Parashas Vayeshev begins (Genesis 37:1, in my own translation):

Jacob lived in the land of his father's dwelling: in the land of Canaan.

I understand why it repeats the already-known fact (35:27, let's say) that Jacob was in Canaan. After all, that sets the stage for the story that follows, in which Joseph is sold down to a different land, where he is followed eventually by Jacob and the family.

But why refer to it here specifically as his father's dwelling land?


2 Answers 2


Ramban explains

כי אמר שאלופי עשו ישבו בארץ אחוזתם כלומר הארץ שלקחו להם לאחוזת עולם אבל יעקב ישב גר כאביו בארץ לא להם אלא לכנען והכונה להגיד כי הם בוחרים לגור בארץ הנבחרת ושנתקיים בהם כי גר יהיה זרעך בארץ לא להם (לעיל טו יג) ולא בעשו כי ביעקב לבדו יקרא להם זרע

(Artscroll translates and elucidates): The Torah tells us that the chiefs of Esau settled in the lands of their inheritance (verse before, 36:43) i.e., the land that they took for themselves as an eternal inheritance, but Jacob dwelt as a stranger, as his father did, in a land that was not theirs but Canaan's. The intention is to tell us that Jacob and his father chose to sojourn in the chosen land rather than take up permanent residence in any other land.

(Artscroll comments): The Torah contrasts the wanderings of Jacob with the permanent settlement of Esau and his descendants detailed in the previous chapter.


Rav Hirsch points out that the terms ישב and גור are contrasting concepts. Up until now, Avraham and Yitzchak had been wanderers and nomads with no permanent place in the land that they had been promised.

Jacob now hoped to be able to settle down quietly, after all his long wanderings, there where his father had only found temporary sojourning; for it was not really the land that had been promised for his life and family. But Hashem did not consider the time ripe yet for that.

The point being made is that in the land that his fathers had not been able to settle, he now attempting to retire and raise a family in peace. See Avraham at the beginning of Chayei Sarah as an example.

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