Genesis (Part 133)

Welcome back to my study/review of Genesis. If you missed the previous parts of this study, you can find them HERE.

Genesis 30: 22-24

22 Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb. 23 She conceived and bore a son and said, “God has taken away my reproach.” 24 And she called his name Joseph, saying, “May the Lord add to me another son!”

_______________________

After Jacob has ten sons, Rachel finally has her first.

From Ellicott’s Bible Commentary:

(22-24) God remembered Rachel.—Rachel’s long barrenness had probably humbled and disciplined her; and, cured of her former petulance, she trusts no longer to “love-apples,” but looks to God for the great blessing of children. He hearkens to her prayer, and remembers her. (Comp. 1 Samuel 1:19.) In calling his name Joseph, there is again a play upon two words, for it may be formed from the verb used in Genesis 30:23, and would then mean he takes away; or it may signify he adds, which is the meaning made prominent by Rachel. And God did add to her another son, but the boon cost her her life. As Joseph was born six or seven years before Jacob left Padan-aram, Rachel had been barren for twenty-six years. We must add that in her joy at Joseph’s birth there is no trace of the ungenerous triumph over Leah so marked in her rejoicing at the birth of the sons of Bilhah; and in her trust that “Jehovah would add to her another son,” she evidently had in mind the covenant promises, which a son of her own womb might now inherit. As a matter of fact, the long struggle for supremacy lay between the houses of Joseph and Judah; and Judah finally prevailed.

God = אֱלֹהִים ʼĕlôhîym, el-o-heem’; plural of H433; gods in the ordinary sense; but specifically used (in the plural thus, especially with the article) of the supreme God; occasionally applied by way of deference to magistrates; and sometimes as a superlative:—angels, × exceeding, God (gods) (-dess, -ly), × (very) great, judges, × mighty.

remembered = זָכַר zâkar, zaw-kar’; a primitive root; also as denominative from H2145 properly, to mark (so as to be recognized), i.e. to remember; by implication, to mention; to be male:—× burn (incense), × earnestly, be male, (make) mention (of), be mindful, recount, record(-er), remember, make to be remembered, bring (call, come, keep, put) to (in) remembrance, × still, think on, × well.

You can see from the definition provided that “God remembered” does not mean that God had forgotten and then suddenly remembered.

Skipping ahead to verse 23, let’s look at another word:

reproach = חֶרְפָּה cherpâh, kher-paw’; from H2778; contumely, disgrace, the pudenda:—rebuke, reproach(-fully), shame.

It’s possible to read into this word that Rachel was being rebuked or humbled, intentionally, and hat now that the work has been accomplished, she is fit to bear a son. The comment above implies that there may be an element of “humbling” that was required prior to Rachel conceiving. She has stopped relying upon her own efforts (mandrakes) and her position as Jacob’s favorite and is truly humble before the Lord.

In verse 24, after verses which refer to God/elohim, Rachel refers to The Lord / Yahweh and says “The Lord (Yahweh) shall add to me another son!” The son’s name is Joseph.

Joseph = יוֹסֵף Yôwçêph, yo-safe’; future of H3254; let him add (or perhaps simply active participle adding); Joseph, the name of seven Israelites:—Joseph. Compare H3084.; Joseph = “Jehovah has added”

More on Joseph from Wiki:

Joseph (/ˈdʒoʊzɪf, -sɪf/Hebrew: יוֹסֵף‎, lit.‘he will add’;[1] Standard: YōsefTiberian: Yōsēp̄Arabic: يوسف‎, romanizedYūsuf, YūsifAncient Greek: Ἰωσήφ, romanizedIōsēph) is an important figure in the Bible’s Book of Genesis. His function is to explain how Israel came to Egypt. He is the favourite son of the patriarch Jacob, and is sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. He rises to become vizier, so that when famine strikes the region and Jacob’s family leave Canaan, it is through him that they are given leave to settle in the Land of Goshen (the eastern part of the Nile Delta).

The composition of the story can be dated to the period between the 7th century BCE and the third quarter of the 5th century BCE, which is roughly the period to which scholars date the Book of Genesis.[2] In rabbinic tradition, he is considered the ancestor of a second Messiah called “Mashiach ben Yosef“, who will wage war against the forces of evil alongside Mashiach ben David and die in combat with the enemies of God and Israel.[3]

The Bible offers two explanations of the name Yosef: first it is compared to the word asaf from the root /’sp/, “taken away”: “And she conceived, and bore a son; and said, God hath taken away my reproach”; Yosef is then identified with the similar root /ysp/, meaning “add”: “And she called his name Joseph; and said, The LORD shall add to me another son.”[4]

We will obviously cover Joseph and his life for the rest of this study of Genesis. However, I thought I would bring some attention to a topic that many might not be aware of. There is a line of thought and teaching which says that the Jewish Messiah will be born from the line of Joseph. This is sometimes viewed as being at odds from the teaching that says the Messiah will be born from the line of Judah.

Messiah ben Joseph:

In Jewish eschatologyMashiach ben Yoseph or Messiah ben Joseph (Hebrew: משיח בן־יוסף‎ Mašīaḥ ben Yōsēf), also known as Mashiach bar/ben Ephraim (Aram./Heb.: משיח בר/בן אפרים‎), is a Jewish messiah from the tribe of Ephraim and a descendant of Joseph.[1] The figure’s origins are much debated. Some regard it as a rabbinic invention, but others defend the view that its origins are in the Torah.[2]

Jewish tradition alludes to four messianic figures, called the Four Craftsmen, from a vision found in Book of Zechariah (Zechariah Hebrew text 2:1-4; traditional English texts 1:21). The four craftsmen are discussed in Babylonian Talmud Suk. 52b. Rav Hana bar Bizna, attributed to Rav Simeon Hasida, identifies these four craftsmen as Messiah ben David, Messiah ben Joseph, Elijah, and the Righteous Priest.[3] Each will be involved in ushering in the Messianic age. They are mentioned in the Talmud and the Book of Zechariah.

Rashi in his commentary on the Talmud gives more details. Rashi explains that Messiah ben Joseph is called a craftsman because he will help rebuild the temple.[4] Nahmanides also commented on Messiah ben Joseph’s rebuilding of the temple.[5][6] The roles of the Four Craftsmen are as follows. Elijah will be the herald of the eschaton.[7] If necessary, Messiah ben Joseph will wage war against the evil forces and die in combat with the enemies of God and Israel.[8] According to Saadia Gaon the need for his appearance will depend on the spiritual condition of the Jewish people.[9] In the Sefer Zerubbabel and later writings, after his death a period of great calamities will befall Israel.[8] God will then resurrect the dead and usher in the Messianic Era of universal peace. Messiah ben David will reign as a Jewish king during the period when God will resurrect the dead. With the ascendancy of Rabbinic Judaism the Righteous Priest has largely not been the subject of Jewish messianic speculation.[10]: 87–89 

The Dead Sea Scrolls[edit]

While the Dead Sea scrolls do not explicitly refer to a Messiah ben Joseph, a plethora of messianic figures are displayed.

* The poly-messianic Testimonia text 4Q175 presents a prophet like Moses, a messianic figure and a priestly teacher.[10]: 89  The Text contains four testimonia.[11] The fourth testimonium is about Joshua and is generally viewed as non-messianic. However Alan Avery-Peck suggests that given its placement the text concerning Joshua should be read as referencing a war messiah from Ephraim. It is dated to the early 1st century BCE.[10]: 89 

* 4Q372 (c. 200 BCE) features a suffering, righteous ‘Joseph’ king-figure, who cries out to God in his death-throes as ‘My father’, citing the suffering-messiah Psalms 89 and 22, and predicts that he will arise again to do justice and righteousness.[12]

* 1QS lists a Messiah of Israel, a prophet and a priestly Messiah of Aaron.[13] 1QS dates from around 100 BCE.[14]

Gabriel’s Revelation[edit]

Gabriel’s Revelation is a stone tablet with its text written in ink. Although the inscription is in a poor state of preservation,[15]: 11–12  the meaning of the legible text is still a matter of scholarship.

The text seems to talk about a messianic figure from Ephraim who will break evil before righteousness by three days.[15]: 43–44  later the text talks about a “prince of princes” a leader of Israel who is killed by the evil king and not properly buried.[15]: 44  the evil king is then miraculously defeated.[15]: 45  the text seems to refer to Jeremiah Chapter 31.[15]: 43  The choice of Ephraim as the lineage of the messianic figure described in the text seems to draw on passages in Jeremiah, Zechariah and Hosea.[15]: 48–49  However, Matthias Henze suggest that this figure is not a reference to the Messiah ben Joseph who he believes is a later development but rather a pseudonym for the Messiah ben David and that Ephraim is simple a metonym in reference to Israel; Israel Knohl disagrees.[15]: 95–96, 108–111 

The text seems to be based on a Jewish revolt recorded by Josephus dating from 4 BCE. Both Josephus and Gabriel’s Revelation describe three messianic leaders.[15]: 45–46  Based on its dating, the text seems to refer to Simon of Peraea, one of the three leaders of this revolt.[15]: 47 

Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs[edit]

The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, thought by some to be a Christian writing or if Jewish to have had Christian influences.[16] The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs is a composition of twelve texts one for each patriarch. The Testament of Benjamin was probably expanded later to include a reference to Messiah ben Joseph by Jewish sources. The Testament of Joseph on the other hand was probably altered by Christians to read that the virgin born Lamb of God from the tribe of Judah rather than the lamb son of Joseph would conquer.[17]

Talmud[edit]

See also: The Messiah at the Gates of Rome

* In the Jerusalem Talmud Brachot 2:4, 5a an Arab tells a Jew that the messiah is born. His father’s name is Hezekiah and he will be named Menahem. He is not referred to as the Messiah ben Joseph. However some have linked this passage to Messiah ben Joseph. Selling his cow and plough he buys some swaddling cloth and travels from town to town. He travels to Bethlehem where the child is born. All the women are buying their children clothing except Menahem’s mother. She says her son is an enemy of Israel because he is born on the day the second temple was destroyed. He tells her that if she does not have money today she can pay later. He says that the child is surely the messiah who will rebuild the temple. When he returns she tells him that Menahem has been carried by a divine wind up to heaven. He will later return as Israel’s messiah.[18][19]: 24, 122 

* In the Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 98b Menahem ben Hezekiah is also mentioned along with a list of other names of the messiah suggested by different rabbis. Again he is not referred to directly as the Messiah ben Joseph. Menahem’s name translates as “the comforter”. The Rabbis also called the messiah the leper scholar, using a pun related to a disciple of Rabbi Judah haNasi who was smitten by leprosy. The passage states that he has borne our grief and carried our sorrows. Yet we esteemed him a leper smitten by God.[8][20]

* Babylonian Talmud Sukkah 52a records of a dispute between Rabbi Dosa ben Harkinas and other unnamed rabbis. Rabbi Dosa takes Zechariah 12:10 to apply to the mourning for Messiah ben Joseph, while the rabbis think the mourning is for the evil inclination. The talmudic redactor sides with Rabbi Dosa: the mourning is for Messiah ben Joseph. (Mourning the Evil Inclination, he adds, would be absurd.) It then speaks of how Ben Joseph’s death frightens Messiah ben David, so that he urgently prays for his life to be spared.[10]: 79–83 

* The Jerusalem Talmud Sukkah 5:2 also mentions Messiah ben Joseph.[10]: 90 

* Babylonian Talmud Sukkah 52b presents the Four Craftsmen. Each may have a role to play in the ushering in the messianic age they are listed as Elijah, Messiah ben David, Righteous Priest and Messiah ben Joseph.[4][10]: 84 

The Talmud uses the Hebrew ben rather than the Aramaic bar when giving the lineage of these messiahs, suggesting a date before 200 CE. Other parts of the passage are Aramaic confusing the matter.[10]: 84  The similarity between 4Q175 and the Four Craftsman suggest that the Messiah ben Joseph probably existed in some form by the early 1st century BCE.[10]: 87–89 

Targum[edit]

Targumim were spoken paraphrases, explanations, and expansions of the Jewish scriptures that a Rabbi would give in the common language of the listeners.

The common Targum for Zechariah 12.10 is non-messianic. However, In the Jerusalem Targum to Zechariah 12.10, Messiah bar Ephraim is slain by Gog.[21] In the Islamic era Targum Pseudo-Jonathan to Exodus 40.9-11, three messiahs Messiah ben David, Messiah ben Ephraim and Elijah are listed. Messiah ben Ephraims’ death is not mentioned.[10]: 87 [22] The Targum on song of songs 4.5 compares Messiah ben David and Messiah ben Ephraim to Moses and Aaron.[23] All of these Targum refer to Messiah ben Ephraim rather than Messiah ben Joseph[10]: 89  Dating of these Targum is difficult. Dating earlier than the fourth century CE cannot be affirmed.[21][23] The same is true for many of the Midrashim.

A Christian Biblical scholar, David C. Mitchell, wrote a lengthy and compelling book making the case that Jesus’s ministry included a overt argument that He was both the from the line of Judah as well as from the line of Joseph. I think the book is a tremendous work of scholarship and is a terrific read whether you are Christian, Jew, or of any belief.

With the birth of Joseph, we set the stage for the last 40% of our study of Genesis.

Leave a Reply