Wednesday, April 03, 2013

David & Joseph

I noticed an interesting parallel between David & Joseph today.

In Genesis 37:14, Jacob commands his son Joseph:

יד  וַיֹּאמֶר לוֹ, לֶךְ-נָא רְאֵה אֶת-שְׁלוֹם אַחֶיךָ וְאֶת-שְׁלוֹם הַצֹּאן, וַהֲשִׁבֵנִי, דָּבָר; וַיִּשְׁלָחֵהוּ מֵעֵמֶק חֶבְרוֹן, וַיָּבֹא שְׁכֶמָה.14 And he said to him: 'Go now, see whether it is well with thy brethren, and well with the flock; and bring me back word.' So he sent him out of the vale of Hebron, and he came to Shechem.

Joseph goes to seek out his brothers. He finds them, and they are upset when he approaches. They decide to conspire against him to kill him and call out "Behold, the dreamer is coming." Due to this episode, Joseph is eventually sold, after which he works for Potiphar, is thrown in jail, and finally interprets the Pharoah's dreams, which leads him to becoming extremely powerful.

Similarly, in I Samuel 17:17-18, Jesse commands his son David:

יז  וַיֹּאמֶר יִשַׁי לְדָוִד בְּנוֹ, קַח-נָא לְאַחֶיךָ אֵיפַת הַקָּלִיא הַזֶּה, וַעֲשָׂרָה לֶחֶם, הַזֶּה; וְהָרֵץ הַמַּחֲנֶה, לְאַחֶיךָ.17 And Jesse said unto David his son: 'Take now for thy brethren an ephah of this parched corn, and these ten loaves, and carry them quickly to the camp to thy brethren.
יח  וְאֵת עֲשֶׂרֶת חֲרִצֵי הֶחָלָב, הָאֵלֶּה, תָּבִיא, לְשַׂר-הָאָלֶף; וְאֶת-אַחֶיךָ תִּפְקֹד לְשָׁלוֹם, וְאֶת-עֲרֻבָּתָם תִּקָּח.18 And bring these ten cheeses unto the captain of their thousand, and to thy brethren shalt thou bring greetings, and take their pledge;


The JPS translation here does not give you the exact parallel, but this verse can be interpreted so that in fact Jesse was asking his son David to check on his brothers' welfare.

When David comes to the camp, his eldest brother upbraids him for his presumptuousness, telling him he is 'evil of heart' in verse 28. Due to this mission, David is in the right place at the right time when it comes to the fighting of Goliath, his fame spreads throughout the land, and eventually he becomes king.

In both cases, the youngest son (Benjamin was not yet born) goes out to seek his brothers' welfare at his father's behest. In both cases, there are brothers who do not respond positively. And in both cases, this is the beginning of the individual's ascent to power.

There are obviously more connections between David and Joseph. One of the most obvious is that each one is tempted by a beautiful woman; Joseph does not succumb but David does.

In addition, there is the traditional idea that there are two Messiahs. One is the Messiah son of Joseph, and the second is the Messiah son of David.

I have to explore the connections more to see if I can come to any conclusion as to why they are there. For now, I just want to note that they exist.

1 comment:

Jacob F said...

There are a few differences that you might also consider.

First, Joseph was NOT the youngest. Benjamin was approximately 10 years old by then.
(You apparently forgot that Rachel died in childbirth on the way back home when Joseph was around 7. And at this point he was 17.)

Second, Joseph sacrificed himself in order to obey his father. He was aware that his brothers hated him. (albeit perhaps not to the extent of killing him.)
David might not have had any reason to anticipate any unpleasantness.
(David's brothers disliked him for "Yichus" reasons. There is no reason to assume they hated him.)

Thirdly, Joseph had to deal with a temptress.
Nobody deliberately tempted David. (He only saw Batsheva due to a mishap.)

Finally, David did indeed rise to glory as a result of his visiting his brothers on that fateful day. However, his ascending the throne was not (technically) related to his success with Goliath or any subsequent successes. It was only after Saul erred that God chose David due to his extreme holiness and righteousness.
On the other hand, Joseph's ascent to the throne WAS a direct result (after a chain of events) of his going out to meet his brothers.

Good Luck!