Manual Reuben and Judah (Conversations Through the Pages Volume Three)

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And all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain. But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. For he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.


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There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. After this the Moabites and Ammonites, and with them some of the Meunites, came against Jehoshaphat for battle. Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the Lord , and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.

And Judah assembled to seek help from the Lord ; from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.

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And Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord , before the new court, At Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months, and at Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years. Then Midianite traders passed by. And they drew Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver.

They took Joseph to Egypt. The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality. After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads.

Rav Papa asked Abaye whether perhaps Jacob merely gave Joseph an extra palm tree. Abaye answered that Genesis demonstrated that Jacob intended that Joseph would get two full portions "even as Reuben and Simeon.

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The Gemara answered by citing Genesis to show that Reuben lost the birthright when he defiled Jacob's bed. The Gemara asked why Joseph benefited from Reuben's disqualification. Rabbi Samuel bar Nahmani responded with a parable of an orphan who was brought up by an adoptive father, and when he became rich he chose to give to his adoptive father from his wealth. Similarly, because Joseph cared for Jacob, Jacob chose to give to Joseph. Rabbi Helbo challenged that reason, arguing instead that Rabbi Jonathan said that Rachel should have borne the firstborn, as indicated by the naming of Joseph in Genesis , and God restored the right of the firstborn to Rachel because of her modesty.

And a Baraita read the reference in Genesis to "my sword and. Rabbi Johanan said that he would sit at the gate of the bathhouse mikvah , and when Jewish women came out they would look at him and have children as handsome as he was. The Rabbis asked him whether he was not afraid of the evil eye for being so boastful.

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He replied that the evil eye has no power over the descendants of Joseph, citing the words of Genesis , "Joseph is a fruitful vine, a fruitful vine above the eye alei ayin. Rabbi Judah or some say Rabbi Jose son of Rabbi Hanina deduced from the words "And let them the descendants of Joseph multiply like fishes ve-yidgu in the midst of the earth" in Genesis that just as fish dagim in the sea are covered by water and thus the evil eye has no power over them, so the evil eye has no power over the descendants of Joseph.

Alternatively, the evil eye has no power over the descendants of Joseph because the evil eye has no power over the eye that refused to enjoy what did not belong to it — Potiphar 's wife — as reported in Genesis — The Sifre taught that Jacob demonstrated in Genesis 49 the model of how to admonish others when one is near death. The Sifre read Deuteronomy —4 to indicate that Moses spoke to the Israelites in rebuke. The Sifre taught that Moses rebuked them only when he approached death, and the Sifre taught that Moses learned this lesson from Jacob, who admonished his sons in Genesis 49 only when he neared death.

The Sifre cited four reasons why people do not admonish others until the admonisher nears death: 1 so that the admonisher does not have to repeat the admonition, 2 so that the one rebuked would not suffer undue shame from being seen again, 3 so that the one rebuked would not bear ill will to the admonisher, and 4 so that the one may depart from the other in peace, for admonition brings peace. The Sifre cited as further examples of admonition near death: 1 when Abraham reproved Abimelech in Genesis , 2 when Isaac reproved Abimelech, Ahuzzath, and Phicol in Genesis , 3 when Joshua admonished the Israelites in Joshua , 4 when Samuel admonished the Israelites in 1 Samuel —35, and 5 when David admonished Solomon in 1 Kings The Gemara explained that when Jews recite the Shema , they recite the words, "blessed be the name of God's glorious Kingdom forever and ever," quietly between the words, "Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one," from Deuteronomy , and the words, "And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might," from Deuteronomy , for the reason that Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish expounded when he explained what happened in Genesis So Jacob said that perhaps, Heaven forefend, he had fathered a son who was unworthy to hear the prophecy, just as Abraham had fathered Ishmael or Isaac had fathered Esau.

But his sons answered him in the words of Deuteronomy , "Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One," explaining that just as there was only One in Jacob's heart, so there was only One in their hearts. And Jacob replied, "Blessed be the name of God's glorious Kingdom forever and ever.

The Rabbis considered that Jews might not recite those words at all, but rejected that option, as Jacob did say the words. So the Rabbis ruled that Jews should recite the words quietly. Rabbi Isaac taught that the School of Rabbi Ammi said that one can compare this practice to that of a princess who smelled a spicy pudding. If she revealed her desire for the pudding, she would suffer disgrace; but if she concealed her desire, she would suffer deprivation. So her servants brought her pudding secretly. Rabbi Abbahu taught that the Sages ruled that Jews should recite the words aloud, so as not to allow heretics to claim that Jews were adding improper words to the Shema.

But in Nehardea , where there were no heretics so far, they recited the words quietly. Interpreting Jacob's words "exceeding in dignity" in Genesis , a Midrash taught that Reuben should have received three portions in excess of his brothers — the birthright, priesthood, and royalty. But when Reuben sinned, the birthright was transferred to Joseph, the priesthood to Levi, and the royalty to Judah. Rabbi Samuel bar Nahman said in Rabbi Jonathan's name that whoever maintains that Reuben sinned errs, for Genesis says, "Now the sons of Jacob were twelve," teaching that they were all equal in righteousness.

Rabbi Jonathan interpreted the beginning of Genesis , "and he lay with Bilhah his father's concubine," to teach that Reuben moved his father's bed from Bilhah's tent to Leah's tent, and Scripture imputes blame to him as though he had lain with her. Similarly, it was taught in a Baraita that Rabbi Simeon ben Eleazar said that the righteous Reuben was saved from sin. Rabbi Simeon ben Eleazar asked how Reuben's descendants could possibly have been directed to stand on Mount Ebal and proclaim in Deuteronomy , "Cursed be he who lies with his father's wife," if Reuben had sinned with Bilhah.

Rabbi Simeon ben Eleazar interpreted Genesis , "and he lay with Bilhah his father's concubine," to teach that Reuben resented his mother Leah's humiliation, and did not want Rachel's maid Bilhah to join Rachel as a rival to Leah. So Reuben moved her bed. According to this view, one should read Genesis to say, "Then you defiled my couch on which the Divine Presence went up.

Similarly, the Gemara asked why Numbers did not trace Korah 's genealogy back to Jacob, and Rabbi Samuel bar Isaac answered that Jacob had prayed not to be listed amongst Korah's ancestors in Genesis , where it is written, "Let my soul not come into their council; unto their assembly let my glory not be united. It was taught in a Baraita that King Ptolemy brought together 72 elders and placed them in 72 separate rooms, without telling them why he had brought them together, and he asked each one of them to translate the Torah. God then prompted each one of them to conceive the same idea and write a number of cases in which the translation did not follow the Masoretic Text, including, for Genesis , "For in their anger they slew an ox , and in their wrath they dug up a stall" — writing "ox" instead of "man" to protect the reputation of Jacob's sons.

It was taught in a Baraita that Issi ben Judah said that there are five verses in the Torah whose meaning they could not decide, including Genesis —7, which one can read, "And in their self-will they crippled oxen. Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce," or one can read, "And in their self-will they crippled the cursed oxen. Their anger was fierce. A Midrash taught that the words "I will divide them in Jacob" in Genesis foretold that scribes in synagogues would descend from the tribe of Simeon, and students and teachers of Mishnah would descend from the tribe of Levi, engaged in the study of the Torah in the houses of study.

These by their profession would thus be prevented from living in masses and would be scattered. And in accordance with Jacob's blessing, 30 kings descended from Judah, for as Ruth reports, David descended from Judah, and if one counts David, Solomon, Rehoboam , Abijah , Asa , Jehoshaphat and his successors until Jeconiah and Zedekiah one finds 30 generations from Judah's son Perez to Zedekiah. The Gemara told that the wise men of the enemy of the Jews Haman read Jacob's blessing of Judah in Genesis , "Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies," to teach that Haman could not prevail against a descendant of Judah.

The Gemara reported that the wise men told Haman that if Mordecai came from another tribe, then Haman could prevail over him, but if he came from one of the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, or Manasseh, then Haman would not prevail over him. They deduced the strength of descendants of Judah from Genesis And they deduced the strength of descendants of Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh from Psalm , which says, "Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh stir up your might.

At last Jacob's children stood up, paid their respects to Jacob, and left the cave so that Jacob would not be humbled by weeping exceedingly in their presence. Quickly Judah slipped after him and found Esau about to slay Jacob. So Judah killed Esau from behind.

The Gemara read Genesis , "The scepter shall not depart from Judah," to refer to the Exilarchs of Babylon , who ruled over Jews with scepters symbols of the authority of a ruler appointed by the Government. And the Gemara read the term "lawgiver" in Genesis to refers to the descendants of Hillel in the Land of Israel who taught the Torah in public.

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The Gemara deduced from this that an authorization held from the Exilarch in Babylonia held good in both Babylonia and the Land of Israel. And Rabbi Johanan taught that the world was created only for the sake of the Messiah. The Gemara taught that if one who sees a choice vine in a dream may look forward to seeing the Messiah, since Genesis says, "Binding his foal to the vine and his donkey's colt to the choice vine," and Genesis was thought to refer to the Messiah.

In case one might imagine that the Land would not contain wine, Genesis explicitly said, "He washes his garments in wine. The Gemara taught that this interpretation thus provided support for Rabbi Johanan, who taught that the person who smiles an affectionate, toothy smile to a friend is better than one who gives the friend milk to drink.

The Gemara taught that a certain man used to say that by the seashore thorn bushes are cypresses. That is, the thorn bushes there were as attractive as cypresses elsewhere.

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They investigated and found that he descended from Zebulun, for Genesis says, "Zebulun shall dwell at the haven of the sea. Rabbi Levi considered the words "Zebulun['s]. Rabbi Johanan taught that the words "and he lay with her that night" in Genesis , in which the word hu appears in an unusual locution, indicate that God assisted in causing Issachar's conception. Rabbi Johanan found in the words "Issachar is a large-boned donkey" in Genesis an indication that Jacob's donkey detoured to Leah's tent, helping to cause Issachar's birth.

Rabbi Johanan taught in the name of Rabbi Simeon bar Yochai that Genesis and help to show the value of Torah study and charity. Rabbi Johanan deduced from Isaiah , "Blessed are you who sow beside all waters, who send forth the feet of the ox and the donkey," that whoever engages in Torah study and charity is worthy of the inheritance of two tribes, Joseph and Issachar as Deuteronomy compares Joseph to an ox, and Genesis compares Issachar to a donkey. Rabbi Johanan equated "sowing" with "charity," as Hosea says, "Sow to yourselves in charity, reap in kindness.

The Gemara also reported that some say that the enemies of such a person will fall before him as they did for Joseph, as Deuteronomy says, "With them he shall push the people together, to the ends of the earth. Citing Genesis , Rabbi Samuel bar Nahmani said in the name of Rabbi Jonathan that when a wife summons a husband to his marital duty, they will have children such as were not to be found even in the generation of Moses.