Handout #11: Jacob’s journey, Penuel, titles/name of God, Joseph, Judah’s sin, Jewish modesty, Kriah, Talmud, March 2014
Journey of Jacob: During lifetime he married Leah, Rachel, Zilpah and Bilhah, had 11 sons, a daughter. He became rich. Rachel died, was buried in Beit-lechem (Heb. house of bread). Jacob was in Padan-aram, Esau in Edom, Isaac in Hebron. Jacob was commanded by Lord to return to Beth-el. He wanted to see his father and make peace with Esau, who was intent upon murdering Jacob. He readied his company and prayed, sent all away and prepared to face Esau alone. He saw the face of God – Peniel or Penuel – Legend says an angel changed Jacob’s name to Israel יִשְׂרָאֵל, (Yisroel) (Gen 32:28), meaning “triumphant (or who prevails) with God”, hence the tribes, eventually the kingdom of Israel. EL=God
Some of the many titles of God: El – (mighty, strong) 250 times in O.T. Variant: Eloa, Elohim– this plural occurs 2,570 times in OT=(Creator), El Shaddai – (Almighty), Adonai (Master, Lord).
The NAME of God is (Yahveh) =I Am Who I Am- self-existent.
In order to know the Father, you must know the Son. Name of God includes name of Son.
Called=Tetragrammaton YHVH – Easily changed to Jehovah-Lord- by adding the vowel “o” over the first letter: יהֹוָה. Observant Jews will not say His Name, preferring ha shem (the name).
Joseph – 11th of Jacob’s 12, firstborn of Rachel. Most loved of the others, he dreamed of his eventual power (Gen 37). His brothers sold him to Ishmaelites or Midianite traders. Shechem would be bequeathed to Joseph by Jacob. It was the original central shrine and capital of Israelite Canaan. So the sojourn in and Exodus from Egypt and the desert wanderings that followed, though only involving part of the Israelite nation, were central to their history because they saw the character of the unique God they worshipped, His power to deliver them from the greatest empire on earth, give them land of their own – also it revealed the multitude of his exacting demands which He expected them to meet.
The Bible shows most leaders born without place or power but raised to it by their own efforts, are the products of acts of divine grace. There is a particular virtue in powerlessness, appropriate to a people who had never possessed power and suffered much under others. Joseph and Moses had no rights of birth and narrowly survived childhood, but both had the God-endowed qualities to bring them to greatness by their own efforts. Joseph was the great minister-statesman of an alien ruler, the pattern of Jews over the next 3,000 years. He was clever, quick, perceptive, imaginative, a dreamer, with creative ability to interpret complex phenomena, to forecast, foresee, plan and administrate. (From P.Johnson, A History of the Jews) The early scribes were fascinated with the tale of Joseph. These stories are blended together with some artistry and should not be taken literally, for myth inhabits scriptures!
Kriah (kree ah)–tearing in Hebrew. Jacob rent his clothes and put sackcloth on (Gen 37:34), as did brother Reuben when he returned to the cistern and saw Joseph gone. This ancient Hebrew practice showed grief, Kriah is an ancient Hebrew tradition. Likewise, in II Samuel 1:11 we are told that King David and all the men with him took hold of their clothes and rent them upon hearing of the death of Saul and Jonathan. Job, too, in grieving for his children, stood up and rent his clothes (Job 1:20).
Kriah is performed by the child, parent, spouse, and sibling of the deceased. It is usually done at the funeral home before the funeral service begins. If a black ribbon is used, it is provided by the funeral director. Kriah is always performed standing. The act of standing shows strength at a time of grief. A cut is made on the left side of the clothing for parents–over the heart–and on the right side for all other relatives. Sometimes people choose to express deep feelings of grief by cutting on the left side for relatives other than their parents. Can be worn as long as a month of mourning.
As the tear or cut is made, the family recites the following blessing: Meant to show increased faith, service to God.
Barukh atah Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha’olam dayan ha’emet. Blessed are You, Adonai Our God, Ruler of the Universe, the True Judge.
Joseph is spoken of both in the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants. The people who created the Book of Mormon record were descendants of Joseph, and they received promises from the Lord. Joseph was a savior to the tribes of Israel in the Bible narrative, and his descendants have nurtured Judah’s descendants in these last days.
Joseph was a boy-prophet; his dreams were prophetic when he was a youth. He continued to have visions, to be able to interpret dreams, and to commune with God throughout his life. His greatest prophecies were actually recorded, saying that he saw “the beginning from the end,” but we don’t have them, because we’re not worthy yet to read them.
The Book of Mormon says,
“Wherefore, Joseph truly saw our day. And he obtained a promise of the Lord, that out of the fruit of his loins the Lord would raise up a righteous branch unto the house of Israel; not the Messiah, but a branch which was to be broken off, nevertheless, to be remembered in the covenants of the Lord that the Messiah should be made manifest unto them in the latter days, in the spirit of power, unto the bringing of them out of darkness unto light — yea, out of hidden darkness and out of captivity unto freedom” (2 Nephi 3:5).
In 2 Nephi 3 it also records a prophecy of Joseph foreseeing the deliverance of Israel under Moses, and a last-days prophet named Joseph who would be a Moses to us. He prophesied that the scriptures written by the Judahites and the scriptures written by the descendants of Joseph would be had in one and testify of each other, bringing people to a knowledge of their fathers and their covenants.
“For behold, he truly prophesied concerning all his seed. And the prophecies which he wrote, there are not many greater. And he prophesied concerning us, and our future generations; and they are written upon the plates of brass (2 Nephi 4:2).
The price received for Joseph, twenty pieces of silver, is the same price specified later in the Mosaic law for a slave between the ages of five and twenty (see Leviticus 27:5 ). Typically, the price for a slave was thirty pieces of silver (see Exodus 21:32 ).
Judah’s Sin (Genesis 38)
Judah engaged in an incestuous relationship with his daughter-in-law, Tamar. It is important to note Judah’s twisted sense of values. He had no qualms about sending Tamar home with unfulfilled promises nor of picking up a harlot along the road. But when he heard that Tamar was pregnant he was so incensed that he ordered her to be put to death. (O.T. Student Manual)
Judaism encourages modesty as one of the means to chastity. A Jewish woman is aught to dress and act modestly at all times. Furthermore, a man is forbidden to be alone with a woman with whom he is not permitted to have sexual relations. (Encyclopedia Judaica)
Ancient customs of the Middle East provided that a brother of a deceased man should marry his widow. Under Moses this custom became law (see Deuteronomy 25:5–10). The purpose of such a marriage was to produce a male heir for the dead man and thus perpetuate his name and memory. It was regarded as a great calamity to die without a son, for then the man’s lineage did not continue and also the man’s property reverted to someone else’s family (through daughters, if he had any, or through other relatives).
It may be that Onan, who by virtue of the death of his older brother would have been next in line for the inheritance of Judah, refused to raise up seed through Tamar because the inheritance would have stayed with the elder son’s family. He went through the outward show of taking Tamar to wife but refused to let her have children. Thus when Judah failed to keep his promise to send the youngest son to her, Tamar resorted to deception in order to bear children. She enticed Judah himself, who should have made sure that the Levirate Marriage contract was honored for Tamar. Through their lineage, the Messiah came, proving that a child’s lineage, or the situation from which he descends, has no bearing on his greatness or worth.
Over 20 years passed until Joseph saw his brothers again. By keeping Benjamin for ransom, Joseph proved to himself that his brothers still felt guilt for the way they had treated him, and that Judah especially was repentant and willing to go to any lengths to protect his youngest brother, Benjamin.
Mormon recorded in the Book of Mormon that when Jacob saw that a remnant of the “coat of many colours” (v. 32 ) had been preserved, he prophesied that so also would a remnant of Joseph’s seed be preserved (see Alma 46:24 ).
Joseph, through his actions and the Lord’s design, became a type of Christ. The touching scene in Genesis 45:4-8 in which Joseph finally revealed himself to his brothers, demonstrates the Christlike nature of his character. He forgave without bitterness, extended love when undeserved, and saw the Lord’s hand in all that happened. But his similarities to Christ go much deeper. As Nephi said, all things from the beginning of the world were given to typify, or symbolize, Christ (see 2 Nephi 11:4 ; Moses 6:63 ). It has already been shown how Abraham was a type of the Father and Isaac a type of Jesus when Abraham was commanded to offer Isaac in sacrifice. This act was “a similitude of God and his Only Begotten Son” ( Jacob 4:5 ). (O.T. Student Manual)
According to Talmud the Messiah will be a descendant of the House of David and will be preceded by a secondary Messiah, from the House of Joseph. (Encyclopedia Judaica)
Talmud= Jews say the O.T. is only an index to Talmud, the words of the scholars through the world for centuries. Among other things, it contains much devotional and inspirational material. The Talmud is the civil and canonical law of the Jewish people. It contains references not only to the religious life but also to philosophy, medicine, history, jurisprudence and practical duty. More particularly it prescribes dietary and ceremonial regulations. Most Jews today have never seen a Talmud and know little or nothing of its contents. However, what they hear and learn from their rabbis and from tradition, they accept without question. Most do not even realize that the rabbis quarrel among themselves in the Talmud and many questions discussed by them remain unanswered. Many questions are answered in the Doctrine and Covenants, through revelation given to a prophet of God. This writer thanks God for leading her to it.
One needs to always remember that the Talmud is only a commentary; not the inspired Word of God. A knowledge of it can be a great asset in appreciating Latter-day scripture. By studying the Talmud one can better understand Jewish people and their devotion to one god, YHVH.
By Marlena Baker – [email protected] 206-335-9338