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Echoes of the Future
Video 4 of 17
So let's take a look further at these verses and see what it is we find.
Okay so let's look at this language I have over here outlined in blue the connection we've already seen, let's go back to the story of the sale of Joseph and just read it carefully and ask, is there anything about this that we hear echoes of later on in Mizmor Shir Chanukat Habayit? So let's read. Vayomer Yehuda el echav - and Judah said to his brothers; Mah betza - what profit; Ki naharog et achinu vechisinu et damo - would there be if we would kill our brother - Vechisinu et damo - and we would cover up his blood? Instead; Lechu venimkerenu leyishma'elim veyadeinu al tehi bo - instead, why don't we go and let's sell him to these Ishmaelites who are coming by; Veyadeinu al tehi bo - and that way our hand won't be upon him. Ki achinu besareinu hu - because after all he really is our brother. Vayishme'u echav - and the brothers listened to him and accepted what [they/he 2:07] said and Joseph was spared.
Okay, so what about all this seems to echo over here? Okay so why don't we start with this over here? Judah had said; Mah betza ki naharog et achinu vechisinu et damo - what do we gain from killing our brother and covering up his blood? Do we have the idea of blood being mentioned over here in Mizmor Shir Chanukat Habayit in connection with what profit - Mah Betza? Look at that, right over here. Mah betza bedomi beriditi el shachat - what profit would You gain G-d through my blood if I were to die and go down to the grave? Well that sounds suspiciously similar to this over here, right? You can see it in Hebrew; Daled, Mem, Vav - Daled, Mem, Yud, just conjugated differently. Same idea. What profit would we get out of killing our brother and covering up his blood? What profit G-d would You get out of my blood?
Now if we go a little bit further, what happen after Judah said all of this? After Judah said all of this he convinced his brothers to essentially save Joseph. Joseph was going to be killed but; Vayishme'u echav - and his brothers heard. Now literally it means heard, but what it really means is to accept the plea. Even in English the word heard; if I say I hear you, it can mean I accept what it is that you say. That's the sense over here, the brothers heard, they listened to what it is that Judah said. So after Judah made his plea to avoid killing Joseph, the brothers heard him and Joseph was not killed.
Let's just kind of diagram that. Or you might say that there are like four things happening over here. Initially Judah makes this plea; the plea is, don't kill Joseph. The brothers actually listen and then finally Joseph is actually spared. Well if you think about those four things, let's see if we can chart any corresponding things in this psalm? In this psalm David - the one who writes the psalm - is making a plea also; El Hashem etchanan - it's a plea. It's not a plea that he feels he deserves but it's a plea that he's making for a kind of clemency that he wouldn't really deserve. Etchanan - from the language of Lechanen - to get a free gift. So what's this plea? The plea is what profit G-d would You have on my blood if I were to die? Then an appeal to G-d to listen to me; Vechaneini - and grant my plea, and allow me to live.
It kind of boils down to the same thing. The psalmist's please don't kill me, G-d please listen and spare me. It's really like all of these other elements. You can see it not just in the themes but in the words as well. Well let's just diagram it out here in words. The Mah Betza is in blue - what profit is in blue. The blood is in a pink over here, I guess appropriately for blood. Then at the end; Vayishme'u echav - the brothers listened, accepted what it is that Judah said. The psalmist is asking G-d to accept what it is that he's saying. In both cases to spare the one whose life is threatened.
Of course, Judah spoke of plotting to kill his brother right after he said Mah Betza. In our case, in Mizmor Shir right after we speak of Mah Betza, we also hear about death, in this case not the death of a brother but the death of the author of the psalm. We can color code that right over here. Mah Betza - what profit; Ki naharog et achinu - if we kill our brother? What profit do we get out of killing our own brother? G-d, what profit do You get out of killing me and having me go down to the grave?
By the way, this image of going down, of course is very evocative as well. Because how would it be that Joseph would have been killed, had Judah not stepped in? Remember what the plot of the brothers was, the plot of the brothers was let's kill him by allowing him to stay in this pit. We have thrown him, he had descended into the pit and he would stay there and that would become his grave. You see how this image here evokes that. What profit would you get out of my blood; Beriditi el shachat - if I were to go down to the grave and to never rise? Like if I were to go down to that pit underneath the ground - of course which is a grave - if you stay underneath the ground, the pit of Joseph is very similar. It's as if Joseph would be buried alive and the psalmist is worried about the same thing.
Just by the way to make the point just a little bit more graphic. If you go over here, remember what Judah had said; Mah betza ki naharog et achinu - what do we gain out of killing our brother; Vechisinu et damo - and covering up his blood? What would you cover up blood with? How would you cover up blood if you were to spill blood in the desert? The answer is you'd cover it up with dirt, with dust. Look at the next words over here back in Mizmor Shir. Mah betza bedomi - G-d what would You get out of my blood; Beriditi el shachat - if I were to go down to the grave? Hayodecha aphar - could dirt, could dust praise You? So at one level this dust is like if You would allow me to die so my decomposed remains would become dust, could dust praise You? But the other possibility if you look at it in connection with this story over here, is well what's the dust? What's the dirt? The dirt is the dirt over here that we might have covered over the blood of Joseph with. Right after we talk about death we talk about dirt. Right after we talk about death we talk about dirt.
So a very, very interesting - it's just - you could argue that one of these coincidences, maybe the Mah Betza it's possibly coincidental, it's the only other time in Tanach, kind of hard to believe it, but maybe. But when you pair it together with these other things, one, two, three, four, five connections, just in one verse. One, two, three, four, five, all in order. It's kind of hard to imagine that this is just coincidental. It's really coincidental? Probably not.
I believe actually this is just the tip of the iceberg, there's much more here. In order to see it we have to go back and read it one more time and as we do let's try to piece together why. Start figuring out why. Why would Psalm 30 over here, this Mizmor Shir Chanukat Habayit, seemingly about the dedication of the Temple, what would that have to do with the story of the sale of Joseph? Why are we bringing that up now?
Come back, reread this one more time, see if you can find any further connections between these stories. Between the Psalm 30 and the sale of Joseph, Chapter 37. See what you find and let's talk about it a little bit more.
1. What Does the Book of Psalms Have to Do With the Joseph Story?
2. A Curious Dedication
3. Profit Motive
4. Blood Money
5. Did Jacob Know?
6. A Father's Ambivalent Blessing
7. The Ruthlessness of War
8. The Lion and the Cub
10. To Redeem an Ancestor's Pledge
11. The Lion and the Lamb
12. Moving Up
13. Memories of Father
14. First Cries
15. Where Would I Be Without You
16. What Could Kill Me--But Then What?
17. A Palpable Presence
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