Book Discussion

8th November

One of the long-standing members of the Oxford Society of Belgium, Mary Phil Korsak (LMH, 1954-57), proposes a literary evening based on readings from her translation of The Book of Genesis: The Celebration of Creation (Gen 1-2, 4a) and Isaac’s Family (Gen 27). Translator and Bible scholar, Mary Phil has written a fresh translation of the Hebrew text of Genesis, entitled At the start… Genesis made new  (Louvain cahiers, 1992; Doubleday, NY 1993).

She will introduce each chapter and invite the group to interact with comments and questions. If time allows and participants are willing, this might also include some role-playing.

Familiarity with the texts would greatly facilitate feed-back. The author has her own web-site, and you can read here....

The meeting will take place in the conference room at the Dominican Priory, Avenue de la Renaissance 40, 1000 Brussels with which most of you are familiar, on Thursday November 8th, and the normal formula will prevail: drinks and refreshments from 7.00 p.m., talk and discussion for about an hour from about 7.45 p.m. followed by dinner at the ‘Pré aux Clercs’ restaurant next door for those who wish to prolong the evening. Attendance at the meeting is as usual, free, and guests are welcome, the dinner will cost €35 per head, to be paid on the night.  Menu choices for the dinner are: first course - shrimp croquettes or pâté terrine, main course - loup de mer or duck, dessert is apple strudel and ice cream.  Wine is included. 

This promises to be a most interesting evening, and we are very grateful to Mary-Phil for having agreed to do it.  Please reply to me by 5th November if you hope to come, indicating whether you wish to stay for dinner and if so, what your choice of food is.

Carol de Lusignan,

Secretary, Oxford Society of Belgium,

Avenue Herbert Hoover 149,

1030 Brussels,

02 732 33 28

Here follows an extract pertinent to the reading and discussion.

At the start…


1At the start Elohim created the skies and the earth

2– the earth was tohu-bohu

darkness on the face of the deep

and the breath of Elohim

hovering on the face of the waters-

3Elohim said

Let light be

Light was

4Elohim saw the light  How good!

Elohim separated the light from the darkness

5Elohim called to the light “Day”

To the darkness he called “Night”

It was evening, it was morning

One day

6Elohim said

Let a vault be in the middle of the waters

it shall separate waters from waters

7Elohim made the vault

It separated the waters from under the vault

from the waters above the vault

It was so

8Elohim called to the vault “Skies”

It was evening, it was morning

A second day

9Elohim said

Let the waters under the skies be massed to one place

Let the dry be seen

It was so

10Elohim called to the dry “Earth”

To the massing of the waters he called “Seas”

Elohim saw  How good!

11Elohim said “Let the earth grow grass

plants seeding seed

fruit-tree making fruit of its kind

with its seed in it on the earth

It was so

12The earth brought forth grass

plants seeding seed of their kind

and tree making fruit with its seed in it of its kind

Elohim saw  How good!

It was evening, it was morning

A third day

14Elohim said

Let lights be in the vault of the skies

to separate the day from the night

They shall be signs for set times, for days and years

15They shall be lights in the vault of the skies

to light upon the earth

It was so

16Elohim made the two great lights

the great light for ruling the day

the small light for ruling the night

and the stars

17Elohim gave them to the vault of the skies

to light upon the earth

18to rule the day and the night

and to separate the light from the darkness

Elohim saw  How good!

19It was evening, it was morning

A fourth day

20Elohim said

Let the waters swarm with a swarm of living souls

and let fowl fly above the earth

upon the face of the vault of the skies

21Elohim created the great monsters

all living souls that creep

with which the waters swarm of their kind

and every winged fowl of its kind

Elohim saw  How good!

22Elohim blessed them, saying

Be fruitful, increase, fill the waters in the seas

Let the fowl increase on the earth

23It was evening, it was morning

A fifth day

24Elohim said

Let the earth bring forth living souls of their kind

cattle, creeper and beast of the earth of its kind

It was so

25Elohim made the beast of the earth of its kind

the cattle of their kind

and every creeper of the ground of its kind

Elohim saw  How good!

26Elohim said

We will make a groundling (adam)

in our image, after our likeness

Let them govern the fish of the sea

the fowl of the skies, the cattle, all the earth

every creeper that creeps on the earth

27Elohim created the groundling in his image

created it in the image of Elohim

male and female created them

28Elohim blessed them

Elohim said to them

Be fruitful, increase, fill the earth, subject it

Govern the fish of the sea, the fowl of the skies

every beast that creeps on the earth

29Elohim said, Here I give you

all plants seeding seed upon the face of all the earth

and every tree with tree-fruit in it seeding seed

It shall be for you for eating

30And for every beast of the earth

for every fowl of the skies

for all that creeps on the earth with living soul in it

all green of plants for eating

It was so

31Elohim saw all that he had made  Here, it was very good

It was evening, it was morning

The sixth day

21They were finished, the skies, the earth

and all their company

2Elohim had finished on the seventh day

his work that he had done

He ceased on the seventh day

from all his work that he had done

3Elohim blessed the seventh day and made it holy

for on it he ceased from all his work

that Elohim had created and done

4These are the breedings of the skies and the earth

at their creation


1When Isaac was old
and his eyes were dim to see with
he called his elder son Esau and said to him
My son!
He said, Here I am

2He said, Look, I am old
I do not know the day of my death

3Now please lift your things
your quiver-belt and your bow
go out into the field and hunt game for me

4Make me the delicacies that I love
Bring them to me and I will eat
so shall my soul bless you
before I die

5Rebekah heard when Isaac spoke to his son Esau
Esau went to the field to hunt game to bring in

6Rebekah spoke to her son Jacob, saying
Here, I heard your father
as he spoke to your brother Esau, saying

7Bring me game and make me delicacies
I will eat and bless you before YHWH
before my death

8Now, my son, hear my voice as I command you

9Please go to the flock
Take me two good kids from there
I will make them into delicacies for your father
such as he loves

10You shall bring them to your father and he will eat
so shall he bless you before his death

11Jacob said to his mother Rebekah
Here, my brother Esau is a hairy man
and I a smooth man

12Perhaps my father will feel<me?
In his eyes I will be a mocker
I will bring doom on myself not a blessing

13His mother said to him
Your doom upon me, my son!
Only hear my voice
Go, take them for me

14He went, took and brought them to his mother
His mother made delicacies such as his father loved

15Rebekah took the garments of her elder son Esau
the attractive ones that were with her in the house
She clothed her younger son Jacob

16With the skins of the kids she clothed his hands
and the smoothness of his neck

17She gave the delicacies and the bread she had made
into the hand of her son Jacob

18He came to his father and said, My father!
He said, Here I am
Which one are you, my son?

19Jacob said to his father
I am Esau your first-born
I have done as you spoke to me
Please rise, sit down and eat of my game
so shall your soul bless me!

20Isaac said to his son
How is it you found it so hurriedly, my son!
He said
Because YHWH your Elohim made it happen for me

21Isaac said to Jacob, Draw close and I will feel you, my son
Are you my son Esau or not?

22Jacob drew close to his father Isaac
He felt him and said, The voice is Jacob's voice
but the hands are Esau's hands!

23He did not recognise him
for his hands were like his brother Esau's hands
He will bless him

24He said, Are you my son Esau?
He said, I am

25He said, Bring it close to me
I will eat of my son's game
so shall my soul bless you
He brought him wine and he drank

26His father Isaac said to him
Draw close please and kiss me, my son!

27He drew close and kissed him
He smelled the smell of his garments
He blessed him and said
See, my son's smell
is like the smell of a field
that YHWH has blessed

28The Elohim shall give you
the dew of the skies
and the fat of the earth
an abundance of corn and new wine

29People shall serve you
folks prostrate themselves before you
Be master to your brothers
They shall prostrates themselves before you
your mother's sons!
Let those who curse you be cursed
Let those who bless you be blessed

30When Isaac had finished blessing Jacob
and when Jacob had just gone out, gone out
from before his father Isaac
His brother Esau came in from his hunt!

31He too made delicacies
and brought them to his father
He said to his father
Let my father rise and eat of his son's game
so shall your soul bless me!

32His father Isaac said to him
Which one are you?
He said, I am your son, your first-born, Esau!

33Isaac trembled with an exceedingly great trembling
He said, Who was it then
that hunted game and brought it to me?
I ate it all before you came and blessed him
So blessed he shall be!

34When Esau heard his father's words
he cried an exceedingly great and bitter cry
He said to his father
Bless me, me too, my father!

35He said, Your brother came with trickery
and took your blessing

36He said, Did they not call his name Heeler (Jacob)?
He has heeled me already two times!
He took my birthright
and here now he has taken my blessing!
He said, Have you not set aside a blessing for me?

37Isaac answered and said to Esau
Here, I have set him up as your master
I have given him all his brothers as servants
With corn and new wine I have sustained him
For you then what shall I do, my son?

38Esau said to his father
Have you only one blessing, my father?
Bless me, me too, my father!
Esau lifted up his voice and wept

39His father Isaac answered and said to him
Here, of the fat of the earth
shall your settlement be
of the dew of the skies above

40By your sword you shall live
Your brother you shall serve
But when you grow restive
you shall rip his yoke from your neck

41Esau bore Jacob malice
on account of the blessing
his father had blessed him with
Esau said in his heart
The days of mourning for my father draw near
I will kill my brother Jacob

42Rebekah was told of her elder son Esau's words
She sent and called for her younger son Jacob
She said to him, Here! Your brother Esau
will find comfort in killing you

43Now, my son, hear my voice
Rise, flee to my brother Laban in Haran

44Stay with him some days
till your brother's heat turns away

45Till your brother's anger turns away from you
and he forgets what you have done to him
I will send and take you from there
Why, shall I be bereft of the two of you in one day?

46Rebekah said to Isaac
I loathe my life because of the daughters of Heth
If Jacob takes a woman
from the daughters of Heth like those
from the daughters of the land
what is life to me?