Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Merciful to a fault?

Ephraim and Manasseh
Joseph had two sons, Ephraim and Menasseh. Both Ephraim and Menasseh received the status of full Tribes in their own right. Jacob said:

meaning that they should be counted as Tribes amongst the brothers of JOSEPH. Jacob blessed Ephraim and Menasseh, "The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth" (Genesis 48:16). "And he blessed them that day, saying, In thee shall Israel bless saying, God make thee as Ephraim and as Menasseh: and he set Ephraim before Menasseh" (Genesis 48:20).

The prevalence of Ephraim is repeated in Jeremiah (31:9), "I am a father to Israel, and EPHRAIM is my firstborn". Nonetheless towards the end times (in our days) there was to be a stage in which Manasseh would be preeminent.

The blessings were concomitant with a Divine Purpose. Of Abraham it was said, "Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him. For I know him that he will command his children and his house after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD to do justice and judgement; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him" (Genesis 18:18-19).

The task of performing "justice and judgement" after becoming "a great and mighty nation" through which all the nations of the earth would be blessed devolved upon Joseph. Tens of millions (if not hundreds of millions) of people throughout the world have not starved to death or massacred each other only because the "Anglo-Saxon" nations saved them. The only real restraint on tyranny anywhere today is that exercised by these countries.

The quality of Empathic Consideration (Chesed) was associated with the Northern Kingdom in which the Tribe of Joseph was paramount. "We have heard that the kings of the House of Israel are merciful kings", said servants of the King of Syria (1-Kings 20:31).

The prophet Amos condemned Judah for not keeping the Law, he also condemned "Israel", meaning the Ten Tribes, "because they sold the righteous for silver" (Amos 1:4-6). A great Rabbinical Authority (the "Natziv") explained that keeping the Law was the special forte of Judah and therefore it was expected of him. When he failed to fulfill the expectation he became liable. The Ten Tribes on the other hand, had never been noted as scripturally observant but they had been known for empathic consideration of others (Chesed). When, through selling the righteous for silver, their level of Social Justice fell and they too became liable.

In their place of exile and re-settlement it would seem that Social Justice is still expected from the Ten Tribes. "Hate the evil and love the good, and establish judgement in the gate: it may be that the LORD God of Hosts will be gracious unto the remnant of JOSEPH" (Amos 6:15). [emphasis mine]
 - excerpt from Geneaology of the Blessings to Israel by Yair Davidiy

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