Sunday, September 13, 2009

The 'Vile Nation'?

In Baal HaTurim on Haazinu, an interesting censored text.

The pesukim read:
כא הֵם קִנְאוּנִי בְלֹא-אֵל, {ר} כִּעֲסוּנִי בְּהַבְלֵיהֶם; {ס} וַאֲנִי אַקְנִיאֵם בְּלֹא-עָם, {ר} בְּגוֹי נָבָל אַכְעִיסֵם. {ס}21 They have roused Me to jealousy with a no-god; they have provoked Me with their vanities; and I will rouse them to jealousy with a no-people; I will provoke them with a vile nation.
כב כִּי-אֵשׁ קָדְחָה בְאַפִּי, {ר} וַתִּיקַד עַד-שְׁאוֹל תַּחְתִּית; {ס} וַתֹּאכַל אֶרֶץ וִיבֻלָהּ, {ר} וַתְּלַהֵט מוֹסְדֵי הָרִים. {ס}22 For a fire is kindled in My nostril, and burneth unto the depths of the nether-world, and devoureth the earth with her produce, and setteth ablaze the foundations of the mountains.

and Baal HaTurim writes what is pictured to the right. That is, regarding , בְּגוֹי נָבָל אַכְעִיסֵם he notes that the first letters of these words are בנ"א, which are the same gematria as beEdom. Naturally, beEdom is censored out. Then, on the four languages of destruction by burning, he writes that they correspond to the four kingdoms in which Israel was exiled: Babylonia, Media, Greece, and Edom. And once again, Edom is censored out. Though the censorship was not very good, because surely the identity of the fourth exile is well known! And when you censor it in this context, it makes it perfectly clear who it is. Perhaps the censorship is not meant to hide the information but rather to take a stand against the message therein?

Baal HaTurim did not innovate this idea about the goy naval being the nation of Edom. Baal HaTurim greatly favors Ramban, and Ramban wrote:
בגוי נבל אכעיסם -
עשו שהוא נבל, ולא זכר ברית אחים. וירמוז לשני הגלויות:
and Edom, of course, is understood to be from Esav. We find this as well is Sporno:
בְּגוי נָבָל אַכְעִיסֵם. בְּבַיִת שֵׁנִי שֶׁהֶחֱרִיבָה אותו מַלְכוּת שֶׁאֵינָהּ הוגֶנֶת, שֶׁאֵין לָהֶם לא כְּתָב וְלא לָשׁון.
which is a reference to Rome, which is Galus Edom.

The "problem" with all this which would cause censorship is two-fold. The present nations might be considered by the Jews, or might consider themselves, to be the heirs of the Roman empire. And secondly, according to some commentators, the designation of Rome was to be applied to Christiandom.


ZB said...

I always wondered about the four empires that exiled us. If we count Persia (ie Media) as an empire that we were exiled, shouldn't Assyria also be included. They definitely caused more damage to the Jews then the benevolent Persian empire. They also caused more destruction then the Greeks, and might have been close to how destructive Babylonia was. And if you want to say we are talking only about Judea, well Sennacherib caused much damage and destruction also in Judea until he was stopped in Jerusalem?

joshwaxman said...

interesting. i'm not sure. offhand, perhaps it starts from the date of the prophecies about the four kingdoms, but that there were of course other kingdoms before? otherwise, why not count Mitzrayim?



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