What does it really mean to forgive
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What Does it Really Mean to Forgive?. A Powerpoint Accompaniment to Lecture 4 in a series of online classes by Rabbi David Fohrman. Reconsidering Some Questions Raised in Lecture #1. Slavery comes out of nowhere in the Book of Exodus. Why, and how?

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What does it really mean to forgive

What Does it Really Mean to Forgive?

A Powerpoint Accompaniment to Lecture 4 in a series of online classes by Rabbi David Fohrman


Reconsidering some questions raised in lecture 1

Reconsidering Some Questions Raised in Lecture #1

  • Slavery comes out of nowhere in the Book of Exodus. Why, and how?

  • Why does the Pharaoh who “forgot” about Joseph, remember him so well?

    • “Joseph imagery” pervades Pharaoh’s words at every turn.


Links between books

Links Between Books

  • Earlier, we mentioned links between Genesis 50 and the beginning of Exodus…

  • …but the connection between Genesis and Exodus is far broader and deeper than this…

Genesis

Exodus


What does it really mean to forgive

As we will soon show, the language of the text seems to indicate a connection

between the first chapter of Exodus, and two earlier chpaters in Genesis –

Chapters fifty and forty seven.

One chapter seems to set forth the economic underpinnings of slavery;

the other seems to set forth its metaphysical underpinnings.


The socio economic background to slavery genesis chapter 47

The Socio-Economic Background to Slavery: Genesis Chapter 47

Strangers vs. Landholders

  • When the brothers first petition Pharaoh to stay in Egypt, they state “lagur ba’aretz banu” – we have come to sojourn in the land… (47:4).

  • In actuality, though, Joseph gives them an “achuzah” – a holding – in the land (v. 11).

  • In Biblical Hebrew, the term “achuzah” denotes an ancestral plot – the deepest kind of connection a human can have to land…


Achuzah a holding in egypt

Achuzah / A “Holding” in Egypt

  • As if to emphasize the point, the Torah creates a “sandwich” of sorts in this chapter, a theme that repeats itself briefly on both sides of a major event.

  • The term “achuzah”, as we will see in a moment, plays an important role in this “sandwich”…


The sandwich

“The Sandwich”

‘Top’ Theme: Verses 11-12 – The Israelites’ experience in Egypt

Middle Theme: Intervening Verses – The Egyptian experience in Egypt

‘Bottom Theme’: Verse 27 – The Israelites’ experience in Egypt


What does it really mean to forgive

…and Joseph gave them an achuzah (holding) in the land of Egypt…

‘Top’ Theme: Verses 11-12 – The Israelites’ experience in Egypt

Parallel Language:

The verb “achuza” becomes a noun

…and the Israelites settled in Egypt and took hold of it there…

‘Bottom Theme’: Verse 27 – The Israelites’ experience in Egypt


Examining the intervening verses

Examining the Intervening Verses

Having looked briefly at the “bread”, let’s examine these intervening verses, which describe the Egyptian experience in Egypt…


Bread in the top piece of bread

“Bread” in the top piece of Bread

  • Verse 12 – the last verse in the “top piece of bread” ends with the words that Joseph provided “bread, enough for the children”.

  • Verse 13 – the first verse of the middle section picks up on the bread theme – “…and there was no bread in all the land of Egypt…”

The contrast is stark:

Joseph’s family was provided for -- but the Egyptians needed to struggle.


Shepherds and sheep

Shepherds and Sheep

  • The impoverished masses plead with Joseph for food. As they have no money to pay Pharaoh, Joseph asks for sheep instead.

  • When is the last time we heard about sheep in Genesis?

  • …and you [Joseph’s brothers] shall say to Pharaoh: “we are herders of sheep, from our ancestors until now… (Genesis 47:3).


The middle section

The Middle Section

Throughout this middle section of text, we find many foreshadows of what is to come in the Book of Exodus.

Taxes: A Way Station to Slavery

  • Joseph levies taxes on the land; the Egyptian people proclaim: Let us be slaves to Pharaoh!

  • Pharaoh levies taxes on the Jews; the Jews become slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt


Storehouses in ra amses

Storehouses in Ra’amses

  • The Jews settle in the land of Ra’amses.

  • The Jews build storehouses for Pharaoh –one of which is the city of Ra’amses.

  • Why Storehouses?

    • Are the Egyptians seeking to ensure they will never again be victims of a famine?


Population growth

Population Growth

  • At the end of this middle section, the verse (47:27) states: “vayifru, vayirbu me’od” – and [the Jews] were fruitful, and they multiplied greatly.

  • Every other word in this phrase is repeated in Exodus, in a verse that is the immediate prelude to slavery…


What does it really mean to forgive

  • At the end of this middle section, the verse (47:27) states: “vayifru, vayirbu me’od” – and [the Jews] were fruitful, and they multiplied greatly.

  • Exodus 1:7: And the Israelites were fruitful and they swarmed; they multiplied and grew strong,very greatly.

Green = Words from Genesis; Yellow = New Words


The roots of egyptian paranoia

The Roots of Egyptian Paranoia

  • In Exodus, why were the Israelites able to increase so quickly?

  • The text seems to suggest that the roots of this process comes from the relatively abundant food the brothers were supplied with in Egypt…

  • The impression seems to be that the process which started in Genesis – population growth – has now increased exponentially…


What does it really mean to forgive

  • By the time Exodus rolls around, this growth leads Pharaoh to reassess his view of Joseph.

  • His new view is fraught with paranoia…


Re reading exodus chapter 1

Re-Reading Exodus Chapter 1

  • 1:8 A new king who did not know of Joseph, came into power over Egypt. 1:9 He announced to his people, 'The Israelites are becoming a people too numerous and strong for us.1:10 Come, let us deal wisely with them. Otherwise, they may increase so much, that if there is war, they will add on to our enemies and fight against us, driving us from the land.'1:11 [The Egyptians] appointed tax officers over [the Israelites] to crush their spirits with hard labor. [The Israelites] were to build up the cities of Pitom and Ra'amses as supply centers for Pharaoh.


Hava come

“Hava / Come”

  • 1:8 A new king who did not know of Joseph, came into power over Egypt. 1:9 He announced to his people, 'The Israelites are becoming a people too numerous and strong for us.1:10 Come, let us deal wisely with them. Otherwise, they may increase so much, that if there is war, they will join our enemies and fight against us, driving us from the land.'1:11 [The Egyptians] appointed tax officers over [the Israelites] to crush their spirits with hard labor. [The Israelites] were to build up the cities of Pitom and Ra'amses as supply centers for Pharaoh.

The last person to use the phrase “hava” / “come”, is Joseph – the person the king has supposedly forgotten about.

Joseph had told the Egyptians “come, give your sheep…”


Wisdom

“Wisdom”

  • 1:8 A new king who did not know of Joseph, came into power over Egypt. 1:9 He announced to his people, 'The Israelites are becoming a people too numerous and strong for us.1:10 Come, let us deal wisely with them. Otherwise, they may increase so much, that if there is war, they will join our enemies and fight against us, driving us from the land.'1:11 [The Egyptians] appointed tax officers over [the Israelites] to crush their spirits with hard labor. [The Israelites] were to build up the cities of Pitom and Ra'amses as supply centers for Pharaoh.

The last person described as “wise” was

Joseph, who was able to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams…


Tax masters task masters

Tax Masters & Task Masters

  • 1:8 A new king who did not know of Joseph, came into power over Egypt. 1:9 He announced to his people, 'The Israelites are becoming a people too numerous and strong for us.1:10 Come, let us deal wisely with them. Otherwise, they may increase so much, that if there is war, they will join our enemies and fight against us, driving us from the land.'1:11 [The Egyptians] appointed tax officers over [the Israelites] to crush their spirits with hard labor. [The Israelites] were to build up the cities of Pitom and Ra'amses as supply centers for Pharaoh.

Joseph had levied taxes on the Egyptians on behalf of Pharaoh.


Supply centers

Supply Centers

  • 1:8 A new king who did not know of Joseph, came into power over Egypt. 1:9 He announced to his people, 'The Israelites are becoming a people too numerous and strong for us.1:10 Come, let us deal wisely with them. Otherwise, they may increase so much, that if there is war, they will add themselves to our enemies and fight against us, driving us from the land.'1:11 [The Egyptians] appointed tax officers over [the Israelites] to crush their spirits with hard labor. [The Israelites] were to build up the cities of Pitom and Ra'amses as supply centers for Pharaoh.

Pharaoh had once benevolently let the Israelites settle in Ra’amses. Now he is forcing them to build it into a storehouse – perhaps to ensure that Egyptians will never again be caught unawares by a famine


Joseph and venosaf

Joseph and “Venosaf”

  • 1:8 A new king who did not know of Joseph, came into power over Egypt. 1:9 He announced to his people, 'The Israelites are becoming a people too numerous and strong for us.1:10 Come, let us deal wisely with them. Otherwise, they may increase so much, that if there is war, they will add themselves to our enemies and fight against us, driving us from the land.'1:11 [The Egyptians] appointed tax officers over [the Israelites] to crush their spirits with hard labor. [The Israelites] were to build up the cities of Pitom and Ra'amses as supply centers for Pharaoh.

They will “add themselves”, in Hebrew [venosaf], is a play on Joseph’s name [yosef].


Am rav

Am Rav

  • 1:8 A new king who did not know of Joseph, came into power over Egypt. 1:9 He announced to his people, 'The Israelites are becoming a people too numerous and strong for us.1:10 Come, let us deal wisely with them. Otherwise, they may increase so much, that if there is war, they will add themselves to our enemies and fight against us, driving us from the land.'1:11 [The Egyptians] appointed tax officers over [the Israelites] to crush their spirits with hard labor. [The Israelites] were to build up the cities of Pitom and Ra'amses as supply centers for Pharaoh.

And the most chilling reminder of Genesis is perhaps these words – Pharaoh’s exclamation that the Israelites have become an “am rav” – “a nation [too] numerous for us”


Am rav1

Am Rav

  • 1:8 A new king who did not know of Joseph, came into power over Egypt. 1:9 He announced to his people, 'The Israelites are becoming a people too numerous and strong for us…

Joseph, just a couple of dozen verses ago, had left his brothers offer – “let us be your slaves” – on the table, telling them that it was not up to him; it was up to God.

And anyway, he continued, it looks like God thinks everything worked out fine. It was all part of His plan – for by selling me into slavery, I rose to power and am now in a position to take care of you…

…and thereby, to make you into an “am rav” – a numerous people…


The concentric orbits of divine providence

The Concentric Orbits of Divine Providence

Joseph lays groundwork

For slavery

Joseph in the pit

Joseph provides

for brothers

…the very offer the brothers left on the table immediately before Joseph reassured them About how God evidently

had larger things in mind that fateful day at the pit.


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