BIBLICAL AND MYTHICAL ENCOUNTERS WITH DEMONS AND DEITIES
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As the Biblical patriarch Jacob, after twenty years of exile, is about to cross the river that separates him from home, he gets into a nocturnal fight with a supernatural figure, traditionally referred to as ‘the angel’. As a result of the wrestling match Jacob is injured, however he also receives a blessing and a new name: from now on he is called Israel. The present study proposes a Jungian reading of this famous episode in Genesis.
The focus is on the intriguing identity of Jacob’s enigmatic adversary: who or what is that figure on the riverside and what does he want from Jacob? Parallels from other mythological tales are discussed and it will be shown that Jacob is by no means the only character in world mythology to get into a conflict with a demon or deity, even though his attitude towards unwilling divine powers is rather special. Reading like a detective story, the book takes us on a journey that slowly but steadily unlocks the true nature of Jacob’s mysterious opponent. The surprising outcome adds to our understanding of the figure of Jacob-Israel. Moreover, it makes us aware of a number of hitherto overlooked characteristics that modern Western society inherited from its Judaeo-Christian past.