Merchant of Venice

Who is Jacob?

Act 1 Scene 3
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Shylock turns to Antonio and tells him why interest is allowed in the Hebrew faith by quoting a biblical passage in which Jacob receives all the striped lambs from his father-in-law. Antonio asks him if the passage was inserted into the bible to defend interest charges. He states, "Was this inserted to make interest good, / Or is your gold and silver ewes and rams?" (1.3.90-91). Shylock replies that, "I cannot tell. I make it breed as fast" (1.3.92).



He is the son of Isaac and Rebecca, the grandson of Abraham, Sarah and of Bethuel, the nephew of Ishmael, and the younger twin brother of Esau. Jacob had twelve sons and at least one daughter, by his two wives, Leah and Rachel, and by their handmaidens Bilhah and Zilpah.