Ancestors and Names: Genesis and DC

A few thoughts on diversity of place names, names for the divine, and ways of calling on, clinging to, and claiming land in this week’s Torah reading. The portion is called Vayeitzei [And he left/went out], Gen 28:10-32:3

Naming land, Naming Ancestors: Genesis

Genesis 31:47:

Laban named it Yegar-sahadutha, but Jacob named it Gal-ed.

Dictionary notes on the two names:

Yegar-sahadutha [Aramaic] = “witness heap”

  • the mound of stones raised as witness between Jacob and Laban, called by Jacob in Hebrew ‘Galeed’

Galeed [Hebrew] = “witness heap”

  • the pile of stones heaped up between Jacob and Laban to certify their covenant; located on Mt Gilead

The close of Laban’s parting speech, Genesis 31:53:

…May the God of Abraham and the god of Nahor”—their ancestral deities—“judge between us.” And Jacob swore by the Fear of his father Isaac.

Naming land, Naming ancestors: Washington DC

National Park Service brief history of Nacotchtank/Anacostan land

Piscataway Conoy tribe site

Land Acknowledgement of Hill Havurah, on the west side of the Anacostia River.

Historic Anacostia (DC Cultural Tourism), Go-Go Museum/Cafe in development

Anacostia Unmapped: The Nacotchtank And The First Gentrifiers

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