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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Beit Guvrin, Botzrah, and Mashiah

UPDATED

Yalkut Shimoni, quoting Midrash Avkir [text | inside]:
אדוני יודע כי הילדים רכים א"ל יעקב אני רואה שיסורין עתידין לבוא מבניך על ילדי אלא נהוג אתה בשררותך ושמש בכתרך עד שיעמוד משיח מחלצי ויקבל המלכות ממך שנאמר יעבר נא אדוני לפני עבדו עד אבוא אל אדוני שעירה זה בית גוברין. דרש ר' אחא עתידין כל אומות העולם לבגוד במלכות הרביעית ולפנותה מבינם ואין מניחין לה לא כרך ולא מדינה ודוחין אותה מאומה לאומה עד שמגעת לבית גוברין ומוצאה שם מלך המשיח ומשלים לו המלכות ומנהן הוא בורח לבצרה ונגלה עליו הקב"ה להרגו והוא אמר ולא צוית ונס אל אחת הערים האל וחי והקב"ה משיב לו לא קראת מה כתיב בצדו גואל הדם הוא ימית את הרוצח. וכתיב בני בכורי ישראל וכתיב אחי ורעי וכתיב לבני ישראל עם קרובו וכתיב דודי צח ואדום וכתיב או דודו או בן דודו יגאלנו. מיד הקב"ה תופס לשרו בציצת ראשו ואליהו שוחטו ודמו נתז על בגדיו בחזרתו משם אומר מי זה בא מאדום וגו':

This Midrash tells us that the King Mashiah will receive the kingship from Edom when its ministering angel runs away to Beit Guvrin. It later runs away to Botzra, where Hashem grabs it and Eliyahu slaughters it.

Where is Beit Guvrin and where is Botzra?

Beit Guvrin

Beit Guvrin is an ancient city in Judea a few miles northeast of Hevron. It was an Arab village before 1948 called "Bayt Jibrin". Currently, there is a Kibbutz near the ancient site. The Roman Emperor Septimus Severus called it "Eleutheropolis", meaning "City of the Free".  Bereishit Rabba 42 identifies the Horites (from Bereishit 14:6, 36:20 and Devarim 2:12,22) with Eleutheropolis (the Girsa'ot that say "Metropolin"[like this oneseem to be in error, say the Aruch and Tevu'ot Ha'aretz) as they lived in Se'ir until Edom conquered them.  Some want to say that the name that means "City of the Free" is related to the word חורי, as in חירות.  Others reject that and say that the word חורי is so-named due to the caverns in the area.  Regarding the name בית גוברין, The Tevu'ot Ha'aretz suggests it could be that just like Hevron, giants lived there.  Hence, the name Guvrin (strong).  Targum Yerushalmi on "Hevron" (Bereishit 23:2) says "בקרייתהון דגובריא". Bereishit Rabba 67:6 explains Yitzhak's blessing to Esav: "Behold, of the fat places of the earth shall be thy dwelling" refers to Italy. "And of the dew of heaven from above" refers to Beit Guvrin.(See Erech Milin, who has a lengthy discussion on the city.)

Beit Guvrin was an administrative center for the District of Edomea during the time of Hurdus (King Herod).  It was later captured by the Romans.  The Tevu'ot Ha'aretz identifies it with the "Eilat" mentioned in the Mishna in Ma'aser Sheni 5:2.    It was exempt from Shemita prohibitions, said Ribbi (Ribbi Yehuda Hanasi) in Yerushalmi Demai 2:1.  The commentaries there explain that those who came up with Ezra from Bavel didn't take hold of the city as a Jewish stronghold.  Despite it not being necessarily a Jewish city, there were a number of Tanna'im and Amora'im that lived there.

The 16th century former converso Rav Shelomo Molcho interpreted the above Midrash Avkir as saying that the Beit Guvrin referred to is actually Italy (and not the known city in Judea).  He believed in the imminent arrival of Mashiah based on this.  He therefore went to Rome and told this to the Pope, who thought he meant a second coming of their messiah, so they liked what he said at that time.  While his interpretation of the Midrash worked well for him, it doesn't seem to be its simple explanation.

An author named Moshe Sharon, based on Arab sources, wants to identify Bein Guvrin with the Beer Sheva of the Avot.

Botzra

Much has been written on Botzra.  Botzra is mentioned all over Tanach as a city of Edom.  The most famous reference to Botzra is from Yeshaya 63:1 depicting the demise of Edom at the hands of HKB"H Himself.

Botzra has famously been interpreted by the Lubavitcher Rebbe ZT"L as referring to the First Gulf War where there was a battle in Basra, Iraq that has the same Hebrew name of בצרה.  While it is a nice interpretation, there are 3 other Botzras to consider:

A) There is the typical Botzra of Edom, just southeast of the Dead Sea.
B) There is Betzer (Devarim 4:43), one of the cities of refuge in the portion of Reuven.
C) There is Bosra, Syria, near Daraa.

While it would seem obvious to use interpretation A for this Midrash since it refers to Edom, there are good reasons to use B and other good reasons to use C.

We may want to use B since the Midrash specifically mentions that the Sar of Edom considered Botzra a city of refuge.  [UPDATE - See Makkot 12a where this is exactly one of the mistakes of the Sar of Edom - going to Botzra instead of Betzer - so B should not be a possibility.  See also Avoda Zara 58b where Reish Lakish makes the same error.  Thank you commenter Od Chazon Lamoed, who pointed to the last footnote here.]

We may alternatively want to use C for historical reasons.  The Midrash may have been written at the same time that Sefer Zerubavel was written - in the seventh century CE.  In the year 634, the Battle of Bosra took place, when the Islamic armies defeated Heraclius and the Byzantine army.  It seems that right beforehand, another Islamic army defeated Beit Guvrin.  This may be the reasoning behind the Midrash, as it wanted to connect it to current events of the time.  After the Muslims would get it, the theory goes, it would soon afterwards, hoped the Midrash, be given to the Jewish people.  This is just a theory, and even if the theory is true, it doesn't necessarily mean that it is not connected to future events as well.

May the King Mashiah take the kingdom away from Edom speedily in our days, Amen.

9 Comments:

At Tue May 13, 06:49:00 PM 2014, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dont turn mashiach into a god by saying may he take malchut from edom. Our prayers should be directed to Hashem that he allows esau vchavero to fall into the abyss of there own making , before antisemitism takes shape again !

 
At Tue May 13, 09:06:00 PM 2014, Blogger yaak said...

My prayer was only to Hashem, of course.

 
At Tue May 13, 09:17:00 PM 2014, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its an intresting machlokus when at the rebbes grave are you praying to him or Hashem ? I think the arizl says at the grave of the tzaddik his soul ie neshamah is in gan eden ie olam habriah ie machshavah , ie so the tzaddik is dwelling in Hashems palace above . The arizl says the tzaddiks nefesh is in the bones at his kever and his ruach animates his bones . the candle lit at the grave is for olam neshamah ie ner = the 3 yichudime of the gra in his peirush on sefer yetzirah 26+21 =47 26+86 =112 26+65 =91 =250 nr = candle . as in " mishlei ner Hashem nieshmat Adam ."Also the Arizl says the milui of El =185 plus 65 Adni =250 nr , praying for chasadime from shem el sefirah Chesed . The Baba sali tzaddik yesod olam lit candles everyday for different tzaddikim .

 
At Wed May 14, 01:29:00 AM 2014, Anonymous Od Chazon Lamoed said...

Yaakov, did you read the last footnote from the Rebbe's article?

 
At Wed May 14, 06:00:00 AM 2014, Blogger yaak said...

Od Chazon Lamoed,

No, I didn't. Thanks.

 
At Wed May 14, 09:42:00 AM 2014, Blogger yaak said...

Updated the post.

 
At Thu May 15, 12:35:00 AM 2014, Anonymous Nothing new under the sun said...

Calev went to kivrei tzadikim of Avraham Avinu A"H that he should not forsake his mission before traveling to Canaan with the Meraglim.

 
At Sun May 18, 01:23:00 PM 2014, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At Mon May 19, 01:26:00 AM 2014, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Then a former paralegal for Bock's law firm, Cynthia Garcia, said that Bock received many lavish gifts from Clark, including a $1.5 million gift after the September 11 attacks in 2001, to build a bomb shelter in an Israeli settlement in the West Bank near the homes of his daughters."

 

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