Thursday, October 18, 2012

JOSEPHUS SAYS IT WAS AN ANGEL THAT WRESTLED WITH JACOB IN A VISION

GREEK TEXT: “...Ταῦτα [331.] συνθεὶς διὰ πάσης τῆς ἡμέρας νυκτὸς ἐπιγενομένης ἐκίνει τοὺς σὺν αὑτῷ: καὶ χειμάρρουν τινὰ Ἰάβακχον λεγόμενον διαβεβηκότων Ἰάκωβος ὑπολελειμμένος φαντάσματι συντυχὼν διεπάλαιεν ἐκείνου προκατάρχοντος τῆς μάχης ἐκράτει τε τοῦ φαντάσματος, [332.] ὃ δὴ καὶ φωνῇ χρῆται καὶ λόγοις πρὸς αὐτὸν χαίρειν τε τοῖς γεγενημένοις παραινοῦν καὶ μὴ μικρὸν κρατεῖν ὑπολαμβάνειν, ἀλλὰ θεῖον ἄγγελον νενικηκέναι καὶ σημεῖον ἡγεῖσθαι τοῦτο μεγάλων ἀγαθῶν ἐσομένων καὶ τοῦ μηδέποτε τὸ γένος ἐκλείψειν αὐτοῦ, μηδὲ ὑπέρτερον ἀνθρώπων τινὰ τῆς ἰσχύος ἔσεσθαι τῆς ἐκείνου. [333.] ἐκέλευσέ τε καλεῖν αὐτὸν Ἰσραῆλον, σημαίνει δὲ τοῦτο κατὰ τὴν Ἑβραίων γλῶτταν τὸν ἀντιστάτην ἀγγέλῳ θεοῦ. ταῦτα μέντοι προύλεγεν Ἰακώβου δεηθέντος: αἰσθόμενος γὰρ ἄγγελον εἶναι θεοῦ, τίνα μοῖραν ἕξει σημαίνειν παρεκάλει. καὶ τὸ μὲν φάντασμα ταῦτ᾽ εἰπὸν ἀφανὲς γίνεται. [334.] ἡσθεὶς δὲ τούτοις Ἰάκωβος Φανουῆλον ὀνομάζει τὸν τόπον, ὃ σημαίνει θεοῦ πρόσωπον. καὶ γενομένου διὰ τὴν μάχην ἀλγήματος αὐτῷ περὶ τὸ νεῦρον τὸ πλατὺ αὐτός τε ἀπέχεται τῆς τούτου βρώσεως καὶ δι᾽ ἐκεῖνον οὐδὲ ἡμῖν ἐστιν ἐδώδιμον...” - (Book 1, Chapter 20, Verse 2, [1.20.2 = Whiston 1.196-198 = Brill] “Antiquities of the Jews,” Flavius Josephus: Translation and Commentary,” by Louis H. Feldman, 12 vols., ed. Steve Mason, at “The Brill Josephus Project”: 2000.)

TITUS FLAVIUS JOSEPHUS (circa. 37-100 C.E.): “...When [331.] Jacob had made these appointments all the day, and night came on, he moved on with his company; and, as they were gone over a certain river called Jabboc, Jacob was left behind; and MEETING WITH AN ANGEL, HE WRESTLED WITH HIM, THE ANGEL BEGINNING THE STRUGGLE: BUT HE PREVAILED OVER THE ANGEL, who used a voice, and spake to him in words, exhorting him to be pleased with what had happened to him, and not to suppose that his victory was a small one, BUT THAT HE HAD OVERCOME A DIVINE ANGEL, and to esteem the victory as a sign of great blessings that should come to him, and that his offspring should never fall, and that no man should be too hard for his power. HE ALSO COMMANDED HIM TO BE CALLED ISRAEL, WHICH IN THE HEBREW TONGUE SIGNIFIESONE THAT STRUGGLED WITH THE DIVINE ANGEL.{64} These promises were made at the prayer of Jacob; for WHEN HE PERCEIVED HIM TO BE THE ANGEL OF GOD, he desired he would signify to him what should befall him hereafter. AND WHEN THE ANGEL HAD SAID WHAT IS BEFORE RELATED, HE DISAPPEARED; but Jacob was pleased with these things, and NAMED THE PLACE PHANUEL, WHICH SIGNIFIES,THE FACE OF GOD. Now when he felt pain, by this struggling, upon his broad sinew, he abstained from eating that sinew himself afterward; and for his sake it is still not eaten by us...”” - (Book 1, Chapter 20, Verse 2, [1.20.2 = Brill] “Antiquities of the Jews,” in “The Genuine Works of Flavius Josephus, the Jewish Historian,” Translated By William Whiston 1737.)
[FOOTNOTE 64]: Perhaps this may be the proper meaning of the word Israel, by the present and the old Jerusalem analogy of the Hebrew tongue. In the mean time, it is certain that the Hellenists of the first century, in Egypt and elsewhere, interpreted Israel to be a man seeing God, as is evident from the argument fore-cited.

TITUS FLAVIUS JOSEPHUS (circa. 37-100 C.E.): “...Having [331.] arranged these things throughout the entire day, when night came on, he set in motion those with him. And when they had crossed a certain torrent called Jabacchos,{933} Iakobos, having been left behind, ENCOUNTERED AN APPARITION{934} AND WRESTLED WITH IT. When it began the battle, HE OVERPOWERED THE APPARITION.{935} [332.] And it, indeed, employed speech and words with him, urging him to rejoice in what had occurred and not to suppose that it was a small matter to prevail,{936} BUT THAT HE HAD DEFEATED A DIVINE ANGEL{937} and to consider this a symbol of great future blessings and that his progeny would never disappear{938} and that no man would be superior to him in strength.{939} [333.] And he bade him to take the name of Israel.{940} AND THIS SIGNIFIES, IN THE LANGUAGE OF THE HEBREWS, THE OPPONENT OF AN ANGEL OF GOD.{941} Now he predicted these things at the request of Iakobos. For, PERCEIVING THAT HE WAS A MESSENGER OF GOD, he [Iakobos] entreated him to signify what fate he would have.{942} AND THE APPARITION, HAVING SAID THIS, VANISHED. [334.] AND IAKOBOS, PLEASED WITH THIS, CALLED THE PLACE PHANOUELOS,{943} WHICH SIGNIFIES “THE FACE OF GOD.”{944} And because in the battle he had suffered pain in the broad tendon,{945} both he himself abstained from eating it and because of him neither is it permitted to us to eat it.{946}...” - (Book 1, Chapter 20, Verse 2, [1.20.2 = Whiston] “Antiquities of the Jews,” Flavius Josephus: Translation and Commentary,” by Louis H. Feldman, 12 vols., ed. Steve Mason, at “The Brill Josephus Project”: 2000.)
[FOOTNOTE 933]: Hebrew יבק (Gen. 32:23), LXX Ἰαβόχ, Josephus Ἰάβακχος.
[FOOTNOTE 934]: In Gen. 32:25 it is a “man” who wrestles with Jacob, but a few verses later (Gen. 32:31) Jacob says that he has seen God face to face. Josephus similarly ( Ant. 5.213, 277) speaks of an “apparition” ( φάντασμα) where the Hebrew text (Judg. 6:11, 13:3) refers to an angel of God.
[FOOTNOTE 935]: At this point Josephus omits the biblical statement (Gen. 32:26) that Jacob’s hip was dislocated during the wrestling with the angel, but he does mention it in Ant. 1.334.
[FOOTNOTE 936]: Some manuscripts (MPL) read “that he had prevailed over small [forces].”
[FOOTNOTE 937]: Josephus’ sophisticated readers might well object to the biblical statement (Gen. 32:29), in the explanation of Jacob’s new name Israel, that Jacob had striven with God; and so Jacob says here that he had defeated an angel of God. Confronted with the apparent contradiction between the statement of Gen. 32:25, that a man wrestled with Jacob, and that of Gen. 32:29, that Jacob had wrestled with God and with man, and Jacob’s affirmation (Gen. 32:31) that he had seen God face to face, Josephus here declares that Jacob had defeated an angel (the word ἄγγελος, meaning both “angel” and “messenger,” retains the ambiguity) of God.
[FOOTNOTE 938]: The assurance that the angel here gives Jacob is not in terms of a future nation but rather that his progeny ( γένος) will never be extinguished and that no mortal will surpass him personally in strength.
[FOOTNOTE 939]: Connected with this quality of courage, the great hero must show prowess. Hence, Josephus emphasizes Jacob’s great display of strength in overcoming the angel ( Ant. 1.332); Josephus adds that the angel bids him rejoice in his achievement and not to imagine that it was a puny ( μικρόν) adversary whom he had mastered. So also Philo declares that Jacob exercised himself in mastering the laborious life ( De Sobrietate 13.65) and praises him for his practice of toil and endurance ( De Somniis 1.20.120-2l). Jacob, says Philo, is the symbol of labor ( πόνου) and progress ( προκοπῆς: De Sacrificiis Abelis et Caini 36.120). Such virtues would have been especially appreciated by a Roman audience, who might well have been reminded of Aeneas’ instructions to his son Ascanius just before he leaves for the final battle with Turnus, that he should learn luck from others but toil from himself and from Hector (Virgil, Aen. 12.435-36). In contrast, Philo’s Esau is the bad man, who, when he sees the props on which he rests conquered and robbed of strength by the reason which corrects them, must in natural consequence find the bonds loosened which knit his strength together ( De Sacrificiis Abelis et Caini 24.81). Whereas in the Bible it is Jacob who demands that the angel bless him (Gen. 32:27), in Josephus here it is the angel himself who takes the initiative to bless him. Likewise, the Bible declares that the angel, after Jacob has wrestled with him, blessed Jacob without indicating the contents of the blessing (Gen. 32:30), whereas in Josephus the angel assures him that his race will never be extinguished and that no mortal man will surpass him in strength ( ἰσχύος).
[FOOTNOTE 940]: That is, “he who strives with God” (Gen. 32:29).
[FOOTNOTE 941]: Whereas Gen. 32:29 states that Jacob’s name will from now on be Israel “because you have striven with God and with men,” in Josephus’ version the struggle with men (which might, presumably, include the Romans) is significantly omitted from the explanation of the name. Likewise, as in Targum Pseudo-Jonathan on Gen. 32:29, Josephus presents the struggle not with God, as in the Bible, but with an angel of God. Hence, Josephus has given us a “gereinigten” text, where the name Israel omits the direct confrontation with God Himself. See Butterweck (1981:51-56).
[FOOTNOTE 942]: In Gen. 32:30 Jacob asks the man with whom he wrestled what his name is and says nothing about a request to determine what his own fate would be.
[FOOTNOTE 943]: Josephus has translated the Hebrew פניאל of Gen. 32:31 and transliterated פנואל of Gen. 32:32. The LXX has only the translation, εἶδος Θεοῦ, “face of God.”
[FOOTNOTE 944]: Whereas Gen. 32:31 explains the etymology of the name of the place, Penuel, where Jacob had wrestled with the angel, as due to the fact that he had seen God face to face there, Josephus here gives its meaning as “the face of God” without explaining the reason for the name, presumably because he sought to avoid the anthropomorphism of seeing God face to face.
[FOOTNOTE 945]: This is the sciatic nerve ( הנשׁה גיד), which, according to the Jewish dietary laws, must be removed before any animal, other than a bird, can be prepared for consumption. Josephus here is in accord with the LXX’s version of Gen. 32:33, ἕνεκα τούτου οὐ μὴ φάγωσιν οἱ υἱοὶ Ἰσραὴλ τὸ νεῦρον ὃ ἐνάρκησεν ὅ ἐστιν ἐπὶ τοῦ πλάτους τοῦ μηροῦ, “The sons of Israel do by no means eat of the sinew that was benumbed, which is on the broad part of the thigh.” From this Frankel (1851:52-53) deduces that the LXX held that only that sinew that had been affected was prohibited, and that this is in accord with the view of Rabbi Judah ( Ḥullin 90b, Pesaḥim 83b) that the reference is to only one thigh, that consequently the prohibition of the thigh sinew is operative only in respect to one thigh, and that reason indicates that this is the right thigh. However, the Hebrew likewise has the definite article in referring to “the thigh,” the only difference being that the Hebrew does not state specifically that it is the thigh that was injured, whereas the LXX and Josephus do state specifically that it is the sinew that was injured from which Jews abstain.
[FOOTNOTE 946]: Revel (1923-24:300-1) notes that whereas rabbinic tradition (Mishnah Ḥullin 7:1 ff.), as well as the LXX (see Frankel [1851:52]) and the Samaritans (see Geiger [1877:3:298]), interprets Gen. 32:33 as a command forbidding the use of the nervus ischiadicus, Josephus explains the verse not as a command but as the origin of a custom in deference to the patriarch Jacob. This is also the view of many Karaite authorities, e.g. Aaron ben Joseph, Sefer ha-Mivḥar Gen. 57a; Aaron ben Elijah the Younger, Keter Torah ad loc. 72a; Elijah ben Moses Bashyazi, Adderet Eliyahu 21.

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