2022 by Rabbi Zvi Aviner
The MESSIAH, the Son of Joseph
and the MESSIAH, the Son of David
Today we’ll be introduced to the concept of two Messiahs:
The Messiah the Son of Joseph
The Messiah the Son of Judah (the Son of David)
Most people on Earth have never heard of that concept,
Yet it permeates the Midrash and the Jewish tradition.
Noahides, who follow Judaism and are exposed to the Oral Torah’s teaching,
would definitely encounter the concept of the two Messiahs and
should therefore be familiar with it, especially as a part of
the Yeshivah of Beni Noah’s curriculum.
So, what are those two Messiahs?
Widening the Concept of the
Sanctification of G-d’s Name
We are, in our course, at the last chapters of the Book of Genesis,
where the Torah finishes its journey through the Six Commandments of Adam.
starting with Chapter One and IIDOLATRY,
ending with Commandment number six: BLASPHEMY,
with the story of selling Joseph.
in that long journey through the Book of Genesis,
the Torah does not only go over those Six basic Commandments of Adam,
given to him in Eden,
but is adding each time a new, deeper meaning to each Commandment.
Thus, in Chapter One the Torah elaborates how Adam was born to withstand IDOLATRY,
and defines for us all the possible idols, as we’ve learned.
Then in Chapters 2-5 the Torah not only presents ADULTERY,
but also defines MARRIAGE, emphasizing its connection to
YHVH’s perception of GOOD AND EVIL.
Then with Noah the Torah not only describes BLOODSHED
but also mentions the Rainbow Covenant and its BLOODHSED Laws,
supported by Noah’s new, Seventh commandment.
Then with Abraham, the Torah not only describes his struggle
against ORGANIZED THEFT, a new phenomenon,
but also adds a new Name for G-d- AaDoNaI, My Owner,
who OWNS the Heavens and the Earth,
supported by a new Commandment: circumcision,
the “emblem of our Master in our Flesh”,
Then with Jacob, the Torah not only describes his struggle for
JUSTICE and CIVIL ORDER, but is also adding a new dimension to it:
The introduction of YHVH’s Values into the court rooms,
Into the market, the streets, the homes,
as Jacob pledged saying: “And YHVH will be my ELKM.”
And now as the Torah moves to deal with BLASPHEMY,
Adam’s Sixth Commandment of Eden,
the Torah is adding a new dimension to it, unknown before.
To Adam, Noah, and Abraham, BLASPHEMY was a private issue:
The prohibition to curse G-d’s Name directly or indirectly,
or to distort her in private or in public.
The violator himself is the perpetrator of the sin.
But with Jacob, as his name was changed to (the nation of) Israel,
the prohibition assumed a new, wider meaning:
Thou shall not cause others to despise or dishonor G-d’s Name.
The “others” are either members of your family, tribe, community or nation.
And Israel, the others are either “other member of Israel,”
or, as a nation, the “others” are other Noahide Nations.
If desecrating G-d’s Name means doing something that would bring others
to despise G-d and His Torah,
then sanctification of G-d’s Name means doing something good that
would bring other to Honor G-d’s Name.
How would a person (or a nation) cause others to dishonor G-d’s Name?
The RMBM explains: If a person, known to be Gd fearer and aTorah scholar,
has committed very ugly sin – especially between Man and Man,
his misbehavior would not only reflect oon him,
but also, on the Torah that he has leaned.
because people would see that as a failure of the Torah
to mold and change our character for good.
Hence, his misbehavior would dishonor G-d’s Name
in the eyes of the observer.
How Jacob and his Sons Desecrated
G-d Name in the Eyes of Others
The story of Jacob returning to his fatherland demonstrates that point.
When the Angle Esau honored him to be Israel,
Jacob was elevated to serve as an example for all mankind.
He would fulfill his pledge and build – in the Holy Land –
A new society unseen before or after,
A society that makes YHVH’s Values the law of the Lan
But instead, Jacob and his family deteriorated.
They told bad mouth on each other,
and finally, they committed the most despicable act
hat brothers can do –
selling their brother Joseph as a sex slave to the filthy Egypt.
Such misbehavior would surely bring the reader, the observer,
to despise not only Jacob and his sons, but also their faith,
meaning their action was a desecration of G-d’s Name.
No wonder that the Shechinah departed from them,
As shown in the text, where the Name of YHVH disappears
till the end of the Book of Genesis,
(Besides two short stories: Judah and Tamar, Joseph and his master’s wife.)
YHVH’s name would come back to the text in ordinary fashion
only in the Book of Exodus, at the scene of the Burning Bush.
ELKM Executing His Verdict
And when the Shechinah departed from protecting them,
Jacob and his sons were “left” in the hands of ELKM alone,
who executed the old harsh verdict given to Abraham,
that his descendants would be exiled to Egypt for servitude
that would last 400 years.
In fact, the count of 400 had already started with the birth of Isaac,
yet the exile was delayed due to the presence of the Merciful Attribute YHVH in the Court.
Now that She has departed from protecting Jacob and his family,
the Attribute of JUDGMENT, ELKM, could execute the prophecy with no hindrance.
Hence, we see here a unique, unparalleled situation,
where we, the readers, know the direction of the flow of the events in the story,
leading Jacob and his family to exile to in Egypt, one way or another.
We know that ELKM operates behind the scene to execute His verdict,
without the awareness of the human participants.
Each of the figures in the story moves in his own sphere, using his free will,
yet ELKM uses these human decisions to bring Israel down to Egypt.
Let’s note that there is no other such story in the entire Torah,
where we know so clearly for what ELKM wishes to accomplish,
and at the same time we witness HOW HE EXECUTES IT.
There are no Angles coming down or thunders blown, to execute G-d verdict.
Instead, we see what the Rabbis said:
“Reuven moves in his own sphere,
Joseph in his own sphere,
Judah in his own sphere,
and G-d in His Own sphere.”
This ‘capacity’ of G-d to move history according to His Will,
Is called G-d’s Kingship.
Here we’ve arrived at a definition:
Honoring G-d as a KING is sanctifying the Glory of His Name,
Dishonoring Him as a KING, is desecrating the Glory His Name.
Seeing Him behind the scene of selling Joseph is Honoring His Name,
denying His presence behind history is Desecrating His Name.
Let’s read about Judah and Tamar, Joseph and his mater’s wife.
Both Judah and Joseph did something extraordinary good
that restored G-d’s Honor in the eyes of others,
so that each became qualified to bring a Messiah!!!
Judah and Tamar
You know the story. Here is just an extract, the main points:
After selling Joseph, the family continued to slide down, spiritually.
Jacob lost his prophetic power for 17 y, till he would meet Joseph.
On Judah it says that “he went down, away from his brothers.” (38: 1)
Rashi explains: “his siblings deposed him from his leadership.”
After all, he was the one who suggested to sell Joseph.
He ‘went down” also spiritually, becoming a friend to idolaters,
marrying a Canaanite woman from whom he begot three sons.
The firstborn son married a Canaanite woman named Tamar,
then he died childless by the Hand of YHVH
because of some unspecified evil he did.
His widow, Tamar. then married Judah’s second son under the Levirate law,
but this brother hated so much the one who had passed away, that he refused
to bring a child under his name. YHVH then killed him too.
Tamar, now doubled widow, wasn’t free to marry anyone. She was still bound
by the Levirate Law to Judah’s third son, or to Judah himself. Yet she was denied both.
Having no alternative, Tamar took the initiative in order to fulfill her obligation.
It should be noted that according to the law, the Levirate woman SHOULD seek
the male Levirate, disregarding the rule of “modesty”.
(Later, Ruth too took the initiative to contact Boaz.)
Disguising herself as harlot, Tamar set on a crossroad where Judah would
pass by from a great festivity. Seeing her, Judah did not recognize her.
Turning to her, he offered a nice pay, to be paid next day,
but she demanded his “signet, wrap and staff” as a collateral.
Next day, when he wished to pay his due, she wasn’t there anymore.
Moreover, the locals said that there was never a harlot at that crossroad.
Three months later, rumor spread that Tamar became pregnant to harlotry.
Judah, who had become a local judge, condemned her to be executed by fire,
according to the local custom. As she was taken out to be executed, she did not
volunteer his name but rather sent him the items she had taken as collateral, saying:
“Please recognize the signet, wrap and staff.”
Despite the prospect of being humiliated in public, Judah admitted his fatherhood,
saying: “She is right, from me!” which the Rabbis read as “she is more righteous than me!”
Thus, both Tamar and Judah performed a deed that can only increase the honor of G-d
in the eyes of the locals (and in our eyes as readers.) Hence, they sanctified G-d’s Name.
They reversed the downfall.
No wonder that YHVH’s Name re-appears in the story 3 times, as follows:
And Er, the firstborn son of Judah was found
evil in the eyes of (1) YHVH (2) and YHVH slew him.
Judah said to Onan go to your brother’s wife
and perform the duty of the brother-in law
and raise up seeds to your brother.
And it came to pass when he came to his brother’s wife
that he spilled it on the ground lest he should give seed to his brother and the thing that he did displease
(3) YHVH and He killed him also.”
At the end of that section, the Torah describes the name of that child: Peretz,
who is the forefather of David.
Immediately afterwards, the Torah turns to describe another sanctification of G-d’s Name,
by Joseph and his master’s wife.
Joseph and his Master’s wife.
Again, here are the main points:
Joseph, a beautiful teenager 17 years old, was sold as a sex slave in an Egyptian market,
where he was bought by Potifar, a eunuch in Pharaoh’s court.
His future seemed blank, yet YHVH was with him,
and whatever Joseph did, turned successful and fruitful to his master,
so much that he appointed him in charge of his large household.
The Master’s wife, whether sexually deprived or not,
coveted Joseph and when they were alone, she grabbed his rob,
demanding him to be with her.
Refusing her, Joseph ran out, but she tore part of his rob,
and when her husband returned, she accused Joseph for trying to rape her.
The angry eunuch threw Joseph into the dungeon,
where he would most likely have stayed for the rest of his life.
Yet, even in the Dungeon, YHVH was with Joseph,
and he became successful there too.
As we see bellow, the Name of YHVH re-appears in that short story 8 times,
in the most densely fashion in the Torah!!!
Hence, Joseph brought back on himself the departing Shechinah,
though not yet on the rest of the family, till the Book of Exodus.
Here are the sites in the story where YHVH’s’ Name is mentioned:
And (1) YHVH was with Joseph and he was a successful man
and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.
And the master saw that (2) YHVH was with him
and that (3) YHVH made all that he did to prosper in his hand.
And Joseph found favor in his sight and served him, and he made him overseer
over his house, and all that he had he put in his hands.
And it happened that time he appointed him in the house and
over whatever he had, (4) YHVH blessed the Egyptian’s hose
on Joseph account, so that (5) YHVH blessing was in whatever he owned In the house and in the field…
6) YHVH was with Joseph and showed him grace, and gave him favor in the eyes
of the officer of the prison, the keeper of the prison looked not to anything that
was under his hands because (7) YHVH was with him
and that which he did, (8) YHVH made it to prosper.”
What did Joseph do to warrant YHVH returning to guard him?
The Rabbis noticed that the verse is saying:
“And his master saw that YHVH was with him,
and that whatever he did, YHVH made it successful in his hands,
(therefore) Joseph found face in his eyes…” (38: 3-4)
The Rabbis asked, how could the idolater Egyptian notice that YHVH was with him?
And their answer is: Joseph used to mention YHVH’s name before performing any task.
He used to say “With YHVH’s help I shall do this and that.”
So, when he was unusually successful, his master could not but HONOR G-d’s NAME.”
This way, Joseph sanctified G-d’s Name by his behavior.
And when the story comes to its climax, and Joseph refuses to commit ADULTERY
saying to her: “How could I perform this great evil, thereby sinning to ELKM?”
He was referring to “evil” which is a sin in YHVH eyes, and to violating ELKM’s law.
It was obvious to her (and to the reader) that his unusual behavior,
Refusing her despite his awareness of the bad consequences,
came out of his faith in G-d.
Hence Joseph sanctified G-d’s Name in the eyes of the observer,
either in the eyes of the Egyptians, or in our eyes as the readers of the story.
Surely, we can assume that his master too, despite his temporary rage,
most likely pondered later about the events, believing in Joseph’s version
rather than his promiscuous wife’s words. The master too could attribute
Joseph’s refusal to his faith, thereby glorifying G-d’s Honor in the master’s eyes.
No wonder that YHVH name appears in Joseph story 8 times,
where the number 8 may hint to the eight Commandments that
Joseph abided with: Noah’s Seven plus the Circumcision of Abraham.
Later in the story, when Joseph came to power and sold bread to the hungry Egyptians,
they complained to Pharaoh about his demands.
Pharaoh then told them: “whatever Joseph is telling you to do, you should do!” (41; 55)
Rashi explains: “Joseph told them to circumcise themselves.”
Hence at that point in history, ALL THE CHILDREN OF NOAH WERE POTENTIALLY
UNDER THE OBLIGATION TO CIRCUMCISE THEMSELVES LIKE ABRAHAM, WHO WAS, IN FACT, A NOAHIDE. IT WAS ONLY LATER THAHT MOSES MADE THE COMMANDMENT OBLIGATORY ONLY TO ISRAEL.
The Shechinah returned to Judah and Joseph.
But they had to bring the other siblings to their level
and repent their part in the sin of selling their brother .
Once either Judah or Joseph has accomplished that,
bringing the family to repent, their honor would return
and the Glory of G-d’s Name would recover – in the eyes of the observer.
Thus, in the same way that Judah brought the Shechinah back,
making him qualified to bring a MESSIAH, THE SON OF JUDAH,
so was Joseph qualified to bring a MESSIAH, THE SON OF JOSEPH.
At that point,
since YHVH’s Name appears 3 time with Judah, whereas She appears 8 times with Joseph
Joseph’s merit was greater than Judah’s merits.
What is a Messiah, then?
A Messiah is a leader who would –
1 Bring his people, Israel, to repent and return to G-d,
2 Elevate the Honor of Israel among the Nations,
3 Glorify the Honor of the G-d of Israel in the eyes of the Nations
But why do we need the two Messiahs?
What is the difference between them?
On that we’ll learn G.W. next class.