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Saturday, December 30, 2017

Women in The Bible/Tanach, Josef's Progeny

Sisters! The Daughters of Tzelofchad
by Raise Your Spirits Theatre
Today, during our Women's Shabbat Torah Class, my mind did one of its little whirls and took something said a bit further. The topic was the Torah Portion of this Week, Vayechi. It is the very end of the Book of Bereishit, Geneis. It gives us the foundations of Judaism, what Gd wants from us.

In my title I promised you something about Women in the Bible, and that's what you'll get here.

Vayechi is the portion in which Jacob blesses his sons and gives a short description of their characters and what could be expected from them. Jacob's sons are the first group of siblings of which all are included in the inheritance and each has a role in the future of the Jewish People. There is one exception. Joseph is given a double portion. His two son are blessed as if they were Jacob's own sons. Ephraim and Menashe were born in Egypt but are given the same rights as Joseph's brothers. Why?

Sisters! The Daughters of Tzelofchad
by Raise Your Spirits Theatre
Why is the status of Ephraim and Menashe raised? Could it be to help them assimilate into the family and make sure that they will want to leave Egypt and enter the Holy Land with their cousins? If that was the reason, it seems to have worked, at least with the females. The six women who showed the most attachment to the Land of Israel came from the tribes of Ephraim and Menashe.

Many people are familiar with the story of the five daughters of Tzlofchad, of the Tribe of Menashe. Being that they had no brother, and their father had already died, they feared that their family portion of Land would be given to others. They petitioned Moshe to find a way for them to inherit the Land and pass it on to their children. Moshe consulted with Gd and was told that as long as the daughters married within the tribe their children could inherit the family Land.

Sisters! The Daughters of Tzelofchad by Raise Your Spirits Theatre
It's very possible that there were similar situations in other tribes, but only these sisters petitioned Moshe to preserve the Land.

There's another lesser known descendant of Josef through his son Efraim, a granddaughter, She'era who is mentioned in Chronicles I, Chapter 7:
22And Ephraim their father mourned for them many days, and his brothers came to console him.
 
כבוַיִּתְאַבֵּ֛ל אֶפְרַ֥יִם אֲבִיהֶ֖ם יָמִ֣ים רַבִּ֑ים וַיָּבֹ֥אוּ אֶחָ֖יו לְנַֽחֲמֽוֹ:
23And he went in to his wife, and she conceived and bore a son, and he named him Beriah, because during a time of trouble she was in his house.
 
כגוַיָּבֹא֙ אֶל־אִשְׁתּ֔וֹ וַתַּ֖הַר וַתֵּ֣לֶד בֵּ֑ן וַיִּקְרָ֚א אֶת־שְׁמוֹ֙ בְּרִיעָ֔ה כִּ֥י בְרָעָ֖ה הָֽיְתָ֥ה בְּבֵיתֽוֹ:
24And his daughter was Sheerah, and she built the lower Beth-Horon and the upper one, and Uzen Sheerah.
 
כדוּבִתּ֣וֹ שֶֽׁאֱרָ֔ה וַתִּ֧בֶן אֶת־בֵּֽית־חוֹר֛וֹן הַתַּחְתּ֖וֹן וְאֶת־הָֽעֶלְי֑וֹן וְאֵ֖ת אֻזֵּ֥ן שֶֽׁאֱרָֽה:
As you can see from the Bible, She'era must have been a very dynamic woman. She built three cities.

If you go through those chapters in Chronicles, you'll notice that only the male descendants are mentioned, except for She'era and the Daughters of Tzelafchad. It makes me wonder... What about you?

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