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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament


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JACOB.1. According to the genealogical list in Matthew, Jacob (Ἰακώβ) is the father of Joseph the husband of Mary (Matthew 1:15-16).

2. One of the reputed progenitors of the Jewish nation. Apart from the reference to Jacob’s well (πηγὴ τοῦ Ἰακώβ, see next art.), in John 4:6, and his place in the genealogies of Matthew and Luke (Matthew 1:2, Luke 3:34), Jacob is mentioned in the Gospels only as one of the three patriarchs (Matthew 8:11 ‘Many shall come from the east and the west; and shall sit down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob …’ cf. Luke 13:28 f., Matthew 22:32 || Mark 12:26, Luke 20:37 ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’). These three were grouped from early times (Exodus 2:24; Exodus 3:6; Exodus 3:15-16, Leviticus 26:42, 1 Kings 18:36, 2 Kings 13:23, Jeremiah 33:26, 1 Chronicles 29:18, 2 Chronicles 30:6), and occupied a place apart in Jewish thought. According to the Rabbis, they alone were entitled to be called אָבוֹח ‘fathers.’ To them was traced not only the origin of the nation, but also the beginning of true worship. As a descendant of these three, a Jew might claim nobility and a special relationship to God. This claim was recognized as וְכוּח אָבוֹח ‘righteousness of the fathers,’ and was based on Exodus 32:13. It was denounced by John the Baptist (see Abraham, and cf. Matthew 3:9, Luke 3:8), and it figured prominently in the conflicts between Jesus and the Pharisees (cf. John 8:33; John 8:37). Apparently in the time of Jesus it was liable to be abused, and on this account later Rabbis refused to lay stress upon it, declaring it no longer valid. In Rabbinic literature, Jacob is recognized as the most important of the three patriarchs (cf. Leviticus 26:42). He prevails with God (Genesis 32:28). He names the sanctuary the house of God (Genesis 28:22), and, in contrast to Abraham the father of Ishmael, and Isaac the father of Esau, Jacob inherits the promise in his children (49).

Literature.—A most suggestive analysis of the character of Jacob, and a full discussion of the problems of the narrative in Genesis, including the names ‘Jacob’ and ‘Israel,’ is given by Driver in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible ii. 526–535; cf. also Stanley, Jewish Church, i. pp. 46–66; Gore, Studia Biblica, iii. 37 f.; Ph. Berger, ‘La Signification Historique des Noms des Patriarches Hébreux’ in Mémoires de la Société Linguistique, vi. 150.

G. Gordon Stott.

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Jacob'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. 1906-1918.

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