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Judah: A Perplexing Character?
Video 14 of 22
Okay, so one of the ones that Rashi mentions is this. If you pay attention when Tamar confronts Yehuda she uses words that we've heard before. When she shows the coat and the staff and the signet ring, that stuff that he had given her as collateral, she says to him; Haker nah - recognize please to who do these things belong to. Where else have we heard these words Haker Nah before? The answer is yes, you guessed it, it's in the sale of Yosef. Remember when the brothers come and they show the coat to their father. So; Zot matzanu, haker nah haketonet bincha hi im loh - do you recognize this coat? Is this your son's coat or not? So here's another time where someone asks somebody do you recognize this? Actually one of the things is do you recognize a coat; Haker nah l'mi hachotemet vehapetilim vehamateh ha'eileh.
Now you might think that; Haker nah - recognize please, are words which appear all over Tanach, so maybe this is just unremarkable, because maybe this appears dozens of times throughout the Bible. Does it appear dozens of times throughout the Bible? Let's take a quick look. Okay, so I've opened up Judaic Classics library here by Davka, and this handy little program allows you to search through the entire Bible for words or phrases. So we just put in Haker Nah right over here, these words, and let's search through the entire Tanach and see how many times the words appear. The answer is twice. They appear in Genesis Chapter 37 and Genesis Chapter 38. These are the only two times, right over here when the brothers say; Zot matzanu, haker nah haketonet bincha hi im loh - we found this, do you recognize the coat - to their father. Over here when Tamar says the same words to her father-in-law, to Yehuda, when she presents a coat to him; L'ish asher eileh lo onochi horo, vatomer haker nah l'mi hachotemet vehapetilim vehamateh ha'eileh - recognize to whom belongs to these things.
So this seems like it's not so coincidental, it's just the only other time in Tanach this phrase is used other than the sale of Yosef happens to be right over here in this apparent digression, in this thing that's supposed to have been just plopped in here. It doesn't seem very plopped in here, it kind of seems like it connects.
But is there anything else besides the Haker Nah? It turns out there is. There's the Zot Matzanu. Take a look at this. You see these words over here? It's not just Haker Nah. Zot matzanu haker nah - we found this father; Haker nah - do you recognize it? Well if you look carefully at where Haker Nah appears in the story of Yehuda and Tamar, can you find anything that reminds you of Matzanu? You actually do, it's actually a play on words, it's right over here. Hi mutzeit - she was being taken out. Now in Hebrew the word Mutzeit means something else, but the sound of the word; Mem, Tzadi, Aleph is the same as Zot Matzanu - we found this. It seems to be a play on words of Zot Matzanu together with Haker Nah that connects us to the other Zot Matzanu, Haker Nah - we found this coat, do you recognize it? So we have Zot Matzanu, Haker Nah together seemingly in one form or another in both stories.
Let's continue, is there anything else about these stories that remind us one of the other? Okay, so we've got these two language connections that we've just seen between the story of Yehuda and Tamar and the sale of Yosef, what else do we have? So going back to our little list over here, let's try and list these together, what else besides Zot Matzanu and Haker Nah? So, like going back to the very beginning, if you think about one of the major themes in the sale of Yosef, which seems to actually be reappearing in the story of Yehuda and Tamar, is this. We've got a father - in the case of Yosef that father is Yaakov, in the case of Yehuda and Tamar that father is actually Yehuda. In both cases these fathers get tricked and who do they get tricked by? They get tricked by either a child or a child-in-law. Yaakov is tricked by his children and Yehuda is tricked by his daughter-in-law Tamar.
They get tricked in a story involving a goat. There's a goat - remember the brothers take this goat and they slaughter it and they present it to their father. Well over here in the story of Tamar there was also that goat. Remember, the supposed digression of Yehuda and Tamar, that bargaining session about what the collateral is going to be, what was it that Yehuda promised? He said, I'll give you a goat. Of course, lo and behold there's a goat in the sale of Yosef, the goat that is slaughtered to put the blood on the coat. It's almost this kind of interesting, who was responsible for slaughtering the goat? Well who is acting like a leader? The king of course was Yehuda over here. If you think about Yehuda's role, Yehuda leading the brothers is the one who puts the blood on the coat and slaughters the goat and gives it to his father, and then the next story all of a sudden Yehuda promises a goat but doesn't have it. So if you think about it, there's a goat in the sale of Yosef, there's no goat in the Yehuda and Tamar, the goat is gone, he says, I don't have a goat. It's almost like you wonder, well what happened to the goat? Maybe it got killed in the last story or something?
So in both cases there's this father tricked, in the story involving a goat, and not just a goat, but a goat and a coat. These are tales of goats and coats. There's a man losing his coat in each story. The sale of Yosef, of course Yosef gets stripped of a coat, well in the story of Yehuda and Tamar, Yehuda gets stripped of a coat.
Speaking of losing, the one who really gets lost is the child himself. In both stories - at least in the sale of Yosef, remember the father loses something, what does he really lose? He loses a child. What kind of child? A firstborn child. But sort of a murky firstborn child. Think about Yosef, was Yosef really the firstborn? Well we talked about that before, he was sort of the firstborn, at least in Yaakov's eyes, in father's eyes, he considers Yosef the firstborn, but he may not actually be the real firstborn, there's some question about that. Is Reuven the firstborn? Reuven is actually the first-born child of Yaakov even though father considers Yosef his firstborn.
It's interesting, in the story of Yehuda and Tamar, Yehuda also loses a first-born child, loses Er. Er is actually also kind of a murky firstborn, why? Because Yehuda also interestingly has two wives, just like Yaakov. In this story Yaakov has two wives, Rachel and Leah, and then by the end of this story Yehuda ends up with two wives. Not Rachel and Leah but the daughter of Shuah on the one hand, and then his second wife, Tamar. Well who is his Bechor? His Bechor from the first wife is Er, that's the one he loses. But who is his real legacy, in the end, by the end of the story? It's actually Tamar's first-born child, Peretz, that becomes the father of the Davidic dynasty, the father of the dynasty of kings from Yehuda. So the question is, who is his real firstborn? So in both cases father loses a firstborn, a sort of murky firstborn, the child that he considers a firstborn, but not necessarily the child that history will consider the firstborn. Kind of very interesting.
Actually, one more element while we're at it. After the father loses the murky firstborn and there's this loss of a coat, a coat is then presented to a father for recognition, and that of course sets up this; Zot matzanu haker nah. Again, if we think back to the story of the sale of Yosef, the brothers present this coat to their father and say, do you recognize it? Of course Tamar presents this coat to Yehuda, her father-in-law, and says, do you recognize it? Using these very same words.
Interestingly enough by the way, if you go back it's not just Chapter 38 connecting to Chapter 37; Chapter 38 actually connects way back here as well to another story even earlier than Chapter 37 in Genesis. It's intimately connected to these stories before. What other story before 37 is 38 reminding you of? It's almost like a link; this is really the second of the stories, this is the third - what's the first? What do you think it is? We'll come back and I'll share with you my thoughts on that.
1. Introduction to Yehudah and Tamar
2. Kinds of Questions
3. A Question of Placement
4. A Tale of Two Digressions
5. Does Rashi Answer The Question?
6. Are We Explaining One Sentence or a Whole Story?
7. A Triangle of Descent
8. The Unexpected Element
9. Perpetual Mourning
10. Failure to Persuade
11. Patchwork Quilt
13. Lest it Come to Scandal
14. Recognize, Please..
15. Tales of Goats and Coats
16. Keepsake or Evidence?
18. How Many--and Why?
19. What's At Stake?
20. Yehudah's Name
22. Superfluous Details
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