Torah Study Notes 11-23-13

November 23, 2013
p. 246
The story of Jacob is essentially over. He is settled in the land of Canaan with his twelve sons.
p. 246 Joseph and his coat of many colors. The Game of Thrones picks up on the theme that one of the children is born when his mother dies in childbirth – like Benjamin. Note the reference to “wives” which could be better translated as “Jacob’s woman.” He produces children by “handmaidens.” Here the story of “Israel” becomes the story of Joseph. “The coat of many colors” had meaning to ancient readers – it made him stand out but in a negative way. Joseph is a bit of a brat – much like his father at the same age. There is also a similarity in the “split” of the brothers. With Jacob it was Esau but here it is Joseph and his brothers. LL: It has been said that there are only seven basic stories to tell. SF: What is Jacob doing in dressing Joseph in this coat? He is essentially emasculating him. He afterward has a simmering resentment toward his father. The message of Torah is that we are given opportunities to repeat events and to learn from them.
37:5 Joseph’s dream wherein his brothers sheep bow down to his sheep. The notion of the bundles of wheat is clearly to foreshadow the rest of the story. His tactlessness is a form of naiveté.
37::9 Another dream – the sun moon and eleven stars. In rabbinic literature this has to do with “the spirit of God” – the prophetic ability. Note the passage of this ability from Abraham to Isaac to Joseph and now Joseph. Once the successor has the ability the prior generation no longer has it.
37: 12 Shechem, where Joseph is sent to check on his brothers, is much further north than Hebron. In the heat of the summer the flocks are sent north. “Here I am” has powerful implications and signals that something dramatic is about to happen.
37:15 Joseph asks a stranger where his brothers are. What is the purpose of this passage? There is a sense that the stranger is a divine actor. “I am looking for my brothers.” Is resonant of “Am I my brother’s keeper” from Cain and Able. This could be the beginning of some emotional and intellectual maturity for Joseph. And it makes more horrific the way the brothers turn on him.
37:18 “Here comes that master of dreams.” SF: This seems an excessive reaction to Joseph’s insults. LL: This is resonant of “honor societies” wherein an insult can in fact be the basis of a death sentence. PG: This has more to do with the inevitability of events than honor.
37:21 “Do not shed blood. Throw him in a pit.” Reuben is the oldest and wants to reinforce his position. LL: At the same time it appears that there is recognition of the symbolism of blood – which has significance in the ritual of sacrifice. Blood also plays a significant role in the Cain and Able story – “His blood cries out from the earth.”

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