Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship

Studies in the Bible and Antiquity


Genesis 27 is a story that depicts a series of ancient ritual performances. The narrative recounts the time when Jacob, the son of Isaac, received his father's blessing by means of an act of deception. As an account that contains explicit examples of performances designed to set the activities apart from other less sacred occurrences, the blessing story in Genesis 27 contains features of what scholars refer to as "ritualization" in narrative. Ritualization can be defined as actions designed to distinguish and privilege what is being done in comparison to other, usually more commonplace, activities. Ritualization can assist those of a lesser status in accomplishing their objectives that stand in opposition to the desires of the powerful. When read as ritualization in narrative, Genesis 27 can be interpreted as an account that portrays the use of ancient temple and sacrificial imagery in order to secure a sacred blessing.