The Four Exiles - Arba Galuyot

By Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David (Greg Killian)

 


Introduction. 1

In the beginning. 4

The Number Four. 6

The Four Rivers. 6

The Covenant Between The Parts. 6

Four Kings vs. Five Kings. 7

Yaaqov’s Ladder. 8

Yitzchak’s Wells. 10

In The Mishkan. 10

The Mabul (Flood) 10

Egypt – The Prototype. 11

The Four Cups. 12

The Journeys. 13

Wanderings. 13

Un-kosher Animals. 14

Bavel (Babylon) - בָּבֶל. 14

Madai (Media) - מָדַי 15

Yavan (Greece) - יָוָן 15

Edom (Rome) - אֱדוֹם. 16

Conclusion. 18

 

Introduction

 

The Jewish people have been subjected to four exiles, according to Our Sages. These are in addition to the Egyptian exile which was the prototype for all future exiles. Why did HaShem send us into exile, four times?

 

Our Sages have given us the answer in the Gemara:

 

Menachoth 53b R. Isaac said, At the time of the destruction of the Temple the Holy One, blessed be He, found Abraham standing in the Temple. Said He, ‘What hath My beloved to do in My house?’[1] Abraham replied, ‘I have come concerning the fate of my children’ . . . Said He, ‘Thy children sinned and have gone into exile’. ‘Perhaps’, said Abraham, ‘they only sinned in error?’ And He answered, ‘She hath wrought lewdness’.[2] ‘Perhaps only a few sinned?’ ‘With many’, came the reply. ‘Still’, he pleaded, ‘Thou shouldst have remembered unto them the covenant of circumcision’. And He replied, ‘The hallowed flesh is passed from thee.’[3] ‘Perhaps hadst Thou waited for them they would have repented’, he pleaded. And He replied, ‘When thou doest evil, then thou rejoicest!’ Thereupon he put his hands on his head and wept bitterly, and cried, ‘Perhaps, Heaven forfend, there is no hope for them’. Then came forth a Heavenly Voice and said, The Lord called thy name a leafy olive-tree, fair with goodly fruit:[4] as the olive-tree produces its best only at the very end,[5] so Israel will flourish at the end of time.

 

Thus Our Sages teach that The Bne Israel[6] were sent, four times, into exile because of their sins. These were not petty issues, but premeditated wickedness. Thus we can understand that exile was/is the tikkun, the correction, for premeditated wickedness. However, HaShem has big plans for His world. He is going to have the Jews do double duty. In addition to being fixed up for their sin, they will also be role models for the Gentiles. To understand this, we need to understand that Gentiles, not proselytes, are given to Israel as an inheritance:

 

Tehillim (Psalm) 2:7-9 I will declare the decree: HaShem hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. 8 Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen[7] for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. 9 Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.

 

It seems that when we are sent into exile, we provide an example that causes the Gentiles to either become proselytes, or to be condemned. Further, when we went into exile, we did not go alone.

 

When we went into Egypt, the prototype for all exiles, we did not go alone. Notice Who went with us.

 

Bereshit (Genesis) 46:3-4 And he said, I am G-d, the G-d of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation: 4 I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up: and Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes.

 

Thus we see that G-d[8] accompanied us into exile. We did not go alone! However, this is not the only unusual thing about our exiles.

 

In all of human history, exiles of a nation out of their country have been very rare. It’s a highly unusual phenomenon to take a whole nation and exile them from their country. Multiple exiles are unheard of, since, after the first one, the distinctive people disappear as they become assimilated among the other peoples. As a matter of fact, in human history, multiple exiles and dispersions are unique only to the Jewish people.

 

Nor only is the concept of multiple exiles and dispersion, of the Jews, unique in history, the very survival of the Jews is a singular event. No other nation has ever survived without a homeland. Yet, from the destruction of the second Temple in seventy CE until the rebirth of the modern State of Israel in the twentieth century, the Jewish people survived, in the diaspora, without a state.

 

Why? What is the purpose of the multiple exiles of the Jewish people?

 

The Talmud offers the following explanation for the phenomenon of galut:[9]

 

Pesachim 87b R. Eleazar said: Even when the Holy One, blessed be He, is angry, He remembers compassion, for it is said, for I will no more have compassion upon the house of Israel.[10] R. Jose son of R. Hanina said [i.e., deduced] it from this: that I would in any wise pardon them. R. Eleazar also said: The Holy One, blessed be He, did not exile Israel among the nations save in order that proselytes might join them, for it is said: And I will sow her unto Me in the land;[11] surely a man sows a se’ah in order to harvest many kor!

 

The Children of Israel were exiled amongst the nations only so that converts might be added to them![12]

 

The Maharsha, Rabbi Shmuel HaLevi Eidels,[13] explained[14] that had HaShem merely wished to punish the Jews, He did not have to exile them from their homeland; the fact that He did exile His nation shows that He intended for another outcome, namely, the addition of proselytes into the Jewish body.

 

To build on this idea, we need to look at the word Adam. Adam is a legal term, according to Our Sages, that applies to Israel.

 

Baba Metzia 114b R. Simeon b. Yohai said: The graves of Gentiles do not defile, for it is written, And ye my flock, the flock of my pastures, are men (Adam);[15] only ye are designated ‘men (Adam)’.[16]

 

Thus we see that only Israel is called Adam.

Adam = Israel

 

So the question is: Who is Israel?

 

Our Sages answer this question in the Talmud Yerushalmi: “Adam includes Proselytes.[17] Israel is not clearly defined because Israel is in constant movement and change because proselytes are constantly being added.

 

From this we understand that Israel is sent into exile in order to make proselytes. These proselytes (converts) become a part of Israel! In exile we become complete by making proselytes. Yet, we must still ask: How did proselytes correct the premeditated wickedness that caused us to be sent into exile? To answer this question we still need a bit more background.

 

The Gemara teaches us that exile makes an atonement:

 

Berachoth 56a For a Master has said: Exile makes atonement for iniquity.

 

Ta’anith 16a We have exiled ourselves [from the House of God] may our exile atone for us.

 

Sanhedrin 37b R. Johanan said: Exile atones for everything, for it is written, Thus saith the Lord, write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days, for no man of his seed shall prosper sitting upon the throne of David and ruling any more in Judah.[18] Whereas after he [the king] was exiled, it is written, And the sons of Jeconiah, — the same is Assir — Shealtiel his son etc.[19]

 

Ruth was a proselyte. Ruth, as we saw in a previous study, was a picture of the Children Israel as they stood at Mt. Sinai to receive the Torah. At Sinai we Jews were all proselytes accepting Torah for the very first time. Further, Ruth’s chessed, her kindness, had such a profound effect on the Jewish people that she became the grandmother of King David! Now lest we forget, Ruth became a convert only because Elimelech took his family into exile in Moab, during a famine. Thus because of this minor exile, we made one very, very significant proselyte who became a significant part of the Messianic line. This proselyte’s life was so important that Shmuel the Prophet wrote a book about her.

 

Yitro, Moshe’s father-in-law who, as a proselyte, had a tremendous positive impact on the Torah’s Judicial system[20] and Judaism as a whole, while the Children of Israel were in exile. His advice to Moshe became the standard for the rest of Jewish history! Yitro became a proselyte because Moshe went into exile from Egypt to Midian.

 

Rahab was a prostitute and innkeeper, who was visited by the most important dignitaries and leaders of her generation[21] yet after being exposed to the greatness of two Torah giants, Caleb and Phinehas, who were on a reconnaissance mission to Canaan[22] she converted and married Joshua.[23] Counted among her descendants are priests and prophets including Chuldah the Prophetess, Yirmeyahu, Baruch, Neryah, Sharya, Chilkiyah, and Chanamel.[24]

 

Onkelos, a proselyte, wrote a Targum on the Torah that sheds significant light on the meaning of the Torah. Jews throughout the ages have learned from his Targum.

 

Rabbi Akiva was a famous Jewish rabbi of the second century, during the beginning of the Edomite exile. He was a great authority in the matter of Jewish tradition, and one of the most central and essential contributors to the Oral Torah, mainly the Mishna and the Midrash Halakha. He laid the foundations of the mishnaic dispute, by which pairs or larger groups of Sages dispute points of Halakha or Biblical interpretation.

 

When Edom sent Israel into exile, Mashiach ben Yosef commanded His Talmidim to teach them and to make them into Talmidim:

 

Matityahu (Matthew) 28:18 And Yeshua came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and talmudize all the Gentiles

 

Hebrew is very precise because it is the language of creation. In Hebrew, “Exile” is called “Golah”. But this word contains the solution to exile with a hint to the redemption. By inserting the letter alef (א), the word “Golah” (גולה), “Exile” becomes “Geulah” (גאולה), “redemption”. This implies that the Jewish people’s service involves bringing HaShem, The Alef, into the exile, and thus, transforming the exile into redemption. Not only are the Jewish people redeemed, but as the Talmud teaches,[25] so also are the Gentiles who become proselytes, or converts. Thus dispersion is for the purpose of gathering.

 

And so it has been throughout Jewish history; everytime we were sent into exile, HaShem sent great proselytes to help effect the needed tikkun for our sins.

 

In the beginning

 

In the beginning G-d created the heavens and the earth. When He created the world, He created it with a master plan. As history has unfolded, we have begun to get a clear picture of parts of His plan. Part of His plan included the exile of His people, four times (not including Egypt). These four exiles are going to form an outline that will frame the history of the Children of Israel.

 

In the Jewish view of history, there are four kingdoms which oppressed, or are oppressing, the the Children of Israel. These are Bavel - בבל[26] (Babylon), Madai[27] - מדי[28] (Media), Yavan - יון[29] (Greece), and Edom - אדם[30] (Rome). The sequence of these four nations is alluded to all over the Tanach,[31] as we shall see.

 

Why does this list not include the descendant of Yishmael?[32] Even though the Jews were subject to Muslim control at various points in history. In his work Ner Mitzva, the Maharal deals with this issue. He writes that the four exiles all fit one of two criteria: either they wrested power from the Jews directly, or they took over from another nation that had already done the task of overpowering and subjugating the Jews. Since the descendants of Yishmael never took power in either of these two ways, they are not included by the Sages among the list of exiles.

 

To recap, the four exiles are:

 

Bavel (Babylon),

Madai / Paras (Media / Persia),

Yavan (Greece), and

Edom (Rome),

 

Ever since the six days of creation, there is nothing new before HaShem. Before creation He looked ahead to the end of history in His world and arranged every incident that will happen on earth according to a timetable, as the Sages interpreted Bereshit (Genesis) 1:2 as alluding to the four exiles and the ruach[33] of the Mashiach.[34] 

 

* * *

 

Bereshit (Genesis) 1:2 And the earth was without form (tohu), and void (bohu); and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

 

With respect to this seemingly uninformative verse, Our Hakhamim have explained the words this way:

 

Midrash Rabbah - Genesis II:4 R. Simeon b. Lakish applied the passage to the [foreign] Powers. NOW THE EARTH WAS TOHU (E.V. ‘UNFORMED’) symbolizes Babylonia: I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was tohu-E.V. ‘waste’ (Jer. IV, 23)[35]; AND BOHU (E.V. ‘VOID’) symbolizes Media: They hastened (wa-yabhillu) to bring Haman (Est. VI, 14).[36] AND DARKNESS symbolizes Greece, which darkened the eyes of Israel with its decrees, ordering Israel, ‘Write on the horn of an ox that ye have no portion in the God of Israel.’[37] UPON THE FACE OF THE DEEP - this wicked State[38]:just as the great deep cannot be plumbed, so one cannot plumb [the depths of iniquity of] this wicked State. AND THE SPIRIT OF GOD HOVERED: this alludes to the spirit of Messiah, as you read, And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him (Isa. XI, 2). In the merit of what will [this spirit] eventually come? [For the sake of that which] HOVERED OVER THE FACE OF THE WATERS, i.e. in the merit of repentance which is likened to water, as it is written, Pour out thy heart like water (Lam. II, 19). R. Haggai said in the name of R. Pedath: A covenant was made with water[39] that even in the hot season a breeze stirs over it.[40]

 

 

 

Within this single and ominous verse, there is an allusion to all four exiles that the Jewish people were destined to experience throughout their long history until the Messianic time, which has still yet to occur. And without exception, all of them have come to pass as predicted, with the final exile, the “Roman Exile” (Edom) still in progress.

 

HaShem hinted to these four exiles in the story of creation, as we saw earlier. At the beginning of creation it is written that, “The world was tohu and bohu, and darkness covering the deep.” The four phrases:

1) “tohu”,

2) “bohu”,

3) “darkness”, and

4) “covering the deep”

 

The four phrases hint to the four exiles:

 

tohu

bohu

darkness

covering the deep

Bavel -

Babylon

Madai - Media / Persia

Yavan - Greece

Edom - Rome

 

The final exile, Edom, corresponds to the phrase, “covering the deep” because just as we cannot grasp the depth of the ocean, so too we cannot grasp how terrible this exile is.

 

The Maggid of Kozhnitz seeks to understand the concept of HaShem’s tears[41] on the basis of the Midrash that interprets the verse, “And the earth was void and chaos…”[42] as referring to the four exiles.[43] Here, too, the Midrash attributes historical significance to a natural phenomenon, in this case, the primal “void and chaos.” The “void,” “chaos,” “darkness,” and “deep” hint at the suffering of the four exiles that Israel will endure. In other words, the suffering has its roots in creation; it is part of a necessary periodicity which is fundamental to the existence of the world. What appears to us as a stage preceding creation (the “void and chaos…”) is interpreted here as applying to all of history. We may have thought that the chaos and void belonged to the reality that preceded the creation of the world. The Midrash comes to tell us that history itself is “void and chaos and darkness,” and the light that is described as coming afterwards, and, in a more general sense, the orderly world that the Torah presents in chapter 1 of Bereshit, belongs to the future, not the past. History is one long process of movement from “void” to “chaos,” from “chaos” to “darkness,” etc., up until the light and redemption that are promised at the end.

 

Since the Torah is the blueprint of the world, something written at the very beginning of the blueprint indicates that these exiles are a fundamental process in the history of the world.

 

The Number Four

 

According to Chazal, our Sages, the number four signifies completion, wholeness, or fullness. One can see this by looking at the fingers on your hand. We have four that move in the same direction and are regularly used together. These four fingers are a complete set of fingers. Note, however, that the thumb is similar to the other fingers, yet it is different. Thus, whenever we see four, we will always find a fifth which is similar yet materially different.

 

The four exiles, represented by the four fingers, are:

Bavel (Babylon),

Madai / Paras (Media / Persia),

Yavan (Greece), and

Edom (Rome).

]

The fifth exile, represented by the thumb, is the Egyptian exile. Like the other four, the Egyptian exile provided atonement. Unlike the other four, the Egyptian exile was not forced by a foreign nation, but rather by a famine. Unlike the other four exiles, the Egyptian exile was also relatively peaceful and trouble free as long as Joseph was alive.

 

The number four is a number of separation, and represents dispersal in all four directions. We see scripture describing division and separation as: 

 

Zechariah 2:10 ...for I have scattered you like the four directions of the heavens.

 

Four is the number representing exile, as we have already begun seeing.

 

The Four Rivers

 

We find a hint to the four exiles in the description of the Garden of Eden, from which came out a river that split into four smaller rivers: Pishon, Gichon, Chidekel, and P’ros (Euphrates). These four rivers also correspond to the four exiles of Bavel, Madai, Yavan and Edom.

 

Bereshit (Genesis) 2:10 And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads. 11 The name of the first is Pishon: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; 12 And the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone.13 And the name of the second river is Gichon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia. 14 And the name of the third river is Chidekel: that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is P’ros (Euphrates).

 

The first use of the number four, in the Torah, is found in connection with the water that flowed out of Gan Eden.

 

The Covenant Between The Parts

 

In this next passage we see Avraham being told that his descendents would be going into exile in Egypt. Chazal see a hint, also, the four exiles that would enslave the Children of Israel throughout time.

 

Bereshit (Genesis) 15:12-21 And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, behold, a fear, a great darkness fell upon him. 13 And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; 14 And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. 15 And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. 16 But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full. 17 And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces. 18 In the same day HaShem made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates: 19 The Kenites, and the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites, 20 And the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims, 21 And the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.

 

The nations which kept us in exile were hinted to in verse twelve, which says that after Avraham fell asleep, “And behold, a fear, a great darkness fell upon him.” The words form a remez, according to the Midrash:

 

Midrash Rabbah - Genesis XLIV:17 AND, LO, A DREAD, EVEN A GREAT DARKNESS, FELL UPON HIM (ib.). DREAD refers to Babylon, as it is written, Then was Nebuchadnezzar filled with fury (Dan. III, 19).[44] DARKNESS refers to Media, which darkened the eyes of Israel with fasting and tribulation; GREAT refers to Greece. R. Simon said: The Kingdom of Greece set up one hundred and twenty commanders, one hundred and twenty governors, and one hundred and twenty generals. The Rabbis said: Sixty of each, for it is written, Serpents, fiery serpents, and scorpions (Deut. VIII, 15)[45]: just as the scorpion lays sixty eggs at a time, so did the Greek state set up sixty of each. FELL UPON HIM alludes to Edom [Rome], as it is written, The earth quaketh at the noise of their fall (Jer. XLIX, 21).[46] Some reverse it: FELL UPON HIM (ib.) alludes to Babylon, as it is written, Fallen, fallen is Babylon (Isa. XXI, 9). GREAT alludes to Media, as it is written, King Ashuerus did make great, etc. (Est. III, 1). DARKNESS alludes to Greece that darkened the eyes of Israel with its decrees.’ DREAD alludes to Edom, as it is written, After this I saw... a fourth beast[47], dreadful and terrible (Dan. VII, 7).[48]

 

Fear: This refers to Bavel, the Babylonian exile.

 

Darkness: This refers to Madai, the Median exile.

 

Great: This refers to Yavan, the Greek exile.

 

Fell upon him: This refers to the Edomite exile, the last of the four exiles, in which we still suffer.

 

fear

Darkness

Great

Fell upon him

Bavel -

Babylon

Madai - Media / Persia

Yavan - Greece

Edom - Rome

 

The Tzadik of Ruzhin concluded, “Even before we sinned the exile was decreed upon us. The ‘four exiles’ and ‘two destructions’ were already decreed in the time of our Patriarch Avraham at the Covenant Between The Pieces.

 

Four Kings vs. Five Kings

 

Bereshit (Genesis) 14:1-9 And it happened in the days of Amraphel, king of Shinar; Arioch, king of Ellasar; Chedorlaomer, king of Elam, and Tidal, king of Goiim, that these made war on Bera, king of Sodom; Birsha, king of Gomorrah; Shinab, king of Admah; Shemeber, king of Zeboiim; and the king of Bela, which is Zoar. All these had joined at the Valley of Siddim, now the Salt Sea. Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and they rebelled thirteen years. In the fourteenth year, Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him came and struck the Rephaim at Ashteroth-karnaim, the Zuzim in Ham, the Emim at Shaveh-kiriathaim; and the Horites in the mountains of Seir, as far as the Plain of Paran which is by the desert. Then they turned back and came to En-mishpat, which is Kadesh; they struck all the territory of the Amalekites; and also the Amorites who dwell in Hazazon-tamar.

 

And the king of Sodom went forth with the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, which is Zoar, and engaged them in battle in the Valley of Siddim: With Chedorlaomer, king of Elam, Tidal, king of Goiim; Amraphel, king of Shinar; and Arioch, king of Ellasar – four kings against five.

 

Both Rashi and the Ramban ask why the Torah emphasizes that there were four kings against five. Rashi gives a simple answer that it’s meant to show that although the four were less in number, they were tremendous in strength, and yet Avraham was able to beat them with just three-hundred eighteen men. The Ramban sees something much more complex. He says that this event happened to Avraham to teach us that before the end of days, there will be four superpowers who will rise up to attack the Jews, and that we will survive and take back all the captive Jews in the world. Just as war started with four kingdoms, it will end with four. There are also the four exiles: Bavel, Madai, Yavan (Greeks), and Edom (Romans). We are currently in the exile of Edom, and one sign of the age of Mashiach is the end of that exile.

 

Yaaqov’s Ladder

 

Bereshit (Genesis) 28:10-16 And Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran. 11 And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep. 12 And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. 13 And, behold, HaShem stood above it, and said, I am HaShem God of Avraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; 14 And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. 15 And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of. 16 And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely HaShem is in this place; and I knew it not.

 

Midrash Rabbah - Leviticus XXIX:2 R. Nahman opened his discourse with the text, Therefore fear thou not, O Jacob My servant (Jer. XXX, 10). This speaks of Jacob himself, of whom it is written, And he dreamed, and behold, a ladder set up on the earth... and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it (Gen. XXVIII, 12). These angels, explained R. Samuel b. Nahman, were the guardian Princes of the nations of the world. For R. Samuel b. Nahman said: This verse teaches us that the Holy One, blessed be He, showed our father Jacob the Prince of Babylon ascending seventy rungs of the ladder, the Prince of Media fifty-two rungs, the Prince of Greece one hundred and eighty, while the Prince of Edom ascended till Jacob did not know how many rungs. Thereupon our father Jacob was afraid. He thought: Is it possible that this one will never be brought down? Said the Holy One, blessed be He, to him: “‘Fear thou not, O Jacob My servant.” Even if he ascend and sit down by Me, I will bring him down from there!’ Hence it is written, Though thou make thy nest as high as the eagle, and though thou set it among the stars, I will bring thee down from thence (Obad. I, 4). R. Berekiah and R. Helbo, and R. Simeon b. Yohai in the name of R. Meir said: It teaches that the Holy One, blessed be He, showed Jacob the Prince of Babylon ascending and descending, of Media ascending and descending, of Greece ascending and descending, and of Edom ascending and descending. Then the Holy One, blessed be He, said to Jacob: ‘You also ascend.’ Thereupon our father Jacob was afraid, and thought: Perhaps, heaven for- fend, in the same way as these are to come down, so also am I? Said the Holy One, blessed be He, to him: ‘ “Fear thou not, O Jacob My servant.” Once you ascend there will be no descent for you! ‘ He would not believe, and did not ascend. R. Berekiah and R. Helbo in the name of R. Simeon b. Yohai stated: R. Meir used to expound the verse, For all this they sinned still, and believed not in His wondrous works (Ps. LXXVIII, 32) as applying to our father Jacob, who would not believe and did not ascend. So the Holy One, blessed be He, said to him: ‘ If you had believed and ascended you would never more come down. Now, however, that you would not believe and did not ascend, your children are destined to be enslaved to four empires in this world, paying them duties, annonae, fines, and capitation taxes. Thereupon Jacob was afraid. He said to the Holy One, blessed be He: ‘Sovereign of the Universe! Am I to infer that this will endure for ever? ‘ Said He to him: ‘Neither be dismayed, O Israel; for, lo, I will save thee from afar’ (Jer. loc. cit.)-- as you read, They are come from a far country unto me, even from Babylon (Isa. XXXIX, 3)--And thy seed from the land of their captivity (Jer. loc. cit.), namely, from Gaul, and from Spain, and from her neighbours; And Jacob shall return (ib.) from Babylon; And be quiet (ib.) as regards Media; And at ease (ib.) as regards Greece; And none shall make him afraid (ib.) alludes to Edom; For I will make a full end (kalah) of all the nations whither I have scattered thee (ib. 11); that is to say, ‘I will make an end (kalah) of the nations of the world who wholly reap (mekallim) their fields; But I will not make a full end of thee (ib.); that is to say, ‘But I will not make a full end’ of Israel, who do not wholly reap their fields; as you read, Thou shalt not wholly reap the corner of thy field (Lev. XXIII, 22); For I will correct thee in measure (Jer. loc. cit.); that is to say, ‘I will correct thee’ with sufferings in this world in order to cleanse you from your iniquities in the Time to Come. When? IN THE SEVENTH MONTH.

 

In his prophetic dream, Yaakov Avinu saw a ladder with its base on the ground and its top in heaven and angels going up and down its rungs. These angels are identified by the Midrash as the sarei ha’umos, the patron angels of the four kingdoms, that would oppress Yaakov’s descendants in their exile. Yaakov Avinu saw the sar[49] of Bavel ascend seventy rungs-representing the number of years that nation held power over Jewry-and then descend. Next came the sar of Media, whose ascent of fifty-two rungs symbolized the length of the Persian-Median exile. Then came the sar of Greece, who got as high as 180 rungs-the number of years Jews suffered under the Hellenist yoke until their liberation on Chanukah. It was only the ever-ascending sar of Edom that led Yaakov to ask HaShem if this meant that the fourth exile would never end. He was reassured that even if Edom-Rome and its heirs-reached the stars, HaShem would bring it down.

 

This theme of the four kingdoms and the exiles they were to impose upon Jewry is not encountered for the first or last time in Yaakov’s vision. There are at least half a dozen other references in Tanach.

 

Yaakov’s dream is unique in pinpointing the length of each exile. But all the other symbols and visions are alike in offering an opportunity to analyze the nature of each kingdom. It is these concise yet profound insights into the personality of each nation that Our Sages and Torah commentators throughout the generations have developed into a fascinating picture of Jewish history.

 

Tehillim (Pslams) 78:32 Nevertheless, they sinned again and they did not have faith in HaShem’s wonders...

 

This verse refers to our forefather Yaakov, who did not have faith in HaShem and did not ascend the ladder. HaShem told Yaakov... now that you did not have faith in Me, your children will have to undergo four exiles in this world, during which they will be subject to many forms of taxation.[50]

 

It is worth studying the events of the Patriarchs because the Midrash says: “Maase Avot Siman L’Banim”, the events of the forefathers foretell future events of their children.

 

Yitzchak’s Wells

 

The four wells dug by Yitzchak and his men allude to the four exiles (Bavel, Madai, Yavan, and Edom) that the Jewish people have been forced to endure because of our abandonment of the Torah.

 

In The Mishkan

 

The Torah at the beginning of the Portion of Teruma enumerates the materials that were needed for the building of the Mishkan, “Gold, silver, copper…and ram skins that are dyed red”. The Yalkut[51] explains that gold is a representation of the Babylonian Empire. Silver represents the Persian Empire. Copper represents the Greek Empire and the ram skins, that were dyed red, is an allusion to the Roman Empire (Edom), as the Torah refers to Esav as “red skinned”. Why do the four exiles need to be represented in the holiest location in existence, the Mishkan, which is the “dwelling place” of HaShem’s presence in our midst?

 

Rambam writes in Hilchot Teshuva that the state of “tzadik”[52] and “rasha”[53] is not predestined but rather one has the ability to choose between good and evil. One is put at the equidistant point between the two extremes to be able to make the choice. Thus, man is pulled equally in both directions. In order to maintain the proper balance between good and evil, at whatever level “good” is represented, “evil” must have a similar level of representation. The Holy of Holies of the Mishkan, although it was the location of the Divine Presence, just as all “good” emanates from the holiness of that location, identically “evil” must be represented there. Thus, when the Men of the Great Assembly prayed that the evil inclination should present itself to be destroyed it exited from the Holy of Holies.

 

Yoma 69b He answered: One does not pronounce the Ineffable Name outside [the limits of the Temple]. But may one not? Is it not written: And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose. [. . . and Ezra praised the great God]. And R. Giddal [commenting thereupon] said: He magnified Him by [pronouncing] the Ineffable Name?-That was a decision in an emergency. And [they] cried with a great [loud] voice unto the Lord, their God. What did they cry? — Woe, woe, it is he who has destroyed the Sanctuary, burnt the Temple, killed all the righteous, driven all Israel into exile, and is still dancing around among us! Thou hast surely given him to us so that we may receive reward through him. We want neither him, nor reward through him! Thereupon a tablet fell down from heaven for them, whereupon the word ‘truth’ was inscribed. (R. Hanina said: One may learn therefrom that the seal of the Holy One, blessed be He, is truth). They ordered a fast of three days and three nights, whereupon he was surrendered to them. He came forth from the Holy of Holies like a young fiery lion.

 

The Mabul (Flood)

 

In the story of the Flood we find the mentioning of “the water increased” four times and Chazal teach that this is a hint to the four exiles.

 

Egypt – The Prototype

 

There is a Midrashic[54] view that maintains that the impurity of Egypt is the source of all further exiles and is too profound to be listed as one of the four. The Egyptian exile lasted two hundred and ten years,[55] from the time Yaaqov Avinu and his sixty-nine family members crossed the borders of Egypt.

 

This prototypical exile has at least one very important lesson for us.

 

Our salvation, the salvation of all Jews, depends on us saving the Gentiles first

 

We learn this fron the Egyptian exile where a Jew, Joseph ben Yaaqov, first saved the Gentiles before he saved his family – the rest of the Jews. Thus we need to absorb a very powerful lesson:

 

Our salvation depends

on the salvation of the Gentiles!

 

We save the Gentiles by scattering the seeds of the oral Torah amongst the Gentiles. The scattering of the seeds of the oral law, amongst the Gentiles, is illustrated by a simile in Mark[56]:

 

Mark 4:13-20 And he said to them: “Do you not comprehend[57] this simile?[58] And how will you comprehend all similes? The sower sows the seed of the Oral Torah.[59] And these are those along the way (path) where the seed of the Oral Torah is sown. And when they hear, the adversary (Yester HaRa) comes immediately[60] and takes away the seed of the Oral Torah having been sown in their hearts. And likewise, these are the ones having been sown on the rocky (soil),[61] who, when they hear the Oral Torah, they immediately receive it with joy, Yet they have no root (faithfulness) in themselves, but are temporal opportunists.[62] Then when trouble or persecution[63] has occurred because of the Oral Torah, they immediately stumble[64] (and fall away). These are those being sown into the thorn bushes, those hearing the Oral Torah, And the cares of this age, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts about other things entering in, they choke the Oral Torah, and it becomes unfruitful.[65] And these are those being sown on the good ground, who hear and welcome the Oral Torah and bring forth fruit, one thirty, and one sixty, and one a hundredfold.

 

The Egyptian exile which is, for us, the paradigm of all exiles. When HaShem freed us from Egyptian bondage, He used four terms of redemption. He said,

 

 

I will take you out of the land of Egypt

And I will save you from serving them

And I will redeem you from slavery to freedom

And I will take you to Me as a nation

Bavel -

Babylon

Madai - Media / Persia

Yavan - Greece

Edom - Rome

 

“v’hotzeiti” hints at Galut Bavel, for so the Prophet writes in Yeshayahu “Go out from Bavel ... , flee from the Kasdim”;[66]


“v’hitzalti” hints at Galut Paras and Madai, since that is where they were saved from physical annihilation;

 

“v’gaalti” hints at Galut Yavan, because that is where their spiritual existence was threatened; whilst –

 

“v’lakachti eschem li le’Am” hints at Galut Edom, where HaShem will take us as His nation once and for all, when the time comes.

 

The Four Cups

 

The Talmud Yerushalmi[67] says that the four cups of wine at the seder parallel four phrases of redemption. The Yerushalmi goes on to say that the four cups represent our freedom from the four nations who oppressed us: Bavel, Madai, Yavan, and Edom.

 

The early experiences of the Jewish people are considered to foreshadow our later experiences in history. For us, history truly repeats itself. And so our Egyptian experience is a forerunner of all the later times we would be oppressed by the nations of the world.

 

During the seder we take four cups of wine, which correspond with these four expressions of redemption.

 

This prototypical exile confirms the words of Our Sages when they taught that the purpose of exile is to make converts:

 

Shemot (Exodus) 12:37 And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, beside children. 38 And a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle.

 

Thus we see that the Erev Rav, the mixed multitude, also came out with the Children of Israel. These Gentiles had attached themselves to Israel and would receive a portion of the Promised Land.

 

Egypt is viewed as the prototype of all the future exiles and therefore remains in a class of its own.

 

It was the Egyptian paradigm that enabled the sages to view Israel’s exile in such broad perspective. Just as they compared the first redeemer (Moses) to the final redeemer (Messiah of the house of David), and the first redemption to the final redemption, so they considered the first Galut to be the model for all future exiles. HaShem’s promise to Yaakov Avinu was thus interpreted by the Rabbis as applying to every Galut experience:

 

Bereshit (Genesis) 46:3-4 Fear not to go down into Egypt, for I will ... go down with you into Egypt and surely bring you up again.

 

The Rabbis understand this literally to mean that HaShem Himself, as it were, accompanies His people into exile. A new concept was thus born, known as Shekhinta be-Galuta, “the Divine Presence [is] in exile”,[68] which would later become potent in the Kabbalah.

 

This exile is puzzling. Seventy righteous, holy, and undefiled Jewish souls went down to Egypt and 600,000 souls emerged mired in forty-nine levels of defilement! What purpose did this exile serve? The goal of the exile was to scour the Jewish people and prepare them for their mission as the chosen people. This is what HaShem meant when He told Avraham: “Know for sure” that if you want your descendants to be the chosen people they must endure four hundred years of purification in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed, not because they sinned, but in order to be cleansed and prepared for the mission that awaits them.

 

The Journeys

 

Bamidbar (Numbers) 33:1 These are (eileh) the journeys of the Children of Israel, who went forth from the land of Egypt according to their legions, under the leadership of Moshe and Aharon.

 

The word eileh, “these are”, seems superfluous. The pasuk could have just said, masei b’nei Yisrael, “the journeys of the Children of Israel” Why is it stated this way?

 

In addition to the Egyptian exile, the Jewish people suffered additional exiles under four kingdoms: Edom/Rome (Edom); Media/Persia (Madai); Babylon (Bavel); and Greece (Yavan). The first letters of the words “Eilah masei b’nai Yisrael”, “These are the journeys of the Children of Israel” are a hint to the four exiles which will come after the redemption from Egypt. The first four words of the verse begin with the Hebrew letters alef, mem, bet, and yud, representing the first letters of the four exiles: Edom (Rome beginning with alef), Madai (Media/Persia mem), Bavel (Babylon bet), and Yavan (Greece yud).

 

The words eileh Maasei b’nei Yisrael, “These are the journeys of the Children of Israel”, are an acronym for the four galuyot, exiles, in which the Jews were persecuted and subjugated under four kingdoms: Edom/Rome (Edom); Media/Persia (Madai); Babylon (Bavel); and Greece (Yavan). The forty-two lettered name accompanies the Jewish people throughout all their travels during the exile and assists them in reaching the ultimate redemption.

 

In the historical journey, we are told that we have already endured the forty-two journeys and we are standing poised at the “dark plains” on the banks of the River Jordan Jericho boundary, about ready to enter the Promised Land, this time, permanently. Commentaries explain that the opening of this week’s Torah portion, “eleh Massei b’nei Yisrael” (these are the journeys of the children of Israel) is the acronym: Edom, Madai, Bavel, Yavan, the four major exiles and empires that have dominated history.[69]

 

Wanderings

 

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 4:2 And HaShem will disperse you among the people, and you will remain small in number among the nations that HaShem will lead you there.

 

Among the people [Ba’Amim] – The word “Ba’Amim” has a numerical equivalent of 162, which is the same as “Bein HaBavliim” [among the Babylonians]

 

The Nations [BaGoyim] – The word “BaGoyim” totals 61, which is equivalent to “U’V’Madai” [and the Persians]

 

Will Lead [Yinaheg] – The word “Yinaheg” totals 68, which is equivalent to “B’yavan” [in Greece]

 

There [Shamah] – The word “Shamah” totals 345, which is equivalent to “M’Romiim” [The Romans]

 

The four exiles that the Jewish people will undergo are all alluded to in this verse.[70]

 

* * *

 

The words “cup of wine” are mentioned four times in Pharaoh’s butler’s dream.[71] According to the Midrash, these cups of wine alluded to the Israelites’ liberation.

 

* * *

 

Daniel 7:2-6 Daniel spoke, and said: I saw in my vision by night... four great beasts... The first was like a lion...and behold, another beast, a second one, similar to a bear... Afterwards I beheld, and there was another, similar to a leopard....

 

The Talmud interprets this verse to be referring to the four exiles endured by the Jewish people, and the righteous individuals who would help the Jewish nation persevere during those trying times. It lists the exiles in the following order: In the days of the Chaldeans, in the days of the Greeks (Chanukah), in the days of Haman (Purim), and in the days of the Persians. Concerning Chanukah, the Talmud states: “In the days of the Greeks, for I gave them Shimon HaTzaddik, Chashmonai and his sons, and Matityahu the high priest”.[72]

 

Un-kosher Animals

 

Midrash Rabbah - Leviticus XIII:5 Moses foresaw the empires engaged in their [subsequent] activities. [Among the unclean animals]

THE CAMEL (GAMAL) (XI, 4) alludes to Babylon, of whom is said, O daughter of Babylon, that art to be destroyed; happy be he that repayeth thee thy retributions (gemul) as thou hast dealt (gamal) with us (Ps. CXXXVII, 8).

THE ROCK BADGER alludes to Media. The Rabbis and R. Judah b. Simon gave different explanations. The Rabbis said: Just as the rock-badger possesses marks of uncleanness and marks of cleanness, so too did Media produce a righteous man as well as a wicked man. R. Judah b. R. Simon said: The last Darius was the son of Esther, clean from his mother [‘s side] and unclean from his father [‘s side].

THE HARE alludes to Greece; the name of the mother of Ptolemy was [Lagos, the Greek equivalent of] hare.

THE SWINE alludes to Seir [Edom, i.e. Rome]. Moses mentioned [the first] three of them in one verse, but the last [by itself] in another verse. R. Johanan and R. Simeon b. Lakish gave explanations. R. Johanan said: Because it [i.e. the swine] is on a par with the three others put together.

 

* * *

 

Our Sages enumerate four separate “exiles” that the Jewish people have endured since first settling the Land of Israel 3,300 years ago. Each of these exiles is qualitatively different, in the sense that the oppressors focused on uprooting different aspects of Jewish life and practice. Let us look at these differences.

 

Bavel (Babylon) - בָּבֶל

 

Bavel attempted to disconected us from our land. The Babylonian exile was characterized by physical suffering and oppression. The Babylonians were barbarians who viewed sheer physical strength as bestowing the right to dominate and conquer. This characteristic of the Babylonians was built at the time of the Tower of Bavel. At the time the people were interested in waging war with HaShem. Because of this rebellion, HaShem confused their language (not only did He create multiple languages, but He caused, even those who spoke the same language, to misunderstand each other). As they were separated from their land, by their languages, so they exiled us from our land. We began the tikkun for the confusion of language. This is where the Babylonian Talmud, the heart of the Oral Torah, was written.

 

Madai (Media) - מָדַי

 

Madai attempted to disconnect us from physical life. The Median exile was one of emotional temptation. The events written in the Megilla of Esther took place after Babylon had been conquered by the Medians and the Persians. These events were custom tailored to kill us.

 

As we learned in the introduction, our Sages teach that the purpose of exile is to redeem the sparks among the Gentiles and to make proselytes. Thus when the Bne Israel were exiled in Babylon, by the Medians, they also made proselytes:[73]

 

Esther 9:26 Wherefore they called these days Purim after the name of Pur. Therefore for all the words of this letter, and of that which they had seen concerning this matter, and which had come unto them, 27 The Jews ordained, and took upon them, and upon their seed, and upon all such as joined themselves unto them,[74] so as it should not fail, that they would keep these two days according to their writing, and according to their appointed time every year; 28 And that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city; and that these days of Purim should not fail from among the Jews, nor the memorial of them perish from their seed.

 

When we review the Megilla, we find that “the seal-ring of Haman” legalizing the genocidal edict against Persian Jewry did more to bring Jews back to Judaism than all the preaching of the Hebrew prophets.[75] Perhaps it is this renewal which HaShem used to help the Jews make the many Babylonian proselytes.

 

Yavan (Greece) - יָוָן

 

Yavan attempted to disconnect us from the Torah and mitzvot even as we remained in our land. The Greeks abolished Shabbat, Rosh Chodesh, and Brit Mila, because all of these mitzvot emphasized the particular Jewish relation to the world, the santification of the creation, of time, and of the body respectively.

 

Galut Yavan, the third exile, lasted 180 years, and was known as the exile of darkness because the Greeks went to great lengths to make Jews see and understand the world in a way which was alien to the Torah. Further, the Greeks forced the translation of the Torah into Greek in order to appropriate our Torah to themselves. We were no longer to be the exclusive interpreters of the Torah. The Galut Yavan is always referred to as darkness because it took away the light of Torah.

 

Bereshit (Genesis) 1:2 And the earth was without form (tohu), and void (bohu); and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

 

By looking at the above pasuk and understanding the Greek desire to remove Torah from the world, we can understand why Our Sages said that the ‘darkness’ of Bereshit 1:2 spoke of Yavan, the Greek exile.

 

The Greek exile was not a physical exile, as the Jews remained living in Israel. Nor were the Greek interested in destroying the Jews. The Greek wanted the Jews not to be Jews. They wanted the Jews to stop circumcising their sons, to stop celebrating Shabbat and the Rosh Chodesh. The wanted the Jews to be like them.

 

Edom (Rome) - אֱדוֹם

 

Edom attempted to sever our connection from Heaven by destroying the Beit HaMikdash, Jerusalem, and dispersing us to the four winds.

 

Edom is the fourth exile that has lasted for almost 2000 years. The final exile, Edom, corresponds to the phrase, “covering the deep”, In Bereshit (Genesis) 1:2, because just as we cannot grasp the depth of the ocean, so too we cannot grasp how terrible this exile is.

 

"Edom" in Hebrew means "red", and is thus associated with bloodshed and bloodlust, just as Esau chose to be a hunter rather than a farmer.

 

With the destruction of the second Beit HaMikdash began the exile bearing the yoke of Edom, that which we suffer from till this day. It is the worst of the exiles because it contains poisons of all previous exiles.

 

The exile of Edom began with Rome, whose culture lacked any clearly-defined philosophy. Rather, it adopted the philosophies of all the preceding cultures, causing Roman culture to be in a constant flux. Although the Roman Empire has fallen, the Jews are still in the exile of Edom, and indeed, one can find this phenomenon of ever-changing trends dominating modern western society.

 

Our Sages call Edom, Rome, the ‘evil kingdom:

 

Midrash Rabbah - Genesis XLII:2 R. Samuel commenced his discourse: And this also is a grievous evil, that in all points as he came, so shall he go (Eccl. V. 15). Said R. Samuel: As he comes with slops, so he goes with slops.[76] R. Abin said: Just as he commenced with four kings, so will he conclude with four kings.[77] [He commences with four kings, viz.]: With Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of Goiim, and Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar (Gen. XIV, 9); so he ends with four kingdoms: the kingdom of Babylon, the kingdom of Media, the kingdom of Greece, and the empire of Edom [i.e. Rome]. R. Phinehas quoted in R. Abin's name: But they know not the thoughts of the Lord, neither understand they His counsel, for He hath gathered them as the sheaves to the threshing- floor (Micah IV, 12). Thus, why Came all these as allies (Gen. XIV, 3)? In order that they might come and fall by the hands of Abraham; hence it is written, AND IT CAME TO PASS lN THE DAYS OF AMRAPHEL, etc.

 

The three kingdoms which preceded Edom were each based in one location, while the Roman Empire, like Tidal’s kingdom, extended over many nations.

 

 

 


 

1

2

3

4

5

Bereshit 1 - Tohu - null

Bohu - void

darkness

covering the deep

“And the spirit of God”

Pishon

Gichon

Chidekel

P’ros (Euphrates)

Gan Eden

Bereshit 12 - fear

Darkness

Great

Fell upon him

 

Babylon - Bavel

Media/Persia - Madai

Greece - Yavan

Rome - Edom

Messianic days

Jacob’s ladder – 70 rungs

52 rungs

180 rungs

Many rungs

 

Amraphel king of Shinar

Chedorlaomer the king of Elam (eternity)

Arioch king of Ellasar (God is chastener)

Tidal king of nations

 

Avraham

Yitzchak

Yaaqov

Moshe

Mashiach

Geburah

Chesed

Tiferet

Malchut

 

Daniel 7 - lion

bear

leopard

Fourth beast

A wild donkey of a man

Camel

Rabbit

Hare

Pig

 

Pshat

Remez

Drash

Sod

 

Cup 1

Cup 2

Cup 3

Cup 4

Cup of Eliyahu

Shemot 6:6 - “I will take you out (v’hotzeiti) of the land of Egypt

And I will save you (v’hitzalti) from serving them.

And I will redeem you (v’gaalti) from slavery to freedom

And I will take you (v’lakachti) to Me as a nation

 

wise

wicked

simple

one who does not know how to ask a question

 

“Ve-hotzaiti”= Egypt - Pesach

“Ve-He-tzalti” Babylon - Purim

“Ve-Ga-alti”= Greek - Chanukah

“Ve-Lakachti” Roman exile

 

Nafshi” (Emotional) - Babylonian tyrant Nebuchadnezzar wanted the Jewish people to emotionally submit themselves to him and his idolatry. They refused, so Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the First Temple and sent the Jews packing to Babylon.

Gufani (Bodily) - While living under Persian domination, the Jews experienced an exile which threatened to annihilate them through the genocidal machinations of Haman, the villain of the Purim story.

Sichli (Intellectual) - Under the rulership of the Greeks, the Jews were subject to harsh decrees prohibiting their connection to God and Torah. The tide of Greek philosophy and culture ― chronicled in the Chanukah story ― threatened to extinguish Jewish intellectual thought.

HaKol (Combination) - The current exile began 2,000 years ago with the Roman destruction of the Second Temple and the disbursement of the Jews to four corners of the globe. During this time, Jews have been subjected to a horrific combination of all other exiles ― perpetual persecution, expulsion, humiliation, mass murder, and more.

 

Bereshit 15

3 year old Heifer

3 year old She goat

3 year old ram

Turtle dove and pigeon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Conclusion

 

There is a universal redemption coming when “The great shofar shall be sounded, and the lost shall come from the lands of plenty, and the forsaken from the lands of stricture, and they shall bow to G-d on the Holy Mountain in Jerusalem.”[78]

 

The Prophet teaches us that, in the end, our arba Galuyot, our four exiles will be successful!

 

Zechariah 2:14 Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith HaShem. 15 And many nations shall be joined to HaShem in that day, and shall be my people: and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that HaShem of hosts hath sent me unto thee.

 

HaShem also comforted us by reminding us that despite being in Exile, He will still be there with us.

 

Vayikra (Leviticus) 26:44 But despite all this, while they will be in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them nor will I abhor them, to obliterate them, to annul My covenant with them - for I am HaShem their G-d.

 

Rabbi Yoshe Ber HaLevi Soloveitchik (1820-1892) added[79] that without the punishment of exile, all those Gentile souls who were destined to convert would have come to Israel on their own seeking spiritual enlightenment. Because of the exile and its scattering of the Jewish nation, Israel will be there when converts from all over the world will seek the truth. May HaShem completely redeem His nation and end the exile from the four corners of the Earth with the coming of the Mashiach, speedily and in our days: Amen V’Amen!

 

Bibliography:

 

The Soncino Books of The Bible – The Five Megilloth, with introductions & commentary, edited by Rev Dr. A Cohen, revised and expanded by Rabbi A. J. Rosenberg.

 

* * *

 

This study was written by

Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David

(Greg Killian).

Comments may be submitted to:

 

Rabbi Dr. Greg Killian

4544 Highline Dr. SE

Olympia, WA 98501

 

Internet address: gkilli@aol.com

Web page: http://www.betemunah.org/

 

(360) 918-2905

 

Return to The WATCHMAN home page

Send comments to Greg Killian at his email address: gkilli@aol.com

 



[1] Yiremeyahu (Jeremiah) 11:15

[2] Ibid. The word המזמתה implies premeditated wickedness; cf. Tehillim (Psalm) 89:20.

[3] Yiremeyahu (Jeremiah) ibid. They attempted to disguise their circumcision.

[4] Ibid. 16.

[5] It is only after many years that the olive-tree bears fruit.

[6] The Children of Israel

[7] Goyim (גוים) – Gentiles.

[8] G-d = Elohim = HaShem when He is exercising the attribute of justice.

[9] Galut - גלות,  refers to the exile of the Jewish people.

[10] Hoshea 1:6 ‘Compassion’ is thus mentioned even in connection with retribution.

[11] Hoshea 2:25.

[12] Ohr Hachayim, beginning of Ki Satze.

[13] (1555–1631)

[14] Chiddushei Aggadah to Pesachim 87

[15] Ezek. 34:31

[16] Cf. Num. 19:14: This is the law, when a man dieth in a tent; all that come into the tent, and all that is in the tent, shall be unclean seven days. (This command applies ONLY to Israel!)

[17] Yerushalmi, Shekalim 1:4

[18] Yiremeyahu (Jeremiah) 22:30.

[19] I Divrei Hayamim (Chronicles) 3:17. Notwithstanding the curse that he should be childless and not prosper, after being exiled he was forgiven.

[20] Shemot 18:14-27

[21] Zevachim 115a

[22] See Joshua Chapter 2

[23] Megillah 14b-15a

[24] Ibid.

[25] Pesachim 87b

[26] 423-371 BCE

[27] Also spelled ‘Modai’. Madai is also linked to Paras (Persia). These two often appear together.

[28] 371-356 BCE.

[29] 318-138 BCE

[30] Approximately 63 BCE until today.

[31] Tanach is an acronym for: Torah (Law), Neviim (Prophets), and Ketubim (Writings) – the so called ‘Old Testament’.

[32] i.e. the Arab nations

[33] Spirit

[34] Yalkut Shim’oni, Bereshit, No.4

[35] Jeremiah refers to the desolation wrought by the conquering might of Babylonia. Tohu and bohu are applied to Babylonia and Media (Persia) respectively in the sense that they caused chaos and destruction.

[36] This happened in Media, and wa-yabhillu is linked up with ‘bohu’. Or possibly wa-yabhillu is read: wayabo bohu lo, and they brought desolation to him.-Mah.

[37] The reference is to Antiochus who endeavored to annihilate Judaism and implant Hellenism in its stead; ‘ write on the horn of an ox ‘ probably implies a public disavowal of Judaism.

[38] Pesik. R.: to the wicked State of Edom-i.e. Rome.

[39] I.e. it is the eternal nature of water.

[40] He translates ‘ruah’ literally, wind, and also stresses the present tense of merahefeth, lit. ‘hovers’; thus the verse means that at all times a breeze, caused by God, stirs over the waters.

[41] Berachot 59a

[42] Bereshit 1:2

[43] Bereshit Rabba 2:4

[44] The word for ‘fury’ ( הימה ) is somewhat similar to that used for dread ( חימה ).

[45] This is symbolically applied to Babylon, Media, and Greece respectively.

[46] This refers to Edom, as is stated in the preceding verse q.v.

[47] The fourth beast was applied to Edom.

[48] The exile is regarded as putting Israel in pledge to atone their sins.

[49] Sar = prince angel

[50] Midrash Rabbah Vayikra 29:2; Tanchuma Vayetze #2

[51] Yalkut Shimoni (usually referred to as “the Yalkut” of Simeon of Frankfurt).

[52] Righteous / generous

[53] Evil / stingy

[54] Midrash Rabbah - Numbers VII:10

[55] Nedarim 32a, Midrash Rabbah - Genesis LVII:4, Midrash Rabbah - Exodus XVIII:11, Midrash Rabbah - Numbers XIII:20.

[56] With thanks for this translation to His Eminence Hakham Dr. Yosef ben Haggai and His Eminence Hakham Dr. Eliyahu ben Avraham.

[57] οἴδατε know by insight or intuition as opposed to γινώσκω  meaning to come to know by observation and experience. Therefore, we can see here the reference to spiritual “insight” referring to apprehension of an abstract idea.

[58] The question is not a reproach as some scholars suggest. Taylor, V. (1955). The Gospel According to Mark. New York St Martin's Press: MacMillian & Co LTD. pp. 258-9

[59] Taylor promotes the idea that the phrase τὸν λόγον implies the “Gospel” or the “Christian Message.” Therefore, we note that the phrase τὸν λόγον used here refers to the “Mesorah” or Oral Torah. Taylor, V. (1955). The Gospel According to Mark. New York St Martin's Press: MacMillian & Co LTD. p. 259

[60] Εὐθύς (euthus) is a multifaceted word. As we have shown (Sivan 12, 5772), it carries the connotation of being straight. However, we must not lose sight of the fact that it also carries a sense of immediacy and urgency. In brief, εὐθύς (euthus) bears the weight of moral urgency. This moral urgency is demonstrative of those who obey and hear. Acceptance of the Torah and Oral Torah is not conditional. When we hear we MUST obey with immediate moral acceptance and urgency.  Here we note that εὐθέως (euthus) denotes those who “immediately” “fall away.” In other words, they “immediately” turn from moral immediacy taking the approach opposite to Na’aséh V’Nishmá “We will do and [then] we will hear.”  cf. Exodus 19:8.  See “Immediately” Sivan 12, 5772

[61] This “ground” is a rocky soil or rock with a thin layer of soil, which allows the seed to initially geminate.

[62] These people receive the Mesorah – Oral Torah with gladness. However, because they are not filled with faithfulness, they soon wander from the path and they lose sight of the ideas purported by the Oral Torah. They revel in the glory of the moment. However, they cannot endure anything for more than a short period before they begin their expedition looking for the “latest thing.”  Swete opines that their spiritual association with the Word (Oral Torah) is “short lived.” Swete, H. B. (1898). The Gospel According to Mark, The Grek Text with Introduction notes and Indices. New York: MacMillian and Co., Limited. p. 79

[63] διωγμός (diogmos) referring to heat or resistance, which fits the simile well. Therefore, διωγμός (diogmos) is Na’aséh V’Nishmá put to the test.

[64] σκανδαλίζω (skandalizo) used only in the LXX and the Nazarean Codicil. This indicated that it is a Hebraism. And, shows the positive connection between the LXX and the Nazarean Codicil. Here our association is not to believe that the Nazarean Codicil originated in Greek but to suggest that the Nazarean Codicil originated in Hebrew and was then translated to Greek like the LXX. Therefore, we would expect that Nazarean Codicil to use similar words and expressions. Interestingly, the word is also found in a literal sense in Yehudit (Judith) 5:1 calling to mind Hanukah recently past. Here the notion is also associated with ethics and moral immediacy as in εὐθέως noted above. Here it is also associated with the idea of apostasy. The vocabulary here is very ethical connoting the association with the Oral Torah.

[65] Note here that the plant has come to a level of maturity whereby it should have produced fruit. Yet it remains fruitless.

[66] Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 48:20

[67] Pesachim 10:1

[68] Megilla 29a

[69] Yalkut Reuveni Massei from Rameh m’Pano, Maamar Chokur Din sec. 3 ch. 22. Chida – Nachal Kedumim

[70] Baal HaTurim, Rabbi Yaakov Ben Asher (1270-1340).

[71] Bereshit 40:11-13

[72] Megillah 11a

[73] Proselytes

[74] Both Rashi and Ibn Ezra indicate that this passage speaks of proselytes.

[75] Megilla 14a

[76] At birth he can only eat slops, and in old age before death he is the same.

[77] R. Abin relates the verse to the Jewish nation: just as his history commences with an engagement between Abraham and the four kings, so at an advanced stage of his history shall he be subject to four powers.

[78] Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 27:13 

[79] Beit HaLevi to Parshat BeShalach