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Goats and Coats
Video 10 of 14
Remember we had talked about the interesting possible meanings of this phrase. He says, go check on your brothers; V'hashiveini davar - and bring me back word. Earlier, we had talked about the possibility that there's a double entendre right over here with this word Davar - bring me back word, that if you trace the Davars earlier we see these ideas that Yosef was unable to speak with his brothers in peace; V'loh yachlu dabro l'shalom. Dabro is a variation on the word Davar. It's almost as if Yaakov is saying, bring me back word, tell me what's the deal with you not being able to speak with your brothers in peace. Are you able to resolve that or not? The possibility that this was a kind of test.
But it's not just the word Davar which may be at play, whose meaning may relate to the other uses of Davar in the story. It's also this word over here because this is our favorite word, we've been looking at this, Hashiveini of course is a playoff of Hashivoticha, what it was that G-d had promised Yaakov. G-d had said; Va'hashivoticha el ha'adamah hazot - I will bring you back, and now; Hashiveini davar. So there's another interesting possible meaning here, which is that if you relate this Hashiveini to G-d's original promise using these words, it's kind of coincidental that Yaakov just sort of happens to use these words. It's almost as if there's an unintended meaning in Yaakov's words, that on the one hand the plain meaning of the text is that Yaakov is saying, oh go check on your brothers and bring me back word and see how they're doing. But there's another possibility. G-d had said; Hashivoticha - I will not leave you until I return you to this land - return you. Well what does Hashiveini mean? Hashiveini means return me. Literally return me word, but maybe another possibility is actually physical return me.
What would it mean to physically return Yaakov? Well take a look at this next permutation of this phrase in the Joseph story. Bereishis Mem-Zayin - Genesis 47, right after Genesis 46. In Genesis 46 Yaakov finds out Yosef is alive, he goes to visit Yosef and Yosef hugs his father and he's so happy and he says, here, come, I'll give you a place, you'll be able to settle in the land. And he settles his father in the land. By the way not just as Geirim, not as a Ger, no, no, not as a Ger, not as a sojourner, exactly the opposite, he gives them an Achuzah. Achuzah is the deepest kind of possession you can have - landholders, you'll become actual citizens of Egypt, you'll take possession of the land. Look at this word; Vayoshev Yosef - Yosef settled his father his father there. Or, remember this word Shav can always either mean settle or return, the double meaning is especially chilling, Yosef returned his father. Returned his father to Egypt. In that way he kind of fulfilled the mission didn't he? Ten chapters earlier Yosef had been sent on this mission; Hashiveini davar - return me, return me word. Well in the end he very literally does return him, he returns him to Egypt.
The promises of the Akeidah are disintegrating, are being delayed by centuries. Instead of going into the land of Israel, instead of having an Achuzah, a deep possession in the land of Israel, Yosef is giving them possession in the land of Egypt. Little does any of them know that they will all soon be slaves there for hundreds of years and that this will become the fulfillment of Abraham's promise; Ger yiheye zaracha b'eretz loh lahem - your children will be strangers in a land not their own. Yes, they'll start with an Achuzah, they'll start with landed property, but they will end up becoming strangers and the only place that you'll really get deep possession is in the land that you really belong.
But what's happening is that the Akeidah promises are disintegrating, they're falling apart due to the backwards Akeidah, so to speak. In the original Akeidah you've got the promise of land and children and it seems like those two things are going to come together. Yes, you'll take possession of the land, yes, you'll have all these children and maybe it could have been and maybe Yaakov's time in Lavan's house would have been the times of slavery and then it would have been the fourth generation, everyone would have gone back. But in actual history it was not to be, in actual history this Akeidah over here got reversed.
It starts with Yaakov sending Yosef out to check on his brothers in a test of loyalty, will you be my real Bechor? Can you follow my legacy? G-d had tested Avraham to see if Avraham could be G-d's legacy in the world and now Yaakov, the human father, tests Yosef to see if he can be his legacy. But G-d hijacks that Akeidah, and says, you know, you're going to play Akeidah? Every Akeidah comes with an angel, what are you going to do if the angel says go that a way? They went to Shechem they're no longer in Dotan, then what? And Yosef gets lost and he can't find his brothers and he goes to Shechem because the angel says they went that a way. What then? Then we have the real Akeidah, and G-d takes possession of that story, the story of strife between brothers, of brothers deceiving father over the identity of someone that father thinks is his Bechor, but really isn't his Bechor. A story of goats and coats, another replay of the Jacob and Esau story that led to Yaakov's exile in the house of Lavan. G-d takes the next generation's story of deception and turns it into real exile, an exile for 210 years, as the Akeidah story comes full circle, as the Akeidah story disintegrates into sort of manmade Akeidah that goes awry and becomes hijacked by G-d.
When we come back in our next video I want to go back to our original story - we've zoomed out to look at the entire corpus of most of Genesis now; the story of Avraham, the story of Yitzchak and the story of Yaakov, how this promise of land and children develops and comes to a tragic halt, a tragic digression into Egyptian slavery at the very end of Genesis - the very end of Bereishit. I want to pull in the zoom lens now and come back to the sale of Yosef, Chapter 37. We saw the Akeidah story in Chapter 37, but if you listen very, very closely, and you read 37 again, you'll see that it's not just the Akeidah that we hear echoes of, there's another famous story whose echoes we hear as the brothers sell Yosef. To really understand what's happening in the sale of Yosef we have to relate not just to the Akeidah but to that other story too. Let's come back and see what it is.
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