The Family Moves Part Three-Outsiders
I believe the key to this story to be the definition of “Hebrews,” the people with whom it was loathsome for the Egyptians to eat, even when meat was not on the menu. We usually associate Hebrew, or, Ivri, with Abraham who “came from the other side of the river (Rashi, Genesis 14:13 s.v. ‘HaIvri’),” and who, “Vaya’avor Avram ba’aretz,” “Abram passed into the land (Genesis 12:6),” a man who could pass through the land and insert his ideas on his way. Of course, there is that famous verse included in the Haggadah, “I took your forefather Abraham from beyond the river, mei’ever haNahar (Joshua 24:3).”
Jacob did some Ivri work: “When he took them and had them cross over the stream (32:24),” just before his life defining wrestling match with Esau’s angel.
Of course, we could not have the definitive Covenant Between the Pieces, with its prediction of the slavery in Egypt, without some Ivri action: “There was a smoky furnace and a torch of fire which passed between these pieces (15:17),” alluding, in part, to, you guessed it; leaving Egypt!
Since we are already rewinding; let’s go back even further in history to the Tower of Babel: “And to Shem, also to him were born; he was the ancestor of all those who lived on the other side (Genesis 10:21).” Shem even has a grandson named Eiver, the one with whom he establishes his famous Yeshiva at which both Isaac and Jacob studied. Eiver is also the man who prophesied that the population of the earth would be divided (Rashi, Genesis 10:25),” as a result of, “They said to one another (11:3), the same phrase usually used for Simeon and Levi (37:19, 42:21), in this case referring to Egypt (Rashi)!” [We will soon see that these are not simply interpolations] There was a split between Egypt and the Ivrim going back all the way to the Tower.
Why not go back even farther to the scene in the naked Noah’s tent, when Noah curses Canaan, and displaces his oldest son Ham, the father of Egypt (10:6), and gives the birthright of the firstborn – sound familiar? – to Shem, “The ancestor of all the Ivrim!”
The story of Joseph, Jacob, the brothers, Egypt and Pharaoh – the saga of the Egyptians versus the Ivrim goes way back in history! This, as the battle over the birthright, is the battle for supremacy; the course of humanity. A battle that began in the internal struggle of the first “outsider;” Adam outside the Garden of Eden. No wonder we need The Master of Memory to guide us!
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