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Goats and Coats
Video 1 of 14
Let me first show you that they're there and let's just explore that and then maybe try and figure out why they might be there, what is it telling us? Let's just skip ahead to Chapter 46 - actually the end of 45 - over here, it's the story when Yaakov finds out that Yosef is alive. Let's just read through the verses, and you're going to find the Akeidah parallels, I think, down here towards the bottom. But just to give you some context this is the story of Yaakov finding out that Yosef is alive. Vayedabru eilav et kol divrei Yosef asher diber aleihem, va'yar et ha'agalot asher shalach Yosef laseit oto vatechi ruach Yaakov avihem. So basically the brothers have found out that Yosef is alive, they come back and they break the news to their father, to Yaakov. It takes him actually seeing actual evidence of this to really believe that it's true. He sees these chariots, these wagons, that Yosef had sent down to carry him back to Egypt and that convinces him it's really true, Yosef is alive, he can't believe it. Vatechi ruach Yaakov avihem.
Interesting by the way, pay attention to this word; Vatechi ruach Yaakov avihem - that the life of Yaakov was restored to him. But this word literally means that - it's like he came back to life, he was invigorated with life. It's sort of the verb form of the word life. If you look right in the next verse; Vayomer Yisrael rav od Yosef beni chai - and then Israel - Yaakov, said; Od Yosef beni chai - my child Yosef in fact is still alive. This word Chai of course is playing off of this word here, they both mean life, my child Yosef is living, and it sort of signifies kind of the close bond or the close relationship there is between Yaakov and Yosef, in the sense that when Yaakov finds out that his long lost child is in fact alive, his own spirit comes alive. Remember when Yaakov sees the bloody coat and thinks he's dead he says, I'm going to go down to my grave mourning Yosef, it's almost like he attains the status of Yosef; Yosef is alive unbeknownst to him and yet dead, and in a certain way Yaakov is alive and yet dead. His spirit comes back to life, is revived, when he sees that in fact Yosef is in fact alive.
This kind of connection between the two, between Yosef and Yaakov, you also see, remember in Yehuda's speech. When Yehuda approaches Yosef and doesn't realize that it's Yosef, he thinks that he's an Egyptian official and he makes this desperate plea to let himself be the slave instead of Benjamin. So he says my father loves these children of Rachel, he loved Yosef, he loves Binyamin. The language is; Nafsho keshura b'nafsho - his soul is bound up in the soul of Benjamin and in the soul of Yosef, and if you allow Benjamin to be taken from him he'll die. So Yehuda is talking about this sort of symbiotic relationship between Yosef and his father, the souls are bound up in each other, and you sort of see this over here in the language over here; Vatechi ruach Yaakov avihem and; Od Yosef beni chai.
In any case, immediately after this he says; Elchah v'erenu beterem amut - here's the opposite of course of life - let me go and see him before I die. I'm going to die soon, I must see my living son Yosef before I die. So; Vayisa Yisrael v'chol asher lo vayavo Be'erah Shova - so Israel - and remember Yaakov has been called Israel and now there's two names for Yaakov, there's his sort of regular name Jacob and he also gets this name after he struggles with the angel and that is Israel. Generally speaking this name Israel is the name that Jacob gets when things are going well for him, when his life is shining, and this is the language that we have for his name when things are hard, when Yaakov is sort of in trouble. And you see it here also right before all this happens, so, Vatechi ruach Yaakov avihem - until now he had been Yaakov, and now all of a sudden he's Yisrael; Vayomer Yisrael. Once he realizes Yosef is alive his name changes over here and he's the Israel name.
And; Vayisa Yisrael - and Israel took his journey with him; V'chol asher lo - and he comes to Be'er Sheva; Vayizbach zevachim l'Elokei aviv Yitzchak - and he goes and he offers offerings to the G-d of his father Isaac. Now this is kind of interesting also because of course he has more than just a relationship with G-d through Isaac - through his father Isaac, he also has Avraham, how come Avraham isn't mentioned over here? Why is it specifically Yitzchak who is singled out? Why isn't He the G-d of Abraham and Isaac? So kind of an interesting question, but let's move on.
Vayomer Elokim l'Yisrael b'marot halailah - so then G-d appears to him; B'marot halailah - in a vision at night. Vayomer Yaakov, Yaakov, vayomer Hineini - and He says Jacob, Jacob - and by the way notice the change, right? What happened? I thought - like he saw Yosef, so shouldn't be Israel now? He was Israel now over here, he was Israel now over here, I understand over here he was Yaakov, he didn't quite realize - he was just learning that Yosef was alive, but all of a sudden he's back to Yaakov. Kind of strange. But in any case, if you look at this language, Yaakov, Yaakov, the angel calls out to him; Vayomer - and Yaakov responds; Hineini - here I am. Well where have we heard that before? Where else does G-d or a Divine voice call out to a man repeating his name twice and then the answer is Hineini? Of course the answer is the Akeidah - and here it is right over here. The angel of G-d called out to him from the heavens and said Abraham, Abraham and here I am.
Just in case you think this happens a lot, Divine voices calling out to people in the Book of Genesis, the very first time it happens is right over here in the Akeidah, the second and last time it happens in the Book of Genesis is right over here when the angel says Yaakov, Yaakov - or G-d, the Divine voice in this case, says Yaakov, Yaakov, and he says, here I am.
So this really does seem like - is this the beginning of another Akeidah connection? It could be a coincidence, might just be that it was coincidental He called his name twice and he answered Hineini - here I am. Or it could be another connection to the Akeidah. How would we know whether it's coincidence or not? Could this be coincidence? Could be coincidence. In order to determine whether or not this is a coincidence we would need to see other connections in the story to the Akeidah. So are there any other connections? Is this an isolated thing? If it's isolated, could just be kind of coincidental. If it's part of a pattern of connections between Genesis 45, 46 and the Akeidah, then maybe there's something real here and we have to think about it.
So coincidence or real? I want you to think about it, scan through this text by the way, look at 46 - the beginning of 46. If you can, look a couple of verses later and look at it, is there anything else about this dialogue that reminds you of the Akeidah or is this all just our imagination? So let's come back and talk about that.
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