Posts Tagged ‘redemption’

Once again I offer a new, narrative presentation of the 3rd chapter of the book of Jeremiah, incorporating classic commentaries into the text. The color coding is as follows: 

Rashi

Targum

Radak

Metzudah

My own words (for clarity)

Please enjoy, comment and share. And without further ado:

Jeremiah continued speaking in the name of HaShem. (1) “I could say you are no longer worthy of me, for if a man sends away his wife, and she goes from him and becomes the wife of another man, will the first husband return to her again? Behold, the land would surely be corrupted by such an act! And you have been unfaithful with many lovers! Nevertheless, return to Me! (2) Lift up your eyes upon the high places and see! Where have you not lied down? Upon the ways you have sat, ready for your lovers, like an Arab in the wilderness, and you have corrupted the land with your unfaithfulness and your evil. (3) The early rains have been held back, and the latter rains did not occur, yet you have had the brazenness of an unfaithful woman, you have refused to be ashamed. (4) If only from this moment you would repent of your wickedness and call to Me, ‘My Father, You are the Teacher of my youth!’ (5) Would your Lord bear against you forever that which you sinned toward Him? Would He hold onto it for eternity? He would not hold onto it! Behold, you have declared, ‘We will not come to You again,’ and that evil you will perform, paying no mind to repentance, and you will succeed in rebelling absolutely.

(6) In the days of King Josiah, HaShem commanded Jeremiah to bring back the Ten Tribes of Israel. A portion of them returned in the 18th year of Josiah (Rashi, v. 12). HaShem said to Jeremiah, “Did you see what the wayward Ten Tribes of Israel did? They would go up on every high mountain, and under every fresh tree and act unfaithfully to Me there, serving idols. (7) And I said through My prophets Amos and Hoshea son of Be’eri and others, after she (Israel) had done all this, ‘Return to Me!’ but she did not return, and her treacherous sister Judah saw that Israel was exiled, but Judah did not learn their lesson. (8) And I saw that Judah saw everything that happened because wayward Israel was unfaithful, that I sent Israel away, and I gave to Israel her document of divorce, but treacherous Judah, Israel’s sister, did not fear that I would send her away also, and did not consider repentance, rather, Judah went and acted unfaithfully also. (9) Because her unfaithfulness was light in her eyes, the land became corrupt; in her unfaithfulness she served stone and wood. (10) And even with all this, having seen the downfall and punishment of Israel, her treacherous sister Judah did not return to Me with all her heart, rather falsely.” The generation of Josiah showed themselves to be righteous while they were actually wicked. They made images of idols on the insides of their doorways, half on one side and half on the other, so that when those seeking to eliminate idolatry would inspect the homes, the door would be open and the images were not recognizable.

(11) HaShem said to Jeremiah, “Wayward Israel has exonerated herself of judgment, for she did not have from whom to learn, as opposed to treacherous Judah. (12) Go and call out these words to the north, to the places where Israel was exiled, to Assyria, and say, ‘Return O Wayward Israel! I will not send my wrath against you, because I am abundant in kindness. I will not hold your sins against you forever. (See v. 6 above.) (13) But know your sin, for you rebelled against HaShem your God, and you were unfaithful to HaShem, spreading your legs for strangers under every fresh tree, and you did not listen to My voice. (14) Return, O rebellious sons! For I have been your master, and you have therefore been called by My name, and for you to remain among the nations takes away from My honor. Therefore, I will take you out of exile, even though you remain one in a city of gentiles, or two among an entire gentile nation, and I will bring you to Zion. (15) I will give you leaders who perform My will, and they will lead you with knowledge and wisdom. (16) And it will be, when you multiply and increase in the land in those days, they will no longer say, ‘The Ark of the Covenant of HaShem,’ nor will it even be a thought, nor will they remember it, nor will they consider it, nor will that be done with it which was done in Shiloh, when the Ark was brought out to war against the Philistines in the days of Eili the High Priest, for whole congregation will be holy, and I will dwell in the congregation as though it is the Ark. (17) At that time they will call Jerusalem the Throne of HaShem, and all the nations will gather to it for the sake of HaShem’s name, to Jerusalem, and they will not go anymore after the thoughts of their wicked heart. (18) In those days, the House of Judah will walk with the House of Israel, and they will come together from the land of the north to the land that I have given as an inheritance to their forefathers, becoming one kingdom.

(19) “I had thought, ‘How can I place you, My daughter, My congregation and My nation, among sons, among other nations, among idol worshippers?’ Therefore I set aside a better portion for you, giving you a desirable land, a portion that is the envy of the host of nations, and I said, ‘Call me Father, and do not turn away from Me.’ (20) However, you did not do as I wished, rather like a woman who betrays her beloved because he is unable to provide her needs, so you betrayed Me, O House of Israel, though I provide you with every good thing. (21) Over the rise, in the near future, the sound of the begging cries of the Children of Israel can be heard, for they have perverted their ways, they have forgotten HaShem their God. (22) Return O rebellious sons! I will forgive your rebellion!’”

Yirmiyahu then instructed the people to confess to HaShem and say, “Behold, we have come to You, for you are HaShem our God! (23) Indeed, for naught we hoped for salvation from false gods that we worshipped upon hills and in multitudes upon mountains! Indeed, by HaShem our God is the salvation of Israel! (24) Because of our shame, that we worshipped false gods, the toil of our fathers has been consumed from our youth, their sheep and their cattle, their sons and their daughters. (25) We will lie down in shame because of our sins, and our degradation will cover us, for we and our fathers have sinned to HaShem our God from our youth until this day, and we did not listen to the voice of HaShem our God.”

SepherHechaloth

Artwork by zbush -- http://zbush.deviantart.com/

Yonah ben Amitai being swallowed by the “big fish.”

In an earlier post, I quoted from Tana d’Vey Eliyahu Rabah a story about Eliyahu haNavi (Elijah the Prophet) visiting a widow and instructing her to separate a portion of bread for him first as a sign that he (Eliyahu) would first come to the exile, followed by the redeemer. (Please read that story to understand my comments here.)

One interesting point in that midrash was that it identified the widow’s son as “Mashiach ben Yoseph” (see there), the title for a quasi-redeemer in Jewish oral tradition. We remarked there, amid our confusion, that there was no indication in the text as to the identity of this child.

However, upon perusal of another text, Yalkut Shimoni (Yonah, Ch. 1), we do find an interesting opinion regarding the identity of the widow’s son:

Yonah (Jonah) ben Amitay was from Asher, as it is written: ‘Asher did not remove the inhabitants of Ako and the inhabitants of Tzidon’ (Judges 1:31), and it is written (regarding Eliyahu): ‘Get up, go to Tzorphath which is of Tzidon… Behold, I have commanded there a widow to sustain you’ (I Kings 17:9), and Rabbi Eliezer taught: Yonah ben Amitay was the son of the widow of Tzorphath.

A second opinion there has it that Yonah is from the tribe of Zevulun (Zebulun), and the conclusion appears to be that his father was from Zevulun and mother (the widow) was from Asher.

Be that as it may, this midrash indicates the identity of the widow’s son as none other than the prophet Yonah (of the book of Yonah, or “Jonah”). Is this midrash at odds with Tana d’Vey Eliyahu?

Was this boy Yonah or Mashiach ben Yoseph? If he was from either Asher or Zevulun, then he was from neither of the tribes of Yoseph (Menasheh or Ephrayim). And in what way did he fulfill the role of Mashiach ben Yoseph?

While I admit ignorance regarding the full extent of the role of Mashiach ben Yoseph, I understand that he may be a redeemer for the nations of the world (as opposed to a redeemer for Israel particularly), as was Yoseph, who saved Egypt from a bitter end by famine, and rather, was able to sustain the entire world during the years of famine with the stores of food he had saved. “Son of Yoseph” could mean not a biological heir but a spiritual one, one who carries the mantle of Yoseph by also being a redeemer of the nations.

Yonah very much fulfilled this role as one who came to the people of Nineveh, a gentile city, to warn them of their impending doom. They repented and were saved. In this way there need not be seen any conflict between the two midrashim.

Perhaps now we understand the relevance of Eliyahu’s “sign to the world.” Since this child would become a harbinger to the nations of the world, it would be appropriate for him to carry Eliyahu’s message to them.

And what of Eliyahu’s message? Why should the nations of the world know that Eliyahu will come first and then the Son of David?

I don’t know, but my offhand guess is that just as Yonah came first to Nineveh to warn them, allowing them to repent and be saved, so too will the nations have a similar opportunity in the future, to return to the One True G-d before the arrival of Mashiach ben David, by which time it may be too late for repentance.

Dunno, just a thought.

image

6th installment in “Pinchas is Eliyahu” series.

Another source similar to the previous, but with noteworthy differences:

Tana d’Vey Eliyahu Rabah 18:

One time, our sages and other wise men were sitting in the study hall and arguing with one another, and they said: ‘From where does Elijah come?’ This one said from the seed of Rachel and this one said from the seed of Leah. While they were arguing with eachother, I came to them and stood before them and said to them: ‘My masters, I come from none other than the seed of Rachel!’ They said to me: ‘Offer a proof to your words!’ I said to them: ‘Does it not say in the genealogy of the tribe of Benjamin: ‘And Yaareshyah and Eliyah (Elijah) and Zichri the sons of Yerucham’ (I Chronicles 8:27)?’ They said to me: ‘Are you not a Kohen (priest)? Did you not say to the widow: ‘Make for me from there a small cake first and take it out for me, and for you and for your son make last’ (I Kings 17:13)?’ [NOTE: The Torah obligates that a small portion of dough must be separated out as a gift for a Kohen before the rest may be consumed. The Sages inferred from Elijah’s command to the widow in this verse that he was Kohen and therefore she must separate out a small portion for him first. -Me] I said to them: ‘That child [of the widow] was Mashiach ben Yoseph (Messiah the son of Joseph) , and I was alluding to the world that I will descend first to Babylon and afterwards the Son of David will come.’

Let me first say that I have no clear understanding of this passage. I am familiar with the concept of Mashiach ben Yoseph as a kind of quasi-redeemer that may come prior to the final redeemer, Mashiach ben David (Messiah son of David). I do not know the relevance here of the widow’s son being Mashiach ben Yoseph. It is difficult to understand how the boy was Mashiach ben Yoseph considering there is no indication of who this boy was and in what way he brought about any redemption. Furthermore, Eliyahu goes on to say that apportioning a loaf for him first was a sign to the world (not to this boy in particular) that he (Elijah) would come first to Babylon, and then the redeemer would come, and the redeemer he names is Mashiach ben David, not Mashiach ben Yoseph. So if you’re confused, so am I.

The point, however, of quoting this passage, was to bring out the following points:

-Here again, according to the text in front of me, Elijah declares his lineage as being from Binyamin (the seed of Rachel).
-The text states explicitly that the opposing opinion (that Elijah was of the seed of Leah) is that he was a Kohen, as we suspected based on the passage from Eliyah Zuta. This opinion would align with the view that Pinchas is Eliyahu. Nevertheless, Eliyahu rejects this suggestion.

The conclusion of this source, therefore, appears to score another point for the view that Pinchas was NOT Eliyahu.

Isaiah 48:1-2:

Hear this, House of Jacob, who are called the name Israel, and who went forth from the waters of Judah, those who swear in the name of the Lord, and who make mention of the God of Israel, not truthfully and not justly. For  from the Holy City are you called, and upon the God of Israel have you relied, the Lord of Hosts is His name.

Rashi (ad loc):

‘You were not worthy to be redeemed except because you were called those from the Holy City (Jerusalem).’ It was she (Jerusalem) that caused them not to be exiled in the days of Sancheriv with the Ten Tribes… who have no redemption.

ishmael

The words of G-d through His prophet Isaiah (27:4):

I have no wrath; if only I could be as briars and thorns at war, I would step on her, I would set them aflame altogether.

Rashi explains:

“I have no wrath” — I cannot express My case to pour out my wrath against the nations, for Israel, too, sins.

“if only I could be as briers and thorns at war” — against those with whom I am at war, and that is Ishmael. If only I could punish them without the objection of the Attribute of Justice! If the Children of Israel would repent, that would set Me as briars and thorns against those with whom I am at war! I would step over the Attribute of Justice and punish them (Ishmael)… and set them aflame altogether.”

Interestingly, Rashi interprets this end-times prophecy as referring to Ishmael, the progenitor of the Arab nations, though I’m not sure how this is indicated by the text. Remarkably, though, according to Rashi, this reflects accurately the current state of Israel’s affairs, very much oppressed and abused by the Arab peoples from both within and without its borders. Why does G-d not rescue us from our woes and punish the wicked ones? Because we too are wicked! We too commit wrongdoing and do not repent, so we have no right to demand “justice” against our enemies when the same claim can be made against the Jews. The Jewish people must return to the ways of the Torah; this is the only route to providing salvation from our enemies. Until then, even G-d must act “fairly,” though it is not He that holds back the redemption, it is we.

See also this post.