1302 Isaac died.
© Charles Chandler
He was 78 years old. Per Horemheb, the covenant passed to Jacob. So Jacob moved to Hebron, and Esau moved to Seir.
The split in Isaac's clan, with Esau in the south and Jacob in the north, figured significantly as time went on. The two were twins, but Esau was born first,1 and thus was the favored of the two. Esau is described as preferring the open fields, while Jacob stayed in tents,2 which is perhaps an allegory for the difference between farmers and pastoral nomads. (The same allegory was the theme of another Jahwist story, namely that of Cain and Abel,3 whose names were suggestive of Canaan and Israel.) Esau's secondary name was Edom,4 which was the name of the southern province of Canaan, extending to Aqaba, and which was more closely allied with Egypt, while Jacob's secondary name was Israel,5 which was the northern frontier. So Esau was the first-born who got the prime real estate, and Jacob was the younger brother who got marginalized. But the frontier swelled with immigrants,6,7 and Jacob tricked Esau out of his birthright, thereafter fleeing to Harran (capital of Mitanni) to escape his brother's wrath.8 The polarization in Canaan with respect to Egypt, with heretics to the north and loyalists to the south, continued all of the way through the split of the kingdom in , and was represented ideologically as the difference between priests in Israel descended from Moses versus priests in Judah descended from Aaron.
All told, we get three factions in a population that numbered less than 50,000 in the Levant.9
people named
ancestor region literary
of God
captivity date of
Hebrews Habirus Moses East Deuter. Adonai Amarna 1312
Israelites Is'Ra'El Jacob North Elohist Elohim Avaris 1208
Jews Judah Aaron South Jahwist YHWH Babylon 539
Note that it wasn't the Habirus who were actually in captivity at Amarna — they merely adopted the story of the Levite priests who were at Amarna, and who were the champions of those who were being oppressed. And those were the people who were relocated to Avaris, and who mixed with Israelites there. Also note that the Babylonian Captivity had nothing to do with the Egyptian influence on Judaism, but it might still have left its mark on the Torah via the redactions made during the Second Temple period.


1. Genesis 25:25-26 (J)

2. Genesis 25:27 (J)

3. Genesis 4:2 (J)

4. Genesis 25:30 (J)

5. Genesis 32:27-28 (E)

6. Genesis 25:34 (J)

7. Genesis 27:1-10 (J)

8. Genesis 27:43 (J)

9. Russell, S. C. (2009): Images of Egypt in Early Biblical Literature: Cisjordan-Israelite. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter GmbH

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