“Tribal Blueprints: Twelve Brothers and the Destiny of Israel: Twelve Brothers and the Destiny of Israel”  by Nechama Price— The Beginnings of the Jewish Nation

Price, Nechama. “Tribal Blueprints: Twelve Brothers and the Destiny of Israel: Twelve Brothers and the Destiny of Israel,”  Maggid, 2020.

The Beginnings of the Jewish Nation

Amos Lassen

“The Jewish nation begins with a collection of twelve brothers and half-brothers, linked through their father, Jacob.” When all twelve are taken together, we have “B’nai Yisrael”, yet ach has individual and separate lives with specific roles within the family. Each also has his own personality with their own hopes, talents and fears.

Nechama Price has arranged her book with a chapter for each brother as an individual and we learn about who they are and who they aspire to be. We gain a deep analysis of their stories as in the Torah and rabbinic teachings about their characters. Their personalities are the result of their “proclivities, choices and experiences.” We also learn of their families and their descendants and of their tribes.

From their close familiar beginnings, each develops into a distinct tribe, with its own characteristics and destinies that have become part of history. We have traditionally studied their stories in the order that they appear in the Five Books of Moses. However, here the focus is on each son’s individual personality and story by the order of his birth and gain perspectives as seen from their descendants. By understanding the twelve sons of Jacob, we gain new understandings of the Torah and it is as if we are on a completely new journey. We certainly see that history is composed of the people who make it. As we attempt to answer the questions of “How do these individuals evolve? What is the role of each of the four mothers? How does each brother’s placement in the birth order of the family influence his behavior? How are the brothers’ personalities reflected in future generations?”, Biblical narrative comes alive—more than ever— and we see the special roles of each of the sons and each of the tribes.


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