Thursday, January 08, 2009

Parallels Between Vaychi and Its Haftarah

Since I am on this kick, I might as well do this for parashat Vaychi as well. The obvious connection is in the leading words in the haftarah. The haftarah begins:
א וַיִּקְרְבוּ יְמֵי-דָוִד, לָמוּת; וַיְצַו אֶת-שְׁלֹמֹה בְנוֹ, לֵאמֹר. 1 Now the days of David drew nigh that he should die; and he charged Solomon his son, saying:
which parallels the second pasuk of the parsha:
כט וַיִּקְרְבוּ יְמֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל, לָמוּת, וַיִּקְרָא לִבְנוֹ לְיוֹסֵף וַיֹּאמֶר לוֹ אִם-נָא מָצָאתִי חֵן בְּעֵינֶיךָ, שִׂים-נָא יָדְךָ תַּחַת יְרֵכִי; וְעָשִׂיתָ עִמָּדִי חֶסֶד וֶאֱמֶת, אַל-נָא תִקְבְּרֵנִי בְּמִצְרָיִם. 29 And the time drew near that Israel must die; and he called his son Joseph, and said unto him: 'If now I have found favour in thy sight, put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh, and deal kindly and truly with me; bury me not, I pray thee, in Egypt.
Of course, there may be other parallels, but not so convincing as deliberate parallels, but rather just things that commonly happen when someone prominent passes on. Thus, Yosef swears to his father to bury him, and David tells his son what to do after his death. (Shimi violates an oath he made in the previous perek.)

There is also, in the previous perek, the construction of vayaged without specifying who is relating this. This might indeed indicate a deliberate echoing of the end of Yaakov's life.
נא וַיֻּגַּד לִשְׁלֹמֹה, לֵאמֹר, הִנֵּה אֲדֹנִיָּהוּ, יָרֵא אֶת-הַמֶּלֶךְ שְׁלֹמֹה; וְהִנֵּה אָחַז בְּקַרְנוֹת הַמִּזְבֵּחַ, לֵאמֹר, יִשָּׁבַע-לִי כַיּוֹם הַמֶּלֶךְ שְׁלֹמֹה, אִם-יָמִית אֶת-עַבְדּוֹ בֶּחָרֶב. 51 And it was told Solomon, saying: 'Behold, Adonijah feareth king Solomon; for, lo, he hath laid hold on the horns of the altar, saying: Let king Solomon swear unto me first of all that he will not slay his servant with the sword.'
Does anyone spot any other interesting parallels?


Rabbi Joshua Maroof said...

Aren't you working backwards here?

Textual parallels are useful for identifying conceptual or thematic parallels. In this case, the thematic parallel is clear - the death of a great leader and his appointment of successor(s) with final words of "will and testament" to instruct them in proper perpetuation of his legacy. This happened at the beginning of the establishment of the nation of Israel and the Shevatim, and it occurred again at the establishment of the first monarchical dynasty when the people of Israel were again united by a common leader in a common polity.

The linguistic and structural similarities would thus derive from this more fundamental link.

joshwaxman said...

i agree, mostly. that is what i meant by "rather just things that commonly happen when someone prominent passes on."

but there are different ways of phrasing things in any language, and the passing of someone prominent in the existing literature *could* well inspire echoing in the description.

And I think the reason the haftarah was *chosen* was this duplication in language.

However, apart from any of this, you are absolutely correct that circumstance dictates what kind of things will be described, and quite often the choice of language. This is not at all like the parallels with Tamar from a while back. This is indeed a very weak post.



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