Thursday, December 31, 2009

Why Judah and not Joseph?

Before he dies in Parashat Vayechi, Jacob blesses his twelve sons. He blesses Judah with "The scepter shall not depart from" him (Bereishit, 49/10), essentially providing his fourth son's descendants with the responsibility of providing Israel a sovereign ruler.

Knowing Jacob's relationship with his all his sons, how come Jacob doesn't bless Joseph with the honor of being leader of the nation?

Abarbanel explains this by quoting part of Jacob's blessing to Joseph, "They embittered him and became antagonists; The arrow-tongued men hated him," (49/23). Joseph couldn't have been a leader because he provoked jealousy in people (the famous example being the brothers, and one can also assume the jealousy created with the ' young Hebrew Slave's' ascendancy in Egyptian political life caused). This was never the case with Judah, who enjoyed undisputed popularity.

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