Posts Tagged ‘Haftarah’

13
Feb

Haftarah-Shekalim-Reading the Text I-God’s Message to Renew the Covenant

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Portion of the Week

Yehoiada then made a covenant between God and the king and people that they would be God’s people. He also made a covenant between the king and the people. All the people of the land went to the temple of Baal and tore it down. They smashed the altars and idols to pieces and killed Mattan the priest of Baal in front of the altars.

Then Yehoiada the kohen posted guards at the temple of God. He took with him the commanders of hundreds, the Carites, the guards and all the people of the land, and together they brought the king down from the temple of God and went into the palace, entering by way of the gate of the guards. The king then took his place on the royal throne. All the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was calm, because Athaliah had been slain with the sword at the palace.

Yoash was seven years old when he began to reign. (II Kings 11:17-21)

We approach this story with a sense of having closed many outstanding issues in the history of the nation: the prophecies of Elijah, Elisha and Jonah have come to pass (Read Historical Background I, II, III, IV & V). Naboth has been avenged. Yehu rose to greatness and then fell as did so many before him. The Talmud traces the story of Yoash all the way back to King David and his in direct responsibility for the massacre by King Saul of the city of Kohanim, Nov. There is a strong sense in the nation of having closed many painful chapters in their history, and that they are now prepared for a fresh start.

Yehoiada uses this as an opportunity to “seal the covenant,” between God and the King and the people. God did not initiate this renewal of the covenant it was Yehoiada. The Kohen had not received a message from God instructing him to renew the covenant. There was no direct communication from God that He was ready to renew the covenant, and yet, Yehoiada knew that he was empowered to renew the covenant between God, the King, and the people.

Yehoiada knew this with absolute clarity because of all the major events that had taken place. He wanted the people to understand that all that had taken place over the past few decades had been guided by the hand of God. Yehoiada understood that with the realization of the prophecies of Elijah, Elisha and Jonah, that God had already initiated the renewal of the covenant. All that was necessary was for the people to respond to these events as being guided by God’s Hand. The acknowledgment of God’s guidance was the renewal of the covenant.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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13
Feb

Haftarah-Shekalim-Historical Background V-The Vineyard of Naboth

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Portion of the Week

See: “Haftarah-Shekalim-Historical Background II-Yehu Avenges Navot.” Some time later there was an incident involving a vineyard belonging to Naboth the Jezreelite. The vineyard was in Jezreel, close to the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. Ahab said to Naboth, “Let me have your vineyard to use for a vegetable garden, since it is close to my palace. In exchange I will give you a better vineyard or, if you prefer, I will pay you whatever it is worth.”

But Naboth replied, “God forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my ancestors.”

So Ahab went home, sullen and angry because Naboth the Jezreelite had said, “I will not give you the inheritance of my ancestors.” He lay on his bed sulking and refused to eat.

His wife Jezebel came in and asked him, “Why are you so sullen? Why won’t you eat?”

He answered her, “Because I said to Naboth the Jezreelite, ‘Sell me your vineyard; or if you prefer, I will give you another vineyard in its place.’ But he said, ‘I will not give you my vineyard.’”

7 Jezebel his wife said, “Is this how you act as king over Israel? Get up and eat! Cheer up. I’ll get you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.”

So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, placed his seal on them, and sent them to the elders and nobles who lived in Naboth’s city with him.

In those letters she wrote:

“Proclaim a day of fasting and seat Naboth in a prominent place among the people. But seat two scoundrels opposite him and have them bring charges that he has cursed both God and the king. Then take him out and stone him to death.”

So the elders and nobles who lived in Naboth’s city did as Jezebel directed in the letters she had written to them. They proclaimed a fast and seated Naboth in a prominent place among the people.

Then two scoundrels came and sat opposite him and brought charges against Naboth before the people, saying, “Naboth has cursed both the Lord and the king.” So they took him outside the city and stoned him to death. Then they sent word to Jezebel: “Naboth has been stoned to death.”

As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned to death, she said to Ahab, “Get up and take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite that he refused to sell you. He is no longer alive, but dead.”

When Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, he got up and went down to take possession of Naboth’s vineyard.

Then the word of God came to Elijah the Tishbite: “Go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, who rules in Samaria. He is now in Naboth’s vineyard, where he has gone to take possession of it. Say to him, ‘This is what God says: Have you not murdered a man and seized his property?’ Then say to him,

‘This is what God says: In the place where dogs licked up Naboth’s blood, dogs will lick up your blood—yes, yours!’”

Ahab said to Elijah, “So you have found me, my enemy!”

“I have found you,” he answered, “because you have sold yourself to do evil in the eyes of God. He says, ‘I am going to bring disaster on you. I will wipe out your descendants and cut off from Ahab every last male in Israel—slave or free. I will make your house like that of Yeravam son of Nebat and that of Baasha son of Ahiyah, because you have aroused my anger and have caused Israel to sin.’

“And also concerning Jezebel God says: ‘Dogs will devour Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.’

“Dogs will eat those belonging to Ahab who die in the city, and the birds will feed on those who die in the country.” (I Kings 21:1-24)

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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13
Feb

Haftarah-Shekalim-Historical Background IV-Yehu’s Failure

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Portion of the Week

Then Yehu brought all the people together and said to them, “Ahab served Baal a little; Yehu will serve him much. Now summon all the prophets of Baal, all his servants and all his priests. See that no one is missing, because I am going to hold a great sacrifice for Baal. Anyone who fails to come will no longer live.”

But Yehu was acting deceptively in order to destroy the servants of Baal.

Yehu said, “Call an assembly in honor of Baal.” So they proclaimed it. Then he sent word throughout Israel, and all the servants of Baal came; not one stayed away. They crowded into the temple of Baal until it was full from one end to the other.

And Yehu said to the keeper of the wardrobe, “Bring robes for all the servants of Baal.” So he brought out robes for them.

Then Yehu and Yehonadav son of Rekav went into the temple of Baal.

Yehu said to the servants of Baal,

“Look around and see that no one who serves God is here with you—only servants of Baal.”

So they went in to make sacrifices and burnt offerings. Now Yehu had posted eighty men outside with this warning: “If one of you lets any of the men I am placing in your hands escape, it will be your life for his life.”

As soon as Yehu had finished making the burnt offering, he ordered the guards and officers:

“Go in and kill them; let no one escape.” So they cut them down with the sword. The guards and officers threw the bodies out and then entered the inner shrine of the temple of Baal.

They brought the sacred stone out of the temple of Baal and burned it. They demolished the sacred stone of Baal and tore down the temple of Baal, and people have used it for a latrine to this day.

So Yehu destroyed Baal worship in Israel.

However, he did not turn away from the sins of Yeravam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit—the worship of the golden calves at Bethel and Dan.

God said to Yehu, “Because you have done well in accomplishing what is right in my eyes and have done to the house of Ahab all I had in mind to do, your descendants will sit on the throne of Israel to the fourth generation.”

Yet Yehu was not careful to keep the law of God, the Lord of Israel, with all his heart. He did not turn away from the sins of Yeravam, which he had caused Israel to commit.

In those days God began to reduce the size of Israel. Hazael overpowered the Israelites throughout their territory east of the Jordan in all the land of Gilead (the region of Gad, Reuben and Manasseh), from Aroer by the Arnon Gorge through Gilead to Bashan.

As for the other events of Yehu’s reign, all he did, and all his achievements, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel?

Yehu rested with his ancestors and was buried in Samaria. And Yehoahaz his son succeeded him as king.

The time that Yehu reigned over Israel in Samaria was twenty-eight years. (Ii Kings 10:18-36)

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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13
Feb

Haftarah-Shekalim-Historical Background III-Athaliah

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Portion of the Week

When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she proceeded to destroy the whole royal family. But Yehosheba, the daughter of King Yehoramand sister of Ahaziah, took Yoash son of Ahaziah and stole him away from among the royal princes, who were about to be murdered. She put him and his nurse in a bedroom to hide him from Athaliah; so he was not killed.

He remained hidden with his nurse at the temple of God for six years while Athaliah ruled the land.

In the seventh year Yehoiada sent for the commanders of units of a hundred, the Carites and the guards and had them brought to him at the temple of God. He made a covenant with them and put them under oath at the temple of God. Then he showed them the king’s son.

He commanded them, saying,

“This is what you are to do: You who are in the three companies that are going on duty on the Sabbath—a third of you guarding the royal palace, a third at the Sur Gate, and a third at the gate behind the guard, who take turns guarding the temple—and you who are in the other two companies that normally go off Sabbath duty are all to guard the temple for the king. Station yourselves around the king, each of you with weapon in hand. Anyone who approaches your ranks is to be put to death. Stay close to the king wherever he goes.”

The commanders of units of a hundred did just as Yehoiada the priest ordered. Each one took his men—those who were going on duty on the Sabbath and those who were going off duty—and came to Yehoiada the kohen. Then he gave the commanders the spears and shields that had belonged to King David and that were in the temple of God. The guards, each with weapon in hand, stationed themselves around the king—near the altar and the temple, from the south side to the north side of the temple.

Yehoiada brought out the king’s son and put the crown on him; he presented him with a copy of the covenant and proclaimed him king. They anointed him, and the people clapped their hands and shouted, “Long live the king!”

When Athaliah heard the noise made by the guards and the people, she went to the people at the temple of God. She looked and there was the king, standing by the pillar, as the custom was. The officers and the trumpeters were beside the king, and all the people of the land were rejoicing and blowing trumpets. Then Athaliah tore her robes and called out, “Treason! Treason!”

Yehoiada the priest ordered the commanders of units of a hundred, who were in charge of the troops: “Bring her out between the ranks and put to the sword anyone who follows her.” For the kohen had said, “She must not be put to death in the temple of God.” So they seized her as she reached the place where the horses enter the palace grounds, and there she was put to death. (II Kings 11:1-16)

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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13
Feb

Haftarah-Shekalim-Historical Background II-Yehu Avenges Navot

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Portion of the Week

The prophet Elisha summoned a man from the company of the prophets (Midrash: This was Yonah) and said to him, “Tuck your cloak into your belt, take this flask of olive oil with you and go to Ramoth Gilead. When you get there, look for Yehu son of Jehoshaphat, the son of Nimshi. Go to him, get him away from his companions and take him into an inner room. Then take the flask and pour the oil on his head and declare, ‘This is what God says: I anoint you king over Israel.’ Then open the door and run; don’t delay!”

So the young prophet went to Ramoth Gilead. When he arrived, he found the army officers sitting together. “I have a message for you, commander,” he said.

“For which of us?” asked Yehu.

“For you, commander,” he replied.

Yehu got up and went into the house. Then the prophet poured the oil on Yehu’s head and declared, “This is what God, the Lord of Israel, says:

‘I anoint you king over God’s people Israel.

You are to destroy the house of Ahab your master, and I will avenge the blood of my servants the prophets and the blood of all God’s servants shed by Jezebel.

The whole house of Ahab will perish. I will cut off from Ahab every last male in Israel—slave or free.

I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Yeravam son of Nevat and like the house of Baasha son of Achiyah.

As for Jezebel, dogs will devour her on the plot of ground at Jezreel, and no one will bury her.’”

Then he opened the door and ran.

When Yehu went out to his fellow officers, one of them asked him, “Is everything all right? Why did this maniac come to you?”

“You know the man and the sort of things he says,” Yehu replied.

“That’s not true!” they said. “Tell us.”

Yehu said, “Here is what he told me: ‘This is what God says: I anoint you king over Israel.’”

They quickly took their cloaks and spread them under him on the bare steps. Then they blew the trumpet and shouted, “Yehu is king!”

So Yehu son of Yehoshaphat, the son of Nimshi, conspired against Yoram. (Now Yoram and all Israel had been defending Ramoth Gilead against Hazael king of Aram, but King Yoram had returned to Jezreel to recover from the wounds the Arameans had inflicted on him in the battle with Hazael king of Aram.)

Yehu said, “If you desire to make me king, don’t let anyone slip out of the city to go and tell the news in Jezreel.”

Then he got into his chariot and rode to Jezreel, because Yoram was resting there and Ahaziah king of Judah had gone down to see him.

When the lookout standing on the tower in Jezreel saw Yehu’s troops approaching, he called out, “I see some troops coming.”

“Get a horseman,” Yoram ordered. “Send him to meet them and ask, ‘Do you come in peace?’”

The horseman rode off to meet Yehu and said, “This is what the king says: ‘Do you come in peace?’”

“What do you have to do with peace?” Yehu replied. “Fall in behind me.”

The lookout reported, “The messenger has reached them, but he isn’t coming back.”

So the king sent out a second horseman. When he came to them he said, “This is what the king says: ‘Do you come in peace?’”

Yehu replied, “What do you have to do with peace? Fall in behind me.”

The lookout reported, “He has reached them, but he isn’t coming back either. The driving is like that of Yehu son of Nimshi—he drives like a maniac.”

“Hitch up my chariot,” Yoram ordered. And when it was hitched up, Yoram king of Israel and Ahaziah king of Judah rode out, each in his own chariot, to meet Yehu. They met him at the plot of ground that had belonged to Naboth the Jezreelite.

When Yoram saw Yehu he asked, “Have you come in peace, Yehu?”

“How can there be peace,” Yehu replied, “as long as all the idolatry and witchcraft of your mother Jezebel abound?”

Yoram turned about and fled, calling out to Ahaziah, “Treachery, Ahaziah!”

Then Yehu drew his bow and shot Yoram between the shoulders. The arrow pierced his heart and he slumped down in his chariot.

Yehu said to Bidkar, his chariot officer,

“Pick him up and throw him on the field that belonged to Naboth the Jezreelite. Remember how you and I were riding together in chariots behind Ahab his father when God spoke this prophecy against him:

‘Yesterday I saw the blood of Naboth and the blood of his sons, declares God, and I will surely make you pay for it on this plot of ground, declares God.’

Now then, pick him up and throw him on that plot, in accordance with the word of God.”

When Ahaziah king of Judah saw what had happened, he fled up the road to Beth Haggan. Yehu chased him, shouting, “Kill him too!” They wounded him in his chariot on the way up to Gur near Ibleam, but he escaped to Megiddo and died there. His servants took him by chariot to Jerusalem and buried him with his ancestors in his tomb in the City of David. In the eleventh year of Yoram son of Ahab, Ahaziah had become king of Judah. (II Kings 9:1-29)

Yehu then set out and went toward Samaria. At Beth Eked of the Shepherds, he met some relatives of Ahaziah king of Judah and asked, “Who are you?”

They said, “We are relatives of Ahaziah, and we have come down to greet the families of the king and of the queen mother.”

“Take them alive!” he ordered. So they took them alive and slaughtered them by the well of Beth Eked—forty-two of them. He left no survivor.

After he left there, he came upon Yehonadav son of Rekav, who was on his way to meet him. Yehu greeted him and said, “Are you in accord with me, as I am with you?”

“I am,” Yehonadav answered.

“If so,” said Yehu, “give me your hand.” So he did, and Yehu helped him up into the chariot. Yehu said, “Come with me and see my zeal for God.” Then he had him ride along in his chariot.

When Yehu came to Samaria, he killed all who were left there of Ahab’s family; he destroyed them, according to the word of God spoken to Elijah. (10:12-17)

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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13
Feb

Haftarah-Shekalim-Historical Background I

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Portion of the Week

In the fifth year of Yoram son of Ahab king of Israel, when Yehoshaphat was king of Judah, Yehoram son of Yehoshaphat began his reign as king of Judah. He was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years. He followed the ways of the kings of Israel, as the house of Ahab had done, for he married a daughter of Ahab. He did evil in the eyes of God. Nevertheless, for the sake of his servant David, God was not willing to destroy Judah. He had promised to maintain a lamp for David and his descendants forever.

In the time of Yehoram, Edom rebelled against Judah and set up its own king. So Yehoram went to Zair with all his chariots. The Edomites surrounded him and his chariot commanders, but he rose up and broke through by night; his army, however, fled back home. To this day Edom has been in rebellion against Judah. Libnah revolted at the same time.

As for the other events of Yehoram’s reign, and all he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? Yehoram rested with his ancestors and was buried with them in the City of David. And Ahaziah his son succeeded him as king.

In the twelfth year of Yoram son of Ahab king of Israel, Ahaziah son of Yehoram king of Judah began to reign. Ahaziah was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem one year. His mother’s name was Athaliah, a granddaughter of Omri king of Israel. He followed the ways of the house of Ahab and did evil in the eyes of God, as the house of Ahab had done, for he was related by marriage to Ahab’s family.

Ahaziah went with Yoram son of Ahab to war against Hazael king of Aram at Ramoth Gilead. The Arameans wounded Yoram; so King Yoram returned to Jezreel to recover from the wounds the Arameans had inflicted on him at Ramoth in his battle with Hazael king of Aram.

Then Ahaziah son of Yehoram king of Judah went down to Jezreel to see Yoram son of Ahab, because he had been wounded. (II Kings 8:16-29)

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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5
Jan

Laban’s Gasconade

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

“Presumption is our natural and original malady. The most vulnerable and frail of all creatures is man, and at the same time the most arrogant (Michel de Montaigne).”

We have been tracing Jacobs steps as he sets out with his “Two Way Vision,” to reverse the steps taken by all since Adam was expelled from the Garden, creating increasing distance from what could have been humanity’s natural state. (“A Different Sort of Fear of Life”) Jacob is the “Eternal Man,” and refusing to, “Wait for his Monument,” lived every moment of his life, even in death and after! Jacob understands that to seek tranquility is to forfeit, “The Fragrance of Permanence.” He contained all the energy showered on him by God, and, “Stopped the Leaks,” that occur when we, “Break Our Link to the Eternal.”

In this, the final portion in the Book of Genesis, Jacob begins by teaching Joseph the importance of, “Balance,” as Joseph had begun to master in resisting his Temptations, “Directing the Conversation,” and the additional lesson of, “The Power of Softness.”

Jacob, the Master Teacher, allows Rachel and Leah to independently form their, “The Character in the Storm,” and building a family that will learn how to combine their strengths, as we saw in Part “Two.”

It takes the man who can allow the people around him to master their own growth with minimal guidance to understand the importance of “The Power of Softness.” This is why after Rachel and Leah have mastered combining their strengths, and healed their relationship (An Eloquent Silence Part Three) that Leah gives birth to Dinah and Rachel gives birth to Joseph, the brother and sister who are understood to share the same soul strength. The two sisters, with their newly combined attributes, are able to give birth to the male and female side of a single soul.

Jacob further developed his sense of balance through his dealings with Laban and his bravado: “Laban said to him, ‘I have learned by divination that God has blessed me on account of you’ (30:27).” Laban didn’t need divination to figure out that his wealth had exponentially increased since Jacob began working for him. His divination claim is pure bluster.

“It is in my power to do you all harm; but the Lord of your father addressed me last night, saying, ‘Beware of speaking with Jacob either good or bad’ (31:29).” Sounds like a mixed message to me! If it was truly in his power to harm everyone, why is he obeying the Lord of their father? If he has to obey God’s message, which included a warning to beware even of speaking with Jacob about good, why is he insinuating a threat in his words? Laban is torn between his desire to smash Jacob and his fear of Jacob and his God. (Learning How to Stand Up to a Bully)

“The daughters are my daughters, the children are my children and the flock is my flock, and all that you see is mine (31:43).” This is Laban as the famous, “Aramaean [who] attempted to destroy my forefather (Deuteronomy 26:5),” who we include in the Haggadah. Laban wanted to lay claim to the entire family (An Eloquent Silence Part Two). After all, he and his father had contributed more to Jacobs family than had Abraham and Isaac: Rebecca, Rachel, Leah, the maidservants, and all of Jacob’s wealth; Jacob had arrived in Laban’s home as a penniless vagabond.

Laban successfully distracted Jacob from his connection to the eternal and had him touch death: “With whomever you find your gods, he shall not live (31:31).” Jacob had just unknowingly cursed Rachel who had stolen Laban’s gods. He carries this taste of death for the rest of his life, as he says, in this week’s portion, to Joseph, “but as for me; when I came from Paddan, Rachel died on me in the land of Canaan on the road (48:7).” Here is Jacob speaking to Joseph about the importance of maintaining an unbroken link to the eternal and yet he is still carrying this “taste of death!”

Joseph is not resentful of Jacob for burying Rachel in a faraway place. Joseph is not resentful of the fact that Jacob inadvertently caused Rachel’s early death. Joseph is resentful of Jacob carrying this sense of “on me,” ever since Rachels death. Jacob was not only carrying the guilt; he was keeping alive the wound of death that Laban had inflicted on him!

Joseph suspected that Laban was successful in wounding Jacob because there was a part of Jacob that believe Laban’s gasconade.

Jacob explains to Joseph that the issue was not that he was intimidated by Laban; but because Rachel died, “while there was still a stretch of land to go,” Jacob was weak because he felt he still had “far to go.”

At this moment, as Jacob is approaching death and his family will soon face slavery in Egypt with all its depressing suffering, he must send a message to the family that when we perceive ourselves as weak, we make ourselves vulnerable to the false claims of power and influence of liars such as Laban and Pharaoh.

In this, we see a powerful parallel to David’s reflections on his life as he speaks to Solomon in “Haftarah-Vayechi-Abner IV.”

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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5
Jan

Haftarah-Vayechi-Reading the Text-David and Yoav II-Amasa Introduction

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

“Now you yourself know what Yoav son of Zeruiah did to me—what he did to the two commanders of Israel’s armies, Abner son of Ner and Amasa son of Yeter. He killed them, shedding their blood in peacetime as if in battle, and with that blood he stained the belt around his waist and the sandals on his feet. Deal with him according to your wisdom, but do not let his gray head go down to the grave in peace (I Kings 2:5-6).”

We have studied the confrontation between Yoav and Avner over the issue of balance that David is addressing in his charge to Solomon. We now begin to examine why Yoav’s assassination of Amasa belongs in this opening paragraph of “Balance.”

Who was Amasa?


  • David’s nephew and Yoav’s cousin,

  • He was the person who successfully defended David’s lineage by quoting Samuel’s ruling. (Yevamot 77a)

  • He is described, together with his cousin Avishai, as a “Lion in Torah.” (Yerushalmi, Peiah 1:1)

  • Refused, with Avishai to murder the Kohanim of Nov at Saul’s order (Midrash Tehillim 52:5).

  • Had a history of standing up against the king when he felt halachically justified (Midrash HaGadol).

  • Brought all of Israel to invite David back as king, just as Avner had done See: Abner I (Kadmoniyot HaYehudim II 159).

  • Yoav considered him to have the halachic status of one who rebelled against the king for having led Avshalom’s armies (II Samuel 17:25), and he was justified in killing him (Sanhedrin 49a).


Historical Background: A Time of Instability

Avshalom, David’s oldest son, plots a conspiracy, forming an army and winning the hearts of the Israel through displays of warmth and kindness. Supported by David’s chief counselor, Avshalom goes to Hebron where his followers pronounce him king. Informed of this event, David flees from Jerusalem with his men, and the people of the countryside weep as he marches by.

One of Saul’s relatives, Shimi ben Geira, a relative of King Saul, however, curses and throws stones at the band, gloating over David’s demise. David forbids his attendants, including Yoav’s brother, Avishai, to punish the man.

Yoav ignores David’s instructions to treat Avshalom gently and drives three spears into Avshalom’s hanging body (something David does not mention in his instructions to Solomon).

When David is notified of Avshalom’s death, he weeps, screaming repeatedly, “O my son Avshalom, O Avshalom, my son, my son (19:4)!” Yoav is furious with David for mourning the son who rebelled against him.

Shimi ben Geira knows that he’s in danger and meets David and begs forgiveness. Avishai insists on killing him, to which David replies: “What does this have to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? What right do you have to interfere? Should anyone be put to death in Israel today? Don’t I know that today I am king over Israel (II Samuel 19:23).”

To the frustration of his officials, David shows mercy to all of Avshalom’s supporters who approach him for forgiveness, especially Avshalom’s commander Amasa. David sends messengers to the leaders of Judah, and the tribe welcomes him back to Jerusalem. The remaining tribes—Avshalom’s chief supporters—fear that David will be angry at them. An uprising ensues.

Text: David Takes Immediate and Decisive Action

“Then the king said to Amasa, ‘Summon the men of Judah to come to me within three days, and be here yourself.’ But when Amasa went to summon Judah, he took longer than the time the king had set for him.

David said to Avishai, ‘Now Sheva ben Bichri will do us more harm than Absalom did. Take your master’s men and pursue him, or he will find fortified cities and escape from us.’ So Yoav’s men and the Kereti and Peleti and all the mighty warriors went out under the command of Avishai. They marched out from Jerusalem to pursue Sheva ben Bichri.

While they were at the great rock in Gibeon, Amasa came to meet them. Yoav was wearing his military tunic, and strapped over it at his waist was a belt with a dagger in its sheath. As he stepped forward, it dropped out of its sheath.

Yoav said to Amasa, ‘How are you, my brother?’ Then Yoav took Amasa by the beard with his right hand to kiss him. Amasa was not on his guard against the dagger in Yoav’s hand, and Yoav plunged it into his belly, and his intestines spilled out on the ground. Without being stabbed again, Amasa died. Then Yoav and his brother Avishai pursued Sheva ben Bichri.

One of Yoav’s men stood beside Amasa and said, ‘Whoever favors Yoav, and whoever is for David, let him follow Yoav!’ Amasa lay wallowing in his blood in the middle of the road, and the man saw that all the troops came to a halt there. When he realized that everyone who came up to Amasa stopped, he dragged him from the road into a field and threw a garment over him. After Amasa had been removed from the road, everyone went on with Yoav to pursue Sheva ben Bichri (II Samuel 20:4-13).”

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Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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4
Jan

Haftarah-Vayechi-Reading the Text-David and Yoav I-Abner Part Four

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

In our journey of “Balance,” “David, Yoav & Abner I,” “Part Two,” and, “Part Three,” we’ve been studying David’s opening charge to Solomon urging him to balance his dual roles as person and king (Be a Man). We have watched as Joab battles the king’s sense of balance, and how he was willing to place his desires above the stability of the kingdom and God’s expressed will. We left off with David refusing to allow himself to stop Joab, because he is struggling to maintain balance between his drive for action and God’s Providence, especially when it is clear that it is God Who is guiding these major events.

Let’s return to the Abner-Joab story to discover what David learns about this issue:

Now when Abner returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside into an inner chamber, as if to speak with him privately. And there, to avenge the blood of his brother Asahel, Joab stabbed him in the stomach, and he died.

Later, when David heard about this, he said, ‘I and my kingdom are forever innocent before God concerning the blood of Abner son of Ner. May his blood fall on the head of Joab and on his whole family! May Joab’s family never be without someone who has a running sore or leprosy or who leans on a crutch or who falls by the sword or who lacks food. (22-29)

“Joab and his brother Abishai murdered Abner because he had killed their brother Asahel in the battle at Gibeon (30).”

Why is David not angry with Abishai?

“Then the king said to his men, ‘Do you not realize that a commander and a great man has fallen in Israel this day? And today, though I am the anointed king, I am weak, and these sons of Zeruiah are too strong for me. May God repay the evildoer according to his evil deeds’ (38-39).”

As Abner had done to Ish-Bosheth, Joab did to David: Ish-Bosheth, “did not dare to say another word to Abner, because he was afraid of him,” he was so weak that, not only did he not dare to say another word, he actually helps Abner’s plan to support David; “So Ish-Bosheth gave orders and had her taken away from her husband Paltiel son of Laish!”

David makes a public declaration, even after saying, “I and my kingdom are forever innocent before God concerning the blood of Abner son of Ner. May his blood fall on the head of Joab and on his whole family! May Joab’s family never be without someone who has a running sore or leprosy or who leans on a crutch or who falls by the sword or who lacks food,” that, “today, though I am the anointed king, I am weak, and these sons of Zeruiah are too strong for me. May God repay the evildoer according to his evil deeds,” I am weak!

Joab made David appear weak, so much so, that even when David publicly curses Joab, “May his blood fall on the head of Joab and on his whole family! May Joab’s family never be without someone who has a running sore or leprosy or who leans on a crutch or who falls by the sword or who lacks food,” and, “May God repay the evildoer according to his evil deeds,” David’s reliance on God to exact retribution is perceived as a sign of weakness. Was that balance?

If the issue was David’s political weakness; no. However, David is not speaking of his inability to directly deal with Joab; he is speaking, in deep and honest self-reflection, of his self-doubt: Did he hesitate to confront Joab because he believed that God would deal with things, or, did his political weakness cause him to use the Divine Providence argument as an excuse to avoid a confrontation?

There is no balance without such honest introspection, and, it is only the balanced David who can be so honest.

This is one of the most important lessons he can convey to his son, Solomon, one that Solomon will repeat in the fourth chapter of Proverbs. See: “Receiving the Transmission,” and “Judgment Calls.”

We can now turn to the next assassination mentioned by David to Solomon, that of Amasa:

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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4
Jan

Haftarah-Vayechi-Reading the Text-David and Yoav I-Abner Part Three

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

It is clear in “Balance,” “David, Yoav & Abner I,” and “Part Two,” that David’s opening charge to Solomon is to urge him to balance his dual roles as person and king (Be a Man). We’ve begun to see how Joab is anti-balance, and why David includes his instructions regarding Joab in his opening charge. Let’s now see the balance in David’s immediate and long term responses to his powerful and essential general:

“Then he went to Hebron to tell David everything that Israel and the whole tribe of Benjamin wanted to do.

When Abner, who had twenty men with him, came to David at Hebron, David prepared a feast for him and his men. Then Abner said to David, ‘Let me go at once and assemble all Israel for my lord the king, so that they may make a covenant with you, and that you may rule over all that your heart desires.’ So David sent Abner away, and he went in peace (17-21).”

Abner speaks to David of, “Everything that Israel and the whole tribe of Benjamin wanted to do.” He does not speak of what he had convinced them to do. Abner does not mention his role. He is coming to David as the representative of the tribes that have yet to publicly support David as their new king. Abner has successfully learned from David how to place his own concerns to those secondary of the nation.

I would expect Abner to come to David with a huge contingent of leaders, soldiers, and common people; probably, a significant representation of the tribe of Benjamin as well. However, for this epochal meeting, Abner brings only twenty men with him. It is clear from the rest of the paragraph that Abner did not intend this as the final meeting, but only his opening gambit: “let me go at once and dissemble all Israel for my lord the king.” What was the purpose of this initial meeting?

“David prepared a feast for him,” for this was a meeting between David and Abner as men, not as powers. This was Abner’s way of conveying to David the message that he had heard, understood, and reified David’s message of balance.

“Just then David’s men and Joab returned from a raid and brought with them a great deal of plunder.

But Abner was no longer with David in Hebron, because David had sent him away, and he had gone in peace. When Joab and all the soldiers with him arrived, he was told that Abner son of Ner had come to the king and that the king had sent him away and that he had gone in peace.

So Joab went to the king and said, ‘What have you done? Look, Abner came to you. Why did you let him go? Now he is gone! You know Abner son of Ner; he came to deceive you and observe your movements and find out everything you are doing.’ Joab then left David and sent messengers after Abner, and they brought him back from the cistern at Sirah. But David did not know it.”

At that moment, Joab “returns from a raid with a great deal of plunder,” proving his importance to David. Yet, the verse stresses that the soldiers who accompanied Joab were “David’s men,” not Joab’s! In fact, while we would certainly expect the verse to say that ‘Joab and David’s men returned,’ placing the leader of the raiding party, the powerful general, Joab, first, the verse places David’s men before Joab; as if to say that the return to David with substantial plunder was not necessarily Joab’s preference. He, as opposed to Abner, has not decided to make his personal concerns secondary to those of his king.

Joab criticizes David for having allowed Abner to leave in peace. He accuses David of being naïve and not realizing that Abner’s approach was a pretense simply to allow him to “observe your movements and find out everything you are doing.”

It is difficult for a person who has no sense of balance to believe that David is anything but naïve. Joab became not understand the subtleties of the communication between David and his new ally. He sees things only from his perspective of power: Abner is a threat.

Joab makes his feelings clear, and with out articulating his intentions, he leaves David. He fully expects David to figure out his deadly intentions. Joab not only rebukes the King, he sends David the message that he, Joab, the mature general, will deal with this matter. There is an inherent challenge to David’s power in Joab’s message: “Try and stop me!” Abner had come to solidify David’s reign; Joab is placing everything at risk!

David, the balanced Man, has throughout his life steadily maintained a far more essential sense of balance; that of his desire to take action directed by God’s Divine Providence. Abner had clearly stated to all that his decision to support David was part of the fulfillment of God’s promise. David felt that these events were being directly provided by the Almighty.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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