Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Published In

Imagining The Fetus: The Unborn In Myth, Religion, And Culture


This chapter examines rabbinic narratives about fetuses recorded in compilations dating from the third through the tenth centuries CE. Instead of placing these traditions within the context of contemporary questions about abortion, this chapter illustrates the ways that rabbinic narratives about fetuses and traditions about the creation of the embryo provide insights into rabbinic constructions of Israel. Particular attention is paid to rabbinic traditions about prenatal Jacob and Esau, which demonstrate that the rabbis often construct Jewishness in oppositional relation to non-Jewishness.


rabbinic, fetus, Jewishness, covenant, Jacob, Esau, Revelation, Exodus, procreation

Published By

Oxford University Press


J. M. Law And V. R. Sasson


This material was originally published in Imagining the Fetus: The Unborn in Myth, Religion, and Culture edited by Jane Marie Law and Vanessa R. Sasson, and has been reproduced by permission of Oxford University Press. For permission to reuse this material, please visit

Find in Tripod

Included in

Religion Commons