An Answer by Yair Davidiy to Alexander Zephyr
(7 May, 2018, 22 Iyar, 5778)
Our disagreement (described below) with Alexander Zephyr revolves around our understanding of the verse:
Genesis 27:39 AND ISAAC HIS FATHER ANSWERED AND SAID UNTO HIM, BEHOLD, THY DWELLING SHALL BE THE FATNESS OF THE EARTH, AND OF THE DEW OF HEAVEN FROM ABOVE;
We received a long letter from Alexander Zephyr concerning the different blessings to Jacob (i.e. Israel) and Esau i.e. Edom. This letter is given in FULL below. The simple meaning of the Hebrew, the understanding of all Rabbinical Commentators as well as MOST Christian Translations (including the King James) understand the verses in question to say that Esau received a blessing very similar to that of Jacob. Esau was blessed to receive the "fatness" of the earth the same as Jacob was. This is quite clear. This is the simple literal meaning. This is how we too understand it. There is nothing to argue about.
Esau and Jacob were twin brothers. While they were still in the womb they struggled with each other. Their mother Rebecca was told that two nations were in her womb who were destined to continually struggle with each other (Genesis 25:23). Esau was the firstborn and Jacob was born after him. Esau became a man of the field and a hunter. Jacob was a dweller in tents. Esau sold his first born right to Jacob. Isaac the father of Esau and Jacob was apparently not aware that Jacob had bought the firstborn right (Genesis 25:23). When Isaac felt that his time to die might be approaching (Genesis chapter 27) he requested to give Esau a blessing considering him the firstborn. He told Esau to hunt him venison, prepare it for eating, feed him with it, and receive the blessing. Rebecca the mother of the boys overheard Isaac so instruct Esau. She persuaded Jacob to pretend to be Esau and take the blessing in his place. Jacob did so. Jacob, pretending to be Esau, received the blessing. Esau returned from the hunt just as Jacob left the tent of his father. When Esau learnt that Jacob had received the blessing instead of him he was distraught. Isaac then gave Esau a blessing as well. The two blessings according to the Hebrew text are quite similar on some points.
Jacob was blessed,
28 Therefore God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine.
Where it says "and the fatness of the earth" in the Hebrew original the words are "me-shemani-ha-arets" i.e. "me [of] -shemani [the fatness] -ha-arets [of the earth]"
After that Isaac Blessed Esau.
39 And Isaac his father answered and said unto him, Behold, thy dwelling shall be the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of heaven from above.
Where it says "the fatness of the earth" in the Hebrew original in BOTH VERSES the words are "me-shemani-ha-arets" i.e. "me [of] -shemani [the fatness] -ha-arets [of the earth]"
The two expression in both verses in the Hebrew original are EXACTLY THE SAME!
A minority of mainly German relatively modern scholars claim that instead of understanding the Hebrew as saying "OF THE FATNESS OF THE EARTH" it should be read "AWAY FROM THE FATNESS OF THE EARTH." In other words they say that the expression in Genesis 27:28 should be translated differently from what it says in Genesis 27:39 even though the Hebrew words are EXACTLY THE SAME! Everything resolves around the translation of the Hebrew expression "me" (in the Hebrew "me-shemani-ha-arets") as to whether it means in Genesis 27:39 "of" or "away from." We have written articles explaining this in detail and below will return to the main points. Our impression is that the vehemenence of they who do not accept the majority understanding (which is also our own) lies in their wish to PROTECT GERMANY AND ROME and others from being identified as Edomites!
A Fertile Land. Was Edom Blessed with having Fatness of the Land or cursed by being AWAY from it?
The letter from Alexander Zephyr is given below in the Appendix.
Edom and Germany
The blessing of Isaac to Esau included the promise:
THY DWELLING SHALL BE [of] THE FATNESS OF THE EARTH [Genesis 27:39].
It did NOT say:
THY DWELLING SHALL BE [far away from] THE FATNESS OF THE EARTH.
Our understanding is consistent with the simple meaning of the Biblical Hebrew, with ALL the Rabbinical Commentators, and with the historical developments.
Esau/Edom was to become a great and materially blessed warrior country know for the intellectual powers of its wise men (Jeremiah 49:7, Obadiah 1:8). This still applies.
He preferred the interpretation to be "away from the fatness" instead of "of the fatness" because:
1. The Brit-Am interpretation saying it means "of the fatness" makes no sense and this opinion is shared by "Many well-known theologians (Tuch, Knobel, Kurtz, Delitzseh, Keil, Kalisch, Murphy), Jews and Christians alike. "
Note of these scholars appear to be believers in the literal meaning of Scripture, none of them were Jewish or at least not known as such, and ALL accepted Jewish sources agree with Brit-Am or rather Brit-Am agrees with all accepted Jewish Rabbinical sources.
2. The personality of Esau as a wild man and a hunter suited a will uncultivated area according to AZ ties in with,
1 The oracle of the word of the LORD to Israel through Malachi.
2 I have loved you, says the LORD. But you say, How have You loved us? Was not Esau Jacobs brother? declares the LORD. Yet I have loved Jacob; 3 but I have hated Esau, and I have made his mountains a desolation and appointed his inheritance for the jackals of the wilderness.
Here Esau is described as dwelling in a wilderness and infertile area. Malachi however was referring to a specific phase in history the result of a disaster and not a permanent state of affairs. Not only that but Malachi was desribing one (out of several) of the Edomite polities. Settlements of descendants of Edom were to be found throughout the Middle East and afterwards elsewhere. There was however a major settlement of Edom to the south and it is this entity that the prophets, such as Malachi, sometimes refer to.
As for Esau being a wild man we may reply that he was to be engaged in an eternal struggle with Israel and at times gain the upper hand (Genesis 25:23). This suggests that apart from having a wild character he was to be almost eqaul to Israel in blessings and abilities.
3. The apparent equality in the blessings to Jacobs and Esau does not make sense to AZ. He asks, why should Esau have resented Jacob taking the prime blessing from him by subterfuge if the blessings were som similar?
4. Point no.4 seems to be a repetition of point no.3.
Previopusly we pointed out that,
# The two blessings are similar. The blessing to Esau lacks the mention of God being the giver and also the mention of corn and wine. Esau and Jacob were destined to be rivals and in many ways to develop in parallel directions. It stands to reason that similar starting points may also have been part of the deal. #
We repeat that the blessings were similar but they were not the same. Ultimately the primogeniture in the End Times will go to Jacob and even before then the blessing to Jacob is to be greater. At all events our understanding is in accordance with the literal meaning of the Hebrew text as always understood in the past. It is NOT a "Johnny-come-lately" rationalization! Our understanding is however much more rational in the light of our understanding concerning the identification of Esau as leading elements among certain peoples who are prominent today!
Some time ago we had discussed the content of Genesis 27:39, in which the Patriarch Isaac blessed his firstborn son Esau. My understanding was that the proper reading of this blessing-prophecy should be away from the fatness of the earth and of the dew of heaven. You explained to me that the right Hebrew translation of this verse imperatively must be thy dwelling shall be the fatness of the earth and of the dew of heaven. I trusted in your deep knowledge of the Hebrew language and for a while was convinced that your opinion is correct. But something inside was bothering me; I felt that such interpretation of this verse is illogical and makes no much sense. I know that you have written on this subject extensively. But I hope to shed some light on a matter from different perspectives. I made some research on this and here is what I found out:
First of all, it comes to my awareness that I am not alone asserting that the preposition ( mi y) here is serve as negative, partitive sense and denotes distance or separation, away from, or dwelling far from. Many well-known theologians (Tuch, Knobel, Kurtz, Delitzseh, Keil, Kalisch, Murphy), Jews and Christians alike, with a good knowledge of the Hebrew, are of the opinion that the preposition ( mi y) should not be translated here "of" but from, which is grammatically admissible. Thus, Ellicott's Commentary stated that it is no answer to this to say that as the same preposition is used in Genesis 27:28, it cannot have a contrary sense in the two blessings (Genesis 27:39).
Secondarily, such a reading of the Isaacs blessing is a clear indication that Esau, in opposite to his brother Jacob who was blessed with the riches of this earth, will inherit a wild, barren, and not fertile, fruitful land useful for living by agriculture: "Behold thy dwelling shall be away from the fat places of the earth, and away from the dew of heaven from above (Genesis 27:39; Malachi 1:3). This conclusion perfectly fit the personality of Esau as a mighty hunter of wild beasts and slayer of men. He is a man of the field, physically strong and skillful swordsmen who was able to hunt down and kill another mighty hunter Nimrod together with his two bodyguards. It is not for Esau to till and sow the land; he despised this kind of life. To be a farmer, look after the cattle, to be a good sheppard, to stay permanently in the tent and live by agriculture has never been his lot. Why would he trouble himself with such a heavy burden, if he could easily possess all material wealth, milk and honey, bread and butter, fruit and wine, by the strength of his hands, being a mighty warrior? That is what the descendants of Esau have demonstrated throughout history being powerful predatory military Empire, defeating and subjugating weaker nations, forcing them to pay tributes to sustain its comfortable and pleasant way of living. Otherwise, if we translate Isaacs blessing to Esau positive as Thy dwelling shall be the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of heaven from above and By thy sword shall you live, it easily can be seen that these two ways of life for Esau are not only contradict each other, but they are also exclude, rule out any common sense of such possibility. Those who have fertile lands live by agriculture. Those who live by the sword live by the arrogance of power, subjugating and robbing weaker nations. To live both by agriculture and by sword it is not what Isaac meant and it does not prophetically represent what Esau is. Which is perfectly corresponds to the Gods prediction: Two manners of people shall be separated from thy bowels (Genesis 25:23).
Thirdly, why would Isaac bless Esau with the same material firstborn blessing he had already given to Jacob? Does it make sense? One may carefully look at the blessings of our Patriarch Jacob to his 12 sons: Jacob blessed them; every one according to his blessing he blessed them (Gen. 49:28). It means that each son received appropriate blessing initiated by God and suitable to each of them separately and differently according to personal (tribal) character and the spirit of prophecy. Esau did not understand and value the spiritual importance of the birthright, as It is from the line of Jacob through kings David and Solomon the future Messiah should come. But he knew that Isaac could not give him the same firstborn blessings as he gave to his brother Jacob. Esau also realized that Patriarch blessing to Jacob is final and not reversible. Haven't you reserved any blessing for me? And Isaac answered and said unto Esau, Behold, I have made him thy lord, and all his brethren have I given to him for servants; and with corn and wine have I sustained him: and what shall I do now unto thee, my son (Gen.27:36-37)? It is very clear from this response that Esau could not receive material blessing similar to Jacobs, that is, richness of the earth and dew of the heaven. Hence, here is the Esaus emotional outcry: O my father, have you but one blessing? Bless me, even me also. The only blessing God rewarded Esau through his father Isaac was, By thy sword shall you live The fatness and dew were already given to Jacob, and there was no way and reason to give the same to Esau. He could not be blessed with the riches of earth and in the same time live by the sword, being a warrior, predatory nation such rendering contradicts the character of Esau and the spirit of prophecy. This conversation indicates that Isaac could not give identical firstborn blessings to Esau. There is only one birthright blessing. And the only one left is by the sword and away from Moreover, Isaac had already given the corn-land and vineyards to Jacob (Genesis 27:37), and had no second gift of them in his power. It is Esau who was blessed by God to be a strong and skillful military power that would, with his descendants, dominate the nations and live by the sword (Genesis 27:40).
Understanding the text this way, one may come to conclusion that the both parts of the blessing supplement and agree with each other.
Fourthly, although Jacob received his firstborn blessings by deceit and trickeries, Isaac, being righteous man of God and learning upon explanation of Esau what had happened, was shocked to the bone, And Isaac trembled very exceedingly, suddenly realized that he sinned the great sin in front of God bestowing firstborn spiritual prophetic blessings on his most famous oldest son contrary to the will of God revealed to his wife Rebekah: The elder shall serve the younger (Genesis 25:23). Despite Esaus great and bitter cry, because he understood that he lost privileges of being firstborn, Isaac did not change a word of his blessing basically confirming, yea, I blessed Jacob, and he shall be blessed (Gen. 27:33). He was glad that innocent, of little significance, almost miraculous chain of events reminiscent to the Book of Esther, when Divine Providence had taken a hand in the matter and lead to the right decision and happy end, awaken him to reality and prevented to sin against God. As the author Yair Davidiy puts it in his new book Esau-Edomites Today, It was the way God wanted it.
Esau blamed Jacob for taking away my birthright, but this was a false accusation, for he himself had sold it, and despised it (Genesis 25:33). And one more thing: if Esau was given fatness of the earth and the dew of heaven, that is, the same material blessing as Jacob, there would not be a reason for Esau to hate his brother and threaten to kill him. Aged Patriarch of Israel was sure that the blessing of Esau was correct and was "of the Lord."