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December 23, 2014 / conservadox

More on Joseph and the Great Egyptian Relocation

From Shai Held:

Commenting on Joseph’s decision to remove the Egyptian populace from their homes (47:21),[4]  R. Samuel b. Meir (Rashbam, 1085-1158) and R. David Kimhi (Radak, 1160-1235) powerfully (though unintentionally) capture the ambiguity of the text.  Rashbam compares Joseph’s actions to the Assyrian King Sennacherib’s (2 Kings 18:32) and explains that Joseph wanted to make sure that the Egyptians could not claim possession of their lands after having sold them (Rashbam to Genesis 47:21).[5]  By comparing Joseph’s actions to those one of Tanakh’s great villains, is Rashbam subtly condemning them?  Or is he merely explaining (one aspect) of what Joseph did by comparing his actions to those of another biblical figure?  It is difficult to know.[6]  Radak goes one step further, explaining that Joseph dislocated the Egyptians because he wanted them to be cognizant of their profound indebtedness to Pharaoh, on whose land they are able to dwell their only by his good graces (Radak to Genesis 47:21).[7]  Is Radak criticizing Joseph here, or merely uncovering the inner logic of his decisions?  Again, it is difficult to say.


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