, Zechariah 10:2, 2 Maccabees 12:40 (particularly interesting because these are small enough for people to keep under their coats, suggesting that teraphim can be anything from full-sized statues to mere good-luck charms).

Lavan represents the Aramaeans of Mesopotamia. The boundary stone and cairn of witness (Genesis 31:44-53) at Gal-Ed (Gilead, Yegar Sahaduta) in Mitspeh suggest the borders of Mesopotamian power. However Ashur (Assyria) was known as Aram too (Aram-Damasek as opposed to Aram-Naharayim).

A boundary cairn = 5 or 6 large stones. The Mosaic law relating to boundary stones is given in Deuteronomy 27:17.

Gal-Ed-Gilead = Arabic Jilad = "stronghold" (eg Jebel Jalad, Khirbet Jalad) Sometimes Jalud.



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