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Torah QueeriesWeekly Commentaries on the Hebrew Bible$
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Gregg Drinkwater, Joshua Lesser, and David Shneer

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780814720127

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814720127.001.0001

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Esau’s Gender Crossing

Esau’s Gender Crossing

Parashat Toldot (Genesis 25:19–28:9)

(p.38) Six Esau’s Gender Crossing
Torah Queeries

Sarra Lev

NYU Press

This chapter provides a queerly interpretation of Esau's character in the readings of Parashat Toldot of Genesis. Esau is one of the twin sons of Rebekah who was known for his large and hairy appearance. The account of Esau reveals that his depiction, as stereotypically masculine hunter, is inaccurate. Instead, he possesses a stereotypically feminine character: emotional, kindly, and subservient. This feminine Esau continually approaches life with innocence, only to be shoved aside in favor of his savvier, cool, and street-smart little brother. Both the Biblical text itself and rabbinic midrash on the story contain gender in versions, in which Esau rejects his overtly male description and legacy in favor of “classically female” choices.

Keywords:   Parashat Toldot, Genesis, Esau, stereotypically feminine character, stereotypically masculine hunter

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