The Hendiadys of Marriage

by Jessica Jacobs

As “milk and honey” signal abundance,
“image and likeness” that we are
chips off God’s block, so the Torah advises,
why use one word when two
will do better?


Jacob was hendiadys par excellence.
Crooked heel-sneak, willing
to scam a blind old man, he was also
Israel, able to wrestle from God
the blessing of his true name.

Surely as Jacob married Rachel and
her sister, Rachel married
both those men.


And aren’t each of us who are married
married to many people: the one
we knew, we thought, who drew us;
the one who emerges those times
we say, Oh, you’re not yourself today—
a gentle chiding that the person I
married wouldn’t act this way; and
the one who delights you by knowing
every bird on your walk by song alone.


Despite being a mother of monotheism,
Rachel loved the household gods
enough to steal them from her father.
Tzarah, one Midrash calls them, another
name for “rival wife.”


Yet which is the true partner and which the rival?
Who they are now or whom they’ll strive for?
The one we wanted or the one we have,
or the potential one
we can’t yet fathom?


Despite having never hiked a day
before we married—the outdoors
viewed as not invitation but specter—
my wife now strolls the trails with ease,
naming plants along the way: the eerie
eruptions of ghost pipe, the pom-pommed
exuberance of mountain angelica.

Marriage a mutual
View-Master: two images at once
not just tolerable but necessary
for depth of vision, which is itself
a trick of the eye: that woman, confident
in the woods, able to name what she sees,
that girl sure she’ll lose herself
among the trees—the illusion

of one image when both remain.
The wonder of the multitudes
we each contain. The painful, joyful
expansion of loving both, loving
all, of welcoming change.

Last updated January 29, 2024