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Barak and Devorah - Levites?! Pt. 1

 This'll be a two-part series on a theory I had about two and a half years ago. While gathering info on the minor judges (the ones we know little about from p'shat Tanach), it occurred to me that we also know little about Barak's background as well, even though he's one of the better-known judges. After that, it occurred to me that we know little about Devorah as well. As you may have realized from the title, I eventually came up with the hypothesis that both of them may have been Levites. In this post I'll I'll talk about Barak, and Devorah will be the subject of the second part. I will also do my best to explain why this is totally different from when Ben Tzion Luria claimed Shmuel was from the tribe of Binyamin . Barak: Master Warrior of the Galilean Levites Point A: The midrash ( Yalkut Shimoni on Nach 42:7 ; Tanna Devei Eliyahu Rabbah 9:1 ) says that Barak was also known as Lapidot, and that his real name was Michael. He was the husband of Devorah and an A

The blog banner

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 I always planned to make this post but never got around to it. What's the deal with the blog's banner? (image taken from my files. Copyright me) Well, first of all, what are we seeing here, and what does that have to do with Tanach? Okay, so this image as related to Tanach is a bit of a cheat because it's based on a midrash. The midrash, which exists in a few versions ( here 's one from Otzar Hamidrashim), describes Yoav ben Tz'ruyah, King David's general, going off with an army to battle the Amalekites in their state (or city-state?) of Kinsli. After six months of siege, the men get tired and want to leave. Yoav decides to launch himself over the city walls and figure out a way to unlock the gates and let his men in. He does this, and eventually manages to get his men in and they defeat the Amalekites. Fast-forward a few thousand years later, and it's Inktober of Elul-Tishrei 5779-5780 and I decided I would try the challenge (after not having done it sinc

Ham

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 No, not that kind of Ham. In Parashat Derachim, pg. 338-339, Dr. Yitzchak Meitlis brings a view that the word "chavoteihem" (חותיהם), a group of settlements captured by Yair ben Menashe ( Bamidbar 32:41 ), is a combination of the words "Chavot" and "Ham"; Ham being a place mentioned in the conquest of the Four Kings ( Beresheet 14:5 ), or in other words, "chavoteihem" means "the villages of Ham". I thought that was a fascinating idea, particularly because that area was in Amorite territory. Why is that important? Because in Canaan there was an Amorite king named Hoham (הוהם) ( Yehoshua 10:3-5 ). As far as I know, not much is known about the Amorite language, but I'm guessing there's a connection between Hoham and Ham. Perhaps his name means something along the lines of "man of Ham" or "son of Ham", or something like that. Meanwhile, Obelix has discovered he enjoys gefilte fish. (images taken from Asterix an

Why is Greece a "he-goat"?

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In Daniel 8, Daniel sees Persia falling at the hands of the Greek Empire. Persia is symbolized by a ram (the two horns representing Persia and Medea) and Greece by a "tzfir-izzim", which apparently means a "he-goat" (se'ir). Turns out, certainly the last part about the tzfir, is a fascinating bit of symbolism. In Efraim Tzoref's book "Yosef, Viceroy to the King of Egypt", Vol. 1, pg. 177, while discussing symbolism in dreams, he writes (translation from Hebrew): "Plutarch (Hadrian's teacher from the 2nd century CE) recounted: When Alexander the Great (from the 4th century BCE) laid siege upon the walls of Tyre and was not able to conquer them for a long time, he lost hope and decided to withdraw. That night he saw in his dream a satyr dancing before him victoriously. In the morning, Aristander, his dream-interpreter, interpreted the dream for him, that he would indeed manage to defeat Tyre, as the word satyr is comprised of Sa - yours and

Yimiyahu and Yechezkel: Thoughts

Since finishing Yechezkel a few days ago, I've found myself thinking a bit about the contrast between him and Yirmiyahu. Both were priests, but boy did they live different lives.  Yirmiyahu does not want to be a prophet. In fact, prophecy is essentially forced upon him time and again. There are days in which he bows in acceptance and others in which he buckles. Yirmiyahu is described in the gemara as a prophet who is "entirely destruction". The plain meaning of the phrase is that all of his prophecies have to do with destruction. However, in a deeper sense, there is something destroyed about Yirmiyahu himself. Something fragmented. Yechezkel is different. Though there's mention of Yechezkel being appalled at some of the things Hashem commands him to do, there's not a hint that he was not interested in prophecy. He accepts it willingly. Yechezkel is really the classic prophet. He gravitates to the leadership role thrusted upon him. He is a natural teacher. He is r

Yechezkel: Coming full circle

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Tonight, the 27th of Tammuz, is my birthday. As it happens, my second name is Yechezkel. A short time before my bar-mitzvah, I discovered that the only place in Tanach in which "Harel" appears is the Book of Yechezkel. My parents were not aware of this when they named me. My second name comes from my great-grandfather, but - I suppose we could say it's the hashgacha/providence that is given to parents when they name their children.  Again, as it happens, I have, at long-last, finished learning the Book of Yechezkel. As such, I thought I would write down my thoughts about the book. I will first say that for a little over two years now I've been planning to learn Yechezkel, but haven't gotten around to it. The reason I was particularly interested in Yechezkel was because of a dream I had around the time. I've only had a handful of truly significant dreams in my life. This one, I felt, was one of those. In the dream, I heard one of the most serious people in my y

Elkanah: On the road towards re-unifying Am Yisrael

 Recently I got into writing short stories about very very minor side-characters in Tanach. I call it "Tanachic fanfiction". Interestingly, I've found that during plotting and writing, I actually think of some interesting chiddushim that could actually be plausible. One was a recent thought about Elkanah, father of Shmuel. It is very noticeable that during the time of the Shoftim, Am Yisrael were not united. From the civil war between Yisrael and Binyamin, including Yavesh Gilad having pulled a Switzerland and opting out of the war (which led to their doom), through the Efraim and Menashe civil war in the time of Yiftach, through tribes that did not join Barak and Devorah in their battle against the Canaanites, and these are just some of the most significant examples. There are many more, both explicit and implicit. A few weeks ago I heard a class by Dr. Chagai Misgav about the religious lives of Yisrael in the time of the Shoftim. He pointed out that leadership at the t