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Goats and Coats
Video 11 of 14
So what I want you to do is kind of forget about all these Akeidah echoes at the moment, sort of clear the slate, look at the story of Chapter 37 over here, the sale of Yosef, look at it fresh, kind of read it through and see, is there any other story in the Book of Genesis that you get reminded of as you start reading this? Again, you're going to be looking for actual words, specific words or phrases which kind of seem to remind you of another story. You'll be looking at ideas, images, you just keep on getting reminded of another story. So let's just do this piece by piece and see what it is that we find.
Let's just focus on a little bit of our story of the sale of Yosef, let's take a look at verses 14 and 15 and just in these two verses do you hear any echoes of another story? Okay, so let's kind of read this through together. This is Yaakov sending Yosef out on a journey to meet with his brothers, let's just read it carefully. Vayomer lo - and Yaakov said to Yosef; Lech nah - go please; Re'ei et shelom achecha v'et shelom hatzon - check on the peace of your brothers and on the peace of the sheep - literally the peace of, or more colloquially the welfare of your brothers and welfare of the sheep. V'hashiveini davar - and bring me back word. Vayishlacheihu mei'Emek Chevron vayavoh Shechemah - so he sends him from the valley of Chevron and Yosef comes to Shechem. In Hebrew this Heih at the end of a word over here, especially at the end of a place, means that you're going towards the place. He came to Shechem, he's going towards Shechem, so the word Shechem is Shin, Chaf, Mem, the Heih just gets added and it means he's going towards Shechem, he's coming into Shechem.
In any case; Vayimtza'eihu ish - so a person finds him, this guy finds him - we talked about earlier the Sages say - Chazal say - that this is the angel Gabriel - the Malach Gavriel. V'hinei to'eh basadeh - and it turns out that Yosef was lost, he was wandering in the fields. Vayishaleihu ha'ish leimor - and the man asked him and said; Mah tevakesh - what is it that you're seeking?
Okay, so two very simple verses here, 14 and 15, are there any echoes of another story in Bereishis here?
Okay, so first just a little piece of methodology here that I want to share with you, when you're looking for echoes, when you're looking at intertextual connections between various texts, occasionally there is some word or phrase or something which is so unusual that the phrase itself only appears one other time in Tanach. There's this phrase over here and this phrase over there, and that's the beginning of you might have a pretty good hunch that because there's this very, very unusual phrase over here and it appears over here, that there might be in fact a connection between these stories. If you find other connections it sort of supports that.
But that's not the only kind of way that intertextual connections work. Occasionally there can be a preponderance of very usual and ordinary and mundane phrases, each of which seems completely ordinary and appears everywhere in Tanach, but the confluence of all of them together is very, very unusual. To give you an analogy of this. If I were to take a quarter over here and I would flip it and you would say, okay, you think it's going to come up heads or you think it's going to come up tails? So let's say I say, well, I bet it's going to come up heads and let's say in fact the coin comes us heads, would you be impressed? Would you say there's something unusual about this? You would say no. I mean there's a 50/50 chance you predicted it right, big deal, you got lucky. But let's say we flipped the same coin again and before we flipped it, you asked me and I said, you know I think it's going to turn up heads again, and lo and behold it turns up heads again, at that point would you get suspicious? So you'll say no, not that suspicious, there's a 50 per cent chance that this would happen, there's a 50 per cent chance that this would happen. If you do the math, there's a 25 per cent chance that both of them will happen, not so unusual.
But let's say I flip the coin 10 times and I predicted before each of them that it's going to come up heads, it's going to come up heads, it's going to come heads, and in fact, each one of these times it came up heads. You know at some point you would have to say, well that's kind of unusual, the chance of this happening was 25 per cent, the chance of this happening was 12 and a half per cent, the chance of this happening is six per cent, the chance of the next time it happening is three per cent. At some point you have to think that the more likely explanation is not that I just happened to be getting this right, but that there's a weighted coin or maybe both sides are heads or something like that, but something is going on. Something is going on.
In other words, what I'm trying to show you here is that you can take a very ordinary event, which is a coin being flipped and turning into heads, but if that ordinary event happens a bunch of times, it's not so ordinary anymore. So, so too in intertextual connections you can have one word which is very ordinary, you can have another phrase which is very ordinary and you can have a third phrase which is very ordinary. Each one of those phrases themselves is very ordinary but the confluences of those phrases together is very unusual and those phrases appearing together happens maybe one other place in Tanach and then it's kind of like an indication that maybe there's a larger connection between these two texts that seem to have these confluences of phrases together.
Let me give you an idea of what I'm talking about over here in the sale of Yosef, because I think something like that is going on over here. So if we read this verse again, 14, so one of the very ordinary words which shows up over here is; Vayishlacheihu - he sent him. Now a lot of people get sent in Tanach, it happens a zillion times, so no big deal if there's another text elsewhere in Tanach that has the phrase he sent him, there's lots of texts that have that phrase. But then you have another phrase over here which is Shechem, the city of Shechem. Well the city of Shechem - Shechem - is mentioned a few times elsewhere, so no big deal if I find another text with the word Shechem in it. But what about a text that has sending right in the same proximity as Shechem? Well you know, a little bit less often. But then let's take something else, wandering, specifically this word for wandering, a fairly unusual word, To'eh. You have it a couple of times in Tanach, not so often.
But what if I showed you that there was another place in Tanach - there was another place not just in Tanach but in Genesis - where you had all three of these elements? You had Vayishlacheihu - element 1. You had Shechem - element number 2. And you had wandering with this particular word for wandering - 3. In the same way that you have all of these things happening right here within the space of just a few words, in that other story in Genesis you also have these same elements happening together in a space of just a few words. Then you might say, well you know maybe something is going on. I don't know for sure but maybe there's a connection between these stories.
So let's look for it. Let's say in what other story besides the sale of Yosef do we have these words - and just to make it a little bit more fun, not only do we have these words, but we have the same sort of things happening? So in what other story do we have a parent sending out a child, where the word Shalach is used to describe that, and Shechem is a place involved in the story? And what other story, in addition to all of those elements, do we have the same Hebrew verb To'eh to describe the wandering that the child does, because it turns out that the child gets lost? So in what other story does a parent send out a child, Shechem is involved and after the child gets sent out the child gets lost and the same words are used to describe the sending, to describe the lost, and to describe the Shechem? What other story folks are we talking about? Let's come back next video and discuss it.
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