11 months ago


(cf. Judges 1:11-15) The

(cf. Judges 1:11-15) The first chapter of the book of Judges describes some phases of the conquest of the Promised Land. During what seems to be a real council of war, the Israelites ask Yahweh who among them should move first against the Canaanites. Yahweh indicates Judah as the first fighter, affirming he will be assigned the region he assails (Judges 1:2). We immediately note that, despite this promise made by “god”, Judah prefers to ask for the support of his brother Simeon. As we have noted with Moses, when the Elohìm spoke there was no absolute certainty they did what was strategically planned: God's decision was not considered a sufficient guarantee! Indeed, the promise of the Elohìm was not enough to complete the conquest, because the regions of the plains were under the control of armies equipped with battle chariots and the blessing of the Elohìm was not enough to overcome this obstacle. In fact, verse 19 says that Yahweh's help was effective in the mountainous terrain because there the “iron chariots” were obviously unable to combat, so God was not able to solve all situations. The chariots of the enemies of Israel exceeded the purview of his blessings. Let's now return to our topic ... Verse 11 tells a story that helps us shed light on the concept of “berakhàh” the way we are intending it. Caleb, son of Yefùnne of the tribe of Judah, is preparing to attack the city of Kiryat Sefer, and affiances his daughter Achsah to the one who will conquer the city (Judges 1:12). The expedition is won by Othniel, son of Caleb's younger brother, who then gets the promised gift. The couple receives as a dowry a territory in the Negev, a well known desert area that would have been difficult to work and to make productive. The two do not lose heart and the girl, surely a resourceful person, tells her father (Judges 1:15): “Since I've been assigned the land of the Negev... 120

Give me blessing ... and you will give me sources (pools) of waters”. Thus, the blessing that the girl asks of her father is clearly described: it is not “to speak well“ (from the etymology of the word “bless”, O.E. Bibles used to translate Latin benedicere and Greek eulogein, both of which have a basic meaning of “to speak well”)**, it is not a loving comprehension or a caring partnership, it is not about invoking God's help or receiving some sort of magical energy or power... The required blessing is unequivocal: Water to cultivate the land! - they needed this! Her father then gives them what they ask for: Caleb allowed them to access to “the upper spring and the nether spring”, two sources in the northern and southern ends of the interested land. The blessing (berakhàh) is thus granted, the land becomes fertile and they can produce food. Nothing magic, shamanic, or spiritual: the blessing is immediately operative because it is concrete: water for a dry land! Jacob and Esau (cf. Gen 27:1 et seq.) Going back to the story of these brothers, which is one of the best known of the entire Bible, we revisit these two sons of Issac, twins born at the same time. Esau was delivered first, and so he is clearly the firstborn. When Rebecca was about to give birth we read that (Gen 25:24 et seq.): there were twins in her womb. The first came out red, all his body like a hairy mantle; so they named him Esau. Afterwards his brother came out, with his hand gripping Esau's heel; so he was named Jacob. 121

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