On “Doublets”

Total Posts:  9231
Joined  15-06-2006
12 December 2009 09:59

A “doublet” is the name Bible scholars have given a story that’s told twice…usually with a difference in personel or perspective.  Doublets are strong evidence for the Documentary Hypothesis—that the Bible is the result of the deliberate combination and editing of several traditions or sources.  The two stories of creation are a gigantic “doublet”, for instance (sometimes there are triplets…the same story told three different times).

The (sometimes very subtle) differences are important indicators of the source of the tradition.  For instance, the sons and grandsons of Jacob whose descendants went on to become the tribes of the northern Kingdom of Israel are mentioned at birth in association with Elohim (the Lord)...the births of those who would become the Southern Kingdom of Judah are usually mentioned in association with Yahweh (God). 
The Torah, according to the Documentary Hypothesis, is the conscious editing and splicing together of the slightly different traditions of these two groups of tribes.

An example of this would be the selling of Joseph into slavery.  You’ll recall from Sunday School that Joseph’s brothers were jealous of his most-favored-child status and angered by the dreams he related to them in which they bowed down to him as Lord and Master (Genesis 37:7-10). 
One day while his brothers were grazing their flocks, they saw Joseph coming toward them and conspired to kill him.  There follows a classic doublet:
In one version (the E tradition), Reuben persuades his brothers not to kill Joseph (Genesis 37:21-22)...in the other (the J) tradition), it is Judah who talks them out of it (Genesis 37:26-27).
Another example:
There are two legends having to do with the acquisition of Shechem—which became the capital city of Israel (the Northern Kingdom) when the united monarchy established under David and Solomon fell apart.
In one (Genesis 34-35), Shechem was taken by force and the inhabitants slaughtered. 
The other version of events is found in Genesis 33:19—

And he [Jacob] bought a parcel of a field, where he had spread his tent, at the hand of the children of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for an hundred pieces of money.

In one legend, Israel bought the land.  This is the “E” version. 
In the other, the “J” version (the “rape” of Dinah), some of the “children of Israel” took Shechem by deceit and force. 
The “E” version portrays the acquisition of Shechem in an honorable fashion. 
The “J” version shows it in a bad light.

A few more doublets:
An episode occurred shortly after Abram and Sarai entered Egypt to escape the drought in Canaan:
Abram, fearing that Pharaoh would kill him and take Sarai if they thought she was his wife, got her to agree to say that she was his sister.  Sure enough, Pharaoh saw Sarai and, having no idea she was married, took a liking to her and added her into his harem. 
At that, Abram’s god worried Pharaoh with un-named plagues until he released Sarai and had the Egyptian army escort them both—and their increased houshold—out of Egypt (Genesis 12:11-20).
Strangely, this same thing happens when the newly-named Abraham and Sarah met up with the King of Gerar in Genesis 20:1-18.  Fearing that he’d be murdered and she’d be enslaved if they were discovered to be man and wife, Abraham told the King of Gerar that Sarah was his sister (she was a step-sister, after all), so the King took Sarah—having no idea she was already married—and married her himself.  Added her to his harem.
Whereupon Abraham’s god appeared to the King in a dream and told him the truth…that Sarah was actually Abraham’s wife…and made the King an offer he couldn’t refuse: 
If he’d release Sarah, give Abraham livestock and slaves—and freedom in Gerar, Abraham’s god would re-open the wombs of the King’s harem—which he’d closed shut (Genesis 20:1-18].

One more:
In Exodus, when the Israelites had left Egypt and were hungry and thirsty, Moses got them some water to drink.  One version:

...the people did chide with Moses, and said, “Give us water that we may drink.”  And Moses said unto them, “Why chide ye with me?  Wherefore do ye tempt the Lord?”
And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses and said, “Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst?”
And Moses cried unto the Lord, saying, “What shall I do unto this people?  They be almost ready to stone me!” 
And the Lord said unto Moses, “Go on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel; and thy rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thine hand and go.  Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink.”
And Moses did so in sight of the elders of Israel.  And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah…—(Exodus 17:2-7)

Now, the version of the same incident in Numbers keeps most of the Exodus story, but adds a significant ending:

And the people chode with Moses, and spake, saying, “Would God that we had died when our brethren died before the Lord!  And why have ye brought up the congregation of the Lord into this wilderness, the we and our cattle should die there?  And wherefore have ye made us to come up out of Egypt, to bring us in unto this evil place:  It is no place of seed, or of figs, or of vines, or of pomegranates; neither is there any water to drink!”
And Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they fell upon their faces and the glory of the Lord appeared unto them.
And the Lord spoke unto Moses, saying, “Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock:  so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink.
And Moses took the rod from before the Lord, as He commanded him.  And Moses, and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, “Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?”
And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also.
And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron, “Behold ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.”
This is the water of Meribah; because the children of Israel strove with the Lord, and He was sanctified in them.-(Numbers 20:3-13) [emphasis mine]

In the first passage, Moses drawing water from a rock was a good thing.  In the second, it was very bad (although we don’t really know why it was bad). In Exodus it was an act of obedience…in Numbers it was an act of disobedience which the priestly authors went out of their way to include in the narrative.  In Exodus, Moses acted alone…in Numbers, Aaron was included in the story and although he did nothing wrong, suffered for Moses’ transgressions.
The authors of this passage in Numbers were interested in showing Moses in a bad light…and Aaron as equal in stature and totally innocent of whatever sin had been committed by Moses.
Aaron became the first high priest and it was the Aaronid priesthood which edited the traditions and produced the Torah.

[ Edited: 13 December 2009 09:03 by Andrew]
Total Posts:  18127
Joined  15-02-2008
12 December 2009 16:39

I see a long pointless and boring rebutt coming from you know who smile