The article examines the role of the 13 dreams in the book of Genesis. The dreams are first shortly described (following Gnuse, 1984, and Oppenheim, 1956) in their historical context: the Near-East of over 3000 years ago. The structure of some of the dreams is then discussed and compared to dreams from another historical period, that of modern Jewish Moroccan pilgrims (Bilu & Abramovitch, 1985), whose faith is based largely on the Bible. Following this discussion of the structure, the message of the dreams, regarding both the near future, and the remote, national future, is described. The article discusses the argument that all these dreams serve the purpose of establishing a common national identity, which has been historically the basis of Jewish faith. Possible reasons for using dreams in conveying the message are then discussed. The article ends with a discussion on the declining importance of the dream in the post-Genesis Bible.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Basso, E. B. (1987). The implications of a progressive theory of dreaming. In B. Tedlock (Ed.), Dreaming: Anthropological and psychological Interpretations (pp. 86-104). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Bilu, Y. (1987). Dreams and the wishes of the saint. In: H. E. Goldberg (Ed.), Judaism viewed from within and from without (pp. 285-313). Albany, New York: State University of New York Press.
Bilu, Y. (1988). The inner limits of communitas: A covert dimension of pilgrimage behavior. Ethos, 16, 302-325.
Bilu, Y., & Abramovitch, H. (1985). In search of the Saddiq: Visitational dreams among Moroccan Jews in Israel, Psychiatry, 48, 83-92.
Charsley, S. (1992). Dreams in African churches. In M. C. Jedrej & R. Shaw (Eds.), Dreaming, religion and society in Africa (pp. 153-176). Leiden: E. J. Brill.
Curley, R. T. (1992). Private dreams and public knowledge in a Camerounian independent church. In M. C. Jedrej & R. Shaw (Eds.), Dreaming, religion and society in Africa (pp. 135-152). Leiden: E. J. Brill.
Friedman, R. E. (1996). The disappearance of God: A divine mystery. Boston: Little, Brown & Co.
Gnuse, R. K. (1984). The dream theophany of Samuel: Its structure in relation to ancient Near-Eastern dreams and its theological significance. Lanham: University Press of America.
Gnuse, R. K. (1993). The temple experience of Jaddus in the Antiquities of Josephus: A report of Jewish dream incubation. Jewish Quarterly Review, 83, 349-368.
Goldberg, H. E. (1987). Epilogue: Text in Jewish society and the challenge of comparison. In: H. E. Goldberg (Ed.), Judaism viewed from within and from without (pp. 315-330). Albany, New York: State University of New York Press.
Homiak, J. (1987). The mystic revelation of Rasta Far-Eye: Visionary communications in a prophetic movement. In B. Tedlock (Ed.), Dreaming: Anthropological and psychological Interpretations (pp. 220-245). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Jacob, B. (1974). The first book of the Bible: Genesis. New York: Ktav.
Jung, C. G. (1959). The archetypes and the collective unconscious. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Kagan, R. L. (1990). Lucrecia's dreams. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Leibowitz, Y. (1988). Notes to the weekly Tora reading (Hebrew). Jerusalem: Academon.
Lewin, I. (1983). The psychological theory of dreams in the Bible. Journal of Psychology and Judaism, 7, 73-88.
Oppenheim, A. L. (1956). The interpretation of dreams in the ancient Near-East: With a translation of an Assyrian dream-book. Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, New Series, 46, 179-373.
Pitt-Rivers, J. A. (1977). The fate of Shechem or the politics of sex: Essays in the anthropology of the Mediterranean. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Ray, K. (1992). Dreams of grandeur: The call to office in northcentral Igbo religious leadership. In M. C. Jedrej & R. Shaw (Eds.), Dreaming, religion and society in Africa (pp. 55-70). Leiden: E. J. Brill.
Stefanakis, H. (1995). Speaking of dreams: A social constructionist account of dream sharing. Dreaming, 5, 95-104.
Thompson, T. L. (1987). The origin tradition of ancient Israel. I. The literary formation of Genesis and Exodus 1-23. Sheffield, UK: JSOT.
Van De Castle, R. L. (1994). Our dreaming mind. New York: Ballantine.
About this article
Cite this article
Knafo, A., Glick, T. Genesis Dreams: Using a Private, Psychological Event as a Cultural, Political Declaration. Dreaming 10, 19–30 (2000). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1009499622997
- culture and dreams
- visitational dreams