Maggid ben Yoseif / Jerusalem Torah Voice in Exile

12 Kislev 5759 / December 1, 1998

The biblical response to the intent to declare a Palestinian State

 

Bring home the House of Joseph ...

heirs to the sought-after territories in the Shomron

SUMMARY EXCERPT:

"We would not think of suggesting the course the leadership of Israel should take in response to Arafat’s latest intentions except that the State of Israel already is making concessions to the Palestinians within the territories Hashem deeded to Joseph’s children.

It is time that the Israeli leadership wake up and see the dying olive branch. War is inevitable. And according to both the Torah and the interpretations of sages with far greater wisdom than anyone alive today, Israel’s only hope in this war will be the Return of the House of Joseph … the branch of Jacob who will "cling" tenaciously to Esau’s heel.

Therefore, it should be the intent of the House of Joseph in exile, in response to Arafat’s intention to declare a Palestinian State, to meet strength with strength; lay the groundwork for the future state of Northern Israel, the branch of Joseph-Ephraim. Petition the State of Israel to immediately amend the Law of Return so the Assimilated House of Joseph (already committed to Hashem and Torah) can begin its aliyah in time to be the "fire of Torah that will rekindle Jacob to counter Esau."

                    Maggid ben Yosef

Sunday morning I tuned in C-Span and heard Abdul Rauf el-Codbi el-Hussein (Yasser Arafat) speaking before a delegation of American Palestinians jointly sponsored by the Arab-American Institute Foundation and the Palestinian American Congress both meeting in Washington, D.C.

Since Arafat opened his speech with an invitation for everyone to come to Bethlehem this Christmas for the celebration of the birth of "our lord Jesus Christ," I assume that this was a Christian assembly and at least before this group, Arafat includes himself in the ranks of Christians. Also present were the Rev. Jesse Jackson Jr. and several congressmen as well as Mayor Berry of Washington, D.C., who formally invited Arafat as the guest of honor.

In his speech, Arafat made several references to Al-Kuds Sharif (the Arabic name for the city of Jerusalem) as the capital of the State of Palestine which, despite warnings by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he stated emphatically he still intends to declare on May 4, 1999. That date marks the expiration of the 7-year interim agreement between Israeli and Palestinian leaders framed in 1992 after the initial Madrid Peace Conference in the fall of 1991. The interim agreement was intended to halt the Palestinian intifada (uprising or civil unrest) and allow the framework for unilateral talks (never intended to involve the United States or any other nation) between Israeli leaders and Palestinian leaders. Netanyahu has warned both at the Wye River conference earlier this month (which is the latest guidelines adopted by Israeli and Palestinian leaders governing the negotiations), and afterwards that Arafat’s declaration of a Palestinian state would nullify any and all concessions previously made by Israel.

At the time of the Madrid conference, I was a member of the editorial staff of The Jerusalem Post. I wrote a widely circulated column in the Post entitled, "The Speech Nobody Heard in Madrid," which was later reprinted in other periodicals. This column outlined the Torah reading that week, which as it turned out, dealt specifically with the "roots" of the perceived impasse in Madrid: Israel's purchased and witnessed right to the lands the Palestinians were wanting for their state and the yoke the Palestinians call "occupation."

Before suggesting a biblical response to the most recently stated intentions of Arafat to declare a Palestinian state, it will be good to recall the major points of this "Speech Nobody Heard." This is because Hashem (G-d) is still saying the same thing, year in and year out through the same schedule of Torah and Haftorah readings. The cycle of Torah and Haftorahs relevant to this conflict began two weeks ago and continues through next week. Perhaps this time around, Hashem (G-d) may be speaking to non Jews either standing with Israel or standing "spiritually" in the same valley of decision as Palestinians desiring to declare a state on "holy" (set-apart for Israel) ground.

For the record, the October 30-November 1, 1991, opening speeches fell on Marheshvan 22-24 on G-d's appointment calendar. The speech already prepared for that occasion, was in portion Hayyei (Life of) Sarah (Genesis 23-25:18).  (For a detailed analysis of this speech SEE Life of Sarah.)

Quoting Abraham (grandfather of both Jacob and Esau) as he entreated the sons of Heth: "I am a stranger and an inhabitant with you; give me a burial plot with you so that I may bury my dead out of my sight" (Genesis 23:4).

Ahuzat-kever (translated "burial plot") actually means burial "settlement." Ahuza, the form of the word when detached from its construct, comes from the Hebrew root ahaz, which means "hold." The burial plot, bought at the gate of the city of Hebron, in the sight and hearing of multiple witnesses, was Abraham's first bond that tied him to the land; the place that drew him and held him. Abraham was himself buried there, as well as Rebecca and Isaac (but not Ishmael) and Leah and Jacob (but not Esau). It should be clear from these burial accounts of Hashem (G-d’s) intent that Jacob was heir according to the Promise but for some reason, not Esau. It also is the earliest deed on record to any plot of property in the disputed territories. Other ahuzat kever in the unannexed territories include the tomb of Rachel at Bethlehem and the tomb of Joseph in Shechem, which, by the same biblical logic, specifically give the children of Rachel through the LINE OF JOSEPH a recorded claim to the unannexed territories. More on this later.

Genesis 24:60 records an astounding blessing pronounced upon Rebecca by what Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch called her "Arab" family as she is about to leave that family behind for good to marry into the line of Israel as Isaac's wife. "Our sister! Become (the mother of) thousands of ten thousands, and may your seed inherit the gate of those that hate them."

And the speech would have ended with a vital bit of information concerning the sons of Ishmael, who later intermarried with Esau ... that "they dwelt from Havilah to Shur, that is before Mitzrayim, in the region as you go toward Asshur; before the face of all his brothers did he settle." Those areas all fall outside of the territories in dispute.

The following week's reading, as negotiations continued between Israeli and Palestinian delegations, was Toledot (Genesis 25:19-28:9). This portion first restates G-d's gift of the land in question to Isaac and his seed, Jacob (26:3). Most relevant and provocative, however, is Rebecca's loyalty to Jacob based on the word spoken to her at his and Esau's birth.

"And the children moved violently against each other within her womb, and when this occurred, she said: 'Why am I thus?' And G-d said (as Hirsch puts it): "Two nations are in your womb and two states; they will be divided from one another, starting from within you; one state shall become mightier than the other, and the mighty one shall serve the lesser."

On the face of this prophecy, which the rabbis refer to as the "birthpangs of the messiah," descendants of Jacob and descendants of Esau can never co-exist. The entire premise of the peace process is flawed by Torah logic. When Jacob or Esau near one another, the birthpangs start again and one or the other gets the upper hand. The rabbis say, however, that Jacob ascends over Esau due solely to its observance of the Torah, so when Jacob’s descendants do not observe the Torah, Esau’s descendants are within their rights to oppress Jacob’s.

Esau, emerging from the womb first, was entitled to be the heir to Isaac and Abraham, but in a fit of hunger he relinquished his birthright to Jacob for bread and lentils. The deception engineered by Rebecca, who recalled the prophecy from her womb and who saw Esau gravitating toward hunting and Jacob dwelling in the tents of learning, justified Jacob getting the inheritance (Hashem, Torah and Eretz Yisrael).

"Peoples will serve you and nations will bow down to you. But, you become a man to your brothers, so that the sons of your mother may bow down to you. Then he who curses you will be cursed, and he who blesses you will be blessed. By "sons of your mother," Isaac intended "Jacob and his descendants," but since Jacob was receiving the blessing, "sons of your mother" who would serve him would be Esau and his descendants.

Isaac, in other words, charged Jacob-Israel to be as a man and deal fairly and justly with his "Arab" brother. Further, this humane dealing must precede and enable Jacob's brother to humble himself before Jacob. The rabbis say that this means that the descendants of Jacob must deal with the descendants of Esau "in truth." TRUTH is the attribute imparted into the family through Rebecca, as indicated by its association with her in the narrative. But TRUTH is handed down to Jacob and also to Joseph, as reflected in the Torah. But "Truth" as defined in Torah is something different than we may define truth today. Torah truth, as reflected in the Hebrew spelling is "knowledge of the first from the last (the ALEPH or first MEM or from the TAV or last)" Rebecca saw the "total picture" in evaluating who was spiritually fit for the birthright. She judged it TRUTH that it was Jacob. Jacob was revealed the total picture when he was told the promises were conditional on his descendants occupying the land. And Jacob made Joseph deal with him "in truth" by returning his remains after his death to the tomb of the Patriarchs. Joseph (and by extension, Joseph’s children) should also be capable of seeing the total picture today.

When Esau wanted a blessing of his own, he was told he would serve his brother, Jacob-Israel. "Only when you humble yourself will you loosen his yoke from your neck."

With the "eyes of Joseph," it becomes clear that the steadfast "pride" evidenced by the Palestinian people keeps the "yoke" on their necks. Their refusal, some even as Arab Christians, to recognize the G-d of Israel (the G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and Judah and Joseph), the Torah of Israel, and Eretz Yisrael as the claim of Jacob’s descendants, places them in the camp of Esau who has vowed an eternal vow to hate and destroy Israel.

Joseph’s children see the instrument of that hatred today in several ways, all of which confirm that Esau and his ruling spirit (who the rabbis call "Satan"), is alive and well today. We see Esau in the Palestinian National Charter calling for the destruction of the Jewish state and its population down to the last child. We see Esau in the Koran which calls for the death of the infidel and lists Israel at the top of the list to be exterminated. And alarmingly, we see Esau in Churches where anti-Semitism and replacement theology alleges that Hashem (G-d) has finished with Israel and is now dealing with a "spiritual new Jerusalem" or its equivalent.

As strange, esoteric and "un-orthodox" as it may appear to the leaders of the nations, the biblical response to the declaration or intent to declare a Palestinian state in the unannexed territories has to be understood in the context of Esau’s vow to destroy Jacob. While it may and probably will amount to a declaration of war, there are spiritual battles already declared and already being fought, which could serve to minimize the bloodshed of Jacob’s children. However, all of "Esau" (defined physically as those who oppose Israel in the West Bank but spiritually those who oppose Hashem, Torah and Eretz Yisrael) are doomed to destruction. (However, a limited autonomy appears in Zechariah 9 for those who would settle instead in the Gaza region but also embrace Hashem and Torah).

Those Palestinians who remain in the West Bank (Judea-Samaria) are doomed, however. And it is time that the leadership of the United States, realizes that every overture it makes toward an "unbiblical peace" is a death sentence for the very Palestinians their humanitarian efforts may be trying to help. The world may offer President Clinton a Nobel Peace Price but in the World to Come, no man in modern history may have more blood on his hands.

"And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the HOUSE OF JOSEPH a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for Hashem hath spoken it. (Obadiah 1:18). Read on in the little book of Obadiah and we see that the territories sought by the Palestinians are mentioned specifically in the context of this House of Esau, including the field of Ephraim and the field of Samaria; and Benjamin. These are the unannexed regions within the inheritance of the children of Rachel and the HOUSE OF JOSEPH: Ephraim, Manasseh and Benjamin.

The question is often asked in our Torah studies of these portions, "Why?" What has Esau done for his descendants to deserve this fate? There is no mistake that Hashem (the G-d of Israel, Himself), declares his "hatred" of Esau in the Haftorah Toldot, Malachi 1:1 – 2:7 describing Esau-Edom as "the boundary of wickedness and the people who infuriated Hashem to eternity."

There are dozens of scriptures that point to the enmity Esau harbored against Jacob including the attacks by Amalek (a family of Esau and the equivalent of today’s terrorists) against the weak and stragglers at the rear of the ranks as the children of Israel were coming out of Egypt. But perhaps the most telling and damning is in Ezekiel 26. Tyre, a city colonized by descendants of Esau, the ruins of which today lie in Lebanon, rejoices that Jerusalem is laid waste and that now Tyre can ascend in the wake of Jerusalem’s descent.

I believe the resulting judgment against Tyre helps us understand the prophecy in Zechariah 9 as at a future time when "all the tribes of Israel are as a unity" the inhabitants of the Gaza region "see" the judgment of Tyre and the destruction of Damascus and take it to heart and their pride is broken. That pride can be many things but today, it best fits the parameters of the Palestinian ultra-Nationalism seeking a state on lands decreed for Jacob’s descendants, most notably JOSEPH and JUDAH.

Joseph also figured into the earlier frays between Jacob and Esau. First, as we learned again in this past week’s Torah portion (Vayeitzei, Genesis 28:10-32:3) it is after the birth of Joseph that Jacob first has the inclination to return to Eretz Yisrael and face his brother Esau, though only 11 of the 12 sons of Jacob are born at this time. It is also interesting that in next week’s portion, (Vayishlach Genesis 32:4-36:43), when Jacob and Esau meet again (after Jacob has successfully defeated Esau’s angel), Jacob tells Esau that he will come to the Mount of Esau (Edom) "at the pace of the cattle and the children." The youngest of the children is Joseph, who is then about 6 years old. The rabbis suggest that Jacob is ready to confront Esau "at the maturity of Joseph." The move to restore the cattle industry in Israel may also figure into this prophetic scenario.

However, the fateful battle never takes place as Jacob settles first at Succot, then Sh’chem, then Beit-El and finally Kiryat Arbah (Hevron) and never goes South to Edom. The rabbis therefore relate these words as a prophecy related to the last days, when the doom of Esau according to Obadiah will be fulfilled. Obadiah’s prophecy also serves as the Haftorah for the Portion Vayishlach, which records the first encounter between Jacob and Esau.

The rabbis have very deep-rooted traditions concerning this ultimate and final conflict between Jacob’s descendants and Esau’s descendants, which are quoted in dozens of references to the Talmud and other Jewish writings. Most notable are:

Talmud Bava Batra 123b: "Jacob saw that Esau’s seed could only be delivered up by Joseph’s seed."

Tanchuma Vayeshev, 1: When Jacob saw Esau and his chiefs, he became afraid. He asked, "Who could defend me against these? G-d answered, "Your spark will consume them, and that is Joseph…. It therefore says, "Jacob dwelled … These are the generations of Jacob: Joseph (Genesis 37:1-2)."

Bereshit Rabbah, 99:2: "Joseph counters Edom … In whose hands shall Edom fall? Those of the anointed of war, who comes from Joseph."

Bereshit Rabbah 73:7: "With Joseph’s birth, Esau’s adversary was born … There is a tradition that Esau shall fall only to Rachel’s descendants."

Also, the writings of Rabbenu Sa’adya Gaon in Emunot Ve’De’ot, Pirkei DeRabbi Eliezer 19, Sanhedrin 97a, Sotah 49b, Ramban to Exodus 17:9, and the writings of R. Hillel of Shklov quoting the Gaon R. Eliyahu of Vilna, Pesikta Rabbati 8, 36-37, Targum Yonatan of Genesis 30:25, Midrash Shocher Tov 60, Talmud Succah 52a reflect the theme of "Joseph is alive through his descendants."

The same conflict is recorded as late as the First Century of the Common Era in the writings of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The so-called War Scroll describes a battle between the "sons of Light," (descendants of Jacob) and the "sons of darkness" specifically identified as the children of Edom. We may also find references to this eschatological (end-times) battle in the parables of Y’shua (Jesus) of Nazareth, particularly the parable of the wheat and the tares and in the spiritual battles Y’shua waged (if Satan is indeed the ruling spirit of Esau-Edom). A similar parable is related from an ancient Midrash as recorded by Chizkuni in Torah Sheleimah where the parable is quoted in the context of the prophecy in Obadiah, Esau being the "chaff" and Jacob-Joseph the "wheat."

Although 11 of the 12 tribes are born in Portion Vayeitzei, the Haftorah Vayeitzei (Hosea 11:7 – 14:10) focused on Hashem’s remembrance of Joseph-Ephraim once he separates himself from his idols.

It seems clear that the Torah portions encompassing Genesis 23-36 in consideration with their Haftorahs, depict a struggle between Jacob and Esau, the birth of one son – Joseph - singled out among 11 who will give Jacob the upper hand in this struggle in the last days. Just as Joshua, a descendant of Ephraim, earlier faced down Amalek, descended from Esau, the House of Joseph will be called upon to vanquish the House of Esau.

"We would not think of suggesting the course the leadership of Israel should take in response to Arafat’s latest intentions except that the State of Israel already is making concessions to the Palestinians within the territories Hashem deeded to Joseph’s children.

It is time that the Israeli leadership wake up and see the dying olive branch. War is inevitable. And according to both the Torah and the interpretations of sages with far greater wisdom than anyone alive today, Israel’s only hope in this war will be the Return of the House of Joseph … the branch of Jacob who will "cling" tenaciously to Esau’s heel.

Therefore, it should be the intent of the House of Joseph in exile, in response to Arafat’s intention to declare a Palestinian State, to meet strength with strength; lay the groundwork for the future state of Northern Israel, the branch of Joseph-Ephraim. Petition the State of Israel to immediately amend the Law of Return so the Assimilated House of Joseph (already committed to Hashem and Torah) can begin its aliyah in time to be the "fire of Torah" that will rekindle Jacob to counter Esau. 

Maggid ben Yoseif

 

As many are astonished concerning you thus: "an outline from a man!" ... "his features mirror the sons of Adam!" Thus he shall startle many nations. Concerning him, kings (rulers) shall shut their mouths because that which was not told to them they shall see and that they had not heard they shall meditate to themselves.
 

Radio interviews with Maggid ben Yoseif, on Torah To The Nations with David Mathews, Hebrew Nation Radio Network.

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