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Friday, December 07, 2012

Yosef's Freedom and Peretz's Birth

Yosef Hatzaddik was 17 when he was sold.  He was 30 when he was freed.  A difference of 13 years.  When he revealed himself to the brothers, he was 39.

Many are bothered by the chronology of the Yehuda and Tamar story.  Rashi says that Yehuda went to marry Bat Shua right after the selling of Yosef.  This presents a difficulty since Yehuda had to have married, have children who were of marriageable age, then wait a bit, then have relations with Tamar, have Peretz, and Peretz had to have married and father 2 children all in the span of 22 years.

The Ibn Ezra answered it by disagreeing with Rashi and said that the story with Yehuda had happened earlier than the sale of Yosef, but this presents its own problems, such as why Yehuda was with the brothers during the sale.

The Seder Olam Rabba (using the Gr"a's Girsa) provides the chronology of how all the above fit into 22 years:

EventRunning Year Count
Yehuda marries Bat Shua 0
1 year later, Er is born1
7 years later, Er marries Tamar8
1 year later, Er dies and Onan performs Yibum9
1 year later, Onan dies [YY-I think this is what it means]10
1 year for Tamar to stay as a widow in her father's house (verse 11)11
1 year for "Vayirbu Hayamim" (verse 12) when Bat Shua died12
1 year later, Peretz is born13
7 years later, Peretz marries20
1 year later, Hetzron is born21
1 year later, Hamul is born22

We see that on year 13, the same year that Yosef was freed from prison (the rise of Mashiah ben Yosef), Peretz was born (the rise of Mashiah ben David).

However, it seems that somewhere, we're a year off.  Seder Olam Zuta says that Peretz and Zerah were born in 2228, while we know that Yosef was freed in 2229 since Yaakov was 91 at Yosef's birth and
Yaakov was born in 2108, and at the time of his freedom, Yosef was 30. 

Perhaps, we can say that we know from the gemara that Yosef was freed on Rosh Hashana of 2229, so it wasn't much later.  צ"ע.

But even so, it could fit well with a midrash (that I mentioned previously):

ויהי בעת ההיא וירד יהודה (ישעיה סו) בטרם תחיל ילדה קודם שלא נולד משעבד הראשון נולד גואל האחרון ויהי בעת ההיא מה כתיב למעלה מן הענין והמדנים מכרו אותו אל מצרים

Before the first oppressor was "born", the final redeemer was born.

Perhaps, we could say that Par'o was the same Par'o as the one in Shemot - and he did not care to remember Yosef - so he is considered the first oppressor.  He was "born" as the oppressor when Yosef came out of prison to be his viceroy (as that is when the oppressor and ancestor of the oppressed first met).  So, before the first oppressor was "born", the final redeemer - Peretz (the ancestor of Mashiah) - was born.


At Sat Dec 08, 08:33:00 AM 2012, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i dont understand. how could the two boys marry at age 7. obviously they wont have children. or have i misunderstood something.

At Sat Dec 08, 09:50:00 PM 2012, Blogger yaak said...

Good question. Kids in those days were more mature than we are - cognitively, emotionally, and physically too. It may have been possible for them to father children at age 7 in those days.

A commentary on the Seder Olam Rabba, the Etz Yosef, is bothered by the fact that the gemara in Sanhedrin seems to say that they had to be at least 8 years old and no less. He doesn't answer the question.

At Sun Dec 09, 06:20:00 PM 2012, Blogger Dov Bar-Leib said...

It makes no sense that boys that are only 7 years old are fathering children. Plus there is no mitzvah of yibum or even a custom of yibum until a boy reaches at least age 13. Many would hold age 20 for something as serious as fathering children, and yibum is about fathering a child in lieu that one's older brother has died. There must be another answer.

There are really two problems here. First of all, how could Onan be obligated in yibum at the age of 7 or 8? And also, the Torah refers to Bat Shua as a Canaanite. So there are two possibilities for problem number 2. Either she was simply a daughter of a rich merchant and now really a Canaanite, or because she was a Canaanite, Mashiach certainly could not come from her. So HaShem arranged it that Peretz is a son of Tamar and Yehudah and not a son of Yehudah and Bat Shua, who may very well have been a Canaanite. So not only could Peretz not be a son of Bat Shua, but he could not be a son of one of her sons either.

I can't figure out either of these problems. The "forced" yibum for a 7 year old though is the most problematic, though, because it turned out whether or not Bat Shua was a Canaanite, she fathered Shela who did not father Peretz after all. So it becomes a moot point whether Bat Shua was a Canaanite or the daughter of a rich "merchant".

At Sun Dec 09, 06:55:00 PM 2012, Blogger Dov Bar-Leib said...

Adullam was one of the Canaanite cities conquered by Yehoshua. So Nach seems to hold that these Adullamites were really Canaanites. We are also told in VaYigash that one of Shimon's sons, Shaul, was the son of a Canaanite woman too. And we should keep in mind, that Yehudah marries Bat Shua right after his yeridah from his brothers, and the Torah keeps her name hidden. (very odd) The problem comes of course when either Shaul ben Shimon or Shelah ben Yehudah were given territorial inheritances in Eretz Yisrael. For Shaul this is not an issue since Shimon was really given no real territory of his own, just cities. So this would seem to argue that Bat Shua was not a real Canaanite since her son Shelah (and his descendants) were given territories in Eretz Yisrael. confusing. Sorry, this Aliyah in last week's parsha opens up lots of problems.

At Mon Dec 10, 06:29:00 AM 2012, Blogger yaak said...

Yes, it's definitely hard to understand in modern times. But I'm not making up the 7-year-old marriage idea. It's from Ribbi Yosi Bar Halafta.

Another question one may ask is why Er and Onan were punished - were they considered Benei Onashin for what they did?

There are questions, but how do you understand the chronology otherwise?

At Mon Dec 10, 06:52:00 AM 2012, Blogger Dov Bar-Leib said...

We will have to ask Eliyahu HaNavi. There is no simple answer to this. especially the one about how a 7 or 8 year old boy could be obligated in Yibum or for that matter any other mitzvah, especially a positive mitzvah besides kibud Av veEim.

Yet, a partial answer of why they had to die was that they were possibly sons of a Canaanite woman. And Mashiach can come from a Moaviayah, a Moabite woman, but not from a Canaanite woman. Plus we know that Onan intentionally spilled seed to avoid the mitzvah that an 8 year old is usually not obligated to do. So what do we say when we have to ask Eliyahu? Taka?

At Mon Dec 10, 07:04:00 AM 2012, Blogger Dov Bar-Leib said...

Plus, b'tah, it is very clear that the year that Eliyahu returns at the very latest is in 5774, the year of Kolot. 5774 is the 6th year of this final Sabbatical cycle of Obama, the Primordial Snake. So we do not have long to wait, even if it is b'itah, to ask the above question of Eliyahu.


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