The Lion and the Ass: Reading Genesis After Babylon

The Book of Genesis with a Running Commentary

by Robert D. Sacks

7 in. x 10 in. , 448 pages, index.
Publication date, May 2019.
For pricing and ordering information, see the ordering section below.

Lion and Ass coverWith characteristic boldness, Robert Sacks offers a narrative path through themes, events, and actions in Genesis that repeatedly find their parallels and consequences in later books of the Torah and the Early Prophets. In light of the compelling unity these patterns convey, Sacks proposes to view Genesis not only as the first of the Five Books of Moses (the Torah), but as the opening work of a single composition consisting of Genesis through II Kings: the TANAR, whose name stems from a Hebrew acronym.

Sacks's thorough knowledge of the biblical text in Hebrew is brought to bear in his broad-ranging examination of key words and phrases in light of the way the Hebrew words are used elsewhere in the biblical text. When a lot is riding on a word, Sacks searches for the closest English meaning with full nuances and resonances: a worthwhile search when these may be clues to the biblical author's understanding of larger issues.

The Lion and the Ass are characters in I Kings Chapter 13. Sacks sees the Lion as typifying those towering biblical figures who "overturn in order to preserve"—figures like Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David, and Josiah. The Ass, also essential, typifies the many in-between individuals like Isaac, figures who resolutely carry on the burden of tradition.

Sacks argues that if we are to understand God's promise in the context of Israel's fall at the hands of Babylon, we must reinterpret the biblical author's intent. The promise must include Israel's ability to withstand years of captivity under foreign domination in Babylon.

Early versions of The Lion and the Ass first appeared serialized in the journal Interpretation, later under the title A Commentary on the Book of Genesis (Edwin Mellen Press, 1990). In the intervening years, sadly, pirated versions, at once sloppy and incomplete, have been circulating on the internet. Kafir Yaroq is greatly pleased to make this book, newly and extensively revised by Dr. Sacks, available in a form worthy of its author and its readers.


  • Robert Sacks's underground classic, now completely revised by the author, in a high-quality new edition.
  • Presents Torah and the Early Prophets as a single coherent composition, revealing the divine promise in the light of the Babylonian captivity.
  • Complete text of Genesis, in English, with extensive commentary.
  • In-depth examination of key words and phrases in the Hebrew text, with careful attention to nuance and resonance.


Sample pages

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About the Author

AUTHOR NAME photoRobert D. Sacks received his undergraduate education at St. John's College, Annapolis, Maryland (B.A. 1954) and his graduate education at The Johns Hopkins University (Ph.D. 1961). He also studied at the Ecole des Langues Orientales Vivantes in Paris, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, and the University of Chicago.

Sacks has taught at St. John's College since 1960, at both the Annapolis and the Santa Fe campuses; he has been a visiting faculty member at Middlebury College in Vermont and St. Mary's College in California.

Sacks is the author of Beginning Biblical Hebrew: Intentionality and Grammar (Kafir Yaroq Books, 2008) and The Book of Job: A New Translation with In-Depth Commentary (Kafir Yaroq Books, 2016). An earlier version of the present book appeared as A Commentary on the Book of Genesis (Edwin Mellen Press, 1990); the present edition has been extensively revised by Dr. Sacks.

Ordering Information for The Lion and the Ass,
by Robert D. Sacks

Sewn softcover, ISBN 978-1-888009-52-1, list price: USD $34.95.

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