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Revisiting Biblical Games in a Bayesian Framework

Dodell, Leah (2013)
Honors Thesis (44 pages)
Committee Chair / Thesis Adviser: Mialon, Sue
Committee Members: Banerjee, Samiran ; Stolley, Karen
Research Fields: Economics, Theory
Keywords: Economics; Game Theory; Old Testament
Program: College Honors Program, Economics
Permanent url:


In this paper, I revisit a few of the most debated tales from the Old Testament and model them in the framework of Bayesian games. I model three situations- Jacob's deception of Isaac, G-d's ten plagues, and Abraham's sacrifice- as dynamic games with private information. By solving for the Perfect Bayesian Equilibria that occur in the Torah, I find conditions that must hold for characters to be willing to take the actions that they do. I also examine how characters' actions would have changed if they had held different values. My results shed light on which interpretations of biblical stories hold the most weight when characters maintain consistent beliefs and act upon them in a sequentially rational manner.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

I. Introduction 1

II. Jacob's "Deception": Toledot 2

-The Text 2

-Background 4

-Literature Review 5

-The Model 7

-Implications of the Model 14

-Comparison with Other Commentaries 16

III. G-d's Plagues: Va-era and Bo 19

-The Text 19

-Background 19

-Literature Review 20

-The Model 22

-Implications of the Model 24

-Comparison with Other Commentaries 25

IV. Abraham's Sacrifice: Akedat Yitzhak 26

-The Text 26

-Background 27

-Literature Review 27

-The Model 29

-Implications of the Model 32

-Comparison with Other Commentaries 33

V. Conclusion 34

VI. References 35


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