Why the term "Hebrew" is especially pertinent to descendants of Joseph (8 November 2015, 26 Cheshvan, 5776)
Duration: 20 minutes
We saw how the so-called Celts who dwelt in the west of Europe actually called themselves Hebrews.
Hebrews or Yew Trees?? What Did the Celts Call Themselves?
Ethnic and Place names associated with the Celts and based on the root IBER (Meaning Hebrew) include:
Iberia, Hibernia, Iber, Iverni, Hebrides, Hyperborean, Eboracum (York), Eborica (Navarre, southeast France), Eborones (Belgium), Ebronium (Evre, Mayenne, northwest France), Eborovices (Veneti, Gaul), Eburodunum, Eborobritum and numerous others as seen in the above article.
We find Joseph referred to as a Hebrew on different occasions.
The wife of Potiphar who falsely accused Joseph of attempted rape described him as an Hebrew.
She called to the men of her household and said to them, See, he has brought in a Hebrew to us to make sport of us; he came in to me to lie with me, and I screamed.
She repeated to her husband her accusation against Joseph:
Genesis 39:17 Then she spoke to him with these words, The Hebrew slave, whom you brought to us, came in to me to make sport of me;
Joseph described himself as have been abducted from the Land of the Hebrews i.e. from the area of Israel.
For I was in fact kidnapped from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing that they should have put me into the dungeon.
Joseph was described by the minister of Pharaoh as a Hebrew youth.
Now a Hebrew youth was with us there, a servant of the captain of the bodyguard, and we related them to him, and he interpreted our dreams for us. To each one he interpreted according to his own dream.
Joseph conducted himself as the Hebrews were expected to.
So they served him by himself, and them by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves, because the Egyptians could not eat bread with the Hebrews, for that is loathsome to the Egyptians.
Joseph was identified as an Hebrew and so defined himself.
This definition was to be of importance for Joseph in receiving the blessing. The blessing had come from the forefathers beginning with Abraham.
It was prophesied that Abraham would become:
"A great nation, and in you will all the families of the earth be blessed" (Genesis 12:2-3).
I will establish My covenant between Me and you, And I will multiply you exceedingly (Genesis 17:2).
"I will make nations of you and kings shall come out of you; And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your seed after you in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto you, and to your seed after you" (Genesis 17:6-7).
After Abraham came Isaac:
"My covenant will I establish with Isaac" (Genesis 17:21);
"I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him" (Genesis 17:19).
God informed Abraham,
"In Isaac shall your seed be called" (Genesis 21:21).
Esau and Jacob
Isaac begat the twins Esau and Jacob. Of Esau it was foretold, "By your sword you shall live, and shalt serve you brother" (Genesis 27:40). Esau became ancestor to the founder settlers of early Rome and to part of the German people (Megilla 6), as well as to part of the ruling elites in Continental Europe, China, Japan, and elsewhere.
See: Esau. Edomites Today
Jacob was also known as Israel (Genesis 35:10). He received the Blessings promised to Abraham and to Isaac.
Isaac blessed Jacob,
"God Almighty bless you, and make you fruitful and multiply you, that you be a community of peoples; And give you the blessing of ABRAHAM, to you and to yout seed with you" (Genesis 28:2-3).
Jacob (Israel) had Twelve Sons,
"Now the sons of Jacob were twelve" (Genesis 36:22).
The Twelve Sons of Israel and the Birthright
The TWELVE SONS OF ISRAEL were Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulon, Joseph, Benjamin, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher. All the sons of Israel received a Blessing from their father, "Everyone according to his blessing he blessed them" (Genesis 49:28).
Judah and Joseph both had their own roles to play:
"Judah prevailed above his brethren, and of him (comes) the chief ruler; but the birthright was Joseph's" (1-Chronicles 5:1-2).
Before he died Jacob (Israel) summoned Joseph and his two sons to his bedside.
Genesis chapter 48 tells how Jacob recognized the two sons of Joseph eacg as full-fledged Tribes in their own right.
15 He blessed Joseph, and said,
The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked,
The God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day,
16 The angel who has redeemed me from all evil,
Bless the lads;
And may my name live on in them,
And the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac;
And may they grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.
The word translated as a multitude in the last verse above is "le-rov" which may also be understood to mean "the majority" or "the main section".
The blessing continues:
17 When Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on Ephraim's head, it displeased him; and he grasped his father's hand to remove it from Ephraim's head to Manasseh's head. 18 Joseph said to his father, 'Not so, my father, for this one is the firstborn. Place your right hand on his head.' 19 But his father refused and said, 'I know, my son, I know; he also will become a people and he also will be great. However, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations.' 20 He blessed them that day, saying,
'By you Israel will pronounce blessing, saying,
'May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh!''
Later Jacob called all his sons to him and blessed all of the Tribes individually.
This included an additional blessing for Joseph:
Jacob blessed Joseph,
"The blessings of your father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of JOSEPH, and on the crown of him that was separated from his brethren" (Genesis 49:6).
What then was so special about the previous blessing, when Jacob called Joseph and his son specially to him?
It recognized Ephraim and Manasseh each as separate tribes.
It promised that they would become the Major Power in the world.
It gave a special pre-eminence to Ephraim.
It gave them the name of the Forefathers.
16... And may my name live on in them,
And the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac.
We have seen how names connoting Hebrew, Isaac, and Jacob became ethnic appellations for the Ten Tribes.
Hebrew Patriarchal Names
The terms Hiberi or iberi were applied to peoples of Celtic Culture in the west. Derivatives of the name Isaac were applied to the Scythians and part of the Celtic British.
The term "Yank" meaning "Jack" and short for Jacob is a name given to Americans. The Union Jack reresents Britain, etc.
Of these names the one name that was to live on and which was common to ALL the forefathers .e. to Abrahm and Isaac and Jacob was "Hebrew".
A leading Rabbinical Commentator, Rabbi Yaakov Tzvi Mecklenburg ("Haketav ve-HaKabbalah", 1785-1865) understood that the name applied specifically to the sons of Joseph was "Hebrew".
He says that he received this understanding from the writings of a certain Rabbi Y. Ashkenazi.
Rabbi Mecklenburg comments,
"Let my name be named upon them" (Genesis 48:16):
All the Patriarchal Forefathers and their children and the children of their children were known as Hebrews. This was because they originally came from over the River (Euphrates). Joseph feared that his sons would not be known by this name but rather as Egyptians since they were born in Egypt. Jacob therefore blessed them that they would be called Hebrews just like the other Tribes.
The inhabitants of Britain before the Romans are known popularly as Celts. They however referred to themselves as "Iberi" meaning Hebrews. Their kinfolk on the Continent are also identified as Celts but there too according to place-names and the names of Tribes, etc., they also called themselves 'Iberi', i.e. Hebrews.
Jacob Tzvi Mecklenburg
Yaakov Tzvi Mecklenburg was a German Jewish scholar of the 19th century. He served as Rabbi of Koenigsburg, East Prussia for 35 years (1831-65.) He published Haketav Vehakabbalah in 1839. The work was intended to strengthen the faith of Jews in the authenticity of traditional Jewish sources, the Mishnah, the Talmud, the Midrash, and to prove the superior linguistic standard of all these sources.
Source: Etz Hayim- Tree of Life. Jewish Commentators Their Lives and Works.
We have used the commentary of Rabbi Mecklenburg on other occasions. We have found it of value in linguistic matters and the finer points of Biblical Exegesis.
It may be inferred from the Commentary of Rabbi Mecklenburg that the term "Hebrew" was to be considered of especial importance amongst Descendants of Joseph.
It is to be noted that the findings of archaeology and historical sources correspond with the opinions and convictions of noted Rabbinical Scholars working solely with the Hebrew text of Scripture.
These scholars sit in their places of study hidden away and pore over the sacred texts.
They usually end up knowing more than any of us.
Rabbi Mecklenburg explained Jacob as saying that there was one name common to himself and to his forefathers and that this name should be applied to the sons of Joseph. That us clarify the text a little more. This is how the passage is conventionally translated:
Genesis (NASB) 48: 15 He blessed Joseph, and said, The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, The God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day, 16 The angel who has redeemed me from all evil, Bless the lads; And may my name live on in them, And the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; And may they grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.
We are now accepting this passage primarily in the light of the explanation of Rabbi Mecklenburg. First let us explain it according to the original Hebrew. This is how it should preferably be translated.
Genesis 48:15 He blessed Joseph, and said, The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, The God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day, 16 The angel who has redeemed me from all evil, Bless the lads; And may my name live on in them, And the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; And may they grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.
We may understand from this that there is one name. Previously we had understood it to say that the NAMES of the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would each be found amongst the Lost Israelites. This was suggested by another verse,
Genesis 21:2 But God said to Abraham, "Do not be distressed because of the lad and your maid; whatever Sarah tells you, listen to her, for through Isaac your descendants shall be named.
Ephraim and Manasseh were destined to become a multitude in the midst of the earth and the name of Jacob be called upon them and the name of his fathers Abraham and Isaac (Genesis 48:16). This means primarily that the essence of the forefathers would be expressed through the sons of Joseph. It has a secondary meaning that the very names would recall the forefathers. Abraham was known as the Hebrew (Genesis 14:13) and the early inhabitants of Britain called themselves and were termed by others Iberi meaning Hebrews. Names given to the Scythians (Isaac-Gulu, Ishkuza, Zohak, Saca, Sak, Saksin, Saxon) and to the Saxons who settled England were derived from the name Isaac. We also found names from Jacob e.g. Jock, Union Jack, Yank. We had assumed that Abraham was known as "the Hebrew" (Genesis 14:3) and accredited names derived from the word Hebrew to him. Other names were traceable to Isaac and Jacob. This explanation is NOT incorrect. It is also consistent with the text. Nevertheless we should perhaps accept the commentary of Rabbi Mecklenburg as explaining the main meaning and our previous understanding as being secondary. Jacob blessed Ephraim and Manasseh that they should share the name applied to himself and his forefathers i.e. they should be known as Hebrews. This does not contradict that the hinted prediction that they should also be named after Isaac (Genesis 21:12); or that names derived from "Jacob" should also be applied to them. Prior to coming across the commentary of Rabbi Mecklenburg concerning the sons of Joseph and the name Hebrew we had researched the application of the name "Iberi" being derived from Hebrew and being found amongst peoples in the west of Celtic Culture. We had written on this matter, researched, and publicized it. Rabbi Mecklenburg in effect confirms our findings and puts them in a Biblical light. This shows that we were on the right track and still are.
The Celts Called Themselves Hebrews!
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