Maggid ben Yoseif / Jerusalem Torah Voice in Exile

Od Yoseif Chai 

(Joseph is still alive!)

Part 2: Portents of the conflict between the House of Joseph and Esau and the root of the enmity with Judah


Commentary on Parashat Vayishlach
TORAH: Genesis 32:4 — 36:43
HAFTORAH: Obadiah 1:1-21
December 1, 2001 — 16 Kislev 5762


© 2005 Maggid ben Yoseif


This is the second of the six weeks of special commentary on the Torah portions that record the birth, mission and death of Joseph. This commentary is being written and disseminated to determine whether the Torah may allude to or reveal outright a plan to Return the non-Jewish Assimilated House of Joseph to be reunited with the Jewish House of Judah. In fact, we submit that such a plan is mystically hidden in the circumstances surrounding Joseph’s birth, life and interaction with his brothers, especially Judah and as indicated in this week’s portion, Joseph’s interaction with Esau.

Such a return would involve the biblical inheritances of the House of Joseph (the historical/biblical borders of Ephraim and Manasseh) together with the biblical territory of Benjamin. These same territories define the entirety of the region today known as the Shomron or Samaria and the biblical fields of Ephraim. Also, the same territories are sought to comprise the northern 2/3rds of the proposed Palestinian State.

In this week’s portion, pay special attention to the context of the vow Jacob makes to Esau — and how the Haftorah describes the fate of Esau in the fulfillment of that promise — to meet Esau at Mount Seir.

We submit that this portion of Torah and Haftorah more than any others describe the mystical portents by which we can interpret and understand events currently unfolding in the Middle East and again point to the imminent Return of the House of Joseph.

It does not hurt to remind that the sages have long predicted that the seed of Joseph will give Jacob the upper hand in dealing with the seed of Esau.

Maggid ben Yosef

Portion of the Kohen:  Genesis 32:4-13
After Jacob announces his arrival back to the land of Canaan, Esau approaches with an army of 400 men! Jacob, overwhelmed by fear, petitions Hashem to rescue him from his vengeful brother. His comfort is his remembrance of the promises Hashem made to him: To do good with him and multiply his offspring.

Portion of the Levite:  Genesis 32:14-30
Mahanaim (two camps) named after the family of Leah and the family of Rachel including the maidservants of each and their children, Jacob spends the night and decides to apportion a tribute to his brother of drove after drove of livestock. For he said, acapera panahv baminchah (I will atone or appease his face with a tribute) and afterwards I will face him; perhaps he will forgive me.

After separating his two families and providing for their protection, Jacob is left alone where he wrestles with a “man” and overcomes him. The man tells him as dawn breaks and he has dislocated Jacob’s hip-socket during the night-long struggle, “You have striven with the Divine (
elohim) and with men (anashim) and have overcome. This “man” was obviously some kind of angelic being disguised as a man or who perhaps had to deal with Jacob in a human way. Whomever this being is, first bestows upon him the name, “Israel,” (overcomer with God) in memory of this monumental and we suggest significant physical victory, which elevated the physicality into a spiritual plane.

Third Portion:  Genesis 32:31 — 33:5
Jacob names the place of this wrestling
Peniel, an abbreviation for the “face of the divine” for he says, I have seen elohim “face to face” and my soul was spared. It again becomes obvious that Jacob accomplished something very special in seeing the face of the divine being and somehow persuading it, but not without a cost, as he was left limping from a displaced sinew.

NOTE: Later in Portion Mikeitz, when Joseph orders the head of his household in Egypt to prepare a meal for his brothers before they recognize him, he says,
t’voach tevach v’hacheyn (have meat slaughtered and prepare it). The latter part of this phrase contains the word, Hanukkah, the festival which becomes most important to the House of Joseph as we will explain later. But if this meal was prepared by removing the gid hanaseh or displaced sinew which all of Israel was forbidden to eat after the injury to Jacob, then the brothers should have recognized him as Joseph.

Dawn breaks concluding one long night of petition by Jacob to Hashem about Esau and the mysterious incident with the angel. Immediately, Jacob sees Esau coming with 400 men! Within each camp, he divides the children of the handmaids from those of Leah and -- Rachel and Joseph. Leah’s children, including Judah may not have been too happy that Joseph was the best protected from Esau, however, rather than show “favorites” among his children I want to suggest that Jacob was opening a portent of how to deal with Esau in the last days. The families of Judah, Levi and Simeon would form the bulk of the Jewish people in the time of the Second Temple Period. They would be the FIRST to complete their Return to Eretz Yisrael. The other tribes, the so-called Ten Tribes would return after Judah. But for some reason, Joseph is almost hidden from Esau’s view until he is the last to be revealed.

The above order makes it possible to better understand the strange turn of events that occurs next.

Fourth portion:  Genesis: 33:6-20
After all of Jacob’s wives and their children come forward separately to bow before Esau, then come Rachel and Joseph who come forward and bow to him last, Esau asks Jacob a most peculiar question: “Who to you is this col hamachaneh (all of this camp) which I met?” Jacob does not answer that question, instead he says merely “to find grace in the eyes of my master.” Then Esau pronounces something which should serve as a portent for his offspring, the House of Esau, to understand the favor granted by Esau to the House of Jacob then … which is the same favor his descendants should grant to the family of Jacob now.

“I have much, my brother. It will be to you, which is to you,” or in other words, “let what you have be yours.” On the surface this “Ce sera sera,” (whatever will be will be attitude) may apply only to the livestock that Esau later accepted as Jacob’s tribute to him. But his reference to
col hamachaneh — “all this camp” — would appear to be inclusive of Jacob’s family, especially since Jacob himself used this term at Mahanaim (two camps) to separate the families by wives, handmaidens and children.

To persuade Esau to accept the tribute, Jacob makes an equally strange statement that refers to the wrestling with the angelic being on both a physical and a spiritual plane. Here is where the rabbis deduce that he actually wrestled with the guardian angel of Esau and it was the guardian angel of Esau who admitted defeat and gave Jacob the name, Israel. All of this is alluded to with the plea by Jacob for Esau to receive the tribute with the words, “If I have now found favor in your eyes, then accept my tribute from me, inasmuch as I have seen your face, which is like seeing the face of an
elohim (divine being), and you were appeased by me.

Perhaps it was a natural progression for Jacob to go through, from winning the birthright from Esau to receiving his blessing, to overcoming his guardian angel and receiving the guardian angel’s blessing. But it should be obvious that when it comes to Jacob, Esau has yielded everything spiritually and physically. The appeasement, the rabbis state, pertains to Esau’s countenance temporarily being changed as a result of his guardian angel’s defeat. But they say Jacob chose not to accompany Esau since he would have no assurance that his countenance would remain friendly and kind.

So when Esau suggests that he and Jacob and his whole camp proceed together toward Mt. Seir, Jacob is given these words, which serve as yet another portent for the House of Israel and the House of Judah in the last days.

“My lord knows that the children are tender, and the nursing flocks and cattle are upon me; if they will be driven hard for a single day, then all the flocks will die. Let my lord go ahead of his servant; I will make my way at my slow pace according to the gait of the drove before me and the gait of the children, until I come to my lord at Seir.

The gate of the drove is in Hebrew ha-m’la'chah. On a mystical level, this could relate to Ephraim since the word is comprised of the root mala which means to become full. Ephraim is told by Jacob that he will become the m’lo (fullness) of the goyim (Gentiles). Also, the youngest of the children, whose regel (alluding to pace or how fast he can move his feet) is Joseph. Remember, Joseph is only about 5 years old at this point.

Since Jacob never made that fateful journey to Seir but as a prophet all of his vows must come to pass, the rabbis say it alludes to a portent in the End of Days when as Obadiah (the haftorah for this portion) states, “Jacob’s descendants will come to Mount Seir to render judgment against Esau’s descendants.” And as we will see shortly, this judgment is aroused by the House of
Jacob becoming a fire, the House of Joseph the flame which ignites the fire and the House of Esau the stubble to be burned.

Instead of heading to Seir, Jacob first journeys to Succoth, where he builds succahs or a type of manger for his livestock. Then he purchases a parcel of land on the outskirts of Sh’chem (modern Nablus), which is where Joseph is later buried and which figures most prominently in Joseph’s life when he is persecuted by his brothers, thrown into a pit and sold into slavery. Also, Sh’chem falls on the border between Ephraim on the south and the half-tribe of Manasseh west of the Jordan River or both children of Joseph. Today it is the stronghold of the Palestinians.

It should not pass notice that on this parcel in proximity of Joseph’s tomb, Jacob built an altar and proclaimed El Elohei Yisrael (God, the God of Israel). This is the first time he uses the name Israel since it was bestowed upon him by the guardian angel of Esau.

 Fifth Portion:  Genesis 34:1 — 35:11

Tomb of Joseph Jacob has all of his household rid themselves of their idols and jewelry associated in any way with sh’tuf (association with idolatry). After they are cleansed, Hashem reaffirms the name Israel first given to Jacob by Esau’s guardian angel. This portion ends with Hashem charging Jacob to be “fruitful and multiply.” The word “fruitful” is p’reh which stems from the same root as the name, Ephraim, which means “doubly fruitful.
A heretofore undisclosed promise relates to the
bechorah or Birthright, which will later be clarified as pertaining to Joseph-Ephraim. Jacob is told a nation and a congregation of nations shall descend from you and kings shall issue from your loins. Both promises are in the future tense and  pertain to the royalty of Judah and the fruitfulness of the sons of Joseph. Manashe would become a tribe of thousands, but Ephraim would become the rivvot (a multitude of rovs. A rov is a majority of something). Curiously, the Hebrew reflects not the Manassah west of the Jordan, but Israelite East M'nashe as becoming "thousands."  Preliminary research indicates this family of Israel correlates strongly with the Native American migrations from Mongolia. The congregation of nations is being fulfilled in our day through the global movement known as the Return of the House of Joseph, congregating around Ephraimite, M'nashe'ite, and Manasseh'ite identities.

Sixth Portion:  Genesis  35:12 — 36:19
This portion opens with yet another renewal of the promise, this time alluding specifically to the land earlier given to Abraham and Isaac, which is now given to Jacob and his seed. Since this occurs at Bethel and Bethel (ancient Luz) is Hashem’s Ephraim as we illustrated with the satellite map last week, certainly a part of this seed includes the Assimilated people of Ephraim.

Rachel’s death on the way to Bethlehem served as a portent for the later territorial inheritance of Benjamin, the son to whom she gave birth and then she died. She was not buried in the inheritance of Judah but rather somewhere in Benjamin. There is not universal agreement that the current tomb is the correct location for three reasons.

1. When the House of Judah was exiled to Babylon, we are told by the writings of the sages that enroute to exile they passed the Tomb of Rachel. But if the tomb is in its present location to the south of Jerusalem (near Gilo today), this would have been a detour enroute north towards Babylon.

2. When Saul was anointed king by Samuel, the Tanach relates that he passed the Tomb of Rachel at Rama enroute to his home which was in the north near the border with Ephraim.

3. Rachel is heard crying for the Return of her children at Rama, mystically interpreted as the Heavenlies but literally a place name near her tomb and possibly the birthplace of the prophet Samuel.

After the death of Rachel, Bilhah her handmaiden, raised Joseph and little Benjamin. Of course Reuben made the grievous error of interfering in the marriage bed of Bilhah, either by removing his father’s bed from her tent (thinking it was an insult to his mother, Leah, after Rachel’s death) or actually sleeping with Bilhah. If the latter, then he was attempting to usurp the authority of Joseph by acting as a surrogate father since Bilhah was Joseph’s surrogate mother. This may explain why Hashem removed the birthright from Reuben and gave it to Joseph.

A long list of Esau’s descendants follow after making it clear that Esau became the nation of Edom. The generations of Esau (the Hebrew word toldot) is spelled defectively without one of the holems or letter that makes a long O sound. This is explained by the incest, adultery and other immorality described in the record of his descendants.

Seventh Portion:  Genesis 36:20-43
The list of Esau-Edom continues, focusing on the Seirite genealogy which results in the Amalekite nation so hostile to the children of Israel when they returned from Egyptian exile.

Haftorah:  Obadiah 1-21
The climactic encounter between Jacob and Esau begins with the prophet describing Esau-Edom as being exceedingly despised by Hashem. This is clarified in verses 10-14 alluding to the violence practiced by Esau against Jacob (which continues) for not honoring Jerusalem (which continues) rejoicing over the misfortune of Judah (which continues).

But the meat of the book is contained in verses 17-21. First, we learn that the House of Jacob through a great
pleitah (deliverance) shall inherit its “inheritors” (Esau-Edom). Then we are told of the total annihilation of the House of Esau:

“The House of Jacob will be a fire and the House of Joseph a flame — and the House of Esau like straw; they (the House of Joseph) will kindle among them and consume them; and there will be no survivor of the House of Esau, for Hashem has spoken.

This prophecy has variously been referred to as dealing with Roman exile, however, the physical landmarks that follow place it in our day and time in the land of Israel known as the Shomron — the exclusive inheritance of the House of Joseph. As verse 19 states, all of the inheritances Esau claimed anywhere in Eretz Yisrael they will lose -- except possibly the Gaza and the region contiguous with the Gaza (see The Zechariah Plan).  The fields of Ephraim are especially singled out (as earlier illustrated). For this all to come to pass, Joseph must obviously still be alive through his descendants who are out there waiting to be found, prepared with Torah and returned.

Shabbat Shalom & Hashem’s love & blessings,
Maggid ben Yosef

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