Thursday, January 12, 2012

Was the new king over Egypt from the zera hamelucha?

Summary: Considering Ibn Ezra's fit of 'prophecy'.

Post: In parashat Shemot:

8. A new king arose over Egypt, who did not know about Joseph.ח. וַיָּקָם מֶלֶךְ חָדָשׁ עַל מִצְרָיִם אֲשֶׁר לֹא יָדַע אֶת יוֹסֵף:
Rashi explains:

A new king arose: [There is a controversy between] Rav and Samuel. One says: He was really new, and the other one says: His decrees were new. [From Sotah 11a, Exod. Rabbah 1:8] Since the Torah does not say: The king of Egypt died, and a new king arose, it implies that the old king was still alive, only that his policies had changed, and he acted like a new king. [Rashi on Sotah 11a]ויקם מלך חדש: רב ושמואל חד אמר חדש ממש. וחד אמר, שנתחדשו גזרותיו:
and who did not know: [means that] he acted as if he did not know about him.אשר לא ידע: עשה עצמו כאלו לא ידע:

Presumably, the reinterpretation of asher lo yada is more necessary (only necessary?) according to the one who says it is the same king.

Ibn Ezra writes, arguing with Rashi and the midrash (or one midrashic opinion, anyway):

[א, ח]
ויקם מלך חדש -
פירושו כמשמעו בלא תוספת, שלא היה מזרע המלוכה. על כן כתיב: ויקם כמו: כי הקים בני את עבדי.

"And a new king arose: its explanation is as its simple implication, without addition, that he was not from the descendants of the [previous] dynasty. Therefore it is written ויקם, just as in כי הקים בני את עבדי."

The reference is to I Shmuel 22:8:

ח  כִּי קְשַׁרְתֶּם כֻּלְּכֶם עָלַי, וְאֵין-גֹּלֶה אֶת-אָזְנִי בִּכְרָת-בְּנִי עִם-בֶּן-יִשַׁי, וְאֵין-חֹלֶה מִכֶּם עָלַי, וְגֹלֶה אֶת-אָזְנִי:  כִּי הֵקִים בְּנִי אֶת-עַבְדִּי עָלַי לְאֹרֵב, כַּיּוֹם הַזֶּה.  {ס}8 that all of you have conspired against me, and there was none that disclosed it to me when my son made a league with the son of Jesse, and there is none of you that is sorry for me, or discloseth unto me that my son hath stirred up my servant against me, to lie in wait, as at this day?' {S}

the reference being to David, who was not from his dynasty.

Abarbanel disagrees with Ibn Ezra about this:
"And the Scriptures mentions that a new king arose over Egypt who did not know Yosef. And there is no need for the words of Ibn Ezra who said that this king was not of the zera hamelucha, since it states ויקם מלך חדש על מצרים אשר לא ידע את יוסף. For, for every new king it states קם. And it is possible that there passed after Yosef's death three or four other kings, or more. And if all of them were of the zera hamelucha, and of the Partemim, behold they did not know Yosef, since he was not in their days. And there is no remembrance to the early occurences, with what was at the end. 

And it is fitting that you know that this verse is not connected to what is mentioned above, 'and Yosef died and all his brothers, and all that generation', for behold, there was already a parasha petucha break between them..."

Ibn Caspi is also critical of this explanation of Ibn Ezra. After citing Ibn Ezra, he writes:
"And I am astonished, where he gets these prophecies from. For the word ויקם as well as חדש does not signify this at all. And therefore it is as its simple meaning, and the meaning is that this king came after the time of a king who loved Yosef. And this is the meaning of 'who knew not Yosef', where holding back ידעה refers to the ידיעת אהבה."

I am not persuaded by Ibn Ezra's argument either, but we might still isolate inputs into his peshat. I don't think it is solely the word ויקם at work here. He only uses this as support. But we might consider practical considerations. If the lack of knowledge is the lack of simple knowledge of the existence / role of Yosef, then someone from the zera hamelucha would not likely be ignorant of the vizier. A completely new government would account for this. If it is lack of gratitude, then that approaches the quasi-midrashic explanation offered by Rashi. But, both Abrabanel and Ibn Caspi offer alternatives.

What is the simple "mashmaut" of lo yada? Should we treat it as an idiom?

Only after all this does he support it with a deconstruction of the word ויקם. Besides and before his prooftext from Sefer Shmuel, ויקם means "arose", which can signify coming up in power from some lower stature. Of course, this can be defeated by counter-proof-texts.

1 comment:

Hillel said...

Is there any reason to believe Ibn Ezra may have known about the Hyksos and the transition from the Middle Kingdom to the Second Intermediate Period? There are some intriguing hints in the text, but I don't know what historical data would have been available to Ibn Ezra.



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