Ten Tribes Studies (6 December, 2012. 22 Kislev, 5773)
1. Randy Steven Varnum on "The Tribes".
2. Bill Rasmussen: More on the Blessing to Esau.
3. A Quick Comparison of the Blessings to Jacob and Esau.
4.James W. Stark : Question on the Meaning of Manasseh in Hebrew
5. Timothy F.Â Murray: Remarks on Bible Translations
1. Randy Steven Varnum on "The Tribes".
Hey Yair, I am enjoying your book. It is a must read for everyone wanting a better understanding of the Bible.
2. Bill Rasmussen: More on the Blessing to Esau
Subject:Â Brit Am 1971 re: Shemen translation
Yair, I appreciate the comments by both Trevor Barnes and John [no last name]. Both seemed to agree that "Mishmanay HaAretz", the Hebrew found in Bereshit 27:39 is accuarately translated as "fatness of the earth". I use the Stone Edition Chumash for my Torah readings. The Stone Edition Chumash basically uses the King James version of the Bible, which I feel is the most accurate when translating Hebrew as well as Greek.
I have about 10 different versions of the Bible. Some are quite loose in their translations while others adhere more closely to the true meanings of words. That is not to say that the King James is perfect because it is not. However, if people are unable to read either Hebrew or Greek as the case may be, then I would advise using the KJV to get arguably the most benefit from reading the Word of G-d.
The Hebrew word for both "oil" and "fat" are Shemen. My Shilo Hebrew dictionary renders Shemen as "fat", "grease", "oil" and "fertile". So, I suppose the verse could be translated as "the riches of the earth", although the most literal translation is fat or oil. We know that Israel was blessed by HaShem with the 7 fruits of the land, hence a fulfillment of "richness or riches of the earth".
However, both Jacob and Esau may have also been blessed with petroleum oil, which would explain a future prosperity, especially in the case of Israel where scientists have been drilling and exploring for oil. There is some speculation in fact, that beneath Israel is a basin to which all the oil of the Middle East drains into. If that is the case, then Israel would become the richest country in the world because of all that oil. We know though that if that is the case, the Arab countries would be livid and would no doubt start a massive war with Israel. This might actually be an instigation for the war of Gog and Magog mentioned in Ezekiel 38-39.
Regardless of the translation, we know that Jacob got the greater blessing with the "dew from heaven and the oil/fatness from the earth". Both carry deep spiritual and prophetic meanings. An entire treatise could be written about the Hebrew word "Tal", which is translated as "dew". This is the root for the Hebrew word "Talit", which is the prayer shawl that Jews wear when praying. It also speaks of the canopy of protection HaShem has given to his people and to his land.
I guess I will have to read up more on the rabbinic interpretation of the verse, but suffice to say, the Stone Edition Chumash takes a translation similar to how I view the verse. It says in the commentary on the verse:
"Of the fatness of the earth-This blessing does not conflict with Jacob's since God's natural blessing is abundant enough for both of them. Furthermore, since Jacob was Abraham's heir, he would realize his blessing in Eretz Yisrael, while Esaus would realize his in another land [Rambam].
"Unlike the blessing he gave Jacob, Isaac did not say that God would grant Esau's blessing, which have implied that it would be given under Divine providence and guidance. Rather, Esau's good fortune would come in the normal course of nature." [R'Hirsch]
So, I do have trouble at this point with the notion that Esau would be away from the earth's richenss and dew from above, or that his dwelling would be "away from fertile areas". Perhaps Yair, we can explore this verse further with additional commentary by Rabbinic sources.
Shalom, Bill Rasmussen
3. A Quick Comparison of the Blessings to Jacob and Esau.
The Blessing to Jacob
28 Therefore may God give you
Of the dew of heaven,
Of the fatness of the earth,
And plenty of grain and wine.
29 Let peoples serve you,
And nations bow down to you.
Be master over your brethren,
And let your mother's sons bow down to you.
Cursed be everyone who curses you,
And blessed be those who bless you!
The Blessing to Esau:
39 Then Isaac his father answered and said to him:
Behold, your dwelling shall be of the fatness of the earth,
And of the dew of heaven from above.
40 By your sword you shall live,
And you shall serve your brother;
And it shall come to pass, when you become restless,
That you shall break his yoke from your neck.
Jacob is blessed first with the dew of heaven then with the fatness of the earth.
With Esau the order is reversed, first fatness of the earth then dew of heaven.
Nevertheless so far the blessing are basically the same.
Jacob then receives grainÂ and wine but this too may be considered not that different from the fatness of the earth.
Jacob then receives (27:29) nations serving and bowing down to him and lordship over his brethren including Esau.
Esau in the parallel verse (27:40) is told he will live by the sword and serve his brother. Eventually he will break free.
Just for interest cf. also the blessing of Moses to Joseph:
The Blessing to Joseph
13 And of Joseph he said:
Blessed of the Lord is his land,
With the precious things of heaven, with the dew,
And the deep lying beneath,
14 With the precious fruits of the sun,
With the precious produce of the months,
15 With the best things of the ancient mountains,
With the precious things of the everlasting hills,
16 With the precious things of the earth and its fullness,
And the favor of Him who dwelt in the bush.
Let the blessing come on the head of Joseph,
And on the crown of the head of him who was separate from his brothers.
17 His glory is like a firstborn bull,
And his horns like the horns of the wild ox;
Together with them
He shall push the peoples
To the ends of the earth;
They are the ten thousands of Ephraim,
And they are the thousands of Manasseh.
4. Â James W. Stark: Question on the Meaning of Manasseh in Hebrew
Sir: With the deepest respect I hold for you, in a real sense a mentor, I was under the impression that Manasseh means (nasha) basically; make to forget; Genesis 41:50 - 52. In your article from 1970 under Joseph, it is suggested that his name means "representation"; i.e. the United Stated of America.
I am not a Hebrew scholar yet alone a scribe... can you please clarify this for me? I don't want to be teaching something that is borderline true or worse yet, simply wrong.
My greatest appreciation,
James W. Stark
We have explained the derivation of the name Manasseh several times.
As often happens we have taken it for granted that the subject was well-explained several times over with easy to find explanations BUT it may not have been so.
We should perhaps re-arrange our articles on the subject.
At all events,
explains part of the word derivation.
The best of our articles on this matter however is probably:
NAMES LINKED WITH THE SONS OF JOSEPH
# "And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: For God has caused me to forget [Hebrew: `Nashani'] all my troubles and my father's family (Genesis 41;50-51).
The Hebrew word translated above as "forget" is derived from a root, "NOSHE", connoting "movement from its proper place": One forgets when something "slips one's mind", as if to say that whatever has been forgotten has moved from its proper place in the brain's retrieval system. Similarly, "And Jacob was left alone and there wrestled a man with him....... "And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh, and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint as he wrestled with him........ "Therefore the children of Israel eat not of the displaced nerve [Hebrew: "Gid HaNosheh")... (Genesis 32;24,25,32). ....
The sciatic nerve is called "Gid HaNoSHeh" meaning "the sinew that was displaced" (Genesis 32;33) when Jacob wrestled with the angel, and consequently (though victorious) limped away..By the same principle a creditor in Hebrew is called a "Nosheh" since what is rightfully his he has moved out of his domain and placed in charge of another and may demand an accounting of his own. Women collectively are called in the Plural "NoSHim" [and not "Ishoth" as they should logically be] since communally their collective rights are delegated elsewhere, i.e. in their husbands upon whom they have a claim to be represented by them. It follows that any name derived from this root "NoSHeH" has several possible connotations including "forget", "move, or slip", "credit or oblige an accounting" (i.e. hold responsible), or be responsible to and "represent". It seems that the name Menasseh (derived from the root "NaSHeH") may be understood to mean "responsible representation" which is the type of Democratic Government the U.S.A. sometimes seems to base its whole being upon....
The relevant verse regarding the name MENASSEH, Genesis 41;51, says: "And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: For God has caused me to forget [Hebrew: `Nashani'] all my troubles and my father's family (Genesis 41;50-51).
S.R. Hirsch on the above states that "nashani" does not mean "forget" in case of the name "Menasseh" (Genesis 41;51 continued) but rather delegated representation: `The correct interpretation therefore of "Nashani" [from which the name "Menasseh is derived] is that God has made my tragedy and my [loss of] family credit claims. From that which till now appeared to be tragedy and torment God has made a tool to form my happiness. I am greatly obligated to my tragedy and [loss of] family'.
End of Quote but if you are really interested read the article all the way through.
First of all two points should be made clear:
a. Our explanation is based on that of Rabbi Shimshom Rafael Hirsch (1808-1888) and when quoting us it should be mentioned that we are basing ourselves on Hirsch. This work is available in English translation.
b.Â Anything we say regarding the meaning of Hebrew words may be taken as authoritative and in line with the Hebrew Language. If others bring contrary explanations then they are probably mistaken OR are not representing all of the picture.
The name Manasseh is indeed derived from the root NShH and this does connote forgetting, as you said and as we also have said. And so does Hirsch.
BUT it also connotes delegated representation or responsible representation and this is how Hirsch understands the name Manasseh.
So if you use this material as teaching material and you wish to be certain that this explanation isÂ reliable and can be referenced you should perhaps make known:
a. The explanation is based on the Commentary of S. R. Hirsch. Not everybody will necessarily agree with what SRH says but in this cases (at least) anyone who knows Hebrew reasonably well from the Biblical and Classical sources should agree with it or at least acknowledge it as a strong possibility.
b.Â It is an extrapolation from S.R. Hirsch that Yair Davidiy of Brit-Am explains, and stands behind, and is responsible for, and is able to do so.
Some things we can do and some things we cannot but this is one of those we can.
Not only that but these days many people know Hebrew: Dictionaries, Concordances, and all kinds of authoritative references are availableÂ so what is being said on this matter should not be too difficult to confirm.
It is not borderline true but rather the truth and the main message but like everything else is better presented as part of an over-all picture with other factors also taken into consideration.
We have been teaching this for decades and so far have never been challenged on this point.
5. Timothy F. Murray: Remarks on Bible Translations
Re: Brit-Am Now no. 1971: Ten Tribes Studies.
I agree with Mr. Barnes that the NIV is a dubious translation. I avoid it
entirely. In addition to the KJV, I also recommend the 1901 American
Standard Version (ASV), and its latest descendant, the new English
Standard Version (ESV). The New American Standard (NAS) is also a
dependable translation. It's important to note, though, that none of
them, including the KJV, is perfect. Still, these are the best we can do
if we have no Greek or Hebrew skills.