Messiah in HaShem, is the Author and the Goal of Torah
(cf. Sefer Yochanan 1 & Rav Shaul's Letter to the Romans 10:4)
...the blood guilt that is presently manifest upon the lands of many western democracies due to the mass murder of pre-born human beings is palpable, and it remains that only the blood of those who shed it can cover it (Num. 35:33), except where those who have committed these crimes truly confess, and repent of them and accept the blood of Yeshua as ransom for their heinous acts.
A Supplementary Note:
Throughout my commentary I refer to the attributes of mercy and justice as they relate to the Names of God YHVH and Elohim. Some have asked where this understanding comes from. The following is a brief explanation.
In Jewish tradition it is written:
"The Holy One, Blessed be He, said to those, You want to know my name? I am called according to my actions. When I judge the creatures I am Elohim, and when I have mercy with My world, I am named YHWH" (Exodus Rabbah 3:6).
In Scripture Elohim is the Name given for God as the Creator & Judge of the universe (Gen 1:1-2:4a) and implies strength, power, rule, and justice, whereas YHVH, expresses the idea of God's closeness to humans. For example, YHVH "breathed into his (Adam's) nostrils the breath of life" (Genesis 2:7). Closeness to humanity only continues in the sin affected world and beyond through YHVH's mercy.
Therefore, we say “YHVH Elohim, our Merciful Judge”.
As is the case with all of Hebrew Scripture, there are no chapter breaks in the scroll of the 12 Prophets in which Hosea is located. It’s important to see the text of this chapter as a continuation of the previous chapter:
“Ephraim turns back from Me with lies and with deceit the house of Israel; and Judah continues to rule with God, and with the holy ones is faithful.
1  Efrayim (doubly fruitful) roeh feeds ruach a wind, breath, spirit verodeif and follows kadiym the east wind, breath, spirit; kol all hayom the day kazav deception vashod and destruction yarbeh increase. uveriyt and a covenant im-Ashur (a step) with Assyria yichrotu they have cut, veshemen and oil lemitzrayim to Egypt (double distress) yuval is carried.
“Efrayim feeds a wind, breath, spirit and follows the east wind, breath, spirit;”
The Hebrew text doesn’t say “feeds on a wind” but “feeds a wind”. This is supported by the Aramaic Targum:
“the house of Israel are like to one that sows the wind, and reaps the whirlwind all the day;” -Targum Yonatan
Ephraim, the northern kingship and its dominion “feeds a wind, breath, spirit” among the tribes of the north that is the fruit of following “the east wind, breath, spirit” of the Assyrians.
Both striving after and releasing wind are Biblical metaphors for futility (Ecclesiastes 1:14; Job 15:2). The particular wind being sown by Ephraim is one of idolatry (the calf idols etc.) Rashi notes that “roeh” (feed) is an expression of “reia” (friend) and that this infers a friendship with false gods.
“joins the wind Heb. רֹעֵה. An expression of רֵעַ, a friend. He joins words of the wind, viz. idolatry.” -Rashi
The “east wind” is used as a metaphor for false knowledge (Job 15:2), imminent onslaught (Isaiah 27:21), a scattering force (Jeremiah 18:17), it is a wind of discipline wielded by YHVH for the purpose of returning His people to Himself.
Alternatively or jointly, the two types of wind alluded to may represent Egypt (2 Kings 17:4; Isaiah 30:6-7) and Assyria (Hosea 5:13, 7:11, 8:9; 2 Kings 17:3), the two powers with whom the northern kings sought to solidify their political position in the volatile region (The northern kings in question being Menahem, Pul, and Hoshea, who sought help from Shalmaneser of Assyria in order to assist them against their enemies, and to strengthen their kingdom [2 Kings 15:19]).
The ever changing nature of wind is also a factor here. With the exception of the Wind of God’s Spirit, winds are constantly shifting and changing and are therefore not a firm foundation on which to establish the direction of the nation.
“all the day deception and destruction increase.”
“He is forever adding Illusion to calamity.” -Sefaria English Version
The phrase “all the day” infers perpetual consequence. “Deception and destruction” increase as the fruit of Ephraim’s pursuit of foreign powers and false gods.
“Ephraim is a shepherd of wind and vanity in matters of faith, and all day long he lies and demons abound in the words spoken between a man and his friend,” -Malbim
“and a covenant with Assyria they have cut, and oil to Egypt is carried.”
“and they carried gifts to Egypt;” -Targum Yonatan
The kings of the north have “cut” a covenant in blood with the Assyrians in order to get a “step up” (Ashur). This symbolizes their embracing both the spirituality and the political strength of the Assyrian Empire. They have also carried “oil” (abundance, fat of the land) to Egypt, symbolising their attempts to use the abundance attributed to false gods as a means of purchasing political security. At that time these foreign powers were at war with one another for control of the east. Therefore, the kings of the north were playing both sides off against one another and would reap the dire consequences.
Ultimately, regardless of the political intrigue, Ephraim was seeking provision, protection and security from powers other than YHVH. In each instance they were practicing idolatry, in both its religious and secular forms.
2  Veriyv And a dispute laYHVH has the Lord (Mercy) im-Y’hudah with Judah (praise), velifkod and will appoint punishment al-Yaakov upon Jacob (follower) kema’alalayv for his deeds yashiv lo will return to him.
The southern kingdom is also put on notice. HaShem is bringing an indictment (ref. 4:1) against Judah and will establish punishment for all Israel, both Ephraim and Judah (ref. 10:11). Thus “upon Jacob”. The deeds of all the tribes will come back on them. They have sown a wind and will reap a whirlwind.
3  Babeten In the womb akav by the heel et-achiyv he grasped his brother, uveono and in his vigorous strength sarah he contended et-Elohiym with God/the Judge.
“prophet, say unto them, was it not said of Jacob, before he was born, that he would be greater than his brother?” -Targum Yonatan
The birth and life of Jacob, from whom all the tribes of Israel are descended (a chosen, ethno-religious people), is used as a mashal (teaching parable) by the prophet. It is as if HaShem were saying, “remember when you grasped after the right of the first born? (Gen. 25:25) And when as an adult you wrestled with My messenger (a man “iysh” Gen. 32:22-32), and I blessed you so that you overcame in Me “Yisrael” (yisra-overcome, El-God).
It is utter nonsense to say that Jacob is being referenced here as a deceiver by nature, something predicated on a misrepresentation of Jacob’s name propagated by far too many Christian theologians. One popular Christian commentary says “In their deceitfulness, Israel and Judah were living up to the name of their forefather…” If only they had been, for the name Jacob means “to grasp after, to follow”, it does not mean “deceiver”, a lie all too often promoted by the ignorant. Note that Radak rightly interprets the meaning of Jacob’s name:
“In the womb he (Jacob) followed his brother as it is said ‘and his hand held the heel of Esau’ and it was a great miracle that the foetus while in the womb having no strength or ability in even one of its limbs to achieve this, and the placenta would surely have ruptured and caught him in the heel of the other foetus, (and yet he wast able to do so) it is a great wonder…” -Radak on Hosea 12:3 
Further, Rashi rightly identifies God’s hand in promoting the position of Jacob over Esau, not through deceit but as a result of Divine intervention.
“In the womb, he seized his brother’s heel All this I did for him, he held him by the heel, as a sign that he would be a master over him.” -Rashi
We note that as a man Jacob, here symbolic of all Israel, wrestled with God as Judge. That is the point here, God has come to apostate Israel as Judge in order to reconcile her to Himself through discipline and t’shuvah (repentance, returning). In short, when Israel (Jacob) stops fighting against God and instead takes hold of Him and asks Him to bless and transform her, she, like her namesake and progenitor Jacob, will come into the fullness of her name “one who overcomes in God” (Israel).
4  Vayasar and he wrestled el-malach with a messenger (angel) vayuchal and attained; bachah he wept vayitchanen-lo and begged His favour. Beiyt-Eil At Bethel (house of God) yimtzaenu He found him, vesham and there yedabeir He spoke imanu with us,
“and he wrestled with a messenger and attained;”
Continuing the story of Jacob the finer details of his wrestling with God’s Messenger are affirmed. Jacob wrestled with a Messenger (Angel) [Hosea 12:4 (5)] who is also a Man (iysh) [Gen. 32:24]. The common misconception among English readers is that “angel” inherently denotes a noncorporeal supernatural or spiritual being with wings. While this is sometimes the case, it is not always the case. In some instances the Hebrew “malakh” refers to a human messenger, (the name of the prophet Malachi is from the root malakh and means “My messenger”) in others a supernatural messenger and in the present case, it refers to Imanu El (God with us), both man and supernatural being, at once both corporeal and noncorporeal. Therefore, we don’t ask “Did Jacob wrestle a man or an angel?” Rather we accept that he wrestled an individual Who is both a Man (the last Adam) and a Messenger (HaMalakh HaShem), God with us, Yeshua the resurrected and transcendent King Messiah.
“he wept and begged His favour.”
This refers to Jacob. It cannot refer to the Messenger/Angel as is suggested by the Jewish commentators Rashi, Yarchi and Kimkhi, along with numerous Christian theologians. In the account of Genesis 32 the only one who makes petition (begging) is Jacob, and the only one capable of bestowing favour is the Messenger (man) with Whom Jacob wrestles. Therefore, according to the Biblical text it is Jacob who “wept and begged His (the Man’s) favour”.
“25 So Jacob remained all by himself. Then a man wrestled with him until the break of dawn. [a] 26 When He saw that He had not overcome him, He struck the socket of his hip, so He dislocated the socket of Jacob’s hip when He wrestled with him. 27 Then He said, “Let Me go, for the dawn has broken.”
But he said, “I won’t let You go unless You bless me.”
28 Then He said to him, “What is your name?”
“Jacob,” he said.
29 Then He said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but rather Israel, for you have struggled with God and with men, and you have overcome.”
30 Then Jacob asked and said, “Please tell me Your name.”
But He said, “What’s this—you are asking My name?” Then He blessed him there.
31 So Jacob named the place Peniel, “for I’ve seen God face to face, and my life has been spared.”
32 Now the sun rose upon him just as he crossed by Peniel—limping because of his hip.” -Genesis 32:25-32 TLV
“At Bethel (house of God) He found him, and there He spoke with us,”
God is the nearest subject as the Messenger Who wrestled with Jacob. Therefore, we understand from this verse that God, as Messenger, not only wrestled with Jacob but is also the One who found Jacob at Bethel (Gen. 28:10-22), and that at that time, God spoke not only to the individual Jacob but also to all his progeny through him. This is why the text says “He (YHVH, as Messenger) spoke to us”.
Of this same Messenger/Angel, not a created being but that person of the all existing God Imanu El, Jacob says:
“The Messenger/Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the boys; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.” -Genesis 48:16
Note “which redeemed me from ALL evil”. Jacob understood that the Messenger/Angel of YHVH had not simply delivered him from Esau but had redeemed him from the wages of sin.
In summation, YHVH entered time and space to offer Jacob and his descendants blessing and deliverance from evil, speaking to all the generations of Jacob through His deliverer the King Messiah Yeshua (resurrected and transcendent [not pre-incarnate!]), the Malakh (messenger), Iysh (man), Imanu El (God with us).
5  VaYHVH And the Lord (Mercy), Eloheiy God hatzevaot the One Who goes warring, YHVH (Mercy) The Lord zichro is His remembrance (memorial, Name).
The nearest subject is the Messenger/Angel of the LORD Who spoke to all Israel through Jacob with whom He wrestled. Therefore, the Name/Memorial of the Messenger Who wrestled with Jacob is Eloheiy HaTzevaot God the One Who goes warring [God of the Hosts of the heavens]. We note that the usual designation YHVH Tzevaot is rendered differently here as Eloheiy HaTzevaot. This is because the Messenger Who is the Person of God manifest within time and space, is subject to the fullness of God Who is outside all things, thus the Messenger is called Eloheiy (Ruler, Judge, God) Who is the Person of YHVH with us.
However, the Messenger is also definitively YHVH, as the text says “YHVH is His Remembrance/Name.” This of course refers to the Messenger Yeshua the King Messiah, Imanu El God with us. It is interesting that elsewhere it appears that other than Hosea only the prophet Amos, a contemporary of Hosea uses the formula “Eloheiy Tzevaot” (Amos 3:13; 6:14; 9:5), and thus denotes that the speaker Who has imparted his words of prophecy is the Messenger/Angel of YHVH (Yeshua). This makes cohesive sense in light of the fact that almost every prophet is introduced to us as one to whom HaDavar YHVH the Word of the LORD has come (ref. John 1:1).
6  Veatah And you, beiloheycha in your God tashuv return to, chesed kindness, faithfulness, practical love umishpat and justice, shemor guard, keep, observe, vekaveh and wait, looking with hopeful expectation el-Eloheycha for your God tamiyd continually.
These words are spoken to all Israel (Jacob).
Based on the recollection of the Messenger of YHVH, Who has been with Israel from the beginning, it is Jacob (All Israel) who is now challenged to return in God to the practice of God’s character. Note that “In God” precedes the “return to kindness, faithfulness, practical love and justice…” all these being the practice of attributes of the Creator.
In God and having returned to right action, Jacob is then instructed to guard what he has been given and to look with hopeful expectation for the deliverance of his God, and not to cease looking, hoping, expecting. For if Jacob (Israel) will confess his sin HaShem is faithful and just to forgive Jacob (Israel) his sin and cleanse him from all unrighteousness.
Another contemporary of Hosea writes:
“For thus says the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest you will be saved; in quietness and in confidence will be your strength: and you would not.” -Isaiah 30:15
7  Kena’an A merchant (Canaanite), beyado in his hands mozneiy are scales mirmah of deceit, la’ashok aheiv he loves to oppress.
This verse opens with a wordplay (kena’an = merchant, khena’an = Canaan/Canaanite) that makes a correlation between Israel (named in the following verse as Ephraim, the northern kings and their dominion) and the Canaanite people of the land whom they had been tasked to remove because of their vile and idolatrous practices. Thus, in one sense, God is accusing Israel of being as vile as the Canaanites whom they had been tasked to remove from the land. And in another sense they are wicked merchants who use illusion to scam others out of their money, people who delight in oppressing others to the point of loving it (not unlike the practices of many producers, retailers, and advertisers today). The indictment is just, because Israel has literally adopted the false gods and the vile practices of the inhabitants of the land rather than imparting the light of God’s Torah (Instruction) to those same peoples.
“Do not say in your heart when the Lord your God has driven them away from [a]you, ‘Because of my righteousness the Lord has brought me in to take possession of this land.’ Rather, it is because of the [b]wickedness of these nations that the Lord is dispossessing them before you. 5 It is not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart that you are going in to take possession of their land, [c]but it is because of the [d]wickedness of these nations that the Lord your God is driving them out from before you, and in order to confirm the [e]oath which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” -Deuteronomy 9:4-5 NASB
9 “When you enter the land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to [f]imitate the detestable things of those nations. 10 There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, a soothsayer, one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, 11 or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who consults the dead. 12 For whoever does these things is detestable to the Lord; and because of these detestable things the Lord your God is going to drive them out before you. 13 You are to be blameless before the Lord your God. 14 For these nations, which you are going to dispossess, listen to soothsayers and diviners, but as for you, the Lord your God has not allowed you to do so.” -Deuteronomy 18:9-14 NASB
8  Vayomer Efrayim And Ephraim said, “Ach Surely ashartiy I have become wealthy, matzatiy I have attained on liy vigour for myself; kol-yegiyay in all my toil lo yimtzeu-liy they will find no avon iniquity in me, asher-cheit which is sin.”
So great is the evil lifestyle of the northern kingdom that upon the foundation of self-provision and self-worship they have built with the straw of self-delusion. Though they were filthy with perverse iniquity they claim that there is no evidence of wicked practices nor fruit of sin in them. Self-sufficiency is manifest idolatry, and leads to self-destruction (cf. Hosea 10:13; Dt. 32:15-18).
Ephraim speaks the heart of the deceitful merchant, “There’s nothing wrong with my practices”. The secular world makes the same claim today, and sadly, so does a large portion of the wider body of believers. We dilute God’s word and claim righteousness while practicing wickedness.
“Such is the way of an adulterous woman; that she eats, and wipes her mouth, and says, I have done no wickedness.” -Proverbs 30:20
“Surely I have become rich Now why should I worship the Holy One, blessed be He?” -Rashi
“And Ephraim said: Surely I have become rich; I have found a deed for myself.” Jeroboam son of Nebat, who was of the tribe of Ephraim, boasts and declares: Surely I have become rich, I have found a deed for myself, one deed, that all Israel are my slaves, for my father acquired them, as it is written: And his brothers too went and fell before him, and said: Behold we are your slaves. And whatever a slave acquires belongs to his master. Hence, all their property is mine. Therefore, I have no sin if I take all that is theirs, for they are my slaves. What is written after this? And I am the Lord your God from the land of Egypt. The greatness that came to your father in Egypt was from Me. Said the Holy One, blessed be He. ‘Behold we are your slaves,’ you have not forgotten, but ‘I am the Lord your God,’ which was stated in the Decalogue, you have forgotten, for you have erected two calves, one in Bethel and one in Dan. And according to the simple meaning of the verse, you say, “I have found power for myself through oppression and deceitful scales.” And I am the Lord your God from the land of Egypt. There I distinguished between a droplet [of seed] of a firstborn and a droplet which was not of a firstborn. I also know and exact retribution from deceitful scales made without understanding and from one who hides his weights in salt in order to deceive.” -Rashi
9  Veanochiy And I am YHVH (Mercy) the Lord Eloheycha your God mei’eretz from the land mitzrayim of Egypt (double distress); od again oshiyvecha I will make you dwell vo’ohaliym in tents kiymeiy like the days of moeid an appointed time (festival).
Continuing the admonishment to think back to her humble beginnings (cf. Hosea 2:14-15, 13:4; Exodus 20:2), God reminds Israel that He is from before the beginning and was with her in her beginnings as Deliverer. He further reminds her of her disobedience which resulted in her dwelling in tents for forty years by way of discipline. What He is pointing back to He is also pointing forward to, a time of wandering and bondage born of her sin. Concisely put He is explaining to His wayward children that He continues to love them and seek to deliver them while disciplining them for their good, and that due to their rejection of His help and their wilful sin, suffering awaits.
“I will make you dwell in tents like the days of an appointed time (festival).”
The connection to dwelling in tents (temporary dwellings, sukkot) infers that a specific appointed time is being referenced, that being Sukkot (Festival of Booths) [Lev. 23:42-44]. The “days of an appointed time” more generally refers to the time of Israel’s desert wandering when the greatest of Israel’s prophets Moses first spoke to them and the prophets that followed walked in the same Spirit.
While prophesying discipline, this is also a promise of future restoration in the Messianic age, a reminder that just as God once manifestly dwelled with us while we lived in tents in the desert (the Cloud of the presence which dwelt in the Holy of holies in the mishkan [tent of meeting]), He will one day dwell with us eternally.
“And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall surely go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD Who goes warring, and to keep the festival of Sukkot.” -Zechariah 14:16
10  Vedibartiy And I have spoken al-haneviyiym upon the prophets, veanochiy and I chazon hirbeiytiy multiplied visions, uveyad and in the hand of haneviyiym the prophets adameh I used likenesses, comparisons, parables [alt. I appeared as likenesses].
Not only did YHVH speak through His prophets, He spoke upon them, with them, in them, around them. He spoke prolifically to His people the warnings intended to bring about repentance. He gave ample warning and is just in punishing them unto repentance (ref. Hosea 6:5; Amos 2:11, Heb. 1:1).
“In the hand of the prophets I used likenesses, comparisons, parables”
The hand denotes strength and the practice of carrying.
We note that the Hebrew “adameh” only figuratively alludes to parables. More literally it means “likeness, similitude”, which is why Rashi understands the text to say “I appeared to them in many likenesses”. This correlates to the previous verses concerning the Malakh (Angel, Messenger, Man).
God speaks common parables in the mouths of His prophets, using storys and metaphors that reflect the spiritual principles at work in everyday life. Likewise Yeshua spoke in parables using common elements to convey eternal truth (Numbers 12:6-8; Amos 1:1; 2 Sam. 12:1-4; Ps. 78:2; Isa. 5:1-7; Eze. 17:2, 24:3; Matt. 13:10-14). The message of redemption is spoken simply and clearly to all, so that all might be given the opportunity to receive God’s redemptive love.
“and to the prophets I assumed likenesses I appeared to them in many likenesses. Another explanation. I gave My words likenesses to them through allegories in order to make them comprehensible to their listeners.” -Rashi
11  Im-Gilead With Gilead (rocky region: witness heap) aven there is wickedness, ach-shav hayu they also have become worthless. BaGilgal In Gilgal (rolling wheel) shevariym zibeichu they slaughter (sacrifice) bulls, gam also, mizbechotam their altars kegaliym are like stone heaps, al talmeiy upon the furrows of shaday a field.
Gilead was invaded by the Assyrians between 734 and 732 BCE (2 Kings 15:29).
“Gilead” meaning “witness heap” testifies as a witness against its own vile sin.
The city Gilead in Gad (territory of the tribe of Gad) was the capital of the wider region of Gilead. The wider region covered area near and beyond the Jordan river, and was inhabited by Gad, Reuben, and the half tribe of Manasseh; and thus belonged to the ten tribes of the north.
The city of Gilead is thought to be Ramot-Gilead, a city of refuge inhabited by priests, both apostate and Levite. This made the sin of the city even more deplorable given that the priests and Levites had knowledge of the Torah but had clearly not properly conveyed that knowledge to the wider community.
While the wickedness alluded to can refer to murder and idolatrous sacrifices, it can also denote bloodguilt brought on the city by the misapplication of the law of refuge. It may be that murderers guilty of premeditated murder were being given refuge contrary to the law, or that those guilty of accidental killing were being given over to the avenger of blood rather than being protected by the city of refuge in accordance with Torah law*.
*The Bible names the six cities as being cities of refuge: Golan, Ramot-Gilead and Bosor, on the east of the Jordan river (Left bank) [Deut. 4:43; Josh. 20:8], and Kedesh, Shechem, and Hebron on the west bank of the Jordan river [Joshua 20:7].
Ref. Hosea 6:8-9 and notes.
“BaGilgal In Gilgal (rolling wheel) shevariym zibeichu they slaughter (sacrifice) bulls, gam also, mizbechotam their altars kegaliym are like stone heaps (that cover the dead), al talmeiy upon the furrows of shaday a field.”
There is a wordplay here using Gilgal and galiym (heaps, piles). The residents of Gilgal will see their altars so utterly destroyed that the stones of those altars will be scattered and will be picked up from the fields before ploughing and placed in piles.
"they have multiplied their altars, like heaps upon the borders of the fields;'' -Targum Yonatan
The Targum understands the piles of stones as being those picked from fields before ploughing and oiled at the edges.
The stone heaps may also be an allusion to stones piled over the dead. Ancient Jewish interment consisted not of burial beneath the ground but of tombs and or stones piled over the body above ground. Thus, the inference would be that the altars of these supposed gods of fertility and life would end up being broken apart and used as covering for dead bodies. Therefore, the false fertility gods of life are seen for what they are, dead gods, not gods at all.
The Gilgal mentioned here is connected to the wickedness of Gilead and is therefore likely to be the more northern location (Joshua 6:11) rather than the town bordering the territory of Judah and Benjamin (Joshua 15:7; 18:17).
“Gilgal” is thought to be the same as Gibeath-haaraloth, the location where Joshua renewed the covenant of circumcision (Joshua 5:3), following which the Passover was celebrated for the first time in the promised land (5:10). It was to Gilgal that the ark of the covenant was returned each day after the children of Israel paraded it around Jericho (Joshua 6:11). It’s where the Gibeonites made their treaty with Israel (9:3).
Samuel the prophet made Gilgal one of the three places where he held circuit court (1 Samuel 7:14).It was at Gilgal that Samuel killed Agag the king of the Amalekites (1 Samuel 15:33).
Saul was both crowned and rejected as king at Gilgal (1 Samuel 11:14, 15).
Both Hosea and Amos refer to Gilgal as a centre for idolatry (Hosea 4:15; 9:15; 12:11; Amos 4:4; 5:5).
Elisha made Gilgal his headquarters for a time (2 Kings 2:1; 4:38). Gilgal also known as Beit Gilgal (Nehemiah 12:29).
Speaking of Gilgal Rashi says:
“There they worshipped idols to a great extent (on high places, absent in mss.). Since the Mishkan (Tent of meeting) was there first, the prophets of Baal would tell them that was a choice site, and it belonged to the kings of Israel.” -Rashi on Hosea 9:15
12  Vayivrach Yaakov And Jacob was driven away sedeih aram to the country of Aram (Arameans/Assyrians), vaya’avod and served Yisrael beishah for a wife, uveishah and for a wife shamar he kept, guarded, observed sheep.
Stepping back further God reminds Israel that her forebear and namesake Jacob served two lots of seven years for his wife Rachel after fleeing Esau and running to Paddan Aram, where he had become Laban’s herdsman (Gen. 28 through 31). Likewise YHVH had served as Shepherd over Israel, making her His wife. Jacob’s fleeing to Aram is also prophetic of the exile that is about to come upon the northern tribes (Assyrian exile) and subsequently also upon Judah and Benjamin (Babylonian exile), and exile of 70 years, a number representing fullness multiplied and a number connected to the nations of the earth.
13  Uvenaviy And in a prophet he’elah YHVH (Mercy) the Lord brought Yisrael up mimitzrayim from Egypt (double distress), uvenaviy and in a prophet nishmar he was kept, guarded, protected, observed.
The prophet is Moses (Nu. 12:6-8; Deut. 18:15, 34:10), who spoke of the future Prophet of prophets, the King Messiah (Heb.1):
“15 “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen; to him you shall listen. 16 This is in accordance with everything that you asked of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Do not let me hear the voice of the Lord my God again, and do not let me see this great fire anymore, or I will die!’ 17 And the Lord said to me, ‘They have [g]spoken well. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them everything that I command him. 19 And it shall come about that whoever does not listen to My words which he speaks in My name, I Myself will [h]require it of him.” -Deuteronomy 18:15-19 NASB
Additionally, because “the Prophet” Moses spoke of is all existing (Yeshua, HaMalakh, The Angel/Messenger), and because Yeshua was present, in His resurrected, transcendent form as HaMalakh HaShem in the cloud that lead Israel out of Egypt and brought her to the promised land, we could understand the prophet who guarded Israel (in the later clause of this verse) to be Yeshua Himself, the King Messiah.
14  Hichiys Efrayim tamruriym Ephraim has provoked bitter anger; vedamayv and his blood alayv yitush will be left upon him, vecherpato yashiv lo Adonayv and his scorn Adonai will return to him.
“the fault of innocent blood which he shed shall return upon him:'' -Targum Yonatan
The Northern kings and their dominion had provoked God to anger by their many vile acts of idolatry, adultery, murder, and countless other heinous immoralities (Hosea 1:4, 4:2, 5:2, 6:8). The former verses consistently cite idolatry (spiritual adultery) as the primary sin of the north. Thus, HaShem is provoked in the same way a husband is provoked by a perpetually cheating wife (which is how Hosea’s scroll began).
“his blood will be left upon him and his scorn Adonai will return to him” is an allusion to blood guilt incurred through the murder of innocents.
“So you shall not defile the land in which you live; for blood defiles the land, and no atonement can be made for the land for the blood that is shed on it, except by the blood of the one who shed it.” -Numbers 35:33 NASB
The Scripture also teaches that:
“Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow,
an undeserved curse cannot land.” -Proverbs 26:2
The people of the north had uttered curses through blood oaths to false gods and would receive back upon themselves that which they had been wishing upon others. Because an undeserved curse cannot land it returns to the one who spoke it. This is a dire warning to all who utter foolish curses. The right response to a realisation that we have acted in folly by way of cursing is to confess, repent and receive deliverance from God through the shed blood of Yeshua which releases us from curse. Further illuminating the teaching of Yeshua (Luke 6:28), Rav Shaul reminds us that except where God commands curse, we should bless and not curse (Romans 12:14-21).
Rashi makes an insightful drash (comparative teaching) on this verse:
“yea, bitterness (Heb. תַּמְרוּרִים,) they are to him for his blood which he shed by causing Israel to sin by clinging to idolatryand one who causes a person to sin is worse to him than one who kills him, as we learn from Ammon and Moab, who misled Israel to cling to Baal-Peor, and Scripture punished them more severely than an Egyptian and an Edomite, who drowned them in the river and went forth toward them with the sword...” -Rashi
We must be careful to understand blood guilt in a modern context. For example, medical techniques including some (not all) vaccinations and medications, utilize cultures grown in labs, originating from the cells of aborted foetuses. Therefore, even though the cultures are not technically cell tissue from the aborted foetuses they originate from, they are nonetheless indirectly connected to the murder of those preborn human beings.
Abortion (not miscarriage, nor a medical procedure that is necessary to save a mother’s life, but in all other cases) is infanticide/murder. Therefore, those who chose it, perform it, and those who use the tissue of the foetus for other purposes, bear the blood guilt associated to murder, as does the land upon which the abortion (murder) was committed.
The only exception is where the commandment for taking the life of a murderer in order to remove the blood guilt attached to the land, is contradicted by the Torah instruction to guard life. In which case the blood guilt is offset by the honouring of innocent life in the application of the medical technique or medication.
Nonetheless, the blood guilt that is presently manifest upon the lands of many western democracies due to the mass murder of preborn human beings is palpable, and it remains that only the blood of those who shed it can cover it (Num. 35:33), except where those who have committed these crimes truly confess, and repent of them and accept the blood of Yeshua as ransom for their heinous acts.
Copyright 2021 Yaakov Brown
The past tense used in reference to God’s love is simply a reference point relative to chronology. The love of God is everlasting, past, present and future, affecting time and space but not limited by them.
As is the case with all of Hebrew Scripture, there are no chapter breaks in the scroll of the 12 Prophets in which Hosea is located. It’s important to see the text of this chapter as a continuation of the previous chapter:
15 So it will be done to you all at Beiyt-El (house of God/Judge) from the face of your evil, evils. Alt. [of your great wickedness.] In the dawn cut off, destroyed will be a king of Yisrael. -Hosea 10:15
1Kiy When na’ar Yisrael (overcome in God) was young va’ohaveihu I loved him, umimitzrayim and out of Egypt (double distress) karatiy livniy I called to My son.
“When he who overcomes in God was a young boy I loved him and from a place of double distress and bondage I called to My son.” -Author’s paraphrase based on meaning of Hebrew names
This is now the prophet’s third allusion to historical events concerning Israel’s relationship to YHVH (9:10; 10:9). In this case Israel is called a young boy, meaning between the ages of 8 and 30 years. This is an important time in a person’s development, a time when one is still open to being taught and to seeking out a teacher. Iben Ezra in his commentary on this verse likens young Israel in Egypt to a talmid (student of a rabbi). It is also an important time in the development of the relationship between a father and a son who is moving toward adulthood and independence.
This verse is illuminated by the talmid Mattisiyahu as a type for the King Messiah (Matt. 2:15). However, in the context of Hosea’s prophetic work it begins a heart breaking interaction between a good Father and a wayward Son. Mattisiyahu uses it to show the response of the Son of righteousness as being the counterpoint to the action of the rebellious son.
“I loved him” Does not mean “I used to love him” rather, it means “I have loved him” and will continue to. The past tense used in reference to God’s love is simply a reference point relative to chronology. The love of God is everlasting, past, present and future, affecting time and space but not limited by them.
“From afar Adonai appeared to me.”
“Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love.
Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.” -Jeremiah 31:2  TLV
There is continuity here between the loss of human kingship alluded to in the last verse of chapter 10 and the return to thoughts of a time before Israel demanded her own human king like the other nations had. The Father points back to a time of innocence born of suffering. A time when Israel looked to Him for redemption and freedom from bondage. This of course is starkly contrasted against Israel’s disobedience and rejection of God at this point in history prior to the Assyrian invasion.
2 Kareu lahem They called to them, ken halechu yes they walked mipeneiyhem from their faces. Labealiym To the Ba’als (lords, masters, husbands, gods) yezabeichu they sacrifice velapesiliym and to idols yekateirun they burn incense.
“I sent the prophets to teach them, but they wandered from them;” -Targum Yonatan
“They” refers to Moses and Aaron (Exodus 6:9), and by extension to the prophets sent by God to call His beloved son Israel to Himself and away from the bondage that results from idolatry and sin. However, Israel “walked from their (Moses, Aaron, prophets) faces” and toward “the Ba’aliym (false gods)”.
“As much as the prophets call to teach them the good way, so did they turn their backs to run away from them.” -Rashi
“The prophets to whom I am sending call them early in the morning and in the evening to return to the Lord:” -Radak
“To the husbands (ba’aliym) they sacrificed” Israel, having been trained as a young boy in the way he should go nonetheless rebelled as a teenager and went after lovers who were unequal in faith. Elsewhere we read of God as Husband, here we read of Israel’s direct affront to her true Husband in her chasing after false husbands.
The ba’aliym being masters, were the slave masters Israel chose in place of the slave masters of Egypt. Therefore, from the face of freedom (the prophets of God) Israel turned toward a different kind of bondage.
Metzudat David understand the idols to be synonymous with the calf idols of Dan and Bethel.
3 Ve’anochiy And I tirgaltiy I walked with, taught Efrayim (doubly fruitful), kacham I took them al-zero’otayv upon my arms; velo But they didn’t yadeu learn (know) kiy though refatiym I healed them.
“I, by an angel sent by Me, led Israel in the right way.” -Targum Yonatan
“And I, I walked with, taught Efrayim” This refers to the kings of the north and their dominion and therefore to the northern tribes. The prophet is likening HaShem’s care for them to the care He gave Israel when He lead her from Egypt by His Malakh (Angel, Messenger).
“I took them upon My arms” This is probably a nursing mother metaphor but may also convey the actions of a shepherd or herdsman. It could be seen to represent both personages as a transition to the next verse where Israel is metaphorically cared for as a herd animal.
“And in the wilderness, where you all have seen how the LORD your God bore you all, as a man bears his son, in every way that you all went, until you all came into this place.” -Deuteronomy 1:31
“he took them on his arms This is Moses, concerning whom it is stated (Num. 11:12): “As the nursing father carries the sucking child.” -Rashi
“But they did not learn though I healed them” In spite of God’s care and healing the northern tribes did not learn from their mistakes or the mistakes of the peoples around them whose false gods they had turned to. Further, they didn’t “know”, meaning they didn’t receive the intimate connection YHVH had offered in the nurture of them. The Hebrew “yada” is used euphemistically to refer to sexual intercourse.
“And said, If you all will diligently hear and act in response to the voice of the LORD your God, and will do that which is right in His sight, and will give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon you all, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I the LORD heal you all.” -Exodus 15:26
4 Bechavleiy With cords adam of a man (humanity) emshecheim with dragging ba’avotot in ropes ahavah of love, va’ehyeh I have become lahem to them kimriymeiy like one who lifts the ol yoke al from lecheiyhem their jaws; ve’at and gently eilayv I bent down to ochiyl feed them.
“My word was to them as a good husbandman, who lightens the shoulder of oxen, and loses the bridles on their jaws.’” -Targum Yonatan
Having been compared to a heifer in the previous chapter, Ephraim the son is here likened to a herd animal but is said to be drawn, not by ropes used to pull cattle but by the cords of human love and in the complex bindings of rope made up of the many facets of the immutable love of God. Thus, HaShem is like one who lifts the harness/yoke that prevents the herd animal from eating and with care, bends down to fed them hand to mouth.
"and, even when they were in the wilderness, I multiplied to them good things to eat.'' -Targum Yonatan
“I constantly drew them with tender cords with which a man draws his son… Like the farmers who lift the yoke off the neck of the cow or the ox by lengthening the peg upon which the yoke is placed, to lighten it for the ploughing cow. So was I with them in every trouble to make it lighter for them. So did Jonathan render it: like a good farmer [who makes it lighter for the shoulders of the oxen and lengthens their bridles.]… and I extended to him the ability to bear I extended him the strength to bear the yoke of the torments. Jonathan renders: referring to His supplying them food in the desert.” -Rashi
“The LORD has appeared of old unto me, saying Yes, I have loved you all with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you all.” -Jeremiah 31:2 
5 Lo They will not yashuv return el-eretz to the land Mitzrayim of Egypt (double distress); ve’ashur But Assyria--hu he will be malko his king kiy because mei’anu they refused lashuv to return.
This is not a contradiction of Hosea 9:3 but rather refers to the majority of the northern tribes. While a small number will seek refuge in Egypt to no avail, the majority will be taken into exile in Assyria.
“He” refers to the king of Assyria who will subjugate them.
“Because they refused to return” Israel has been given ample opportunity to return to HaShem but has not only refused, she has wilfully turned from Him.
6 Vechalah And the twisting, dancing cherev sword be’arayv against their cities, vechiletah and put an end to vadayv their isolated, separated, (branches) oracle priests, ve’achalah and devour them, mimo’atzoteiyhem because of their counsels, plans, devices, principals.
The Assyrian king besieged the capital Samaria for three years. Thus, “the twisting sword against their cities”, meaning that the Assyrian invaders will be relentless.
“put an end to their branches, and devour them, because of their counsels.” The branches may refer to the diviners and apostate priests. “Branches” may also denote leaders, mighty men, princes etc.
“and it shall slay his mighty men, and destroy his princes;” -Targum Yonatan
We note that HaShem sends the Assyrians to discipline Israel and put an end to the false spiritual guides to whom they had turned.
7 Ve’amiy And My people teluiym cling limshuvatiy to turning away from Me. Ve’el-al And toward the Most High [alt. the heights] yikrauhu they call.
“Cling to turning away” This is a description of deep seeded devotion to rebellion.
“Toward the heights they call” seems the more likely translation given the intentional nature of the rebellion of the people. However, it may also be correct to render “Toward the Most High” as a transition to the next verse.
8 Eiych How etencha can I give you up, Efrayim? How can I amagencha shield, encompass you, Israel? Eiych How etencha can I make you cheadmah like Admah (red earth, city near the dead sea)? How can I asiymecha set you kitzvoyim like Zeboiim (gazelles, one of the 5 cities in the plain of Sodom and Gomorrah)? Nehpach Turned alay within Me libiy is My heart, yachad unified nichmeru with yearning nichumay are My compassions, comforting.
“How can I give you up” God is faithful even when Israel is unfaithful.
“if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot disown himself.” -2 Timothy 2:13
“How can I shield, encompass you” God is just and righteous, a good Father Who disciplines His son. To shield someone who sees the shield as an affirmation of sin behaviour is to hate that one. Thus, HaShem speaks the rhetorical question “How can I enable you?”
“How can I make you like Admah? How can I set you like Zeboiim?” In short, given My love for you, “How can I utterly destroy you as I did the cities surrounding Sodom and Gomorrah?”
“Admah” and “Zeboiim” were cities of the plain destroyed when Sodom and Gomorrah were wiped out (Gen. 10:19; 14:2, 8; 19:24-25; Deut. 29:23; Jer. 49:18).
“Turned within Me is My heart, unified with yearning are My compassions.” In spite of Israel’s sin and rejection of HaShem, He is nonetheless incapable of completely abandoning her because of His faithful character, His everlasting love for her. This language conveys the struggle within the heart of a loving Father as He watches His son wilfully rebel against His love.
9 Lo e’eseh I will not execute charon My burning apiy nostrils (anger); lo ashuv I will not return to leshacheit destroy Efrayim. Kiy For El Anochiy I am God/Judge velo-iysh and not a man, bekirbecha in the midst of you (plural) kadosh Holy, velo avo and I will not come beiyr in terror.
“I will not execute My burning nostrils…” Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit born of the character of God. HaShem has every right to outwork his anger but chooses not to utterly destroy His wayward people.
“I will not return to destroy Efrayim…” God will not allow the disciplining of the northern tribes to be multiplied unto their complete destruction. They will eventually return to the land and, yet future, live under the reign of the Greater Son of David the King Messiah Yeshua of Judah.
“For I am God/Judge and not a man, in the midst of you (plural) Holy, and I will not come in terror.” HaShem is patient, just, slow to anger and abounding in love, He is not prone to rash vengeance or punitive reaction, He is Holy and in the midst of Israel, grieving her sin, feeling her pain, set apart and working to set Israel apart in Him.
“I will not come in terror” This means that even while allowing invaders to enact the discipline required by justice, HaShem will nonetheless be in the midst of His disobedient people in order to guide them back to His loving arms.
“I will not return from My good word, which I said (Lev. 26:44) ‘I have not rejected them nor have I abhorred them,’ to destroy Ephraim… for I am God Who keeps His favorable word, and I do not retract the good… I will not enter a city I.e., another city. I have already promised to cause My Shechinah to rest in your midst in Jerusalem, and I will never again cause it to rest on another city. Others explain it as an expression of hatred. Comp. (I Sam. 28:16) “And has become your adversary (וַיְהִי עָרֶךָ).” -Rashi
10 Achareiy After Me YHVH (Mercy) yelechu will they walk, ke’aryah like a lion yishag He will roar; kiy indeed Hu He will yishag roar, veyecherdu and trembling will come vaniym the children miym from the sea.
This is prophetic of the return from exile. The roar is a call to return following the Assyrian and Babylonian exiles. In addition to the return of the eastern exiles this phrasing alludes to the children of Israel returning from the sea (to the west), which infers a later exile that will ultimately end in Israel (all tribes) returning from a world-wide diaspora. This was fulfilled in part prior to and during the formation of the modern state of Israel (1948), and is yet to be fully filled (today more than half the world’s Jewish population still live outside of Israel).
“The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel.” -Joel 3:16 KJV
“After Me YHVH (Mercy) will they walk” In the midst of Israel’s disobedience HaShem prophecies her future obedience.
“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.” -Zechariah 12:10 ESV
“25 For I do not want you, brothers and sisters, to be ignorant of this mystery—lest you be wise in your own eyes[m]—that a partial hardening has come upon Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; [n] 26 and in this way[o] all Israel will be saved, as it is written,
“The Deliverer shall come out of Zion.
He shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.
27 And this is My covenant with them,[p]
when I take away their sins.”[q]” -Romans 11:25-27 TLV
11 Yecherdu chetzipor They will come trembling like birds mimitzrayim from Egypt (double distress), ucheyonah and like doves mei’eretz from the land Ashur (a step) of Assyria; vehoshavtiym and I will place them al-batayhem in their houses, ne’um-YHVH (Mercy) declares the Lord.
“as a bird which comes openly, so shall they come who are carried captive into the land of Egypt; and as a dove that returns to its dove house, so shall they return who are carried into the land of Assyria; and I will return them in peace to their houses, and my word shall be their protection, saith the Lord.” -Targum Yonatan
Unlike the foolish doves (7:11), these bird metaphors indicate an eager return to the nesting ground. Birds kept captive excitedly returning home upon their release.
“I will place them in their houses, YHVH (Mercy) declares the Lord.” The Hebrew “batayhem” (their houses) denotes peaceful civil dwelling in a land devoid of war. In short, they will dwell in everlasting peace within the appointed housing of God as rooms in the greater house of God, the Olam Haba (world to come).
12 Sevavuniy vechachash Efrayim Ephraim turns back from Me with lies uvemirmah and with deceit beiyt Yisrael the house of Israel; and ve’Y’hudah (praise) od continues rad to rule [alt. wander] im-Eil with God, ve’im-kedoshiym and with the holy ones (plural intense) ne’eman is faithful [alt. with the Holy One, is faithful].
“Ephraim turns back from Me with lies and with deceit the house of Israel…” Both the kings and the collective tribes of the north have behaved deceitfully and turned their backs on YHVH. All this in spite of HaShem’s open hand.
“and Judah continues to rule with God, and with the Holy One, is faithful.” This does not mean that Judah will not sin and go into exile but that the kingship will not depart from Judah until Shiloh (the King Messiah) comes (Gen. 49:8-12). Thus, “continues to rule with God”. This describes the rule of the Greater Son of David Yeshua the King Messiah. Once again the rhythm of Mercy, discipline and the fruit of discipline being the product of Mercy, is seen.
8“Judah, so you are--
your brothers will praise you:
Your hand will be on your enemies’ neck.
Your father’s sons will bow down to you.
9 A lion’s cub is Judah--
from the prey, my son,
you have gone up.
He crouches, lies down like a lion,
or like a lioness--
who would rouse him?[a]
10 The scepter will not pass from Judah,
nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,[b]
until Shiloh (he to whom it belongs) comes.
To him will be the obedience of the peoples.[c]
11 Binding his foal to the vine,
his donkey’s colt to the choice vine,[d]
he washes his garments in wine,
and in the blood of grapes his robe.[e]
12 His eyes are darker than wine,
and teeth that are whiter than milk.” -Genesis 49:8-12
Copyright 2021 Yaakov Brown
How often do we seek comfort from our sin behaviour rather than repenting of it? How often do we seek solace in returning to places of past sin because it appears to be a “good haven”?
As is the case with all of Hebrew Scripture, there are no chapter breaks in the scroll of the 12 Prophets in which Hosea is located. It’s important to see the text of this chapter as a continuation of the previous chapter:
“14 And Israel has forgotten, ignored, wilfully turned from their specific Maker and built temples (to false gods); Judah has become great, multiplying fenced cities. But I will send fire in his cities and devour the palaces.” -Hosea 8:14
1 Don’t tismach rejoice, Yisrael (overcome in God/the Judge), el-giyl with circling joy ka’amiym like other tribes (peoples)! Kiy For zaniyta fornicating you have mei’al gone from Eloheycha your God/Judge. Ahavta You have loved etnan the wages of a prostitute al upon kol-garenot all the threshing floors dagan of grain. 2 Goren Threshing floor vayekev and wine press lo will not yireim feed them, vetirosh and the new wine yechachesh bah will fail them/deceive them.
“For you have erred from the worship of your God; you have loved to serve idols on all, grain floors.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE Aramaic paraphrase)
The Targum understands the text to refer to the setting up of idols on the threshing floors and the attribution of fertility, both agricultural and familial, to those gods. This is consistent with the worship of Ha-Ba’al the Canaanite deity of fertility.
“‘Rejoice not, O Israel’ like the other peoples, for they did not receive a Torah, and they did not come to My lot, but you strayed from Me and lost many benefits.” -Rashi
Rashi understands the text to be an admonishment clarifying the advantage of Torah, and the losses associated with the rejecting of it.
“Don’t rejoice, Yisrael with circling joy like other tribes (peoples)!” Israel is rebuked for rejoicing in idolatrous acts and at the same time warned that her rejoicing will cease.
“For fornicating you [masculine] have gone from your God/Judge.” There is no need to debate whether this is meant literally of actual sex acts done in the worship of false gods or as a general metaphor for idolatry. Both are true. The false choice created by some of our rabbis and numerous Christian theologians only proves to show the depth to which we have sunken into Greco-Roman compartmentalization.
“For you [masculine] have loved the wages of a prostitute…” Here, Israel (northern tribes) are likened to a male temple prostitute, temple prostitution being a vocation found among those who worship false gods.
“You have loved the wages of a prostitute upon all the threshing floors of grain.” This is a metaphor denoting the fact that the northern tribes were celebrating the provision of their grain by giving glory to false gods (Baalim, Ashterot etc.)
“Threshing floor and wine press will not feed them, and the new wine will fail them/deceive them.” The references to both threshing floor (grain) and wine press (grapes, a latter harvest fruit) seem to encapsulate a range of harvest festivals beginning with the early barley harvest (Pesach, Passover, Shavuot [Pentecost], First fruits etc.) and ending with the latter harvests which coincide with the celebration of Sukkot (Dwellings). Tragically, it seems that rather than honour God in the prescribed way (Torah), the northern tribes were either syncretizing and or entirely forsaking the worship Instruction of YHVH, and instead acknowledging other gods as their providers and the means of their fertility.
“the new wine will fail them/deceive them.” This is intentionally ambiguous. The new wine will appear to be plentiful but will be scarce. On the other hand the new wine, when consumed in excess will cause clouded judgement and thus, by inference, deceive the drinker etc.
The threshing floor was not, as some erroneously claim, solely the domain of males. Women were involved in gleaning behind the men, and while the men and women slept separately during the harvest, they nonetheless often remained within close proximity to the fields for the duration.
Sadly one popular “Christian” study Bible compares the prostitution and fornication of the northern tribes (Hosea 9:1-2) with the story of Ruth (3:2-3), inferring that it was common practice for prostitutes to be entertained by the entirely male harvesting crew. This is abhorrent nonsense better suited to playground ignorance than it is to sound Biblical interpretation. In the account of Ruth, Ruth acts in righteous purity, as does Boaz, and the context denotes an exception to common practice. While it may be true to say that during her periods of sin as a nation Israel did entertain prostitutes on the threshing floors, paying them with grain (Rashi, on Genesis Rabbah 57:4), when Israel acted righteously there was no such illicit sexual practice among them. Shame on those who say otherwise.
This metaphorical language continues to emphasise the fact that it is YHVH Who provides, and therefore, He will not continue to do so as long as His people are attributing His provision to other gods. To bless and enable perpetual sin action is to curse. Therefore, HaShem does not bless in these circumstances, rather He allows the curse to manifest so that the result of the discipline which follows will be blessing.
3 Lo yeishevu They will not remain be’eretz in the land of the LORD YHVH (Mercy),
Veshav Efrayim (doubly fruitful) Ephraim will turn back to Mitzrayim Egypt (double distress), uveashur and in Assyria tame yochelu they will eat unclean things.
“They will not remain in the land of the LORD.” This is an explicit statement connecting Ha-Aretz (the Land of Israel) to YHVH Himself. He is the One Who established Tziyon (Isaiah 14:32). The prophets are describing a temporary condition when they say that Israel “will not remain in the land.” After all, the redemptive narrative always begins and bears the fruit of Mercy:
“What answer shall be given to the envoys of that goy nation? ‘The Lord YHVH Mercy, has established Tziyon, and in her His afflicted people will find refuge.’” -Isaiah 14:32
Neither Hosea 9:3 nor any other Scripture, imply that God will not honour His covenant with Abram, Isaac and Jacob, concerning the giving of the land to the people of Israel. To say so is to impugn God’s character. After all, the covenant that initiated the giving of the land to Abram and was then reaffirmed to Isaac and Jacob (Ex. 6:8; 33:1; Lev. 26:42; Deut. 1:8 etc. etc.) was made while Abram was unconscious (Genesis 15), meaning that YHVH alone is bound to fully fill it. Abram’s role was simply one of agreeing to receive YHVH by faith.
“Efrayim (doubly fruitful) Ephraim will turn back to Mitzrayim Egypt (double distress), and in Assyria they will eat unclean things.” The kings of the north, who bear the name “doubly fruitful” will become “doubly distressed”, being exiled to both Egypt and Assyria, the nations whose strength they sought for protection. By trusting in the strength of human beings, governments, false gods, the kings of the north became subject to those things they trusted in rather than accepting their position as heirs to God’s kingdom. Therefore, they would suffer along side the idolatrous nations that surrounded them. All human beings are subjects of God’s Kingdom, but only those who receive adoption as sons and daughters through the King Messiah Yeshua will dwell in God’s Kingdom forever.
“And they will eat unclean things.” The food consumed by these nations did not reflect the kashrut of Torah instruction. Nor was it offered according to YHVH in keeping with Torah guidelines, but was instead offered to false gods. Thus, even that food which might have been permissible for Israel to eat while in exile, was defiled based on its association with false gods. In addition this might be seen as a metaphor for the consumption of false ideals, philosophies and religious beliefs.
Iben Ezra makes an interesting connection between the first clause “They will not remain in the land of the LORD” and the last “And they will eat unclean things.” He rightly understands that this is not to be a permanent state for Israel:
“They shall not sit, neither shall they eat of the unclean thing; for they shall eat in the land of the LORD;” -Iben Ezra, on Hosea 9:3
In short, they will not eat again of clean things until that day they return to the Lord and thus, to the land of the Lord, Ha-Aretz Yisrael (the land of Israel).
4 Lo They don’t yisechu pour out drink offerings la-YHVH yayin of wine to the Lord (Mercy), velo and don’t ye’ervu-lo exchange with Him their zivcheiyhem sacrifices.
kelechem Like the bread oniym of mourners lahem to them kol-ochelayv all who eat yitamau are unclean, defiled, polluted; kiy-lachmam for their bread lenafsham is for their soul, lo yavo it will not come into beit YHVH the house of the Lord (Mercy).
“They don’t pour out drink offerings of wine to the Lord (Mercy), and don’t exchange with Him their sacrifices.” The key here is not the offerings themselves but the One to Whom they should be offered. It is inferred by the earlier indictments of this prophetic work, that Israel was making offerings, but to false gods, and not to the God of Israel, or, if they were offering to Him it was in syncretism with idolatrous practice (calf idols, Ba’alim etc.) and not unto Him alone.
The wine offerings (Lev. 23:13; Num. 15:5, 7, 10; 28:14 etc.) commanded in Torah were to be offered at the place appointed by God (Deut. 12; 16; 26:2: Mt Zion, Jerusalem) once Israel entered the land. Therefore, all the offerings of the north were apostate offerings which could not be said to be offered to YHVH even in those cases where His Name was invoked.
“Like the bread of mourners to them all who eat are unclean, defiled, polluted” In the same way that bread which has been in the house where someone has died is considered ritually unclean (Num. 19:14; Deut. 26:14; Jer. 16:7), the food and offerings of the northern tribes are considered unclean and associated with death, a reflection of their soul condition.
“for their bread is for their soul, it will not come into the house of the Lord.” The bread defiled by dead bodies can be eaten by mourners already defiled but cannot be brought into the House of the Lord. Therefore, the tribes of the north have disqualified themselves from God’s presence (temporarily).
The bread in question is made with yeast and therefore cannot be presented as show bread in the House of the LORD. The Show bread was to be unleavened, in fact no yeast was to be offered on the altar of the LORD or brought inside the Holy place of either Mishkan (Tent of Meeting) or Ha-heyichal (The Temple). The exception concerning the wave offering of the first fruits does not compromise this Torah requirement because it is waved before the LORD, and neither offered on the altar nor brought into the Temple.
Yeast always represents sin in Hebrew Scripture. In fact, yeast represents sin in all Scripture, including the New Testament (written in Greek by Jews, thinking as Jews and using Hebrew symbolism accordingly). Therefore, the metaphorical meaning of the present text illuminates the fact that intentional and perpetual sin is not allowed to cohabitate with the godly in the presence of the Holy God of Israel.
They have sought bread for themselves and have kept it from the House of the Lord (Temple), and as a result their priests have not been feed, those Levites (of the north) left to find other employment, had abandoned the teaching and passing on of Torah so that the spiritual condition of the people deteriorated due to their own neglecting of God’s Instruction.
5 Mah What ta’asu will you accomplish leyom on the day of moeid an appointed time (festival), uleyom and on the day of chag a feast of YHVH (Mercy) the Lord?
This rhetorical question is posed almost sardonically by the prophet. “If you’ve defiled the Lord’s appointed times “moadim” with idolatry, and have defiled yourselves with the bread of the dead, what do you think will result, other than your demise?”
6 Kiy-hineih For behold, now, pay attention, halechu they will walk mishod from destruction; Mitzrayim Egypt (double distress) tekabetzem will assemble them, Mof Memphis (haven of good) tekaberem will bury them. Machmad The delight lechaspam of their silver kimos yirasheim will be possessed by thistles, choach be’oholeiyhem thorns in their tents.
“They will walk from destruction…” This means that based on the impending destruction from Assyria, the people were already leaving for other lands, in particular, they were returning to Egypt as a “good haven” (the meaning of Memphis).
“Egypt will assemble them, Memphis (haven of good) will bury them.” Those who flee to Egypt for help, trusting in Egypt rather than in YHVH, will perish in the city they saw as a “good haven” (Memphis). This is in part a reminder of the consequences which God had previously warned the nation of in Deuteronomy 28.
“The Lord will send you back in ships to Egypt on a journey I said you should never make again. There you will offer yourselves for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but no one will buy you.” -Deuteronomy 28:68 (NIV)
How often do we seek comfort from our sin behaviour rather than repenting of it? How often do we seek solace in returning to places of past sin because it appears to be a “good haven”?
“The delight of their silver will be possessed by thistles, thorns in their tents.” The silver they had delighted in in the Land of Israel, which they had perhaps hidden intending to return for it, would be overgrown by thistles. As they travel into exile, be it to Egypt or to Assyria, while they dwell in tents on the journey they will suffer the torments of the wild (thorns). The Aramaic Targum Yonatan understands the Hebrew choach to represent wild beasts of the wilderness.
7 Bau yemeiy hapekudah Days have come of the visitation, bau yemeiy hashilum days have come of retribution; yeideu make it known to Yisrael! Eviyl hanaviy The prophet is a fool, meshuga iysh haruach a man of the spirit, al because rov there is a multitude avonecha of your perverseness, iniquity, verabah masteimah and great is your animosity.
“Days have come of the visitation, days have come of retribution;” The just punishment of the northern tribes is at hand. Israel will receive the wages of sin, just as she had received the wages of a prostitute.
“make it known to Israel! ‘The prophet is a fool, a man of the spirit’, because there is a multitude of your perverseness, iniquity, and great is your animosity.” In 2 Kings 9:11 the companions of Yehu (Jehu) call the prophet sent to him by Elisha “ham’shuga” the fool, crazy person. The inference here seems to be that the prophet of God, considered a fool by the wicked, is in fact foolish to believe that such a wicked group of people would repent, given their intentional perversity and constant animosity toward God.
In the following verse Ephraim (Israel’s kings) is referred to as watchman and prophet, but is clearly apostate in both roles and therefore not “a man of the Spirit”. This eliminates Ephraim as a candidate for prophet in the present verse.
8 Tzopeh Efrayim Ephraim was a watchman im-Elohay with my God, naviy a prophet;
pach yakosh a snare of a bird catcher al-kol-derachayv upon all his ways,
masteimah there is animosity beveit Elohayv in the house of his Judge (God).
Ephraim, representing the kings of the northern tribes, was to watch over the tribes of the north and with God, given the opportunity to have prophetic voice and godly influence.
“a snare of a bird catcher upon all his ways, there is animosity in the house of his Judge (God).” However, the kings of the north instead kept watch against those who sought to worship God in Jerusalem and appointed their own false prophets who were not men “of the Spirit”. In doing so Ephraim ensnared himself and in showing animosity toward the House of the LORD, received animosity from the house of his Judge (God).
We note that YHVH is Named as “Elohayv” in the latter clause which denotes judgement against Ephraim (the northern kings).
Kimchi, Yarchi and Rashi all claim that this refers to the murder of Zechariah by Joash, recorded in 2 Chronicles 24:17-27. But this is not the case. Joash was a king of Judah and not of the northern tribes.
9 Hemiyku-shicheitu They’ve become deeply corrupted, kiymeiy like the days hagivah of the Gibeah (hill); yizkor remembering avonam their perversity yifkod He will number, punish chatotam their sin, uncleanses.
“They’ve become deeply corrupted, like the days of the Gibeah…” The Hebrew shachat (corrupt) is the same word used of Israel’s idolatry concerning the golden calf of Sinai (Ex. 32:7; Deut. 9:12; 32:5).
“Gibeah” may refer to Gibeah of Benjamin (Judges 19) and the abhorrent actions of that tribe regarding the concubine/wife of a Levite from Ephraim. Alternatively it may refer to Gibeah of Saul (1 Samuel 15) where Israel rebelled against the words of the prophet Samuel and demanded a king like those who ruled the other nations.
While the rebellion against God’s Kingship is wicked and a root of further rebellion, it seems more likely that Gibeah of Benjamin is meant because a process of descent into deep corruption resulting in vile sin is inferred by the context and qualifying language. It was said of the vile nature of the sin in Gibeah Benjamin, “Such a thing has never been seen or done, not since the day the Israelites came up out of Egypt.” Some liken the sin of the men of Benjamin (Judges 19) to that of the men of Sodom (Genesis 19). This adds weight to my interpretation. The subject of Egyptian bondage is poignant, making sense of the correlation between the then present depravity of the northern tribes and the historical depravity of Benjamin at Gibeah (Judges 19).
“22 While they were enjoying themselves, some of the wicked men of the city surrounded the house. Pounding on the door, they shouted to the old man who owned the house, “Bring out the man who came to your house so we can have sex with him.” 23 The owner of the house went outside and said to them, “No, my friends, don’t be so vile. Since this man is my guest, don’t do this outrageous thing. 24 Look, here is my virgin daughter, and his concubine. I will bring them out to you now, and you can use them and do to them whatever you wish. But as for this man, don’t do such an outrageous thing.” 25 But the men would not listen to him. So the man took his concubine and sent her outside to them, and they raped her and abused her throughout the night, and at dawn they let her go. 26 At daybreak the woman went back to the house where her master was staying, fell down at the door and lay there until daylight. 27 When her master got up in the morning and opened the door of the house and stepped out to continue on his way, there lay his concubine, fallen in the doorway of the house, with her hands on the threshold. 28 He said to her, “Get up; let’s go.” But there was no answer. Then the man put her on his donkey and set out for home. 29 When he reached home, he took a knife and cut up his concubine, limb by limb, into twelve parts and sent them into all the areas of Israel. 30 Everyone who saw it was saying to one another, “Such a thing has never been seen or done, not since the day the Israelites came up out of Egypt. Just imagine! We must do something! So speak up!” -Judges 19:22-30 (NIV)
“remembering their perversity He will number, punish their sin, uncleanses.” HaShem chooses to cover sin that is repented of through blood, but does not cover unrepentant sin and thus “remembers” it unto just punishment. He “numbers” it as a debt against godly morality.
We note that the Hebrew avon means perversity, premeditated perversion that exceeds basic sin, and that excessive types of sin are numbered according to the degree to which they miss the mark chata set by God’s holy standard (Torah).
It’s not true to say that all sin is the same. It’s true that “all have sinned” and that any sin great or small separates us from God’s holiness, but, this concerns the salvation of the person (neshama) unto eternal life and does not negate degrees of sin within time and space. Within time and space murder is worse than stealing but both are sin that separate us from God’s holiness. Within time and space the consequences of these sins differ, as do the commanded punishments for them.
1. "Now if someone murders a person, that one must be put to death." -Leviticus 24:17
2. "If someone steals an ox or a sheep and slaughters it or sells it, he shall pay five oxen for the ox and four sheep for the sheep." -Exodus 22:1
10 Ka’anaviym Like grapes bamidbar (in-from-thing/word/essence) in the wilderness matzatiy I found Yisrael; kevikurah like the first ripe fruit vite’einah on the fig tree bereishiytah in the beginning raiytiy I saw avoteichem your fathers heimah who ba’u came to Ba’al-peor (Master, Husband, Lord of a gap, cleft) vayinazeru and separated themselves laboshet unto shame, vayihyu and they became shikutziym as detestable abominations (idols) keohovam according to their loving.
“Like grapes in the wilderness I found Yisrael; like the first ripe fruit on the fig tree in the beginning…” Grapes are rare in the desert, as are figs. The delight of finding such fruit is incredible, overwhelming, redemptive, satisfying. This was how the choosing of Israel as a people began in HaShem’s sight. However, this was soon turned to heartbreak as a result of Israel’s unfaithfulness.
“your fathers who came to Ba’al-peor (Master, Husband, Lord of a gap, cleft) and separated themselves unto shame, and they became as detestable abominations (idols) according to their loving.” This is an allusion to the sin of Israel described in Numbers 25 (ref. Deut. 4:3-4), where they allowed themselves to be seduced by the women of Moab and entered into idolatry. Rashi interprets the last line of this verse as “when they loved the daughters of Moab.” The “fathers” is a reference to the forebears of Israel who left Egypt and not to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
In using this reference to Israel’s past sin the prophet is also reminding the righteous remnant of the way that HaShem dealt with that sin:
“Your eyes have seen what the Lord has done in the case of Baal-peor, for all the men who followed Baal-peor, the Lord your God has destroyed [a]them from among you. 4 But you who clung to the Lord your God are alive today, every one of you.” -Deuteronomy 4:3-4 (NASB)
It is no coincidence that Ba’al-peor means Lord of a gap. Nor is it a coincidence that the next phrase says “and separated”. The god of the gap is the one who acted to separate itself (angelic being) from YHVH and thus tempted humanity to do the same. His name is Ha-Satan (the accuser), the Serpent of Genesis.
11 Efrayim, kaof like a bird yitofeif will fly away, kevodam so will be their glories mileidah from birth umibeten and from the womb umeiheirayin and from conception!
“Ephraim like a bird that flies away” A trained bird that leaves its master behind and seeks sustenance elsewhere.
“their glories from birth and from the womb and from conception.” The glories of a husband and wife are their children. Due to Ephraim’s sin the children of the northern tribes will die at each point of development. Some at birth, some during gestation, and some the moment they are conceived. This is a consequence of the abuse suffered by the body when sexual sin spreads disease and repeated intentional abortions leave damage that makes carrying a child to full term impossible. It is chilling to read this regression of baby deaths in light of the modern (legal) practice of abortions from conception (day after pill) up to birth (now allowed for through legislation introduced by governing bodies in many western countries including my own). In one sense this text written more than two and a half thousand years ago is an indictment against all abortions, past, present and future.
12 Kiy For im-yegadelu though they attempt to bring up et-beneiyhem their children, veshikaltiym and I will cause them to miscarry, meiadam from a man (their humanity) kiy-gam-oiy likewise also alas, woe. Besuriy meihem When I depart from them!
This does not mean that HaShem murders babies and children but that He allows human beings to exercise their freewill in sinning against their own bodies. Therefore, God is in control and the cause of the miscarriages is man’s rejection of God and His Instruction. God does not force Himself upon His wife Israel. If she refuses Him, He leaves like a gentleman. And when a gentleman leaves, there is room in the house for an abusive man to enter. Thus, “Woe, when I depart from them.”
13 Efrayim, ka’asher-raiytiy whom I have seen, leTzor in Tyre (a rock) shetulah is transplanted venaveh in a pasture; ve’efrayim But Ephraim lehotziy will bring forth el-horeig banayv his children for murder.
Tyre was an ancient Phoenician port city to the north of Israel. It is the fourth largest city in modern Lebanon (approx. 15km north of Akko on the Mediterranean coast). Ancient Tyre controlled area bordering ancient Israel, and was often but not always a friend of Israel. It’s noteworthy that the allotment of land to the tribe of Asher (recorded in Joshua 13:1-22:34) included a third of the latter Phoenician kingdom.
Tyre was wealthy and comfortable at the time of Hosea’s prophecy, and Ephraim (Israel’s kings) may have traded there. However, the kings of the north will be transplanted into a pasture where their children will be raised only to be murdered by their enemies and the overlords of their impending exile.
The text may also be alluding to the fact that Tyre, situated in a good location by the sea, with abundant wealth, being well fortified, seemed secure from all enemies like Ephraim (kings of the north representing the ten tribes of the northern kingdom of Israel). However, Tyre would first be conquered by Nebuchadnezzar (573 BCE), and then by Alexander (332 BCE) and thus meet its doom and the slaughter of its children. In the same way Ephraim (the northern kingdom), would meet her destruction at the hand of the Assyrians (732 BCE).
On the other hand the phrasing “Efrayim, whom I have seen in Tyre is transplanted in a pasture…” may simply mean that at that time, due to the proximity of the northern tribes to the Phoenician border, it may be that the kings of the north had stock in the lower part of the area governed by Tyre’s rulers.
Rashi sees the text as referring to the sacrificing of children to idols:
“Ephraim, as I saw Tyre in its tranquility, enjoying royalty and wealth more than all the provinces, so did I see Ephraim, planted in a dwelling place. But Ephraim what recompense did he recompense Me? He occupied himself with taking his children out to the slayer, to slaughter them in worship of the idols. So did Jonathan translate.” -Rashi
“they of the house of Ephraim have sinned in slaying their children to the service of idols;'” -Targum Yonatan
Once again, the prophet Hosea, speaking in the Spirit of God, is simply stating the fact that Ephraim is guilty of the deaths of her own children. God is not to blame.
14 Tein-lahem YHVH Give to them, Lord (Mercy)--mah what titein will You give? Tein-lahem Give them rechem mashkil a barren womb veshadayim and breasts tzomekiym dried up.
This appears harsh but is rather a statement of mercy in response to a rhetorical question concerning the vile behaviour of the northern kings.
YHVH denotes Mercy. Therefore, we could read “Give to them Mercy”. What would be the merciful thing to give in the case of children who are being raised to idolatry? The merciful thing would be barrenness.
“The prophet prays that they should die when young, for the mourning for a child is not as bad as the mourning for an adult. Therefore, if it is impossible that they die from birth, from the womb, or from conception, for it was already decreed from the Creation of the world, (Gen. 3:l6) “And to your husband shall be your longing,” give them quickly in their childhood what you say to give to them after a time, for You said, “For, if they raise their children. I will bereave them.” [from Pesikta Rabbathi 45:3]” -Rashi
For it is better not to raise children at all, than to raise them unto sin, idolatry, self-destruction and death everlasting.
15 Kol All ra’atam their evil bagilgal is in Gilgal (rolling, wheel); kiy for sham there seneitiym I hated them! Al roa Upon the wickedness ma’aleiyhem of their practices mibeiytiy from My house agaresheim I will expel them! Lo oseif ahavatam I will no longer increase love to them; kol-sareiyhem All their princes sore’iym are revolters, rebels.
“Gilgal” is thought to be the same as Gibeath-haaraloth, the location where Joshua renewed the covenant of circumcision (Joshua 5:3), following which the Passover was celebrated for the first time in the promised land (5:10). It was to Gilgal that the ark of the covenant was returned each day after the children of Israel paraded it around Jericho (Joshua 6:11). It’s where the Gibeonites made their treaty with Israel (9:3).
Samuel the prophet made Gilgal one of the three places where he held circuit court (1 Samuel 7:14).It was at Gilgal that Samuel killed Agag the king of the Amalekites (1 Samuel 15:33).
Saul was both crowned and rejected as king at Gilgal (1 Samuel 11:14, 15).
Both Hosea and Amos refer to Gilgal as a centre for idolatry (Hosea 4:15; 9:15; 12:11; Amos 4:4; 5:5).
Elisha made Gilgal his headquarters for a time (2 Kings 2:1; 4:38). Gilgal also known as Beit Gilgal (Nehemiah 12:29).
Speaking of Gilgal Rashi says:
“There they worshipped idols to a great extent (on high places, absent in mss.). Since the Mishkan (Tent of meeting) was there first, the prophets of Baal would tell them that was a choice site, and it belonged to the kings of Israel.” -Rashi on Hosea 9:15
“there I hated them!” can also be read “made a foe of them”. Hate here is the counterpoint to love. The language means to emphasise the fact that what Israel had done was abhorrent because they had made a place that was once a location of the Mishkan (Tent of Meeting: the portable Temple) into a place of heinous idolatry and desecration. Hate therefore, is not too strong a word for the just response of God to their vile sin.
“Upon the wickedness of their practices from My house I will expel them!” Due to the depths of depravity that the northern tribes had sunk, they will be removed from the land, expelled from the House of God. Ironic, given that they had wilfully rejected the temple cult and had instead set up their own places of worship to false gods in the north. Not to mention their fowl syncretism when likening HaShem to the calf idols of Bethel and Dan. The northern tribes had removed themselves from God. Now, He simply gives them a push on their way out of the land. Their exile is the result of their sin.
“I will no longer increase love toward them” This simply means, that like a spurned husband, God will not continue to chase after a woman who refuses to return to Him.
“All their princes are rebels.” Alludes to the fact that the rebellious kings of the north have born rebellious children and that they perpetuated rebellion against YHVH and His moral law.
16 Hukan Struck down is Efrayim, sharesham their root yaveish dried up, periy val-ya’asun gam also hardly fruiting. Kiy For though they will yeileidun bring forth children, vehematiy yet I will kill machamadiy the precious ones vitenam in their womb.
The striking down of Ephraim, while it inevitably refers to the tribes of the north in a general sense, nonetheless specifically denotes the end of the kingship of the north. Thus, “Their root dried up…”
Any potential progeny will die in the womb. “I will kill them” like “I will cause them” (v.12), alludes to God’s control over the ordered universe and simply conveys the idea that God has allowed them to make their own sinful choices and suffer the natural consequences of those choices.
17 Yim’aseim He has cast them off, rejected them Elohay My Judge/God, kiy for lo shameu lo they have not listened, received, comprehended Him; veyihyu And they have become nodediym retreating wanderers bagoyim in the nations.
God has cast off the kings of the north and rejected them. He has cast off the particular wicked generation of Hosea’s day and has sent them into exile. He has not cast off or rejected all Israel forever (as some fools suggest). If that were true we would have to remove large portions of Scripture which promise to the contrary that God will never perpetually forsake Israel whom He has chosen as a people for Himself. Israel, like Judah, is first and foremost an ethnic noun referring to the person Jacob and his blood descendants who are now known as Jews (Y’hudiym) and continue to find their place in God’s redemptive purposes for all humanity through Yeshua the promised King Messiah of the Jews.
“27 Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of mankind and the seed of animals. 28 And just as I have watched over them to uproot them, tear them down, ruin, destroy, and bring disaster on them, so I will watch over them to build and to plant them,” declares the Lord.
29 “In those days they will no longer say,
‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes,
[m]But it is the children’s teeth that have become blunt.’
30 But everyone will die for his own wrongdoing; each person who eats the sour grapes, his own teeth will become blunt.
31 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers on the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. 33 “For this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord: “I will put My law within them and write it on their heart; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 They will not teach again, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their wrongdoing, and their sin I will no longer remember.”
35 This is what the Lord says,
He who gives the sun for light by day
And the [n]fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night,
Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar--
The Lord of armies is His name:
36 “If [o]this fixed order departs
From Me,” declares the Lord,
“Then the descendants of Israel also will cease
To be a nation before Me [p]forever.”
37 This is what the Lord says:
“If the heavens above can be measured
And the foundations of the earth searched out below,
Then I will also reject all the descendants of Israel
For everything that they have done,” declares the Lord.
38 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when the city will be rebuilt for the Lord from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate. 39 The measuring line will go out farther straight ahead, to the hill Gareb; then it will turn to Goah. 40 And the entire valley of the dead bodies and of the ashes, and all the fields as far as the brook Kidron to the corner of the Horse Gate toward the east, shall be holy to the Lord; it will not be uprooted or overthrown ever again.” -Yermiyahu (Jeremiah 31:27-40 (NASB)
The only “spiritual Jew” is an ethnic Jew, the only “Israel of God” are Jews who are redeemed through Yeshua.
Copyright 2021 Yaakov Brown
“I will even make a way from within the word, and in the desolation, living waters."
Isa 43:1 And now, thus says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) who bora’acha (from bara, used of God’s creative action) created you Yaakov (Follower: Jacob), and He that yotzer formed (fashioned) you, Yisrael (Overcome in God), “Al-tiyra No Fear: for I have ge’al’tiycha redeemed (from goel: Kinsman redeemer) you, I have called you ve’shimcha by your name; liy-atah Mine you are.”
“Mercy, Who created you from nothing and formed you from something…”
Following the tragic description of Israel’s disciplining in 42:18-25, the tone of the prophet’s address once again returns to consolation. This is the modus operandi of Isaiah’s prophetic scroll and the rhythm of God’s redemptive practice within the fallen world.
He who created Jacob and formed Israel, by giving Abraham the son of the promise, and causing the seventy members of Jacob's family to grow up into a nation through the bondage of Egypt, promises He will shelter and preserve His people. God reminds Israel that He has removed fear from her through redemption and that she can trust Him according to the evidence of His faithfulness seen in her early history.
The reason that Israel should receive the fearless reality of God is that He has (past tense) redeemed her. Like the Servant of Isaiah 42:1-7, HaShem Himself is the covenant that redeems Israel. We note that the past tense indicates both the redemption from Egypt within time and space and the eternal purpose that has been established for Israel outside of time and space (Romans 11:23-26). The redemption of Israel is purchased through the blood of the Servant King Messiah, sacrificed before the creation of the world (Rev. 13:8).
We note that “goel” is a kinsman redeemer, meaning that in order to qualify for this phrasing God must be speaking of a manifestation of His being that is also literally a Hebrew (a Jew). This is of course a reference to the King Messiah Yeshua, Who is Imanuel (with us God).
“I have called you by your name” is more than just a phrase of endearment, it is a direct reference to Jacob’s wrestling with the man Who is also God (Gen. 32:22-32). Again, this is an allusion to the King Messiah, and a reminder that the tenacious spirit of Jacob, realized in his vulnerability, caused him to hold tight to Imanuel and through trusting Him, received a new name, Yisra (overcome in) El (God: Judge).
HaShem is not God of Israel because we chose Him but because He chose us.
“We love him, because he first loved us.” -1 John 4:19
Isa 43:2 “When you pass ba’mayim through the waters, it’techa Ani with you I Am; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you: when you teileich walk be’mov in the eish fire, you will not be burned; and the flame will not consume you (be kindled upon you).”
Iben Ezra explains that the waters and the fire refer to the armies of Persia and media respectively.
We can also read, “For passing through waters, I am with you; and through the rivers, they will not drown you: for walking in the fire, you will not be burned, and the flame will not consume you.”
Israel had passed through the Red sea and was unharmed, she had crossed over the river Jordan into the land of Israel (speaking to her present location), and her devote representatives in exile, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, will literally pass through fire and yet will neither be burned nor consumed (Daniel 3).
Isa 43:3 “For I am HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) Eloheycha your (God: Judge), the Kedush Holy One of Yisrael (Israel), moshi’echa your Saviour: I gave Mitzrayim (Double distress: Egypt) for your ransom, Cush (Black: Ethiopia) and Seva (You drink: son of Cush) in your place.”
“For I Mercy your Judge, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour…”
God explains that His Mercy and Judgement are always available to Israel because He is the Holy One of Israel, and her Saviour.
Throughout this portion of Isaiah HaShem affirms the fact that His very Name is connected to His chosen people Israel (ethnic, religious). In the first verse of chapter 43 He reminds Israel that He has called her by name: now in the present verse He affirms His intrinsic connection to Israel by using the title “Holy One of Israel”.
“I gave Egypt for your ransom” is in the past tense and may refer to Israel’s deliverance from Egypt. This could also refer to the conquest of Egypt by Cambyses the son of Cyrus.
Therefore, the giving over of the Egyptians and Ethiopians to Cyrus can be understood as the means by which God is seeding Israel’s return to the land from exile, made possible by the edicts of Cyrus (Ezra 1:1-8). Thus, these nations were given as ransom in order to return Israel to the land.
Isa 43:4 “Since you were precious in my sight, you have nichbadta (from kavod: glory) weighed heavy, full of glory, and I ahavtiycha have loved you: therefore I will give adam a man (humanity) in your place, and uleumiym tribes for nafshecha (nefesh) your soul (existence).”
It is because Israel is precious to the God and is a continual weight upon His heart, and because of His unfailing love for her that He will give “adam” a man in her place, and tribes for her ongoing survival. While it is true, as Iben Ezra says, that adam can refer to humanity, it is none the less, only one possible translation. Given the individualistic language used to qualify the Servant of the previous chapter (42:1-7), and the allusion to the giving of Israel’s name, it seems more likely that the present text refers to the individual King Messiah than to humanity as a whole. Thus, the substitution offered in verse 4 by a man, is an allusion to the spiritual redemption of Israel through the substitutionary sacrifice of the Messiah, and the tribes given are for her physical survival.
Isa 43:5 “Al tiyra No fear: for with you I Am: mi’mizrach from the east (sunrise) I will bring your zarecha seed, umima’arav and from the west (sunset) gather you;”
“No fear” is qualified by “for I am with you”. Thus, the fear of God is an end to fear.
HaShem is promising to literally return the progeny of Israel from the farthest point of the east (Babylon) and the farthest point of the west (Egypt, Assyria: Ezra. 6:22). In fact, as the text continues to say, He will return them from every point of the compass: He is God over all things.
This can also be understood figuratively to apply to the beginning (sunrise) and the end (sunset) of time.
Isa 43:6 “I will say to the tzafon north (hidden), Give up; and to the teiyman south (right hand), Keep not back: bring vanaiy my sons from afar, and venotaiy my daughters from the extremity of ha-aretz the land (earth);”
Those nations in the north who have held Jews captive are commanded to release them from hidden places (oppression, imprisonment). Likewise those to the south are not to hold back the Jews leaving to return to the land of Israel. The word “teiyman” (south) literally means “to the right hand” that is, to the right when facing east, east being the focus of the Hebrew compass, the Temple mount being the Jewish equivalent of “True North”.
HaShem promises to bring both sons and daughters back to the land.
Isa 43:7 “Cal All those called by vishmiy My name: ve’lich’vodiy and for My glory I have berativ (from bara) created him for my glory, yitzartiyv I have formed him; certainly, I have made him.”
This must be understood in context. The plain meaning denotes all those called by the name of the “Holy One of Israel”. Thus, it specifically refers to Hebrews from all the tribes of Israel (Jews). This is further affirmed by the phrasing “For My glory I have created him” (a reference to Jacob [v.1]) and, “I have formed him” (a reference to Israel [v.1]). Both are ethnic designations of the Jewish people: as followers (Jacob) and as overcomers in God (Israel). Jacob and Israel are synonymous terms referring to the chosen ethnic people of God. Thus, the final clause, “I have made him”.
Isa 43:8 “Bring forth am a people blind that have eyes, and the deaf that have ears.”
Regardless of Israel’s spiritual blindness and deafness, she still has eyes and ears. Thus, it is still possible for her to one day see and hear, and return to HaShem.
Isa 43:9 “Cal Let all ha-goyim the nations be assembled together, and let le’umiym the peoples be gathered: who among them can declare this, and show zot to us former things? let them bring forward their eideihem witnesses, that they may be justified: or let them hear, and say, ‘It is truth.’”
Not only all the nations but also all the tribes within those nations are called to appear before HaShem. “Us” refers to HaShem, the heavenly host, and Israel. The nations are challenged to show how they and their gods can prove miracles like those HaShem has performed for Israel. They are also challenged to speak with prophetic authority of the things to come, if they can: of course they cannot. Thus, the witnesses they bring forth to prove their case will have no other choice but to testify to the fact that the God of Israel alone speaks the truth of these things.
Isa 43:10 “Atem You (plural) eidaiy My witnesses, says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), ve’avdiy and my servant whom I have chosen: that you teideu may know veta’amiynu and believe (have faith in) Me, and understand that I am He: lefanaiy before My face there was no el God (Judge) formed, neither will there be after Me.” Isa 43:11 “I, certainly I, am HaShem (YHVH: Mercy); and beside Me there is no moshiya saviour.”
The counterpoint to the folly of the witnesses of the nations is the chosen servant of Hashem, that is, Israel. In spite of her spiritual blindness and deafness, she is none the less witness to all the miraculous deliverances of God and the certain truth of His prophetic word through His prophets. Israel remains God’s witness against the idolatrous nations and their heathen worship.
The unity and uniqueness of the One true God is reaffirmed in the emphatic statement “Understand that I am He: before My face there is no god formed, neither will there be after Me! I, certainly I, am HaShem; and beside Me there is no saviour.”
There are many similarities between the servant of Adonai as a nation (Israel) [Isaiah 42:18-25] and the Servant of Adonai as an individual person (Yeshua the Messiah) [Isaiah 42:1-7]. Both are chosen by God (42:1; 43:10). Both are loved by God (42:1; 43:4). And yet, the differences between the two are also abundantly clear. In both her obedience and disobedience Israel the nation is a witness to the works of God and His faithfulness. She can testify that there is no other god like Hashem. Corporately Israel is essentially blind (v.8) and a passive servant/observer (v.10), this regardless of her morality. On the other hand the Servant Messiah acts to accomplish God’s redemptive purpose for Israel and the nations. He is absolutely obedient, never faltering, never sinning. He delights to do God’s will (42:4).
Isa 43:12 “I have declared, vehosha’tiy and have saved, and I have shown, when there was no strange god among you: therefore you are eidiy My witnesses, says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), va’ani-El and I am God (Judge).”
What God has declared He has performed. He spoke these things long before Israel allowed the strange gods of her rebellion to cloud her judgement. Israel has seen His love and salvation on many occasions and with great miracles, thus, she remains His witness.
Isa 43:13 “Gam Also, miyom from before the day was I am He; and there is none that can deliver out of My hand: I will work, and who will allow it?”
From before the first day, God existed, uncreated. He alone is God over time and space: no other power can deliver out of His hand. No one can say that they have allowed Him to act. He was King, He is King, He will always be King of all things.
Isa 43:14 Thus says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), your redeemer, Kedush the Holy One of Yisrael Israel; “For your sake I have sent to Vavelah Babylon (Confusion), and have brought down all their nobles, and the Casdiym Chaldeans (Clod breakers), whose cry is in the ships.”
In other words, “I have sent Cyrus to Babylon to crush it”. The Chaldeans were a leading tribe of Babylonia and Babylon’s last Kings came from the Chaldeans. Hence the names Babylonian and Chaldean became synonymous.
Isa 43:15 “Ani I am HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), kedushechem your Holy One, borei Creator of Yisrael Israel, malkechem your King.”
HaShem reminds Israel of His identity. He is first Mercy, the Being, relational. Second, Holy, Israel’s Holy One. Third, Creator of all things, and fourth, King over Israel.
Isa 43:16 Thus says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), which makes a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty waters;
A reference to Israel’s deliverance through the Red sea. Or, as Iben Ezra says, a reference to the defeat of the Babylonian ships by Cyrus.
Isa 43:17 Who brings forth the chariot and horse, the army and the power; they will lie down together, they will not rise: they are extinguished, like a flax wick they are quenched.
A description of Pharaoh and his chariots drowned in the Red sea while pursuing Israel to destroy her. Or, the forces of Babylon in defeat against the Persians, as per Iben Ezra.
Isa 43:18 “Don’t you remember the former things, neither consider the things of old?”
An incredulous exhortation asking Israel if she remembers the miraculous deliverances of HaShem attested to by her forebears.
Isa 43:19 “Hineniy Behold, now, I will do a new thing; now it will spring forth; will you not know it? I will even make derekh a way ba’midbar in the wilderness (from within the word), and beiyshimon in the desert (desolation) neharot rivers.”
In the context of this passage the “new thing” will be Israel’s return from exile in the east. He will make a way through the desert to the east of the land of Israel, returning the exiled children of Israel to the land.
The waters once parted to save are now given to revitalize. This is a beautifully ironic Hebrew poetic form.
In the context of God’s greater redemptive purpose the “new thing” is the spiritual redemption of Israel through the Servant King Messiah. Thus, we read, “I will even make a way from within the word, and in the desolation, living waters.”
Isa 43:20 “The beast of the field will honour Me, the taniym serpents (dragons) uvenot and the daughters of ya’anah owls: because I give mayim waters va’’midbar in the wilderness, and neharot rivers beiyshimon in the desert, to give drink to Amiy My people, My chosen.”
This will be both literally and figuratively true. The serpents and owls may be interpreted to refer to demonic beings.
The purpose of the waters is to hydrate “My people, My chosen” ethnic Israel. God will hydrate her both physically and spiritually. These promises precede the coming exile so as to instil a memory of hope into rebellious Israel.
Isa 43:21 “Am A people I have formed for Myself; they will show forth my praise.”
The ultimate outcome of Israel’s discipline will be her repentance and formation as a nation that comes into right relationship with God and send forth His praise. However, this is yet future.
Isa 43:22 “But you have not called upon Me, Yaakov (Jacob: follower); but you have been weary of Me, Yisrael (Israel: overcomes in God).”
Jacob the follower has not followed and Israel the overcomer has not overcome. Israel has been made blind by her own idolatrous vision, and has become deaf through hearing the lies of the nations that surround her.
This is a poignant reminder to us. By watching media we become blind, and listening to media we become deaf. For those with eyes to see there is light in the darkness. For those with ears to hear there is truth in the silence.
Isa 43:23 “You have not brought Me the small of the flock of your oloteicha burnt offerings; uzevacheicha and your sacrifices don’t honour Me. I have not caused you to serve with an offering, nor wearied you with incense.”
This can be understood in at least two ways. It may refer to the fact that Israel had neglected the proper sacrificial practice within the land prior to her exile, or, it may refer prophetically to her inability to offer sacrifices to God in the land of her exile.
Isa 43:24 “None have bought me ba’kesef silver (money) or sugar cane, vecheilev the fat of your sacrifices has not filled Me: but you have made Me to serve, with your chatah sins (missing the mark), you have wearied Me with your avon perversities (iniquities).”
Rather than bringing the appropriate offerings of the Torah, Israel has instead offered money and sugar cane to other gods. Thus, they have not filled HaShem. None the less, Hashem has endured and become weary of Israel’s sin and perversity. This being the counterpoint to her having become weary of Him (v. 22).
Isa 43:25 “I, even I, am he that mocheh blots out your feshaeicha rebellion for My own sake, and will not remember your chatah sins (missing the mark).”
Regardless of Israel’s disobedience, it is not her observance or her lack thereof that is reason for God’s blotting out of her rebellion. To the contrary, it is for His own sake that He will wipe away all memory of her sin.
Isa 43:26 “Remember Me: let us adjudicate together: make your declaration, that you might be justified.”
God implores Israel to remember her true King Hashem and repent so that she might receive justification through Him.
“Come now, and let us reason together, says Adonai: though your sins be as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they will be as wool.” -Isaiah 1:18
Isa 43:27 “Aviycha Your father ha-rishon the first has chatah sinned (missed the mark), and your teachers have pasheu rebelled against Me.”
“Your first father” may refer either to Abraham or to Jacob. The teachers are those who have mislead Israel with the idol philosophies and beliefs of the nations. They may also be the priestly shepherds of Israel who have neglected the proper service of worship which was commanded by God and concerned the Temple cult in Jerusalem.
Isa 43:28 “Therefore I have profaned the shareiy princes of kodesh the sanctuary (Holiness), and have given Yaakov (Jacob: follower) la-cherem to be a dedicated thing, and Yisrael (Israel) le’giddufim to vilification.”
Thus, because Israel’s spiritual leaders had not honoured God and had mislead the people, HaShem will cause the priests, princes of the Sanctuary (a reference to the Temple) to be profaned, ridiculed, dishonoured. HaShem will also give the common people of Jacob to be a dedicated or destroyed thing, and the name of the nation of Israel will become synonymous with villainy. All this is intended to discipline Israel and return her to God through the covenant of the Servant King Messiah.
Copyright Yaakov Brown 2018
It’s in returning to God (repentance), and by resting in Him, that Israel receives salvation (Yeshua). Many convey the Gospel of our Messiah in complicated terms but the truth is that right standing with God is as simple as admitting our sinfulness and accepting His sacrificial love, outworked through Yeshua our King Messiah. Our salvation comes to us through returning and quiet acceptance.
The theme of the next two chapters is Judah’s choosing to seek an alliance with Egypt for protection against Assyria rather than relying on the Lord to deliver her.
Our Jewish sages are divided on who the recipient is: some say that Isaiah is rebuking king Hezekiah of Judah, others say he is rebuking king Hoshea of Israel. The former is a more reasonable conclusion given the context of the previous chapter and the identifying of Zion and Jerusalem within the current chapter. However, the prophet is far more likely to be rebuking a controlling faction within the king’s retinue. After all, the plural “baniym” is used and given that the prophet doesn’t name any one individual it seems more tenable to suggest that he is rebuking a group of governing leaders and or the people of Judah as a whole.
The secret planning begun in Isaiah 29:15 has clearly advanced and is now bearing fruit. Negotiations by ambassadors have already commenced. Therefore, on a personal level, the prophet is warning against something he can no longer prevent.
It is interesting to note that throughout this series of rebukes God is named using YHVH, the Holy personal Name which denotes mercy. YHVH is used 13 times, 13 being the number that unites the 1 true God with the 12 tribes: a sacred number that has great significance in Jewish thought, religious practice and culture. It is a number that conveys a new beginning atop fullness. With this in mind we read the indictments in the following verses as the loving discipline of Mercy Himself: once again, God purposes a discipline that concludes with the redemption of Judah and all Israel.
Isa 30:1 Oy Grief, hope, heart wrenching woe, baniym offspring (children, sons) of rebellion, declares HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), la’asot that fashion eitzah purpose, but not of Me; velinesokh and that pour out [anoint] maseikhah [a king, molten gods] libations, but not of Ruachi My Spirit, breath, wind: with the intent of being consumed by chatat al chatat sin upon sin:
Following Rashi’s interpretation one Jewish English translation reads:
‘“Woe to rebellious children," says the Lord, "to take counsel but not from Me, and to appoint a ruler but not of My spirit, in order to add sin upon sin.”’ [Judaica Press]
This is the second to last of the “Oy” chapters. Both this chapter and the following one address Judah, the tribe from whom the King Messiah will one day come.
The accusation of rebellion is well founded and must have been a difficult one for the prophet to speak against his people. “Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft” (1 Sam. 15:23), and that is precisely the problem here. Seeking to manipulate forces they don’t understand, both physical and spiritual, the children of Judah have turned their backs on God and His mercy and have instead sought out others in a vain effort to protect themselves from the Assyrians.
Judah has made her plans and sought her alliances, and has poured out libations, perhaps even in a syncretised form that was supposed to please HaShem; however, God makes it very clear that her practices are no of His Spirit. To the contrary, it seems that the rulers and people of Judah have intentionally chased after alliances that they knew were contrary to God’s will, and have pursued other gods and sins of the flesh with the full intention of indulging their sensual desires until they’re consumed by them.
The reason for the diversity of meaning in the latter clause “that pour out libations” is the phrase “velinesokh maseikah”. Both Hebrew words come from the root nasak which means “to pour” and is used to denote anointing, libations, coverings, molten gods, and by inference, kings, counsellors etc.
The Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE/AD) sees in the phrasing “velinesokh maseikah” an allusion to the seeking of ungodly counsel. It reads as follows:
“Woe unto the rebellious children, says the Lord, who take counsel, but not of my Word, who consult a consultation, but do not ask my prophets, that they may add sin unto the sins of their soul.”
Isa 30:2 Who walk to descend into Mitzrayim (Egypt: double distress), and of My mouth you have not enquired; to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh (Great House), and to seek refuge in the shadow of Mitzrayim (Egypt: double distress)!
A reading of the text using the meanings of the proper nouns would go something like this:
“Who choose the way of descent into double distress, refusing to enquire of Mercy, they strengthen themselves with a great but temporary ruler, seeking refuge in double distress.”
This heart breaking account of Judah’s wilful return to the place of her slavery must have caused Isaiah great affliction of soul. Through the prophet HaShem says, “Of My mouth you have not enquired”, meaning that Judah has not only rejected the words proceeding from the mouth of God but have also shunned the intimacy of the mouth of her Husband and deliverer, the King of the Universe (all things).
Perhaps the prophet hoped that by describing her actions back to her, he would somehow alert Judah to the obvious: that she had turned her back on the God Who delivered her from double distress in Egypt, and was now returning to the very bondage she had once ached to be freed from. All this in order to make an alliance with her persecutors so as to avoid another enemy who God had already promised to deliver her from.
We note that it is on the heels of Judah’s rebellion against HaShem, her reliance on human planning, her anointing of false counsellors, her ignoring of God’s Spirit and her seeking to be consumed by her sinful desires, that she makes the decision to seek refuge in Egypt. Many today act in a similar way, searching for security in the things of this world in spite of the fact that God’s arm is stretched out still, willing, waiting, wanting to redeem us if only we would acquiesce and receive His offer of eternal refuge.
Isa 30:3 Therefore it has come to pass for you that the strength of Pharaoh (Great House) is your shame, and the shelter in the shadow of Mitzrayim (Egypt, double distress) likh’limah is confusion, reproach, disgrace, dishonour.
Like Judah, when we put our trust in human strength, even the greatest of human strength, we are inevitably put to shame because human strength is always born of human nature (fallen, sin affected). If we choose to return like dogs to vomit, seeking shelter beneath the shadow of our past bondage, we should expect nothing more than confusion and dishonour. Like Judah, many believers today, having been given freedom in Messiah, none the less choose to return to the bondage from which they were delivered. We are like prisoners sitting in cells, the doors flung open, more comfortable in our captivity than we are in His freedom. In order to admit our need for Him, we must first accept that we are prisoners, unable to escape of our own fruition. It is not a question of slavery but one of mastery and masters. Whom will we serve?
The price of our freedom has been paid with the imperishable blood of God with us: the door to our eternal freedom can only be opened from the other side. Once the door is opened it is up to us to walk through it. We are predestined and we have freewill. Messiah has set us free from false choices.
In the current text Judah has been offered the open door of God’s redemption and has refused it, instead choosing to walk in the opposite direction, returning to her ancient captors Egypt. For the Jew Egypt represents sin and captivity, thus, only the greatest hubris could inspire him to turn to Egypt for help.
Isa 30:4 For his (Judah) princes were at Tzoan (Place of departure), and his malachayn messengers (ambassadors) came to Chanes (Grace has fled).
“Princes”sarayu, refers to royalty and means that either blood born or royally affiliated rulers from Judah have sought alliance with Egypt. This probably means that the king of Judah has either wilfully or tacitly approved of their undertaking.
Tzoan was an ancient city of Egypt known by the Greeks as Tanis and located on the eastern bank of the Tanitic branch of the Nile. It was the capital of the Shepherd dynasty, built seven years after Hebron and existing prior to the birth of Abraham and the time of the exodus. The meaning of Tzoan reflects Israel’s (Judah) “departure” from God’s will.
“Messengers” malachayn, is born of the root that we often translate as “angel”. In this context the messengers are political ambassadors, subordinate to royalty in status but powerful in function. They are the ones who would have ensured that the vision of the nation was implemented.
The location of Chanes is uncertain but it may be either Tahpanhes, on the eastern frontier, or a town on an Island in the Nile south of Memphis. Once again the name reflects the reality that while Judah has fled from God, God’s grace has fled from her.
The highest levels of Judean government are represented here, and as representatives of Judah they make all Judeans complicit in their actions. This is why elsewhere the prophet identifies himself as sharing in the guilt of his people (Isaiah 6:5): not because he is personally guilty but because he is a Jew and is therefore represented by the Jewish leaders, and the people of Israel, righteous or not.
Isa 30:5 They all stunk and were shamed on account of a people that could not profit them, and not help, and for no gain, except to be shamed, and taunted.
The Hebrew text of this verse offers at least one alternate translation due to what some consider scribal error. I have simply included both options in the one translation because I believe the so called error to be intended and a valuable illumination of the message.
The clear message of this verse is that Judah, wanting to build an alliance with Egypt, will none the less be treated contemptibly by the Egyptians and will find only the stench and shame associated to the enslavement of her past. She will not profit from any alliance with Egypt, to the contrary, Judah will gain only taunting and humiliation from the Egyptians.
Isa 30:6 The masa burden of the beasts of the Negev (south, southern desert): into the land of distress ve’tzukah and constraint, anguish: to the lioness and the lion, the viper vesaraf and fiery serpent meofeif flying (hovering), they will carry their riches upon the shoulders of young asses, and their treasures upon the humps of camels, to a people that shall not profit them.
The Hebrew “masa” is used here as a title like the four title headings in chapters 21 to 22. “The Burden” alludes to the fact that the prophetic utterance is a burden upon both the prophet and the people. Thus, the first five verses of chapter 30 are a general indictment and beginning with verse six a more specific indictment is issued. In this case Isaiah speaks of the journey of the princes’ and ambassadors as they travel toward Egypt via the Negev, Israel’s southern desert region.
The language of this verse is both literal and figurative in nature, not to mention poetic. The couplet of distress and anguish, finds its poetic counterpart in the lion and the serpent. Likewise, the doubling of riches and treasures coincide with the burdens they place upon the donkey and camel. Thus, masa “the burden of the beasts of the south.” This burden will come upon Judah as a result of her having given away the riches and treasures of God, replacing them with the unreliable riches and treasures of Egypt (human strength).
Isa 30:7 And the Mitzrayim Egyptians (double distress) are like hevel vapour (vanity) variyk and emptiness: therefore have I cried out concerning this, “Rahav Arrogant one (proud, storm, sea monster: Egypt) hem who shavet ceases (sits).
Egypt, which is symbolic of sin, captivity and double distress, is likened to a fearsome sea monster unable to exert its power, or an arrogant being that sits still incapable of acting. The name Rahav is applied to Egypt elsewhere (Isa. 51:9, Psa. 87:4, 89:10). This is the people who Judah has foolishly placed her hopes upon. They are like an empty vapour in the vastness of eternity, a passing breath that is of no lasting consequence. Judah has given up the strong arms of Hashem and has instead sought to grasp at the wind.
Isa 30:8 Now go, chotvah write it al upon liuach a tablet (stone, wood, metal) for them, and al upon seifer a scroll (book), chukah to inscribe it (decree, cut out, engrave) for the day (time) to come ad olam as far as forever:
This instruction to write is important because the majority of Isaiah’s words, while spoken by the prophet (in the hearing of the people), were none the less probably recorded by Isaiah’s scribe. The prophets of Israel were often accompanied by scribes who were devoted disciples. For example, Baruch the scribe of Jeremiah. However, Habakkuk was also instructed to write his prophecy on a tablet (Hab. 2:2).
Here, Isaiah is specifically directed to write this prophecy down as a perpetual reminder to future generations, even to those as far afield as the last days. The message is to be written on stone and on kosher animal hide, perhaps in part because every matter must be established by two witnesses. These two formats were the means of keeping the permanent records of the time. It is clear from the receipt of the text that Isaiah was obedient to God’s instruction and must certainly have understood his message to be for the future generations of Israel.
The words “chotvah” and “chukah” both come from the root katav which refers specifically to the written word. There is a Kabbalistic teaching (from the Zohar) that suggests the ketvi (written word: from katav) is the essence of the universe. While in the strictest sense this is only true of ketvi based on a figurative interpretation, it is none the less very similar to the teaching of Yochanan’s (John) Gospel (John 1). However, there is a marked difference between the two teachings in that the Hebrew “D’var” is not restricted in the way that the Hebrew “ketvi” is. While “ketvi” may proceed from “D’var”, “D’var” cannot proceed from “ketvi”. With regard to the order of the universe “ketvi” is subject to “D’var”.
Isa 30:9 Because this is a rebellious people, baniym children (sons) of kechashiym lies (lying), baniym children (sons) unwilling to hear the Torah (Instruction) of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy):
This verse describes the type of people who ask prophets not to speak the truth. These are not just rebellious but also children of lies. They’re not simply ignorant of the Torah, rather they refuse to hear it. Keeping in mind that if we read the inferred meaning of the Holy Name of God, we translate, “children unwilling to hear the Instruction of Mercy”.
Yeshua is probably alluding to this verse when He says:
“You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks lies he is just being himself—for he is a liar and the father of lies.” -Yochanan (John) 8:44 (TLV)
Isa 30:10 Who say laroiym to the seers, “See not”; ve’lachoziym and to the visionaries, “Don’t provide visions to us of straight (right) dav’ru essence (words, things), flatter us with what you see, prophesy deceptions:
Spiritual blindness is Judah’s problem. Thus, the use of the very specific prophetic title “roiym” Seers.
The rebellious children of Judah (Israel), who are children of lies and wilfully refuse God’s Instruction, now demand of their roiym seers that they “See not”, and of the choziym visionaries, that they not provide visions of “straight things” (2 Sam. 15:3). Worse still, and in keeping with their unwillingness to hear the Torah of Mercy, they compel both the seers and the visionaries to flatter the people with the things that they want to hear, even if those things are known to be deceptions. This is one of the greatest of sinful delusions, for “no one is blinder than he who refuses to see.”
Speaking of certain elements within the Ecclesia (Church: community of believers), Rav Shaul (Paul) writes to Timothy saying:
“For the time will come when they will not put up with sound instruction, but they will pile up for themselves teachers in keeping with their own desires, to have their ears tickled.” -2 Timothy 4:3 (TLV)
Isa 30:11 Turn aside from the derech way, thrust aside the orach journey (path), His rest, turn us from His face kedosh the Holy One of Yisrael (overcome in God).”
The divine title “Holy One of Israel” is used three times between verses 11 and 15. It is within these verses that we find Israel denying both her God and her own identity. It is because God is the Holy One of Israel that Israel exists at all. In his weakness Jacob was blessed by God and through submission to God with us (the wrestling man) was given the name Israel, which means “Yisra” overcome, “El” God. Thus, Israel are those ethnic children of Jacob who overcome in God. Therefore, in his charge against Israel, the prophet Isaiah uses the title for God that best illuminates the ironic and self-deluded behaviour of the people.
The foolish words of the people continue as they tell the nevi’iym prophets, roiym seers, and choziym visionaries of Israel to “turn aside from the way” of God. They have just said, “Don’t tell us straight things”, now they add, “And don’t live straight lives”. In other words, “We don’t want to be reminded of God and His ways by goody two shoes prophets who continue to live for God in the midst of our sin”. The people want to be led away from God by spiritual leaders who are also walking away from God.
The Hebrew phrasing “ha-derech” the way, could not be more prophetically relevant to the future disciples of the coming Messiah. It is of course the very title used to describe the Jewish sect who were followers of the Messiah Yeshua in the first century CE/AD (Acts 9:2).
The prophets of Israel are not only told to turn aside from “the way” but also from “the journey”, and “the rest” of God. “The way” means knowing which direction to head in, “the journey” means continuing to walk in that direction, and “the rest” is the secure knowledge that it is the right direction.
Those who walk in darkness detest light. This is why the people say “Turn us from His face, the glory of Israel”. How heart breaking it must have been for Isaiah to speak these words and how saddened the heart of God. The people to whom He desired to show mercy refusing their own identity in Him. Israel, whose name is born of the “Glory of Israel” (God Himself), refuses her God and her identity, preferring to live a lie.
Isa 30:12 Wherefore thus says kedosh the Holy One of Yisrael (overcome in God), “Because you despise, refuse, reject ba’davar this word, essence, thing, and trust in oppression, perversion remains on you:
Simply put, “I give you over to the fruit of your own sin”.
“This word” literally refers to this specific prophecy of Isaiah. However, it can be understood in more general terms and applied as a drash (comparative teaching), a remez (a hint) and illuminates a sod (mystery).
Those who refuse “The Word” (Yeshua) of God inevitably fall victim to their own words.
“But My people did not listen to My voice.
Israel was not willing to be Mine.
So I gave them over
to the stubbornness of their heart,
to walk in their own counsels.” -Psalm 81:12-13 (TLV)
“24 Therefore God gave them over in the evil desires of their hearts to impurity, to dishonor their bodies with one another. 25 They traded the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creation rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to shameful passions. Even their women exchanged natural relations for what is against nature. 27 Likewise the men abandoned natural relations with women and were burning with passion toward one another—men committing shameful acts with other men[g] and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. 28 And just as they did not see fit to recognize God, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what is not fitting. 29 They became filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents. 31 They are foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree—that those who practice such things deserve death—they not only do them but also approve of others who practice the same.” -Romans 1:24-32
“Trust in oppression” is a reference to the people of Israel (Judah) returning to the land of their captivity (Egypt) seeking help. For the modern believer a comparative teaching can be made: to trust in oppression would be to turn back to a sin practice that Messiah has freed us from.
Isa 30:13 Therefore it has come to pass this perversity will be to you like a breach ready to fall, swelling out in a high wall, which breaks forth suddenly in an instant.
Note that it is Israel’s own perversity that has become a breach in the wall of her protection. It has grown slowly but will fall suddenly. When a broken or swollen breach in a high wall comes down it usually brings down the entire section of wall with it. The rulers of Judah will bring down all of Judah through their perverse leadership.
The root “ba’ah” swelling, is used elsewhere to refer to the swelling caused by disease (Exodus 9”9, “boils erupting”). Thus, Israel’s perversity is like a disease that causes boils to erupt suddenly upon her.
Isa 30:14 And He (God) will break it like the breaking of a moulded jar that is broken into pieces; He will not show compassion: so that in the bursting of it there will not be found a shard for collecting fire from the hearth, or to draw water out of the cistern (pool).
God will use the hostile power Assyria to break up Israel like the breaking of a clay jar. For a time He will withhold compassion so that Israel will realize her need for Him.
Fire and water are two of the primary human needs. Thus, the prophet uses the symbolism of the tiny broken pieces unable even to collect fire for warmth or water for life.
Isa 30:15 For thus says Adonay the Lord HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), kedosh the Holy One of Yisrael (overcome in God); be’shuvah In returning va’nachat and rest, quietness, comfort you will be saved; behashekeit in quietness (shutting of the mouth) uv’vitechah (from bitchah, betach) and in trusting will be your strength (bravery, mighty deeds): and you are unwilling.
God offers a solution to Israel’s self-afflicting sin. We note that three titles for God are used, “Adonay” Lord, “YHVH” Mercy, and “Kedosh Yisrael” Holy One of Israel”. Each title signifies an attribute of God and His relationship to His people Israel. Adonay conveys Lordship over Israel. YHVH denotes mercy and shows God’s willingness to be merciful toward Israel. Kedosh Yisrael reminds Israel that Adonay is her God and that her identity is in Him.
God is constantly offering mercy, forgiveness and redemption to those who have rejected Him. However, in order for love to exist freewill must also exist. Therefore, He will not force Himself on anyone.
“be’shuvah In returning va’nachat and rest, quietness, comfort you will be saved;”
Note that it’s in returning to God (repentance), and by resting in Him, that Israel receives salvation (Yeshua). Many convey the Gospel of our Messiah in complicated terms but the truth is that right standing with God is as simple as admitting our sinfulness and accepting His sacrificial love, outworked through Yeshua our King Messiah. Our salvation comes to us through returning and quiet acceptance.
During the weekly Torah service when the Torah is returned to the Aron Ha-kodesh (The Holy Ark), we recite the following words:
“Whenever the ark came to rest, Moses would say: ‘Return, HaShem to the myriad thousands of Israel!’” -Numbers 10:36
We then conclude with the words of Eitz Chayim, which concludes with the words:
“Turn us Lord to You and let us return, renew our days as of old”
Returning and rest have been the building blocks of redemption from the very beginning.
“in trusting will be your strength (bravery, mighty deeds):”
The root for the word “trusting” is batach, a form of practiced trust that must be perpetuated. Notice that salvation is not reliant on batach but upon returning and rest, whereas strength, bravery, and mighty deeds are reliant on consistent trusting (betach).
Sadly, at the time of Isaiah’s prophecy we were unwilling to accept HaShem’s offer of salvation.
Isa 30:16 But you said, “No; for upon a horse we will flee;” therefore you will flee: and, “We will ride upon the swift;” therefore those who pursue you will be swift.
Israel will be judged by her own words. With pride she says “We will flee” to Egypt for protection. But instead she will “flee” in terror from invading armies. She says “We will ride swiftly” to our protector Egypt. But instead, Egypt will not protect her and she will be swiftly pursued by her enemies.
Isa 30:17 One thousand will flee from before the face of the rebuke of one; from the face of the rebuke of five one will flee: until you’re left as a beacon upon the rosh head of ha-har the mountain, ve’caneis and as a banner (signal, sign, miracle) on ha-givah the hill.
HaShem answers Judah’s prideful words by fulfilling upon them the curses of the Torah (Lev 26:8, Lev 26:36; Deu 28:25; Deu 32:30). One, or at the most five, of the enemy would put to flight a thousand men of Judah.
The verb nus (Isa 30:16), which rhymes with sus is used first in its primary sense of “flying” (related to nutz cf., Exo 14:27), and then in its more usual sense of “fleeing.”
Ibn Ezra notes that “The meaning of the whole phrase is: An officer over a thousand men will flee at the threatening of one man.”
“until you’re left as a beacon upon the rosh head of ha-har the mountain,”
Rosh ha-har “head of the mountain” is a reference to Mount Zion, the Temple mount. Thus, Israel will be afflicted until a mere remnant remains, having retreated to Mount Zion, returning to the place where HaShem had placed His Name.
“ve’caneis and as a banner (signal, sign, miracle) on ha-givah the hill.”
Ha-givah “the hill” is part of a poetic couplet that also denotes the Temple mount. It is in this location that the remnant of Israel will be seen as a neis miracle, sign, banner, both to her shame and for HaShem’s glory. For He will miraculously deliver His people who He has chosen and loved with an everlasting love. I’m reminded of our Diaspora Chanukah dreidel “neis gadol haya sham” a great miracle happened there.
Isa 30:18 And therefore yechakeh await HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), that He may be chanan gracious unto you, and therefore He will be exalted, that He may have racham mercy upon you: for Eloheiy (God: Judge) is mishpat a just HaShem (YHVH: Mercy): ashreiy blessed, happy are all those who wait for Him.
In accordance with the rhythm of Isaiah’s scroll the usual pattern of indictment is followed by the promise of restoration.
Israel is advised to wait for HaShem’s grace and mercy and reminded that He is a just God Whose Name denotes mercy. Those who wait on Him will be blessed with true happiness.
Note that HaShem is not a narcissist. His exaltation is purposed for mercy. He doesn’t exalt Himself for His own sake but rather for the sake of those He loves, that He might show them mercy. He is Judge (Eloheiy), just (mishpat), and merciful (YHVH).
HaShem has waited on Israel His wayward wife, His rebellious children. Now they must meet His waiting with their own waiting so as to receive true happiness in Him.
Isa 30:19 For the people will yeisheiv remain (dwell) in Tziyon (Parched land: The Mount: The Land: The People) in Yerushalayim (Down pour of Peace): weeping you will weep no more: He will be chanon yach’necha gracious to be gracious unto you at the voice of your outcry; when He hears it, He will answer you.
Judah will not lose Zion, she will remain in her. Note the doubling of grace within the Hebrew text: this denotes grace firmly and immutably established for Judah and all Israel. HaShem is ready and willing to act with grace and mercy in the moment that His people cry out to Him for deliverance. This has and will not change: it is the same for you as it is for Israel. He is the God of all.
Isa 30:20 And though Adonay the Lord gives you tzar narrow lechem bread (of adversity), and mayim water of lachatz distress (of oppression), yet your moreykha teacher (teachers) will not be hidden any more, but your eyes shall see your moreykha teacher (teachers):
This is an allusion to the broken pot shards of verse 14. Although Israel did not even have the tools to collect the basic necessities of life, none the less God will provide what megger rations of food and water they do have. It will be in the consumption of megger amounts of bread and distressfully small amounts of water that Israel will be given sight to see her Teacher HaShem. The Hebrew moreykha can be read as either singular or plural and in any case it is both. HaShem is Israel’s Teacher and He provides her with good teachers, such as the prophets.
Isa 30:21 And your ears will hear (receive, understand) d’var a word from behind you, saying, “This is ha-derech the way, you walk in it,” when you turn to the right hand, and when you turn to the left.
This verse has been misapplied by many believers. First because it is taken out of context and second because the presumption is made that it offers a type of coin toss as to directing the future path of any given believer.
The p’shat plain meaning of the text is clear, “A word from behind you” means, at that time in the future when you realize your error and see your Teacher (God with us), you will remember this prophecy, spoken years prior (behind you). “Saying, ‘This is the way’” means, the way of salvation through Messiah, spoken of by the prophet Isaiah. “Walk in it” means, walk in repentance, the salvation of the Messiah and the freedom of God. “When you turn to the right hand, and when you turn to the left.” Means, wherever you go. It does not mean that the word speaking from behind you will tell you to go right or left, as if to say, you’ll be walking blindly forward and will only know which way to turn at the last minute.
Put concisely, in the future you will repent when you remember the d’var word of salvation spoken by Isaiah, and through that word you will be directed to walk in ha-derech “The Way” of God’s Messiah. Thus, you will walk in Messiah wherever you walk, be it right or left.
Followers of Yeshua Ha-Mashiyach do not practice blind faith, to the contrary, we practice a faith born of sight. We see Messiah and walk in light, regardless of whether we walk to the right or to the left. We walk with authority and confidence as His brothers and sisters (Hebrews 2:11; Romans 8:29; Mark 3:34) and as sons and daughters of HaShem.
We should remind ourselves again that the first Jewish followers of Messiah Yeshua were considered a sect of Judaism and were “Ba-derech” in The Way (Acts 9:2).
Isa 30:22 You will defile the silver plating of your idols, and the ephod (mantle) of your molten images of gold: you will cast them away as a davah menstrual cloth; you will say to it, “you, get out, leave!”
These abominations of idolatry (which continued even in the first years of Hezekiah's reign: ( Isa 31:7; Mic 1:5; Mic 5:11-13; Mic 6:16) were to be defiled and discarded. Even the gold and silver with which the images were overlaid, would be made unclean.
“Davah” is shortened from “keli davah” menstrual cloth. This symbolizes infertility and decay and presents the idols as fruitless, dead, and worthless.
“Get out, leave!” Israel must wilfully reject and cast out her idols both physically and mentally. She is to be adamant in her speech in order to affirm her actions and ongoing commitment to turning her back on idolatry.
Isa 30:23 Then He will give the rain for your seed, which you will scatter in the ground; ve’lechem and bread (food) of the increase of the ground, and it has come to pass that fat and shamein oil will pasture your livestock bayom in the day (time period) ha-hu that one (the he), kar the basket saddle nirechav will grow wide [the meadow will be enlarged].
When Israel decides to uproot her idolatry God will once again bless the land and His people with abundance and prosperity.
The rain meets the need for water alluded to previously and the grain becomes bread to meet the hunger born of scant rations. The rain is the water of life, the flood of God’s Spirit and the bread is the sustenance of life, the Torah and living Word of God.
This blessing is to follow the defeat of Assyria which is spoken of in verse 25. The prophet pre-empts that victory with the promise of what comes after it.
“Bayom” in that day, finds its counterpart in verse 25 and turns the day of God’s destruction of Israel’s enemies into a day of deliverance, repentance, returning, rest and abundance for Israel.
Isa 30:24 Both the oxen and the young asses alike, that work ha-adamah the ground will eat seasoned fodder, which has been zoreh winnowed ba-rachat (from ruach) with the winnowing shovel and with the pitchfork/rake.
The cattle will not only have feed but will have the salted (seasoned) feed of a prosperous herdsman. This is an image of great abundance.
Isa 30:25 And it has come to pass that upon every har mountain high (exalted), and upon every (exalted) giveah hill nisa’ah lifted up, pelagiym rivers (channels), yivleiy streams of mayim water bayom in the day (time period) hereg rav of great slaughter, binefol migdaliym when the towers fall.
On every high mountain where idolatrous sacrifices brought judgement and drought to Israel, the refreshing waters of HaShem will flow once more. All this will happen following Hashem’s defeating of the Assyrian army that will surround Jerusalem.
Isa 30:26 Moreover the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, the light of seven days, bayom in the day that HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) binds up the breach of His people, and heals their severe wound.
The plain meaning of this verse expresses joy and light at the defeat of Israel’s enemy Assyria and the binding up of the breach suffered as a result of Judah’s wilful sin along with the healing of her wounds of oppression.
Ibn Ezra notes that the majority of Jewish commentators associate this verse with the Messianic age following the war of Gog and Magog.
The moon is a symbol of the Messiah due to its waning and resurrection each month.
Here the remez and sod meanings are attached to creation itself and the days of the creation recorded in Genesis 1 and 2. The sevenfold light is explained by the prophet as the combined light of seven days made manifest in one. The seventh day is of course the Shabbat. Thus in the day (time of the world to come, the Messianic age), redeemed Israel will enter into an eternal Shabbat whose light is so bright that it has no need of sun or moon and is therefore also not subject to the passing of time.
The writer of Hebrews explains the Olam Habah (World to come) as being the Shabbat which remains for the people of God (Hebrews 4:9). Thus there is an established understanding within ancient Judaism that the current text refers to a yet future day or time period. That day or time period being the inception of the World to Come, the eternal Shabbat of God’s rest.
The commentator Delitzsch puts it beautifully when he writes:
“Heaven and earth will then put on their sabbath dress; for it will be the Sabbath of the world's history, the seventh day in the world's week. The light of the seven days of the world's week will be all concentrated in the seventh. For the beginning of creation was light, and its close will be light as well. The darkness all comes between, simply that it may be overcome. At last will come a boqer (morning), after which it will no more be said, “And evening was, and morning was.”
Isa 30:27 Hineih Now, pay attention and behold, Shem the name of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) comes from a distant place, burning in His nostrils, ve’koved and heavy glory ma’asah is uplifted: segatayn His language (lip) is full of za’am indignation, uleshono and His tongue ke’eish is ochalet a devouring fire:
“Pay attention” says the prophet. The Name of the Lord is synonymous with the Malakh HaShem Angel of the Lord and with the Lord Himself. He comes from a distant place, that is, the heavens, from where the Malakh HaShem Angel of the Lord came down to wipe out the Assyrians overnight (2 Kings 19:35; 2 Chronicles 32:21).
This picture of HaShem’s fierce wrath against Israel’s enemies is at once both terrifying and comforting. This same fierce God of creation is fierce for all who accept His love.
Isa 30:28 Verucho And His breath, Spirit, wind, as an overflowing stream, will reach to the middle of the neck, to sift the goyim nations with the sieve shave of emptiness: and He will put a bridle in the jaws of the amiym peoples (tribes), causing them to go astray.
“Goyim” nations are made up of “amiyim” tribes.
The “sieve of emptiness” means that all of the crop of the wicked nations will be devoid of grain. It will all be chaff and dust blown away by the wind with not one ear of grain left on the threshing floor. God’s judgement will come against both the wicked goyim nations and against the wicked individual tribes amiym that make up those wicked nations. He will direct them toward their just destruction.
Isa 30:29 Ha-shir The song of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) will come to you in the night hitekadesh chag when the holy convocation (festival, offering) is kept (made); vesimchat and there will be joy leivav of the core being (heart), like walking with a flute to come behar into the mountain of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), to Tzur the Rock (cliff face) of Yisrael.
The Hebrew “chag” means both festival and festival offering. In this case the “chag” is qualified by the fact that it happens at night. The only festival that meets this requirement is Pesach (Passover). Therefore, the prophet is alluding to Passover. Subsequently the sages suggest that the Assyrian army was destroyed during Passover. This helps illuminate the meaning of the song of deliverance that will be given to Israel when God comes first to deliver her from Assyria and then, in that future day ba-yom, to deliver her from all the nations that surround her to destroy her because she bears His Name.
Just as the avenging angel came against Israel’s oppressors in Egypt on that first Passover night, so too the Angel of HaShem would come upon the Assyrians during the night, and in the future upon all the enemies of God and His chosen people ethnic-religious Israel.
The joy of her core being will be overflowing like one who ascends the Mountain of HaShem with joyous music, secure in the knowledge that the immovable Rock of Israel is her God.
Isa 30:30 And the majesty of HaShem’s (YHVH: Mercy) glorious voice will be heard, listened to and understood, ve’nachat and the descending of His arm, with the rage of his nostril, ve’lahav and with the blade eish of fire ocheilah devouring, driving storm and flood of rain, ve’even and stones barad of hail (judgement).
HaShem’s voice will be heard and understood by both Israel and her enemies. To Israel it will be the sound of deliverance and security and to her enemies the sound of imminent terror. Likewise the blade of devouring fire will be seen as protection by Israel but by her enemies as judgement and condemnation.
Isa 30:31 For mikol from the voice of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) yeichat shattered, dismayed, broken, abolished will be Asshur (Assyrians: a step), bashevet with the rod, struck down.
The plain meaning has been the defeat of Assyria all along. In Isaiah 10:5 Assyria herself is called the “rod of His indignation”. Now wicked Assyria will be wiped out by the rod of His indignation.
Isa 30:32 And it has come to pass that col every passing of the mateih the staff (branch) musadah of foundation (appointed), which HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) will lay upon him (Assyria), it will be with tambourine and harps: and in battles of shaking will He wave it.
Israel, the victims of Assyrian oppression will celebrate her defeat with tambourine and harp, At every swing of the staff of God’s wrath Israel will celebrate her freedom from her enemies with loud music and the joyous jangling swing of the tambourine.
Isa 30:33 For Tofeteh (Place of spitting fire: southeast end of the valley of Ben-Hinnom: just south of Jerusalem) is ordained of old; also, it (he) is prepared lamelekh for the king (of Assyria); He has made it deep and large: the pyre there is eish fire and full of wood; nishmat (from nasham) the breath of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), a torrent of brimstone, consuming it.
Tofeteh is literally located in the valley of Hinnom south of Jerusalem, which has been historically associated with the heathen death cult of molech and with child sacrifice in fire. It has been ordained of old, that is from the fall of Satan, to physically receive the enemies of Israel into its well-stocked fire, blown to life by the breath of God.
Spiritually speaking the valley of Hinnom is symbolic of a much worse place, Gehinnom. Yeshua used the physical location of the valley of Hinnom as a representation of a much greater spiritual torment that awaited the wicked beyond this world. Therefore, it would be foolish, as some do, to right off the spiritual interpretation in favour of the idea that Gehinnom was intended as nothing more than an allegory based on the physical location. After all, an allegory is used to describe or convey a reality that cannot be comprehended in literal terms within time and space. Therefore, the allegory of the valley of Hinnom, where Israel’s enemies fell, garbage fires burned perpetually and children were sacrificed to heathen gods, must surely be a prophetic linguistic attempt to warn of something far worse outside of our present reality. Make no mistake, both temporal and eternal punishment await the wicked. But eternal life and perpetual rest await those redeemed in Yeshua the King Messiah.
“In returning and rest you will be saved!”
Copyright Yaakov Brown 2018
“That which God knows to be a future certainty He reveals to we who are uncertain of the future through repetition.”
The blessings or prophetic words Jacob pronounces over his sons while on his death bed are probably best defined as future character descriptions of the tribes that will bear their names. While the sons are addressed according to their own actions, they are not to be the recipients of the outworking of those actions. The closest parallel to this in the Tanakh (OT) is Deuteronomy 33, where Moses blesses most of the tribes of Israel prior to his death and before Israel enters the Promised Land.
The word play and phrasings of Jacob’s prophetic blessing are difficult to convey in English. Some of the Hebrew is cryptic and rare in places and includes some unusual and ancient divine names.
The sayings are ordered according to the tribal mothers Leah, Zilpah, Bilhah, Rachel. The first four tribes of Leah appear in birth order, as do the sons of Rachel. However, the sons of the Handmaidens, who are previously listed in chronology through the Genesis narrative, are here listed in the alternate order of Zebulun, Issachar, Dan, Gad, Asher and Naphtali. In fact each of the twelve sons of Jacob are listed according to the roles they will play in the strengthening of the nation of Israel.
Gen 49:1 And Yaakov (Follower) called to his sons, and said, “Gather yourselves together, so that I may tell you asher-yik’ra etchem what you will encounter in the latter ha-yamiym days (years).
Yaakov, the follower of HaShem, musters the last of his energy and calls his sons. He asks them to gather together because although he will pronounce prophetic words specific to each of them, he wants the brothers to understand that their futures are intrinsically linked. The suffering of one will be the suffering of another, and the success of one will be the prosperity of another. Israel’s tribes are to be echad (a complex and indivisible unity).
The phrase “asher-yik’ra etchem” translates literally as, “what will call to you”. There is a subtle difference between the root קרה and the root קרא which is used here. The former means “befall”, the latter, “call”. In one sense, the words that Jacob is about to pronounce are the respective callings of each tribe.
The phrase “b’chariyt ha-mayim” speaks of days/years far beyond the brothers’ own lifespans. With the benefit of hindsight we’re able to see that the words of Jacob reach beyond the land of Egypt, and while partially fulfilled in Israel’s future history within the land of Israel, they reach still further, even beyond our own years.
Concerning the phrase “b’chariyt ha-mayim” the orthodox commentator Sforno writes:
“At the end of the period allocated to life on earth as we know it. Yaakov speaks of the arrival of the Messiah which will signify the end of existence of the nations that oppose God and the kingdom of God on earth… Yaakov speaks of the time frame he has in mind as the one when Shiloh will arrive, the one to whom nations will pay homage.”
Sforno understands “Shiloh”, which means “Tranquillity, rest, belonging”, to be a name for the future King Messiah.
Rashi agrees, and explains that “the End Days” refers to the Messianic age. He goes on to say, in accordance with the Midrash, that “Jacob wished to tell his children when Messiah would come”.
Gen 49:2 Gather yourselves together, v’shemu and hear, receive, obey, you sons of Yaakov (Follower); v’shemu and hear, receive, and be in obedience to Yisrael (Overcomes in God) your father.
Akeidat Yitzchak asks, “Why does Jacob seem to commence with the blessing twice…?”
We know that a thing is repeated in the Torah in order to show the reader that the matter is firmly established. That which God knows to be a future certainty He reveals to we who are uncertain of the future through repetition. Thus the repetition of Jacob’s call to gather and the use of the names Yaakov and Yisrael are informing us that what is to follow is firmly established.
Specifically, the gathering of Israel is firmly established, both at the time of Jacob’s blessing and in the last days. Israel’s ability to hear from God and act in obedience to Him is also firmly established with the repetition of the Hebrew “v’shemu”: which is first used in implicit reference to hearing from God and subsequently used in explicit reference to obeying the words of the patriarch Jacob. The sons of Jacob are sons of a follower: that is, one who was once a follower who wrestled in relationship with HaShem and as a result of yielding to Hashem has now become one who overcomes in God. Thus the sons will also become those who overcome in God through Mashiyach (Messiah). Therefore, they are being called as obedient followers and as victorious overcomers in God’s redemptive plan for Israel and for humanity.
Jacob’s words are prophetic blessing. But he is not a fortune teller. Prophecy has more to do with relationship than it does with power, and it has nothing to do with men manipulating spiritual forces. God has not imbued Jacob with some metaphysical gift for the purpose of conjuring up futures, to the contrary, Jacob is relaying the observations of God. God, in intimate relationship with Jacob, has shared with Jacob that which has already happened outside of time and space. Jacob is not making predictions, he is making what he knows to be statements of future fact.
Gen 49:3 Reuven (Behold/Now a son), you are my firstborn, my strength, and beginning of my substance, excellent, exalted, and superior, fierce: Gen 49:4 Unstable as water, not to remain; because you aliyat went up, lying on your father's bed; then you cholal’ta defiled, profaned, desecrated: to my bed, you alah went up.
“Reuben, my son, I did not rebuke you all these years so that you should not leave me and stay with my brother Esau” –Sifre Devarim
Jacob begins his words over Reuben by stating that which once belonged to him: 1.) The blessing and portion of the firstborn 2.) The role of priest [Passed from Patriarch to Patriarch, an obligation of the firstborn which was first despised by Esau] 3.) The kingship [Strong, exalted, superior]. Each of these would now be given to the sons Whom God had chosen: The rights of the firstborn would go to Joseph and his sons, the priesthood would go to Levi (because his tribe would not participate in the sin of the Golden Calf), and Judah would become the tribe from whom Israel would receive her kings, and ultimately, the King Messiah.
“But because you sinned my son, the birth right is given to Joseph, the kingship to Judah and the priesthood to Levi” –Targum Yonatan
The idiom “Unstable as water” seems to imply fast-flowing water and or the waters of the body. In other words, Reuben lacked self-control, rushing to sin sexually with Bilhah (Gen. 35:22), his father’s wife.
Though once the firstborn head, the tribe of Reuben has left little mark in Israel’s Biblical history. Moses later calls Reuben “Small and in danger of extinction” (Deut. 33:6), and the song of Deborah the prophetess rebukes Reuben for their indecision (Judges 5:15-16; ref. Gen 42:36-38).
While the p’shat (plain meaning) of the text refers to the act of sexual sin committed by Reuben, the rabbis interpret a remez (hint) alluding to spiritual defilement. This is in part due to the repetition of the Hebrew Aliyah, to ascend which is often used in connection with Israel’s ascent to Jerusalem for the regalim, aliyot festivals (moadim).
“You did defile Him (Holy spirit) Who used to ascend my bed.” –Daat Zkenim
Sforno writes, “Alternatively, Yaakov may have referred to Reuven’s act being a desecration of God’s honour.”
“The sons of Reuven the firstborn of Yisrael—he was the firstborn, but when he defiled his father’s bed, his birth right was given to the sons of Yosef son of Yisrael—so he is not reckoned as the firstborn in the genealogical record.” -1 Chronicles 5:1
Gen 49:5 Shimon (Heard) and Levi (Joined) are brothers; instruments of chamas cruelty, injustice: m’ceirotei’hem swords stabbing (habitation).
Having explained why Reuben failed to inherit the birth right Jacob now makes it clear that the sons who would otherwise have been next in line are also unworthy of inheriting positions of leadership in Israel. The Levites would of course become priests and servants of God but they would not have authority over the nation. In fact they depended on the rest of the tribes for their livelihood.
Simeon and Levi are coupled together because they had heard (Shimon) of what had been done to their sister and had joined (Levi) together in violent vengeance rather than awaiting just recompense (Gen. 34). They were also instigators of the sale of Joseph.
The meaning of the Hebrew “mekerah” is debated. However, its literal meaning is “swords, weapons”. Thus it’s likely that the Torah intends to convey the idea of the use of swords and violence as a way of life. Yeshua uses this same idiom when He says, “Those who make the sword their way of life will die by the sword” (Matthew 26:52). This should not be confused with self-defence or just warfare, which the Bible clearly teaches are acceptable expressions of violence.
The Stone Chumash translates the last phrase as, “their weaponry is a stolen craft”.
Rashi explains that violence was a trait they had stolen from Esau because it was he who lived by the sword and not his brother Jacob (Genesis 27:40).
Gen 49:6 Don’t enter into their secret council my nefesh (Soul, life); or into their assembly, to join my honour to them: because in their b’afam flaring nostrils (anger) they killed a man, and in their delight they cut an ox.
Wicked actions are often planned in secret. A righteous man should not associate with men who live a lifestyle of uncontrolled violence.
The last phrase is interpreted literally by Rambam to mean that they slaughtered the cattle of Shekhem. Rashi interprets it figuratively of Joseph (Simeon and Levi being instrumental in harming him), who he likens to a strong ox.
“Do not enter the path of the wicked
or walk in the way of evil people.” –Proverbs 4:14
Gen 49:7 Cursed be their nostrils (anger), because it was fierce; and their wrath was excessive: I will divide them in Yaakov, and scatter them in Yisrael.
We note that Jacob does not curse his sons, rather he curses their sin.
The curse is against a lifestyle of perpetual and unjust violence. Yaakov cannot abide cruelty, nor does he want Israel to be infected with it.
The division and scattering probably refers to Simeon’s absorption into Judah and Levi’s being redefined as a priestly tribe, without land of its own (Deut. 18:1-2).
Gen 49:8 Yehudah (Praise), you who your brothers shall praise: your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father's children will bow down before you.
With regard to the kingly tribe of Judah the Midrash says that all his brothers will chose to call themselves Yehudi (Jews) rather than by their own tribal names. One Biblical example of this is the book of Esther, where Mordechai is known as a Yehudi (Jew) even though he was from the tribe of Benjamin. Of course with regard to the modern Jewish people, all the tribes have become known as Jews. This came about after the return from the second exile when all the tribes merged under the remnant of Judah who had remained in the land. Thus all the tribes of Israel call themselves Yehudi (Jews) to this day.
Chiddushei HaRim says that the reason for Judah being honoured was the motivation of Leah when naming him. She had given Judah his name as a way of expressing her gratitude to God for having received more than her share of children (Gen. 29:35).
Gen 49:9 A lion’s cub Yehudah (Praise): from the prey, my son, you are aliyat gone up: he bent down and stretched himself out as a lion, and as a mature lion; who shall rouse him up?
We note that whereas Reuben went up aliyat to sin, Judah will go up aliyat in victory over his enemies.
The phrase concerning Judah’s victory over his prey is interpreted by Tur to refer prophetically to David’s killing of a lion and a bear (1 Samuel 17:34).
Ultimately Judah’s victory refers to the King Messiah Who, having been born of Judah, will defeat ha-Satan and take hold of the keys of mot (death) sheol (holding place of the dead), triumphing in resurrected glory and redeeming Israel and the nations.
Gen 49:10 The scepter shall not depart from Yehudah (Praise), nor a lawgiver (Scribe, governor) from between his feet (euphemism for reproduction), until Shiloh (Messiah, rest, tranquillity) comes; and to Him (Shiloh) the yik’hat gathering, cleansing, purging of the peoples.
“The rule of Israel shall not depart from Judah nor will one depart who will challenge Israel to keep God’s Instruction/Law (Such as Moses, the prophets, being literally present) and stay close to her kings, until the Messiah (Shiloh: rest, tranquillity) comes. And to Him (Shiloh, the Messiah), shall be the purging, cleansing, gathering of the peoples.” –Paraphrase by author
“Until the Messiah comes to Whom the kingdom belongs”-Onkelos
The Hebrew “Shiloh” is explained by the Midrash as a composite of Shai (Gift) and Lo (him), a reference to the King Messiah to Whom all nations will bring gifts.
There can be no doubt that this passage is saying that in the future, when the Messiah (Shiloh) will come, Israel’s kings, descended from Judah, will cease to reign. Therefore, the Messiah had to have come in the first century CE. And if there are those among our people who are awaiting Him still, they await His second coming.
Gen 49:11 Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass's colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes: Gen 49:12 His eyes made dull with wine, and his teeth (sharpness) white (pale) from milk.
Shiloh (The Messiah: rest, tranquillity) is the subject of these verses.
The vine of Israel is HaShem. Meaning that it is from HaShem that Israel receives her fruitfulness. Likewise, Shiloh (The Messiah) will tether His humble ministry (ass’s colt) to the vine of HaShem, completely reliant on God and echad (one) with His Father’s purpose.
The eyes are the window to the inner man, they offer insight to the one who views them and they make observations and give vision to the one who possesses them. The eyes of Shiloh will be burdened and made dull with the weight of the sins of humanity.
“He appointed Him sin, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” –2 Corinthians 5:21
Rabbi Ovadiah Sforno (16th century) says that the King Messiah rides an ass rather than a horse because it is God Who wages the wars by which He (King Messiah) comes to reign, “And He will become King in peace”.
“Rejoice greatly, daughter of Tziyon (Parched Land)!
Shout, daughter of Yerushalayim (Flood of Peace)!
Now, your King is coming to you,
a righteous one bringing salvation.
He is lowly, riding on a donkey--
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” –Zechariah 9:9
“Go into the village before you. Right away, you’ll find a donkey tied up and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to Me.” –Yeshua [Matthew 21:2] (TLV)
Wine is a symbol of prosperity and sweetness. And there is certainly some sense of the prosperity and fruitfulness of the vines of Israel, Judah and specifically Shiloh (The Messiah) in the abundance of wine mentioned here. However, the fruit of the vine is also a representation of the life blood. During the Passover Seder we drop that life blood on our plates and in the Yemenite tradition we shout “Blood, blood, blood, I am saved by the blood of the (Pesach) Lamb!”
The juice of the grape is called blood by the Apocryphal writings of Sirach:
"The principal things for the whole use of man's life are water, fire, iron, and salt, flour of wheat, honey, milk, and the blood of the grape, and oil, and clothing.'' –Sirach 39:26
"He stretched out his hand to the cup, and poured of the blood of the grape, he poured out at the foot of the altar a sweet smelling savour unto the most high King of all.'' –Sirach 50:15
When blood remains in the body it is the life of a man, for “the life is in the blood”(Leviticus 17:11). But when that blood is poured out, it is loss of like, death, sacrifice, atonement. In these verses we read that the Messiah will attach His donkey colt to the choice vine of Israel, meaning He will be born of God and of the Jewish people and His life blood is intrinsically linked to both God and the nation of Israel. Yeshua is the vine, we are the branches (John 15:5). He washes His garment in the blood of His own sacrificial death, His eyes made bloodshot (dull) with the cup (wine) of His suffering, for the sake of His people’s spiritual prosperity, His teeth milk white, the white washed colour of the tomb where He would lie, albeit temporarily.
“Father, if You are willing, take this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” –Luke 22:42
“His teeth white from milk” infers strong bones from childhood, and in particular, a pure voice, both seen and heard: the Hebrew chalav (milk, dairy) being figuratively linked to sucking, like the nursing child. However, it’s also possible that this phrase is a metaphor regarding the pallor of a dying man’s skin.
White is also a symbol of purity and holiness. Thus the words of Messiah’s (Shiloh’s) mouth are to be white, without sin, pure, holy, and faultless.
Gen 49:13 Zebulun (Exalted) at the coastline of the sea will dwell; and he shall be a coastal shelter for ships; and his border upon Zidon (Hunting/fishing).
Having established the position of Judah and Israel’s kings, Jacob now gives Zebulun precedence over Issachar, despite the fact that Issachar is the older of the two. It seems that Jacob abandons the birth order for a progression of blessing that addresses the need to provision Israel. Therefore, following the appointing of the kingly tribe (Judah) he now assigns blessing to the hunter (Zebulun), the labourer (Issachar) and so on.
Zebulun’s role as sea fearing merchant would see his territory reach from Yam Kinneret (Galilee) to the Mediterranean and as far north as Zidon near the border of Northern Israel and Lebanon (Joshua 19:10-15).
Gen 49:14 Yissaschar (Wages, recompense: figuratively: labourer) is a strong boned ass, he lies down between two boundaries: Gen 49:15 And he saw that comfort was good, and the land pleasant; and bowed his shoulder to bear, and became an indentured labourer.
The name Issachar seems to be a play on words “Ish sakhar”, literally “man hired”.
The indentured servant portion of this pronouncement may refer to Issachar’s subjugation under the Canaanites in the northern regions (Judges 1:3), although the text seems to infer that Issachar will willingly serve as a labourer for the sake of Israel.
Gen 49:16 Dan (Judge) shall yadin judge his people, as one of the tribes of Yisrael (Overcomes in God). Gen 49:17 Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that bites the horse’s heels, so that his rider shall fall backward.
Jacob having finished blessing the six sons of Leah, now goes on to the oldest son born to Bilhah, Rachel’s maidservant. The sons of Rachel are left for last because they are favoured by Jacob above his other sons.
Rabbinical commentary interprets Samson as the judge of Dan who will be like a viper. The use of the serpent metaphor denotes wisdom or cunning rather than opposition to God e.g. “Be as wise as serpents and as gentle as doves” (Matthew 10:16).
“An adder in the path, that bites the horse’s heels, so that his rider shall fall backward” is said by both Rashi and Rambam, to be an allegory of Samson’s last act, the destruction of the Philistine temple and the subsequent deaths of 3000 of Israel’s enemies (Judges 16:29).
Gen 49:18 I have waited for Your salvation (Yeshua), O HaShem (YHVH: Mercy).
This verse is the only verse in Genesis 49 that uses the Holy Name YHVH. It seems unattached to both the preceding blessing and the blessing that follows. It may be a sort of intermission, where Jacob himself is calling on the Name of the Lord and as he approaches death is acknowledging the mercy and salvation he has received. This phrase is replicated almost word for word in Psalm 119:166.
However, it’s possible that this line is a phrase attributed to Samson (Like the sun). In his last moments, through true repentance (not selfish vengeance), Samson calls on God for Salvation and the strength to overcome the enemies of HaShem and of his people Israel. In a very real sense Samson is redeemed through Yeshua long before Yeshua’s birth into time and space.
Gen 49:19 Gad (Troop), g’dud a troop that will be y’gudenu overcome: but he shall yagid invade and overcome in the end.
The root from which Gad derives his name is used repeatedly in this verse to show that the tribe will journey from armed conflict to armed conflict until the final day when they will overcome in Messiah.
Gad is the oldest son of Zilpah and his tribal allotment was on the east of the Jordan. Gad vowed to support the other tribes in conquering the land of Israel and fought the Canaanites valiantly, not ceasing until the land was overcome, at which time they returned to their own allotment on the east of the Jordan. Thus the tribe of Gad is known for its warrior spirit and loyalty to the people of Israel.
Gen 49:20 From Asher (Happy) comes sh’meinah rich/fat lechem food/bread, and he shall give royal delicacies.
“Asher’s land will be so rich in olive groves that it will flow with oil like a fountain” –Rashi
The plain meaning is that kings of both Israel and foreign lands will desire the delicacies grown in the tribal land of Asher.
Gen 49:21 Naphtali (Wrestling) is a deer let loose: he gives sayings of beauty.
Naphtali is the last of the sons of the maidservants, he is Bilhah’s youngest son.
“A deer let loose” denotes swiftness. Naphtali is said to have been swift in battle during the time of Deborah the judge (Judges 4).
The sayings of beauty attributed to Naphtali are said to be given in praise of God for the swiftly growing vegetation of his territory, and in praise of the Lord for His hand in enabling Naphtali to be swift in battle.
Gen 49:22 Son of fruitfulness Yosef (YHVH: Mercy adds) a son fruitful upon the ground near an eye/fountain; daughters run over a wall:
It is here that the rabbis fall short, offering only trite analogies and desperate explanations. The plain meaning is full of remez (hints) that reveal a sod (mystery) of great consequence.
The plain meaning likens Joseph to a fruitful vine growing by an eye of the earth, that is a natural well or fountain of mayim chayim (waters living). This links Joseph (a figure for the coming Messiah) to Shiloh (A name for the Messiah), Who tethers His donkey colt to the vine. The living waters strengthen the fruitful vine of HaShem and Mercy adds (Joseph) redemption through blood (garments washed in wine), the offering of the innocent life of Shiloh and gifting the people with tranquillity and rest (Shiloh), a gift to him (Israel).
Gen 49:23 Now embittering him greatly and hating him my ba’alei husband/lord, they shot him with arrows:
Again, the rabbis fall short, arguing over who is more righteous or worthy to be king, Judah or Joseph. They miss the obvious, that the description, while in its plain sense refers to the mistreatment of Joseph, is none the less prophetic of the Messiah (Shiloh), to Whom the previous verse attaches itself.
“Then I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication, when they will look toward Me whom they pierced. They will mourn for Him as one mourns for an only son and grieve bitterly for Him, as one grieves for a firstborn.” –Zechariah 12:10 (cf. John 19:34, 37; Rev. 1:7) [TLV]
Gen 49:24 But his bow dwells in strength, and supple arms, hands made strong from the hand of the Mighty One of Yaakov (Follower); from there the Shepherd, the e’ven Stone of Yisrael (Overcomes in God):
The unusual and prophetic names of God in this passage prompt the question, “If these names have not been prolifically used prior to this, why are they now employed?” God is called 1.) Mighty One of Jacob (Follower) 2.) The Shepherd 3.) The Stone. In fact The Stone can only refer to the stone of the altar of Isaac, the stone of the Temple Mount, of Zion, of the Hill, the foundation stone through which Jewish tradition says all things were created, the stone and foundation of the Temple, of Har-Beit (Mountain House). Again, this is not in reference to Joseph but in reference to the One for Whom Joseph is a pre-figure. That is, Shiloh, the Messiah.
In the plain sense this verse is speaking of the deliverance of Joseph and the subsequent deliverance of Israel. It speaks of the Shepherd of Israel, HaShem and the firm foundation that He has provided for the sons of Jacob through Joseph. At the same time it continues the story of the coming Messiah (Shiloh), Who, after being pierced, will be strengthened again by the hand of God and will become the foundation stone of Israel’s eternal security, shepherding her throughout the ages.
“Therefore thus says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) Elohim (God: Judge):
‘Now, I am laying in Tziyon a stone,
a tested stone,
a costly cornerstone, a firm foundation--
whoever trusts will not flee in haste.” –Isaiah 28:16 (ref. 1 Corinthians 3)
The Hebrew “e’ven” translated “stone” can be seen as a contraction of the words “Av” (Father) and “Ben” (Son). In the plain sense the father is Jacob and the son is Joseph, but in the metaphysical sense the Father is HaShem and the Son is the coming Messiah Shiloh (Yeshua).
Gen 49:25 From El God (Judge) of your father (Jacob), and your helper; and the Shaddai All Sufficient Protector (Almighty), Who will bless you, from the heavens will come blessings, blessings of the deep that lie under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb: Gen 49:26 The blessings of your father have prevailed above the blessings of those who conceived me, to the boundary limit of the hill everlasting: they shall be on the head of Yosef (YHVH: Mercy adds), and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brothers.
Once again the blessing is filled with descriptive names of God: 1.) The Judge 2.) The Helper 3.) All Sufficient Protector, the Almighty 4.) The One Who blesses [In fact, all blessing comes from God].
Once again Zion’s hill is spoken of. In fact it can be no other hill because the hill in question is called “Olam” meaning “eternal, everlasting”.
It is not Jacob who blesses, it is God, the Judge, the Helper, the All Sufficient Protector. He is bringing blessing upon Joseph that alludes to Shiloh, the Messiah. Eternal blessing that could not apply to Joseph alone. A form of blessing which is over Jacob and will prevail as an over those blessings given to his parents. Greater blessing means the greater outworking of the blessings placed upon Abraham and Isaac. Blessing from the heavens, meaning God will come down (Messiah). Blessing from below, meaning that the Messiah will rise from sheol (Holding place of the dead). Blessing from the breast and womb, which refers to disciples feeding at the breast of Messiah, who will be born at Israel’s breast Miriam (Mary: rebellion).
Of the plain meaning we read that Joseph, who was separated from his family temporarily will be crowned with blessing. Of the remez (hint) we read that Shiloh (The Messiah) will be separate from His brothers temporarily (Dead for three days and three nights like Jonah), He will be unique in all Israel, crowned before He descends from God and crowned with blessing and with the k’vod HaShem glory of God (Mercy) when He ascends to be seated at God’s right hand. Speaking of the right hand…
Gen 49:27 Benyamin (Son of my right hand) shall ravage as a wolf: in the morning he will devour the prey, and at night he will divide the spoil.”
It is true that the descendants of Benjamin became known for their fierce wolf like warrior nature, as recorded in the affair of the concubine at Gibeah (Judges 19-20). King Saul of Benjamin was also like a wolf, defeating Moab, Edom and Philistia.
The morning is said to refer to the rise of Saul as Israel’s first human king, and the night is said to refer to the overcoming of Mordechai and Esther (Both of Benjamin) and the dividing of the spoils of their enemies (Israel’s enemies)[Esther 8:7].
Gen 49:28 All these are the twelve tribes of Yisrael: and this is what their father spoke to them, and blessed them; every one according to his blessing he blessed them.
“Everyone according to his blessing” again affirms the core doctrine that teaches all blessing comes from God and is the speaking into time of that which God has already seen fulfilled outside of time and space.
Gen 49:29 And he charged them, and said to them, “I am to be gathered to my people: inter me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron (Fawn like) the Chiti (Descendant of Chet [terror]), Gen 49:30 In the cave that is in the field of Machpelah (Double portion), which is before Mamre (Strength, fatness, abundance), in the land of K’naan (Lowland, humility), which Avraham (Father of many peoples) purchased along with the field of Ephron the Chiti (terrorist) for a possession of a place for interment. Gen 49:31 There they interred Avraham and Sarah (Princess, queen) his wife; there they interred Yitzchaak (He laughs) and Rivkah (Fetching beauty) his wife; and there I interred Leah (weary). Gen 49:32 The purchase of the field and of the cave that is there was from the children of Chet (Terror).
The Torah affirms yet again the legal purchase of the land surrounding Hebron and the cave therein. Despite the revisionist history of the enemies of Israel, there can be no argument, Hebron was, is and will always be a Jewish holy site.
This is Jacob’s final request. He has already obligated Joseph through an oath, now he also commands Joseph’s brothers. Jacob’s interment at Hebron is not merely a dying man’s selfish demand, to the contrary, Jacob knows that his interment there will become a physical manifestation of the divine promise to bring all Israel into that Promised Land. By instructing all his sons to honour his wish, he is laying a foundation of hope, not only in the physical promises of God relating to the land of Israel, but also in the eternal hope of the resurrection and the Olam haba (World to come).
Gen 49:33 And when Yaakov (Follower) had made an end of commanding his sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed, and died, and was gathered to his people.
The phrase “He gathered his feet into the bed” concludes Jacob’s last earthly journey, he has entered death well: something he had begun in 48:2. This action is a symbolic representation of the gathering to his people. Just as the feet are drawn from the open air and beneath the covers, so too Jacob will be drawn from this life and beneath the earth into that part of Sheol (Gan Eden) where the righteous dwell.
As I have explained in previous commentary, those who die in Messiah are dead to this temporary world but alive to Messiah in Gan Eden (Paradise). Jacob was gathered to his people. One cannot be gathered to a people who have ceased to exist. Both Judaism and Christianity teach the eternal nature of the human Spirit/Soul. This teaching originates here in the first book of the Torah and not (As so many foolish Christian scholars suggest) post Hellenism.
“But concerning the dead being raised, haven’t you read in the book of Moses about the burning bush? How God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? 27 He’s not the God of the dead, but of the living. You have gone far astray!” –Yeshua Mark 12:26-27 (TLV)
© Yaakov Brown 2017
From all the struggles and victories of Jacob, the writer of the book of Hebrews choses this act as Jacob’s defining faith moment.
“By faithfully trusting Yaakov, as he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Yosef, and he bowed in worship while leaning on the top of his staff.” –Hebrews 11:21
This final faith act of Jacob looks forward to the resurrection and the eternal promises of God.
Gen 48:1 And it came to pass after these ha-d’variym the words (things), that it was said to Yosef (YHVH: Mercy adds), “Hinei Behold now, your father has become weak”: and he (Joseph) took with him his two sons, M’nasheh (Cause to forget) and Ephrayim (Double fruitfulness).
This account comes after the events of the preceding chapter and specifically after the last words spoken in the preceding chapter, which were the unrecorded words of the oath of Joseph concerning his father’s future interment at Hebron.
It’s unlikely as Radak suggests, that the news of Jacob’s illness was delivered by one of Joseph’s brothers because the text says, “your father” and not, “our father”.
It’s important to note that the two sons of Joseph are listed according to their birth order when Joseph takes them to see his father Jacob. This will change when they come into the blessing of God, which will be pronounced over them by Jacob.
Gen 48:2 And it was made known to Yaakov (Follower), and he was told, “Hinei Behold now, your son Yosef (YHVH: Mercy adds) is coming to you”: and Yisrael (Overcome in God) strengthened himself, and sat up on the bed.
It is likely that the same messenger who brought the news to Joseph returned ahead of him to inform Jacob that his son was coming. Given his weak state, the act of sitting up in bed must have required Jacob to summon the last of his strength. So important to him was his role as a Patriarch of the tribes and guardian of the promises of Hashem that he was willing to give all he had to pass on his hope to the next generation. These are the actions of one who has heard from, believed in and set his eyes on HaShem (YHVH: Mercy).
Gen 48:3 And Yaakov (Follower) said to Yosef (YHVH: Mercy adds), “El Shaddai (God Almighty the all sufficient Protector) appeared to me in Luz (Almond tree: Beit-El, House of God) in the land of K’naan (Lowland, humility), and blessed me, Gen 48:4 And said to me, ‘Hin’niy Behold now, I will make you fruitful, and multiply you, and I will make of you a multitude of people; and will give this land to your seed after you for an everlasting possession.’
Using the meanings of the names in the text we can read an allegory as follows:
“The follower said to the one who adds mercy, ‘The All Sufficient Protector appeared to me in the House of God, when I was in a place of humility. He blessed me and said, “Now, become aware, I will make you fruitful, and multiply you, and I will bring forth from you generation upon generation of children; and will give this land to your seed after you for an eternal possession.”’”
Joseph has come to Israel, but it is Jacob who speaks.
Luz is the old name for Bethel (Genesis 28:19), where God appeared to Jacob as he was going to Padan-aram, and on his return from Padan-aram (Gen. 28:11-13; 35:10-11). It’s not clear which of those times Jacob is referring to. However, both occasions qualify since the same promises were made to him both times.
Gen 48:5 “And now your two sons, Ephrayim (Double fruitfulness) and M’nasheh (Cause to forget), which were born to you in the land of Mitzrayim Egypt (Double straits) before I came to you in Mitzrayim Egypt, are mine; as Ruvein (Behold a son) and Shimeon (Heard), they shall be mine.
Jacob changes the birth order of the sons here. He has just finished speaking of HaShem’s blessing of fruitfulness, thus it makes sense that he would name Ephrayim, the doubly fruitful one, first.
Jacob qualifies his meaning by comparing Ephraim and Manasseh to his sons Reuben and Simeon (His eldest sons). This shows that he intends for Joseph’s sons to be named as tribes of Israel in their own right and to inherit equal shares of the Promised Land.
The last phrase concerning Reuben and Simeon seems to imply that they will lose their position as first and second born to Ephraim and Manasseh. This may be as a result of Jacob’s disappointment with their past actions (Gen. 34:30; 35:22; 49:3-7; 1 Chron. 5:1).
Joseph’s sons would have been approximately twenty years of age or more. We know this because Jacob had been in Egypt seventeen years, and had come there after two years of famine, and Joseph's sons were born to him before the famine began (Gen. 41:50).
Gen 48:6 And your progeny, which you produce after them, shall be yours, and shall be called after the name of their brothers in their inheritance.
Simply put, if sons or daughters are born to Joseph after Ephraim and Manasseh, those children will find their inheritance in the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh.
Gen 48:7 And as for me, when I came from Padan (Field of exaltation) Rachel (Ewe) died by me in the land of K’naan on the way, not far from Ephratah (Place of fruitfulness): and I interred her there on the way to Ephratah (Place of fruitfulness); also called Beit-lechem (House of bread/food).”
Jacob explains that he had felt that his fruitfulness in Rachel had been cut short. This is one of the reasons for the hope he sees in Ephraim, whose name literally means “Double fruitfulness”. This moment of sorrowful reflection concerning Jacob’s troubled journey toward fruitfulness ends with the naming of the town from which Israel’s Messiah will come forth. Bethlehem, the house of bread, food, provision.
Gen 48:8 And Yisrael (Overcome in God) beheld Yosef’s (YHVH: Mercy adds) sons, and said, “Who are these?”
This question of Jacob connects the blessing of Ephraim and Manasseh to his own experience of blessing at the hand of his elderly father (Gen. 25:22-33; 27:1-45).
Gen 48:9 And Yosef said to his father, “They are my sons, whom Elohiym (God: Judge) has given me in this place.” And he (Jacob) said, “Bring them, I plead with you, to me, and I will bless them. Gen 48:10 Now the eyes of Yisrael were dim from age, so that he could not see. And he (Joseph) brought them near to him (Israel); and he (Israel) kissed them, and embraced them. Gen 48:11 And Yisrael said to Yosef, “I had not thought to see your face: and, now, Elohiym (God: Judge) has shown me also your seed.”
By telling the story of Rachel’s death prior to announcing his adoption of Ephraim and Manasseh Jacob connects them to her as sons.
Gen 48:12 And Yosef brought them out from between his (Jacob’s) knees, and he bowed himself with his face to the earth. Gen 48:13 And Yosef took them both, Ephrayim (Double fruitfulness) in his right hand toward Yisrael's left hand, and M’nasheh (Cause to forget) in his left hand toward Yisrael's right hand, and brought them near to him.
Joseph is directing the boys toward Jacob in such a way as to ensure that Manasseh receives the blessing from Jacob’s right hand, the hand that signifies strength and the blessing of the first born.
“R’ David Feinstein observes, by placing Ephraim on his own right hand, Joseph unwittingly affirmed Ephraim’s supremacy” – Art Scroll Chumash Commentary
Gen 48:14 And Yisrael stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephrayim’s (Double fruitfulness) head, who was the younger, and his left hand upon M’nasheh (Cause to forget) head, guiding his hands intentionally; for M’nasheh was the firstborn.
Jacob trusted the promises of Hashem and the ultimate outcome of those promises. Thus it is Fruitfulness that he seeks out as head over the brothers. Forgetfulness will come too often to Israel in the days ahead. Jacob wants Israel to look forward to the goal of her worship, for only then can she truly forget her suffering.
Gen 48:15 And he (Jacob) blessed Yosef, and said, “Ha-Elohiym the God (Judge), before whose face my fathers Avraham (Father of many peoples) and Yitzchaak (He laughs) walked, Ha-Elohiym the God (Judge) ha-roeh who tended (as a shepherd) me continually throughout my life up to this day,
Jacob names God for His awesome Judgement (Elohiym) and for His intimate relationship (Before the face), and subsequently identifies the terrifying Judge as a loving Shepherd Who ha-roeh, tends, shepherds the flock. The intrinsic link between the practical shepherding role of Israel and the spiritual Shepherd of Israel is an essential part of her discipleship.
Jacob has identified God as:
Gen 48:16 Ha-Malakh ha-goel the Messenger Who redeemed me from all ra evil, bless the youths; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Avraham (Father of many peoples) and Yitzchaak (He laughs); v’yid’gu larov and may they proliferate into a multitude like fish, in the midst of the earth.
The first part of verse 16 literally reads, “The Messenger the Redeemer of me from all evil.”
Joseph’s name is used here as a collective noun that combines Ephraim and Manasseh. It is used in a similar way in 1 Chronicles 5:2. The Blessing that Ephraim and Manasseh will receive is imparted to them through their father.
Jacob has again acknowledged God in three distinct ways:
It is clear from Jacob’s words that the God who tended him continually and the Messenger (Angel) Who redeemed him, are one in the same.
Jacob says, “and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Avraham and Yitzchaak…” because he is calling Ephraim and Manasseh the new heads of the tribes in the sense that they will take over the roles that Reuben and Simeon have failed to uphold.
With regard to the naming of the tribes following this blessing, some lists include Joseph and the clerical tribe of Levi (Deut. 27:12-13), while others omit Levi and divide Joseph into the two tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh (Numbers 1:5-15).
Gen 48:17 And when Yosef saw that his father laid his right hand upon the head of Ephrayim (Double fruitfulness), it displeased him: and he held up his father's hand, to remove it from Ephrayim’s (Double fruitfulness) head and move it to M’nasheh’s (Cause to forget) head. Gen 48:18 And Yosef said to his father, “Not so, my father: for this is the firstborn; put your right hand upon his head.” Gen 48:19 And his father refused, and said, “I know, my son, I know: he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations.”
Prophetically speaking it is better that Israel become doubly fruitful rather than forgetful. It is only when Israel remembers that which she has been delivered from that she returns to HaShem in humility and repentance.
Joseph thought that his father, who was weak sighted, must have made an unintentional mistake in placing his right hand on Ephraim. Jacob gently assures him that he knows what he’s doing. He says this twice to affirm the establishment of God’s will to bless Ephraim as the greater of the two brothers.
Ephraim was 8300 men greater than Manasseh when Israel came out of Egypt (Numbers 1:23) and lead the tribes of Israel during the reign of Jeroboam. Joshua, the successor to Moses was of the tribe of Ephraim and Samuel the prophet (a Levite via Kohath) was from the tribal land of Ephraim. Ephraim eventually became an alternate name for the northern kingdom (Hosea 5:3, Isaiah 7:1-17).
Gen 48:20 And he (Jacob) blessed them that day, saying, “In you shall Yisrael (Overcome in God) bless, saying, ‘Elohiym God make you as Ephrayim (Double fruitfulness) and as M’nasheh (Cause to forget)’”: and he set Ephrayim before M’nasheh.
The traditional Jewish blessing of the children every yom shishi (Friday evening) is based on the Targum which says, “This custom continues with the Jews to this day, to place their hands on persons to bless them; if a son, they say, ‘God make you as Ephraim and Manasseh;’ if a daughter, ’God make you as Sarah and Rebekah:’”
One of the reasons given in Jewish tradition for the pronouncing of this blessing concerning Ephraim and Manasseh, is because these sons of Joseph maintained their Jewish identity according to their father’s teaching even though they were living in Egypt. Thus Jewish parents throughout the world pray that their children will do likewise.
Gen 48:21 And Yisrael said to Yosef, “Hinei Behold now, I die: but Elohiym God (Judge) shall be with you, and bring you again to the land of your fathers. Gen 48:22 Moreover I have given to you shekhem (portion) one above your brothers, which I took out of the hand of the Amori (Speaker, Sayer of sayings) with my sword and with my bow.”
The Hebrew word for "portion" is "Shekhem", which is understood by some Jewish commentators (Targum Yonatan and Yarchi) to refer to the city of Shekhem. The portion of land being referred to in Jacob’s blessing of Joseph was near to Shekhem, and the city itself, and all the adjacent country, eventually came into the possession of the tribe of Ephraim (Joshua 20:7).
“Jacob and his sons had very grievous war with the Amorites on account of the slaughter and captivity of the Shechemites” –Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 5. 1
However, the taking of the land out of the hand of the Amorites is probably not referring to the taking and plundering of the city of Shekhem by Jacob’s sons Levi and Simeon, because Jacob wasn’t involved and even rebuked them for their actions. Additionally, Shekhem was a Hivite town at the time.
Iben Ezra and Ben Gershom suggest that the past tense “Which I took” is to be understood in a future prophetic sense as referring to Jacob’s progeny, as if he had foreseen that his descendants would take it out of the hands of the Amorites, the most powerful of the Canaanite nations, and then it would be given to Joseph's seed.
In giving Joseph this portion above his brothers, Jacob is effectively offering him the double portion belonging to the first born, that is, the birth right (Deut. 21:17), and hence Joseph's bones were interred in Shekhem, because it had become his own land according to his birth right (Joshua 24:32).
© Yaakov Brown 2017
In verse 31, the Septuagint, a Jewish translation of the Hebrew Torah, reads “staff” rather than “bed”, as recorded in the Masoretic Hebrew text of the Torah. There is no need to argue over which is correct. Both are correct. His staff was at the head of his bed, thus he bowed on the staff and at the head of the bed.
Gen 47:1 Then Yosef (YHVH: Mercy adds) came and spoke to Pharaoh (Great House), saying, “My father and my brothers, and their flocks, and their herds, and all that they have, have come out of the land of K’naan (Lowland, humility); and, hinei behold, they are in the land of Goshen (Draw Near). Gen 47:2 And umik’tzeih from the end, outer edge (cut off) of his brothers he (Yosef) took five men, and yatzigeim established (presented) them lip’neiy before the face of Pharaoh (Great House).
Joseph has carefully orchestrated these events so as to keep his brothers and family separate from the royal court of Egypt and the possibility of assimilation. He has previously placed the idea of Goshen before Pharaoh as a foregone conclusion and Pharaoh is happy to comply with Joseph’s request.
Why only five of his brothers? Some of our Sages suggest that Joseph chose the weakest of the brothers so as to deter Pharaoh from employing them in his court. Others say that he chose the strongest in order to satisfy Pharaoh’s faith in the strength of Joseph and his community, and enlist Joseph’s brothers into the Egyptian military. Five is symbolically seen as half of fullness (10), the first instalment of a work yet to find completion. In a very real sense this is prophetic of what awaits Israel in the years ahead.
It is impossible to know which five brothers were taken before Pharaoh. The Sages’ interpretations range from the weakest to the strongest, and offer various reasons to support their conjectures.
Perhaps the most likely explanation is that Joseph chose brothers from each end of the birth order. This fits with the use of the Hebrew “umik’tzeih” which translates literally as “and from the end”. If this is the correct reading of the Hebrew text then the brothers selected might have included Rueben (Behold a son), Simeon (Heard), Benjamin (Son of my right hand) and Zebulun (Prince, dwelling gloriously, gift), the fifth being either Levi (Joined) or Issachar (reward).
The Targum of Yonatan names the five as, Zebulun, Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher; but Yarchi identifies them as, Reuben, Simeon and Levi, Issachar and Benjamin. Neither list can be considered as anything more than conjecture.
What is clear is that Joseph intended to establish his brothers before Pharaoh as being of great value as herders of Egypt’s animals but of little value to the court of the monarchy and to its military. It seems that his goal was to keep the sons of Israel set apart, in order to maintain their culture and more importantly their priestly role before the one true God HaShem, whom they worshipped and represented in the land of idolatry known as Egypt.
Gen 47:3 And Pharaoh said to his (Yosef’s) brothers, “What is your occupation? And they replied to Pharaoh, Your servants are shepherds, both we, and also our fathers.
As discussed in my commentary on the previous chapter, the role of shepherding was both a practical and spiritual role for the Patriarchs and the tribes of Israel. The Pharaoh in question may be one of the Hyksos kings and is therefore interested in the occupation and lineage of this people who have come from the same region as his descendants, who had invaded Egypt many years prior. If on the other hand he is not a Hyksos ruler and these events are taking place at a later date in History, his question is simply a means by which he can assess how the brothers of Joseph might enhance his rule and the betterment of Egypt.
Gen 47:4 They also said to Pharaoh, “It is in order to sojourn (dwell temporarily) in the land that we have come; for your servants have no pasture for their flocks; for the famine/hunger is severe in the land of K’naan (Humility): now therefore, we plead with you, let your servants dwell in the land of Goshen (Draw near).
All this was said to Pharaoh according to the instructions Joseph had given his brothers. What stands out in respect to Israel’s greater story, is the fact that the brothers said, “It is in order to sojourn (dwell temporarily) in the land that we have come.” It’s clear that the entire family of Jacob understood the promises of God concerning Israel and the importance of looking forward to that day when they would leave Egypt and return to the Land of K’naan, which would make up part of the greater area of land promised to Israel. To sojourn is to dwell temporarily, working and living until the time comes to move on to the goal of one’s journey. All who follow Messiah Yeshua are sojourners, awaiting His return and the goal of our journey, to live eternally with Him in the promised Olam Haba (World to come).
It’s important to note that Joseph’s brothers offer no real threat to the security of Egypt as herders of animals, an occupation reserved for the lower classes and or slaves. Therefore, part of the reason for Joseph’s instructions is to ensure that neither his brothers nor his father appear arrogant or entitled before Pharaoh.
Gen 47:5 And Pharaoh (Great House) spoke to Yosef (YHVH: Mercy adds), saying, “Your father and your brothers have come to you (singular): Gen 47:6 The land of Mitzrayim (Double straits/distress) Egypt is before your face (singular); in the best of the land make your father and brothers to dwell; in the land of Goshen (Draw near) let them dwell: and if you know of any men of strength among them, then make them shari my princes over my cattle.”
Pharaoh speaks directly to Joseph using the singular “you” and insists that it is Joseph before whom the entire land of Egypt lies. Joseph has shown great respect to Pharaoh in coming to him before allowing his family to make camp in Goshen. Pharaoh continues to trust Joseph’s judgement in all matters and thus he effectively gives the decision back into Joseph’s hands, saying, “Let them dwell”, meaning, ‘Let them dwell where you’ve suggested”. Finally Pharaoh, having seen the prosperity brought about through Joseph’s leadership, requests that he select the strongest of his brothers to care for his herds. This of course gives some credence to the suggestion that Joseph had brought the weaker looking of the brothers before Pharaoh.
Gen 47:7 And Yosef (YHVH: Mercy adds) brought in Yaakov (Follows after the heel) his father, and stood him before the face of Pharaoh (Great House), and Yaakov y’vareikh blessed Pharaoh.
What we are reading about here is the meeting of two kings. The king of the people of HaShem (A spiritual king), and the king of a world power.
Hebrews 6:16 reminds us that human beings always swear by one greater than themselves. In the case of the servants of HaShem, that greater One by Whom we swear is God Himself. It is also true that because the Hebrew view understands all blessing to come from God, the person who blesses is always blessing by One greater than himself. In fact, with regard to the Patriarchs and their interactions with other rulers, it can be said that the greater blesses the lesser. In the present case Jacob blesses Pharaoh, there is no mention of Pharaoh blessing Jacob. From the Torah’s perspective Jacob, the servant of God is greater than Pharaoh (Great House). This is why nothing is said of Pharaoh blessing Jacob. God has and will continue to bless Jacob, and through Jacob God pronounces blessing on Pharaoh, for as long as he cares for, protects and facilitates the prosperity of Jacob/Israel.
Gen 47:8 And Pharaoh said unto Yaakov, How old are you?
This question of Pharaoh seems unusual. What might have prompted Pharaoh to ask this?
It seems that in the plain sense Pharaoh is struck by the ancient features of Jacob’s face and his frailty. Though, given what he already knows of Joseph’s father, the opposite may be true. He may be impressed at how fit Jacob looks for a person whom Pharaoh suspects of being much older than himself. It’s possible that Egyptians were not accustomed to seeing people who had lived as long as Jacob had, and that Pharaoh was astounded by Jacob’s obvious old age and wondered how it was possible? Thus he wanted to verify Jacob’s age.
Gen 47:9 And Yaakov said unto Pharaoh, “The days of the years of my pilgrimage are one hundred and thirty years: few and raiym (full of) evils have the days of the years of my life been, and my days are not as many as the days of the years of the lives of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage.
We know that Jacob dies at the age of 147 years (47:28). Therefore, he spends two seventeen year periods with Joseph: Joseph’s first 17 years and Jacob’s last seventeen years. 17 is the sum of the two numbers of completion and wholeness. 7 is connected to the created order and its completion, while also being representative of the sevenfold Spirit of HaShem and the emanations of His character. Thus 7 is symbolic of spiritual completion, wholeness, fulfilment. 10 is also a number of completion and wholeness, and seems to have the role of symbolizing the earthly fulfilments of the heavenly will. In simple terms HaShem has shown Jacob the end from the beginning and is now showing him the beginning from the end. He has lived to see part of the promise fulfilled and will now begin a new journey in Hashem, the journey into Gan Eden (Paradise). Though Jacob’s days have been full of troubles, he has none the less seen the faithfulness of HaShem manifest throughout his days on earth as a sojourner/pilgrim.
The root for the Hebrew “guray” meaning pilgrimage or sojourn, is “geir”. Thus, in modern terms Jacob was saying, ‘I’ve been living as an immigrant, a geir (alien/stranger) for 130 years”.
Both Rashbam and Rambam read raiym (evils) as “travails”. In this context the Hebrew raiym can denote trouble.
“Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.” –Job 14:1
Gen 47:10 And Yaakov (YHVH: Mercy adds) y’varekh blessed Pharaoh (Great House) and went out from before Pharaoh.
Once again Jacob (representing HaShem) blesses Pharaoh. Both these blessings are conditional on Pharaoh’s right treatment of Israel. The Torah has already established that God will bless those who bless Abraham’s descendants and curse those who curse them (Gen. 12:3; 22:18; 26:4; 28:14; 30:27-30; 39:5, 23).
Gen 47:11 And Yosef (YHVH: Mercy adds) settled his father and his brothers, and gave them a possession in the land of Mitzrayim Egypt, in the best part of the land, in the land of Rameses (Child of the Sun), as Pharaoh had commanded.
“The land of Rameses” is the later name, that is, the name used during Moses lifetime, for the region of Goshen (Exodus 1:11).
Gen 47:12 And Yosef nourished his father, and his brothers, and all his father's household, with bread, according to the mouths of their children.
“According to the mouths of their children” is an idiom that means each family was given the appropriate amount of supplies for the number of people in the family. The same principle is applied during the collection of manna many years later, following the exodus.
Gen 47:13 And there was no bread (food) in all the land; for the famine/hunger caused great fainting, so that the land (& those in it) of Mitzrayim Egypt and all the land of K’naan (Lowland) fainted before the face of the famine/hunger.
A stark contrast is shown between the care and provisioning of Israel and the general state of the common people of Egypt and K’naan. The “fainting” described is the natural result of low blood sugar and dehydration and is a metaphorically allusion to despair. The famine made things especially difficult during the extremely hot conditions of the summer months.
Gen 47:14 And Yosef (YHVH: Mercy adds) gathered up all the silver that was found in the land of Mitzrayim Egypt, and in the land of K’naan, (as the price) for the grain which they (the people of Egypt and K’naan) bought: and Yosef brought the silver into Pharaoh's house.
Although Joseph had authority over all these things he showed his great integrity by making himself fiscally accountable to Pharaoh.
Gen 47:15 And when the silver ran out in the land of Mitzrayim Egypt, and in the land of K’naan, all the Mitzrayim Egyptians came to Yosef (YHVH: Mercy adds), and said, “Give us bread (food): for why should we die in front of you? Now that the silver is gone. Gen 47:16 And Yosef said, “Give your cattle; and I will give you food in exchange for your cattle, if the silver is gone.” Gen 47:17 And they brought their cattle to Yosef: and Yosef gave them bread (food) in exchange for horses, and for the flocks, and for the cattle of the herds, and for the asses: and he fed them with bread for all their cattle for that year.
We note that it is “bread/food” that is given rather than grain. These events must be taking place in the latter part of the fifth year or the beginning of the sixth year of the famine/hunger, since we read of a second or following year, when seed rather than bread was given to them for the purpose of sowing the land. This means the drought was coming to an end, making the second of these two years the seventh and final year of the famine.
Gen 47:18 When that year was ended, they came to him again the second year, and said to him, “We can’t hide it from my lord, our silver is spent; my lord also has our herds of cattle; there nothing left in the sight of my lord, but our bodies, and our lands: Gen 47:19 As a result, should we die before your eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land for bread (food), and we and our land will be servants to Pharaoh: and give us seed, that we may live, and not die, and so that the land will not be desolate.
In the ancient world it was common for people devoid of any other means of payment to offer their liberty as payment and become indentured servants to those from whom they purchased goods. The irony of the enslavement of the common people of Egypt is not lost on the Hebrew writer of this text. Moses is recording these words in retrospect at Sinai and must surely see the rhythms of God at work as he collates the oral and revealed history and laws of Israel.
Gen 47:20 And Yosef bought all the land of Mitzrayim Egypt for Pharaoh; for every Mitzrayim Egyptian sold his field, because the famine/hunger prevailed over them: so the land became Pharaoh's.
It seems unlikely that those in Pharaoh’s court and those of higher social standing were required to sell their freedom. Along with the priests, the elite were probably exempt due to the stipends they received from Pharaoh.
Gen 47:21 And as for the people, he removed them to cities from one end of the borders of Mitzrayim Egypt even to the other end.
This was probably done in order to sever generational ties to those parts of the land that had been sold. Thus those who had sold ancestral lands in one location were moved to another so that they would not become reattached to the idea of owning what they might later consider to be their rightful possession. That is, the land they had sold.
Gen 47:22 Only the adamat ground of ha-coheniym the priests was not purchased; for the priests had a portion assigned them by Pharaoh, and ate their portion of food which Pharaoh gave them: this is why they didn’t sell their ad’maat ground.
The priests of Egypt received their stipend in much the same way as the priests of Israel would one day receive their living from the people for the service offered before HaShem.
It’s interesting to note that if it is the case that only the priests of Egypt were in this privileged position, then one might consider the people of Israel, who were also allowed to maintain their land in Goshen (and buy more land) and received a regular allotment of food from Joseph, to be a nation of priests. In fact, this has been the case since the first priest Abraham chose to lead his children in the paths of Hashem, and is still the case today.
“’So as for you, you will be to Me a kingdom of kohaniym and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you are to speak to Bnei-Yisrael (Children of Israel).” –Exodus 19:6
Gen 47:23 Then Yosef said to the people, “Behold, I have bought you this day and your land for Pharaoh: so, here is seed for you, and you shall sow the land.
This happened in the last year of the famine, or else sowing seed would have been pointless.
Gen 47:24 And it shall come to pass in the increase, that you shall give a fifth to Pharaoh, and four fifths shall be your own, for seed of the field, and for your food, and for those of your households, and for food for your little ones. Gen 47:25 And they said, “You have saved our lives: let us find grace in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh's servants.” Gen 47:26 And Yosef made it a law over the land of Egypt unto this day, that Pharaoh should receive a fifth; with the exception of the land of the priests, which didn’t become Pharaoh's.
Joseph acts generously in Pharaoh’s name. The land owner (Pharaoh) was entitled to take the majority of the land’s produce. Another ruler of the period might have taken four fifths of the produce and left those who worked the land with only a fifth from which to divide up food and seed for replanting. What Joseph agrees to is the opposite of this. Pharaoh will take the lesser portion and the greater portion will remain in the hands of the farmers. This is why the people respond by saying, “You have saved us”. They gladly offer themselves in service of a ruler who will deal with them righteously.
There is a wonderful foreshadowing of the Messiah and His kingdom in this interaction. The Olam Haba (World to come), will be a kingdom owned entirely by the most generous King of all time, God Himself. Those who sell all they have to become His servants in this life are delighted to receive the generous portion of eternal life that God affords those who work in His harvest field. He gives enough for our needs and overflows our cup that we might bless others. When His Son Yeshua (Joseph being the type for Messiah) offers us the opportunity to be set free from certain death in the famine and hunger of this sin affected world, we gladly give up that which we cannot hold on to for that which we will never lose.
The fifth given to Pharaoh, even up until the day of the writing down of the Torah, is symbolic of Egypt’s failure to be complete in its spiritual journey. The tithe of Abraham and subsequently of the priesthood, is a lesser portion practically speaking (A fifth is greater than a tenth), but a greater portion spiritually speaking.
Gen 47:27 And Yisrael (Overcomes in God) dwelt in the land of Mitzrayim Egypt, in the country of Goshen (Draw near); and they acquired property in it, and grew, and multiplied exceedingly.
The priests of Egypt maintained their property, but the priestly nation of Israel extended their land holdings. Israel the man, and “they”, Israel the people, dwelt in Egypt and prospered.
Vayechiy (And He lived)
This parashat is distinct in that unlike others, there is no gap in the Torah text to indicate its division. It may seem ironic that the portion that describes Jacob’s death should be headed “And he lived”. However, this is exactly the right way to describe the deaths of the children of God. As Yeshua has said, “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob: He is not the God of the dead but of the living!” (Matthew 22:32). For Jacob, now Israel, death is the doorway to the Messiah and Gan Eden (Paradise), and subsequently “He lives, eternally”.
Gen 47:28 And Yaakov (Follows after the heel) lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years: so the total number of Yaakov’s years was one hundred forty seven.
Yaakov the follower, the pilgrim, completes his earthly journey with the knowledge that as Yisrael the overcomer he will enter into Gan Eden (Paradise, Abraham’s bosom).
Gen 47:29 And the time drew nigh that Yisrael (Overcome in God) must die: and he called his son Yosef (YHVH: Mercy adds) and said to him, “If now I have found grace in your sight, I plead with you, put your hand under my thigh, and deal kindly and truly with me; I plead with you, do not inter me in Egypt:
Israel, who has overcome in God now calls upon HaShem Who adds mercy, asking for confirmation of the hope he has held in his heart for so many years. He asks to be interred above ground (not buried).
The act of placing the hand under the thigh next to the male sexual organ is symbolic of an oath which binds one to the generations past and future (Gen 24:2). In effect, Joseph is making an oath that will also be incumbent on his progeny. This is why all of Jacob’s sons go up to inter him at Machpelah in Hebron (Gen. 50:8, 12-13).
Gen 47:30 But I will lie with my fathers, and you shall carry me out of Mitzrayim Egypt (Double straits, distress), and inter me in their place of interment.” And he (Joseph) said, “I will do as you have said”. Gen 47:31 And he (Jacob) said, “Swear to me.” And he (Joseph) swore to him. And Yisrael prostrated himself toward the head of the bed (bowed himself on the head of his staff).
“In trusting Yaakov (follower), as he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and he bowed in worship while leaning on the top of his staff.” –Hebrews 11:21
In verse 31, the Septuagint, a Jewish translation of the Hebrew Torah, reads “staff” rather than “bed”, as recorded in the Masoretic Hebrew text of the Torah.
There is no need to argue over which is correct. Both are correct. His staff was at the head of his bed, thus he bowed on the staff and at the head of the bed.
With this established we are free to expound the meaning of the head of the bed and the bedrock of the staff, both being significant symbols.
The second of Joseph’s dreams has not yet been fulfilled to completion. His brothers have bowed down to him but his father has not. As Jacob seeks Joseph’s oath, Joseph stands close to the top of his bed. After making the oath upon Jacob’s thigh, Jacob bows to Joseph at the head of his bed and upon his staff. Thus he completes that part of Joseph’s second dream that can be completed and leaves the final fulfilment of it (When both Jacob and Rachel will bow to the Messiah ben Joseph [Yeshua]) until that great day when the Messiah returns and the dead rise.
The head of the bed is the chief place of rest and denotes a final transition of peace. Jacob is bowing to HaShem in the knowledge of his son’s oath, assured that he will be interred in the cave of Machpelah in Hebron (Gen. 23:9-19; 25:9; 49:30; 50:13), along with his forefathers, there to await the resurrection and the life everlasting in the land promised to him by HaShem.
The staff is a sign of Jacob’s authority over all his sons, the tribes of Israel. This is why the name Israel is used in verse 29 prior to the oath and prior to his bowing to Joseph at the head of his bed and upon the staff. This staff of authority is being passed on, not to Judah, but to Joseph, from whom the sons of promise (Ephraim and Menashe) have come forth. This staff is given to Joseph in a figurative representation of the future Messiah, Who will rule over all the tribes of Jacob/Israel, and indeed, over all nations.
“ So Yaakov’s sons did for him just as he commanded them. His sons carried him to the land of K’naan and interred him in the cave of the field of Machpelah, the field that Avraham bought as a property for burial from Ephron the Chitti, next to Mamre.” –Genesis 50:12-13
© Yaakov Brown 2017
Those who fear God need not be afraid of Him.
46:1 So Yisrael (Overcomes in God) set out, along with everything that belonged to him. When he came to Beer-sheva (Well of sevens/oath), he va’izbach slaughtered animals z’bachiym as blood sacrifices lei’eloheiy to the God of his father Yitzchak (He laughs).
It’s Yisrael (Overcomes in God) who sets out, certain of his corporate identity. Upon Yisrael’s (Both the man and the nation) arrival at Beer-Sheva sacrifices are made for both the nation and the man. However, it is Yaakov (the follower), father of the tribes, who needs to be encouraged by HaShem.
Abraham had made an agreement at Beer-Sheva with Avimelech, planting trees to confirm the location’s importance and give shade to future generations (Gen. 21:22-34), and Yitzchak had previously offered sacrifices at Beer-Sheva (Gen. 26:23-33). It was on his way to Charan just after leaving Beer-Sheva, that Jacob had his dream of the stairway to the heavens (Gen. 28:10-16).
Israel’s sacrificing here a symbol of his intrinsic connection to both his forebears and the land. Beer-sheva was considered to be at the southern border of K’naan and was therefore the last stop before entering into new territory. The well (Beer: mayim chayim waters of living) of complete blessing and promised prosperity (Sheva) is the appropriate place for Jacob/Israel to prepare for his descent into Egypt (Double straits/distress).
It seems clear that Jacob was aware of God’s prophecy to Abram concerning his descendants:
“After these things the word of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) came to Abram (Father of a nation) in a vision saying,
‘Do not fear, Abram.
I am your shield,
your very great reward’…
Then He said to Abram, ‘Know for certain that your seed will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and they will be enslaved and oppressed 400 years. 14 But I am going to judge the nation that they will serve. Afterward they will go out with many possessions.’” –Genesis 15:1, 13-14
Jacob is said to make blood sacrifices (va’izbach z’bachiym) to the God of his father Isaac because the Torah is making clear the generational connection to the promises of God concerning the Land of Israel. The God of Isaac is also named because He has been identified previously as the “Terror/Dread/Awe of Isaac”. It is this fearful and awe inspiring description of God that will accompany Israel on his (their) journey. Yes, Jacob is leaving the land of his fathers, but only for a time. According to the promise of HaShem he will return (Gen. 15:13-14).
It is a great tragedy that even some of the best English translations mislead the reader (be it intentionally or not) by rendering the Hebrew “va’izbach z’bachiym” as “and offered sacrifices”. The Hebrew zabach, meaning to slaughter, is the root of the Hebrew word mizbeiach (altar) and is employed twice in succession here in reference to the act of slauhtering. The Hebrew zabach always indicates slaughter except when it is qualified by another term. This is also true of the Hebrew mizbeiach, meaning altar, as in the case of an altar of incense (mizbeiach miktar) etc.
Jacob is not simply offering generic sacrifices, which could take any form including offerings of fruit etc. To the contrary, he literally “Slaughters, slaughterings”. The point is that he understands the need for blood covering for the remission of sin. When this text is rendered properly it also alerts the reader to the fact that Jacob sees a need to humble himself before God and seek forgiveness for sin through blood sacrifice, prior to journeying to Egypt. All of this is missed if we read “offered sacrifices”.
The Hebrew commentator Radak affirms this understanding of va’izbach z’bachiym saying that Yaakov “offered meat offerings at Beer-sheva”. Radak goes on to say that “The sacrifices he offered were intended to restore the Holy Spirit to him (Jacob) which had departed when Joseph had departed from him.” (Radak on Bereishit 46:1:1). Regardless of whether we agree with Radak’s theology, he is clearly inferring that Jacob sees a need for propitiation and blood atonement in order to reconcile his spiritual journey with HaShem and receive the present manifestation of the Ruach Ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit), in Talmudic terms “The Shechinah” (Manifest feminine Spirit of God).
“For the life of the creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your lives—for it is the blood that makes atonement because of the life.” – Vayikra (Leviticus) 17:11 (TLV)
“And nearly everything is purified in blood according to the Torah, and apart from the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” –Hebrews 9:22 (TLV)
2 And speaking, Elohiym (God: Judge) to Yisrael (Overcomes in God) b’mar’ot in visions/mirrors ha-laylah of the night, said, “Yaakov (Follower at the heel), Yaakov (Follower, disciple).”
It’s Elohiym the Judge who speaks because blood sacrifices have been made as a means of atonement. It is the Judge Who judges the covering and forgives the offense.
We could read the allegory “The Judge spoke to the one who overcomes in God through the reflections of the mirrors of night, saying ‘Follow at My heel, follower, and disciple’.”
The Hebrew “marah”, meaning vision or mirror, conveys the idea that the voice of God is reflected in Jacob’s night time experience. There is a sense of the awesome holiness of God and Jacobs inability as a sinful man to look God full in the face. Thus God’s Word is reflected in the visions. Rav Shaul (Paul the Shaliach: sent one) writes the following words to the Corinthian believers:
“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, even as I am fully known.” -1 Corinthians 13:12
The visions of God are mirrors reflecting the light of eternity into our present reality and leading us into futures already held complete in God’s hands. When God speaks we are assured of things unseen and warmed by the reflected light of His glory (k’vod). His present eternity is made real in our fading reality.
Beer-Sheva is the tipping point of trust. Once beyond this point Jacob is fully committed to his course of action. He needs reassurance from HaShem that he is prepared for what lies ahead. Thus HaShem calls to him in order to show Jacob that he is ready and to encourage him in the knowledge that he will not be going alone.
And Yaakov responded, “Hineini,” (Here I am, ready, willing, attentive, I’m standing to attention, I know it’s You, I’ve been prepared before now, I’m obedient, I’m present, No one but You could stop me, I’m certain of Your intentions, I’m afraid but am willing to act on Your instructions regardless).
In Jacob’s response the Sages see the instigation of the Maariv (Evening prayer service).
“Therefore, Yaakov the Patriarch of exile, originated Maariv, to show his children that the exile/night might be the epilogue to one day, but it is prologue to another, even better one” –Meshech Chochmah
Just as his forefathers had done, Jacob offers the contrite and holy response, “Hineini”. I’m utterly laid bare before You HaShem, instruct me, I am willing to go where you lead.
3 And He (God) said, “I am Ha-El the God, Eloheiy God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Mitzrayim (Egypt, double straits/distress), for I will turn you into a great nation there. 4 I Myself will go down with you to Mitzrayim Egypt and I Myself will also bring you up. Yosef (YVHV: Mercy adds) will lay his hands upon your eyes.”
This is God’s only speech in chapters 37-50 and He uses this time to reiterate His promise to Abraham and Isaac (Gen. 12:2-3; 26:2-5). Thus He is assuring Jacob that his leaving the Promised Land does not change the fact that God will honour His commitment to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. “I myself will also bring you up” (v.4). This is a foreshadowing of the future exodus and brings to mind the words of the Passover Haggadah:
“Our father Jacob did not come down to strike roots in Egypt but only to sojourn there.”
Israel is not descending into Egypt in order to be destroyed. Rather he is going down (humbling himself) in order that God might bring him up (redemption). God has already promised Jacob that Israel will become a great nation there (They became 600,000, besides children; Gen. 46:27 Exodus 1:7; 12:37), and that the land of Israel will be kept for the people of Israel in perpetuity. According to the promise of God, Who does not lie.
Yarchi takes the words “I Myself will also bring you up” to be a promise that Jacob will be buried in the land of Canaan, which had its fulfilment, when his corpse was carried out of Egypt to Machpelah, and there interred.
God had previously instructed Isaac not to go down to Egypt during a past famine, waiting instead for the right time in human history (Perhaps corresponding to the latter Hyksos period), when He will seed a great nation in the midst of a great famine.
The Rabbi Sforno writes:
“I am the One Who told your father (Isaac) ‘do not go down to Egypt’ (Gen. 26:2-3), I am also the One Who tells you ‘do not be afraid to go down to Egypt at this time’. The difference is that the time has come. If you were to remain in Canaan at this time, your family would intermarry in short order with the members of the local population, so that they would become assimilated to them and the future of a Jewish nation would be jeopardised. This is something that will not happen in Egypt.” –Sforno on Bereishit (Genesis) 46:3:1
“Lay his hands on your eyes” is an idiomatic expression referring to the act of closing the eyes of one who has died (Ibn Ezra). Both Maimonides and the writers of the Talmud agree that the closing of the eyes of the dead, is among the appropriate rites used towards them (Hilchot Ebel, l. 4. sect. 1; Talmud. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 151. 2.). The use of this expression assures Jacob that the son whom he had once thought dead will outlive him. This strengthens Jacob’s resolve in going down to Egypt.
It’s worth repeating that the God of Isaac, in whose name Jacob has sacrificed, is known as “The Dread/Fear of Isaac”, and yet it is this same God Who commands Isaac’s son Jacob, “Do not be afraid”. What this teaches us is that those who fear God need not be afraid of Him. The title “Dread of Isaac” is intended for those who seek to harm the chosen people of God. The children of HaShem need not be afraid of Him.
5 Then Yaakov (Follower at the heel) arose from Beer-Sheva (Well of seven/oath) and the children of Yisrael (Overcome in El) carried Yaakov their father, their little children, and their wives in the carts that Pharaoh (Great House) had sent to carry him.
It is Jacob the follower who arises to go and the sons of Israel the nation, carry the follower Jacob, the last of the great Patriarchs (Patriarch of Exile), and all his household, down to Egypt.
The current verse shows us that Jacob is to be included in the final sum of 70 recorded at the end of the listing of his household.
It is noteworthy that Jacob's wives aren’t mentioned here, it is likely that they were all now dead; it is certain Rachel was (Gen. 35:19), and it’s likely that Leah died before this time, since Jacob says he buried her himself in Machpelah in Canaan (Gen. 49:31). It’s also very likely that his two concubine wives Bilhah and Zilpah were dead.
6 They also took their livestock and their possessions they had acquired in the land of K’naan (Humility, lowland) and they came to Mitzrayim Egypt, Yaakov (Follower) and all his offspring with him. 7 His sons and his grandsons with him, his daughters and his granddaughters, and all his offspring, he brought with him to Mitzrayim Egypt.
This general accounting of the household of Jacob serves the primary purpose of conveying the fact that all of Jacob’s bloodline are descending to Egypt. This is a defining moment in distinguishing who will become part of the roots of ethnic Israel the nation. Those rabbis who foolishly claim that being Jewish has nothing to do with ethnic lineage are sadly mistaken. Though many will marry into Israel in future times through conversion and devotion to God, the primary bloodline remains as a distinct reminder of the Jewish peoples intrinsic connection to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and to the history recorded in the Torah. Yes, there is a religious component to the identity of the Jewish people, there is also a cultural aspect, but these things do not deny the bloodline at the root of our nation (Where ever we are dispersed). In his excellent book titled Legacy, author Harry Ostrer presents definitive evidence of the common DNA marker present in Jewish people from diverse cultures and locations throughout the world. His science affirms what the Torah teaches, that “the life is in the blood”.
The mention of daughters and granddaughters refers both to those born and to those who are yet to be born in Egypt, and probably includes Sarah the daughter of Asher (Gen. 46:5) We must remember that Moses is writing this down many years later and is including his knowledge of the greater house of Israel in Egypt in order to show that all of Israel both at the time of Jacob’s descent and into the future, are considered to have descended into Mitzrayim (double distress: Egypt). The fact that all the names of daughters/daughters-in-law (Dinah etc. ref. Radak on Gen. 46:7:1) and granddaughters are not included in the following accounting, by no means excludes them from the household. The Torah is conveying the perfect number 70 as symbolizing the completion and prosperity of Israel as a people. This is not intended as a precise genealogical record. This is why there are variant names in other accounts (Num. 26:38-40; 1 Chronicles 7:6; 8:1), where sons are named as grandsons. These grandsons are included here in anticipation of their birth (Hebrews 7:10).
The List of Members of Yaakov’s Household who went down to Egypt
The following list seeks to give an overview of the house of Israel as it enters Egypt. The numbers of people adding up to seventy in total are meant to convey symbolic meaning. Thus the threes indicate the unity of God and revelation, while the number seventy combines the two numbers of wholeness and perfection 10 x 7 = 70.
Ultimately the meaning is that God has brought to wholeness and completion the beginnings of a holy nation whom He will multiply and bless, making them a great nation according to His promise. He also promises to return Israel to the land of promise, making her a light to the nations, who are also represented in the number 70 according to the table of nations recorded in Genesis 10.
This list arranges the family of Jacob according to the order of his wives, first listing the children of Leah and her maid Zilpah and then the children of Rachel and her maid Bilhah.
8 Now these are the names of the b’nai children of Yisrael (Overcome in God) who came to Mitzrayim (Egypt: land of double distress), Yaakov (Follower) and his sons: Yaakov’s firstborn, Reuven (Behold a son), 9 and Reuven’s sons: Chanoch (Dedicated), Palu (distinguished), Chezron (Surrounded by a wall) and Carmi (My vineyard). 10 Shimon’s (heard) sons: Yemuel (Day of God), Yamiyn (Right hand), Ohad (United), Yachiyn (He will establish), Tzochar (Reddish grey: tawny) and Shaul (Desired) the son of the K’naani woman. 11 Levi’s (joined to) sons: Gershon (exile), Kohat (assembly) and Merari (bitter). 12 Yehudah’s (Praise) sons: Er (Awake, watchful), Onan (strong), Shelah (A petition), Peretz (Breach) and Zerah (rising). Er died along with Onan in the land of K’naan. Perez’s (Breach) sons were Chezron (Surrounded by a wall) and Chamul (spared). 13 Yissachar’s (There is recompense/reward) sons: Tola (Worm), Puah (splendid), Yob (persecuted) and Shimron (watch, height, guardian). 14 Zebulun’s (Exalted) sons: Sered (Fear), Elon (Mighty, terebinth) and Yachleel (YHVH Mercy waits). 15 These are Leah’s (Weary) sons whom she bore to Yaakov in Paddan-aram (Field of Aram: exaltation), along with his daughter Dinah (judgement). The tally of all of his sons and daughters was 33 people.
From both the previous verses and from the statement of verse 8 “Yaakov and his sons” we conclude that the number 33 is inclusive of Jacob. In one sense we can understand the tally to mean “The number representing all his sons and daughters was 33”. If we understand the numbers symbolically we are more in tune with the intention of Moses.
16 Gad’s (troop) sons: Tziphion (lookout), Chaggi (My festival), Shuni (rest, providence), Ezbon (Discern in haste), Eri (My watcher), Arodi (I shall roam, subdue) and Areli (My Lion of God). 17 Asher’s (Happy) sons: Yimnah (right hand), Yishvah (He will resemble), Yishvi (He resembles me), Beriyah (with a friend), and Serach (The princes spirit/breath) their sister. Beriyah’s (with a friend) sons: Chever (friend) and Malkiyel (My King is God). 18 These are the sons of Zilpah (A trickling), whom Laban (White) gave to Leah (weary) his daughter. She bore these to Yaakov: 16 people. 19 The sons of Yaakov’s wife Rachel (ewe): Yosef (YHVH Mercy adds) and Benyamin (Son of my right hand). 20 Menashe (Causing to forget) and Ephraim (Doubly fruitful) were born to Yosef in the land of Mitzrayim Egypt--As’nat (Belonging to Neit) the daughter of Potiphera (He whom Ra gave) priest of On (strength) bore them to him. 21 Benyamin’s (Son of my right hand) sons: Bela (destruction), Becher (young camel), Ashbel (Man of God/husband), Gera (a grain), Naaman (pleasantness), Ehi (My brother), Rosh (head), Muppim (Serpent), Huppim (protected) and Ard (I shall subdue). 22 These are Rachel’s sons who were born to Yaakov. The tally of all the people was 14. 23 The sons of Dan (Judge): Chushim (make haste) 24 Naphtali’s (wrestling) sons: Yachtzel (God divides), Guni (My defender), Yetzer (forming, inclination) and Shillem (repaid). 25 These are the sons of Bilhah (troubled) whom Laban (white) gave to Rachel (ewe) his daughter and she bore these to Yaakov. The tally of all the people was seven. 26 All the people belonging to Yaakov who came to Mitzrayim Egypt—those coming from his loins (not counting the wives of Yaakov’s sons)—the tally of all the people was 66.
In order to reach the total of 66, Dinah must be added (v.15) making 71 and 5 names subtracted: Er and Onan (buried in K’naan), Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh, who are already in Egypt. Thus we reach the number of descendants traveling with him, which is 66. The following verse then adds Joseph and his sons to equal 69, plus Jacob, the sum being seventy.
27 The sons of Yosef who were born to him in Mitzrayim Egypt was a tally of two people. The tally of all the people belonging to Yaakov’s house who came to Mitzrayim Egypt was 70.
The Daat Zkenim romantically suggests that it is God Who makes up the 70th person of Jacob’s household, saying that though 70 are said to descend only 69 are mentioned. However, this is easily explained with the inclusion of Jacob and the fact that while Jacob may be a member of God’s household, God is not a member of Jacob’s household (With the exception of course of Yeshua [God with us] the King Messiah).
28 Now he sent Yehudah (Praise) before him to Yosef (YHVH: Mercy adds) in order to direct his face to Goshen (Drawing near).
The plan meaning shows Judah’s role as King of the tribes. He is going ahead to make preparations for Israel’s settlement in Goshen.
The follower sent praise before him to the one who adds mercy in order to guide his face to draw near.
There is a beautiful allegory here. Judah (Praise), the father of the tribe that later brings us the King Messiah, goes before Israel into the land of Egypt, a land that will become synonymous with slavery, bondage and death. Thus we are shown a picture of our Messiah entering this fallen, death affected world, in order to bring us to a place of drawing near to God (Goshen).
When they came to the land of Goshen (Drawing near), 29 Yosef (YHVH: Mercy adds) harnessed his chariot and went up to Goshen to meet his father Yisrael. As soon as he appeared before him, he fell upon his neck, and wept on his neck for some time.
The plain meaning is clear, Joseph had longed for this day of reconciliation and is utterly overwhelmed. Tears of grief over years lost mix with tears of joy at seeing his aged father.
The sages say that Jacob recited the Shema (Deut. 6:4) at this moment (Rashi). The reciting of the Shema is an acknowledgement of God’s sovereignty. This is why Jacob is said to have chanted the famous prayer upon seeing his beloved son Joseph (Aryeh). Jacob finally realizes what he has always believed, that God is in control of all things.
Rambam suggests that the verb “wept” applies to Jacob rather than Joseph, who is the antecedent to the preceding pronoun eilayu (toward him). If this is correct we would read “And he (Jacob) fell on (Joseph’s) neck and he (Jacob) wept.”
30 Then Yisrael (Overcomes in God) said to Yosef (YHVH: Mercy adds), “At this time I am ready to die, after seeing your face in person—for you’re still alive!”
For years Jacob has been mourning his son Joseph in bitter depression and has been focussed on his own mortality in light of the loss of his favoured son. Now his talk of death takes on new meaning. Rather than dying in the bitterness of grief and loss, unwilling to go on in life, he instead looks forward to dying in the knowledge of God’s faithfulness, due to having seen his beloved son alive, Jacob himself is reborn.
31 Then Yosef said to his brothers and to his father’s household, “I’ll go up and tell Pharaoh (Great house), and say to him, ‘My brothers and my father’s household who were in the land of K’anaan have come to me. 32 The men are shepherds, for they’ve been men who handle livestock, who have brought their flocks and cattle and everything that they possess.’ 33 So when Pharaoh calls you and says, ‘What is your occupation?’ 34 you must say, ‘Your servants have been men who handle livestock since the time of our youth until now, both we and our fathers,’ so that you can live in the land of Goshen, because every shepherd is loathsome to the Egyptians.”
Joseph seems to be coaching his family on how to ensure that they will receive the fertile land of Goshen and at the same time keep themselves separate from the idolatrous Egyptian culture. Thus he urges them to emphasize the fact that they are shepherds, a profession the animal worshipping Egyptians despised. It is also possible however, that the Egyptians despised foreign shepherds in particular rather than shepherds in general.
By identifying themselves as foreign shepherds they were ensuring their possession of the land of Goshen for their herds and will be kept from future assimilation due to Goshen’s semi isolated location [Goshen was a fertile region in northeast Egypt, east of the Nile delta, which contained the country’s most fertile soil and is called the best of the land (Gen. 47:6)]. This in turn would keep their own worship practices alive and strengthen their devotion to HaShem. In this environment they would strengthen their bloodlines and multiply, growing from strength to strength.
Israel’s practical role as shepherd informed her spiritual growth and her identity as the sheep of the Shepherd over all nations, HaShem and His Messiah (Psalm 80:1; 23, Jer. 31:10). Shepherds are tasked with caring for and nurturing dependent animals, sheep are prone to wondering and in need of protection. Within this role the Israelites learned to identify their own shortcomings as the chosen sheep of HaShem, and their need to rely on Him completely. It is no surprise that the idea of shepherding was despicable to the Egyptians, who had slaves do this menial work and spent their days involved in less honourable pursuits such as, idolatry, political intrigue and occult practices, to name a few.
It is possible that these events took place during the Hyksos reign 1680-1540 BCE. Which makes it unlikely that the Egyptian hatred for Shepherds is associated, as some claim, with the aftermath of the so called “Shepherd Kings” of the Hyksos (Syro-Palestinian invaders). Anyone caught dishonouring the Hyksos leaders of the time would have been dealt with severely. It is also clear from the text itself that the Pharaoh of our text shares the same dislike for shepherds as the rest of the Egyptian community. Therefore, he does not consider himself a “Shepherd King”, a title used in folk tradition long after the Hyksos period.
On the other hand, if these events took place at a later period in Egyptian history, it must be stressed that Egyptians had slaves who shepherded their own herds and flocks. Thus it seems likely, as previously stated, that their hatred was for foreign shepherds rather than for shepherds in general.
© Yaakov Brown 2017
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