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Echoes of the Future
Video 11 of 17
Back in the story of David and Goliath right when David goes out to fight Goliath, right before he fights Goliath he actually has a talk with King Saul. In that talk he uses a fascinating story, he talks about a fascinating story that actually happened to him. What happens is that Saul approaches him and says, look you can't fight Goliath, are you crazy, you're just a little kid and Goliath is this huge monster and he's going to destroy you. What are you really thinking? Do you really believe that you have the power to do this? When David responds to Saul - remember that David is not King David he's just the little lad David at this point. He comes and he tells him a story, a story about a bear, a lion and a lamb.
The story goes like this. Let's just read in the actual text here. It's in First Samuel, Chapter 17, verses [17 and 18/34 and 35 1:12]. You can either look at this on the screen or look at it in your own Samuel. But let's just kind of read it through. I'm going to read it through in the Hebrew, if you want you can follow along in the English, whatever you like.
Vayomer Dovid el Shaul - so David says to Saul, don't worry, I can handle Goliath. Why? Because; Ro'eh haya avdecha - I used to be a shepherd; L'aviv - shepherding my father's flocks; Batzon - shepherding his sheep. Once upon a time; U'ba ha'ari v'et hadov - and once they were threatened these sheep; the sheep were threatened by a lion and a bear. V'nosah seh meha'eder - and the lion came and grabbed one of the lambs from the flock and had the lamb between its teeth. Veyatzati acharav - and I ran after it; Vehikitiv - and I struck the lion to kind of get its attention. Vehitzalti mipiv - and I got the lamb out of the lion's mouth. Then; Vayakam alai - the lion, infuriated, came after me; V'hechezakti b'zakano - and I grabbed him by the beard; Vehikitiv - and I struck him again; Va'hamitiv - and then I killed him.
Gam et ha'ari gam et hadov hikah avdecha - I've killed the lion, I've killed the bear. Vehaya hapelishti he'aral hazeh k'echad meihem - and this Philistine that threatens us now, he's just one of them. Ki chereph ma'archot Elokim chayim - he has blasphemed G-d and I will be able to destroy him. Vayomer Dovid - and David said; Hashem asher hitzilani miyad ha'ari u'miyad hadov - the G-d who helped me, who saved me from the mouth of the lion, from the mouth of the bear; Hu yatzileini miyad hapelishti hazeh - He will be the one who will save me from this Philistine. Saul said, if that's the case, then go and G-d be with you.
What's going on here? I think there's an elaborate double entendre in this whole story. An elaborate double meaning in the whole story. I want you to meditate upon this for a moment, think about this, think about it in light of what we've been talking about. What is David saying over here? Is there a double meaning? Can you piece it together?
Okay, so let's read this again and see what we find. Vayomer Dovid el Shaul - so David says to Saul; Ro'eh haya avdecha - I used to be a shepherd. So if we think about Psalm 30, if we think about David now, the possibility of David - not just thinking about David's own life, but thinking about his ancestor's life, Judah's life. When else was either David or Judah a shepherd? When else was he shepherding his father's flocks, sheep that belonged to his father? When else did a lion come, so to speak, and take one of these sheep away from the flock? What other story are we talking about over here? While we're at it, if we think about that other story, when else did David/Judah actually kill that lion that threatened to devour the sheep?
So if you think about all these elements, the orange element over here, the blue element over here, the red element over here, the green element over here, all of these elements of course reappear not just in the story of David, but in the story of David's ancestor Judah, after whom the tribe that David comes from is named after. Of course what we're talking about is the story of Joseph.
In that story Judah was one of these shepherds, he was shepherding sheep that belonged to his father so to speak, he was the leader - and who were the sheep? Metaphorically the sheep were all the children, the children that belong to the father. Then along came a lion - who was that lion? Well of course who is described as a lion? Gur Aryeh Yehuda - a lion cub is Judah. Judah himself is the lion. When did the lion, so to speak, grab one of the sheep and have it between his teeth - not quite kill the sheep but have the sheep just where he wanted to, ready to kill him? The answer is, when Judah and the brothers throw Joseph in the pit. He's in the pit and they're contemplating what to do with him, they're about to leave him - that's the lion having the prey between his teeth, that's exactly what Jacob was talking about when Jacob said; Miteref beni alitah - you had the torn up prey between your mouth. Tarof taraf Yosef - as Jacob himself later says, talking about Joseph; Tarof taraf Yosef - my son has been torn up alive. As if the one who did the tearing up was the lion, the ultimate beast of prey.
So you had Joseph just where you wanted him, you had him in the pit, you were going to destroy him. The lion had the prey in his mouth and what happened at that point? Veyatzati acharav - I went after it; Vehikitiv - and I struck the lion. Vehitzalti mipiv - and I got the prey out his mouth. I didn't kill the lion yet, I didn't absolutely save him, he was still threatened but I got him out of his mouth. When did that take place? That was the first time that Judah acted to save Joseph. He didn't entirely save him, but he got him out of the jaws of the lion, out of his own jaw, so to speak. Judah confronted himself and said, no, I will not kill him, he will live. He wasn't perfect, he sold him as a slave, morally ambiguous, but the bottom line is Joseph lived, so that there could be another day. Judah hit the lion and managed to extricate the prey from its jaws.
Then Vayakam alai - then he came back at me and at that point; V'hechezakti b'zakano - I grabbed him, I hit him and I killed him. When does Judah finally kill the lion, so to speak, the lion that's demanding to wipe out his prey? Of course there's the second time in the story, the time that Judah confronts Joseph and then it's no-holds barred. This time Joseph is the hidden official, the Egyptian. Judah begs him and says, I will be the one to be the slave instead of Benjamin, let Benjamin go at all costs. When Judah shows himself willing to be the slave instead of Benjamin, not to content himself with the fact that he's saved Benjamin from dying, that it's not even good enough that he'll be a slave either, I will be the slave, let Benjamin go. At that point Judah has killed the lion. The lion within himself. The lion that would threaten not just the enemy but would threaten internally, would threaten one of his own brothers. I killed the lion, [Joseph/Judah 7:08] says, and now I'll show no mercy to external prey, to the Philistine. The Philistine is no harder a target than the lion inside myself.
Who is David talking to? He's talking to Saul, he's talking to the scion of Benjamin. The descendant of Judah is talking to the descendant of Benjamin. He's saying, let me go to war against the Philistine, you can trust me, I'll take care of you. I took care of you once before, I redeemed the pledge, the Orev, the collateral, once before, I'll redeem it again. I'll take care of you, you have nothing to fear from me. I killed the lion, the part inside me that would threaten the other side of the family. You can trust me now.
With all this in mind, let's go back and read Psalm 30 - again - composed by David. I want to argue that Psalm 30 is a meditation by David upon the spiritual inner life of Judah looking back at the story of Joseph. The one thing that can keep King David from building the Temple is the Joseph story, how can you build a House for G-d if your own house is divided? If you sowed the seeds of discord, hatred and killing, if that was the legacy of your own tribe within the family, how can you be the king? How can you build a Temple for G-d so that He should dwell in your midst? This is the question that David is asking. He's looking back on the legacy of Judah's role in the story of Joseph and taking a long, hard look at that story and examining its spiritual implications. Let's come back, read the Psalm once more, and I hope to show you how I think that's true.
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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