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Imagining the FetusThe Unborn in Myth, Religion, and Culture$
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Jane Marie Law and Vanessa R. Sasson

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195380040

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195380040.001.0001

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“Famous” Fetuses in Rabbinic Narratives

“Famous” Fetuses in Rabbinic Narratives

(p.185) “Famous” Fetuses in Rabbinic Narratives
Imagining the Fetus

Gwynn Kessler

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines rabbinic narratives about fetuses recorded in compilations dating from the third through the tenth centuries CE. Instead of placing these traditions within the context of contemporary questions about abortion, this chapter illustrates the ways that rabbinic narratives about fetuses and traditions about the creation of the embryo provide insights into rabbinic constructions of Israel. Particular attention is paid to rabbinic traditions about prenatal Jacob and Esau, which demonstrate that the rabbis often construct Jewishness in oppositional relation to non-Jewishness.

Keywords:   rabbinic, fetus, Jewishness, covenant, Jacob, Esau, Revelation, Exodus, procreation

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