Adiel Cohen, Beit Mikra vol. 60 (2015), No. 2, An abstract
|The Bialik Institute|
The words "arami oved avi" ("a wandering Aramean was my father") (Deuteronomy 26:5) have traditionally been interpreted in reference to one of two separate characters. According to the literal interpretation both "arami" and "avi" are understood as referring to Jacob – "My father [Jacob] was a wandering Aramean". In contrast, according to the homiletic interpretation, the Aramean is Laban who sought to destroy Jacob – "An Aramean [Laban] sought to destroy my father [Jacob]".
The homiletic interpretation is fraught with difficulty: Laban is a marginal character in the biblical narrative, and it is difficult to maintain a position that would grant him the status of an enemy so crucial to Jewish history that he is immortalized in the credo of Jewish pilgrimage.
In this paper I will argue that Jacob is clearly perceived as the "Aramean" in the Proclamation of the First Fruits, reflecting the plain meaning of the text; nonetheless, the interpretation that views Laban as the "Aramean" should be viewed and verified as the plain meaning of the biblical text as well. This interpretation can be established by examining the connection between the Proclamation of the First Fruits and other biblical passages. An intertextual study within the biblical corpus enables an understanding of the development of homiletic interpretation.