The condemned sons in the blessing of Jacob (Gen. 49:3-7): the problem of curses in the blessing
It is almost inconceivable that Jacob begins condemning his first three sons in the blessing at his death bed. Many scholars have long endeavored to solve the problem from the social and political circumstance in the late period of redaction. It is a more reasonable attempt to find the solution in the stream of the story in Genesis, the repeated blessing stories in Genesis. As is widely known, Genesis is the book of blessing. Blessing is the base of the inter-relationship in the Old Testament. The Old Testament emphasizes God as the final source or agent of blessing and curse. On the other hand, the Old Testament illustrates the belief that the spoken words themselves have the active power to produce the desired effect without any external agent as well. The blessing stories in Genesis ordinarily contain curse together. Yet, the excluded sons are not the cursed sons. The curse contains the hope of the blessing at the same time. Genesis emphasizes that the God’s promise for Abraham continues in the line of blessing of the descendants of Abraham without ceasing. However, when God chooses one to succeed the blessing to the next generation, it does not automatically mean a rejection or curse of the other sons. A similar paradigm repeatedly appears in the blessings of Genesis. One son inherits the promise and all the brothers share the benefits. Joseph inherits the father’s blessing and the other brothers will participate in the blessing together. They are blessed as a unit. The Jacob’s curse on the first three sons plays an important role: the instrument of discipline and precaution, various courses for ultimate blessing, and the role of arbitrator of the potential rivalry and conflict among brothers.