Moshiach ben Yosef & Yehoshua VI
We continue with the last section of Rav Daniel Krentzman’s sefer.
Another one of the aspects of Mashiach ben Yosef is “Kiddush Hashem,” “Sanctifying G-d’s Name” (Kol HaTor chapter 4, 1,) bringing all nations and peoples of the world to recognition of the one G-d Who communicates His will to man through the Torah and prophecy, and Who chose the Jewish People as His emissaries to bring the world to the intended purpose of knowing G-d and drawing near to Him in fulfilling His will. If one causes genuine recognition of any of these concepts among the nations, he achieves a level of Kiddush Hashem, and greatly illuminates the spiritual darkness that befell the world as a result of the first sin.
Yosef, throughout all the events regarding his descent to Egypt and rise to power there, achieved great Kiddush Hashem by constantly causing recognition of G-d, among all who met him and even among the most influential and notable figures in Egypt. Potifar, the minister of Pharaoh, recognized G-d through Yosef, as it says: “Vayar adonav ki Hashem ito v’kol asher hu oseh Hashem matzliach biyadoh” “And his master perceived that Hashem was with him, and whatever he did Hashem made succeed in his hand” (Bereishit 39:3.) The Midrash Tanchuma (8) there states that the reason that his master perceived that Hashem was with him was because “Shem shamayim shagur bi’fiv,” “The Name of Heaven was fluent in his mouth,” i.e. he would regularly refer to G-d in conversation.
While Yosef was in prison and the two ministers of wine and baking required interpretation of their dreams, before offering his wisdom, Yosef tells them: “… Haloh L’Elokim pitronim, sapru na li” “Do not interpretations belong to G-d? Relate to me, if you please” (Bereishit 40:8,) utilizing another opportunity to perform a Kiddush Hashem.
When Pharaoh himself asks Yosef to interpret his dream, Yosef says: “Biladai, Elokim ya’aneh et shlom Paroh,” “That is beyond me, it is G-d Who will respond with Pharaoh’s welfare” (Bereishit 41:16.) Later on, Pharaoh and his servants express greater recognition of G-d through Yosef, as it says: “Vayomer Paroh el avadav, hanimtzah kazeh ish asher ruach Elokim boh” “Pharaoh said to his servants, Could we find another like him-a man in whom is the spirit of G-d?” (Ibid. 38) and “Vayomer Paroh el Yosef, achrei hodiah Elokim otchah et kol zot, ein navone v’chacham kamochah” “And Pharaoh said to Yosef, since G-d has informed you of all this, there can be no one so discerning and wise as you” (Ibid. 39.)
Yehoshua, acting as Mashiach ben Yosef, also achieved great Kiddush Hashem in his lifetime. G-d had commanded the Jewish people to conquer Eretz Yisrael and wipe out the seven Canaanite nations who dwelled there. The Giveonim, who were among these nations, feared destruction and pretended to be a different foreign nation who had journeyed to Eretz Yisrael in order convert to Judaism. Before Yehoshua had a chance to judge the situation, the plea of the Giveonim already reached the Nesiim (leaders of the tribes). TheY made a covenant of peace with the Giveonim, swearing by G-d’s name that they would not kill them. By the time Yehoshua was made aware of the situation and the true identity of the Giveonim, the oath had been made and a covenant of peace established. The Torah clearly forbade such an act, as it says: “Lo tichrot lahem v’leilo’eihem brit” “You shall not seal a covenant with them or their gods” (Shemot 23:37).
Now, although later on in the Torah it says: “Rak mey’arey ha’amim ha’eileh asher Hashem Elokecha noten lecha nachalah, loh tichayeh kol nishamah” “But from these cities of these peoples that Hashem your G-d, gives you as an inheritance, you shall not allow any person to live” (Devarim 20:16.) Rashi (pasuk 11) points out that if they accept upon themselves taxation and servitude, even peoples of the seven nations may be allowed to live. The Rambam (Hilchot Melachim 6) expands on this, citing that in addition to accepting taxation and servitude, they must become “gerei toshav” meaning they must accept upon themselves the seven Noahite laws, causing them to lose their status as one of the seven nations, who must be killed, and become regular Noahite gentiles, who may live in Eretz Yisrael alongside the Jewish people.
Yehoshua was now faced with a problem; although the Giveonim had accepted to keep the mitzvot incumbent upon them, they had not yet accepted taxation and servitude, and the Jewish people were still required to kill them. In fact, the nation at large, were about to actually kill them, claiming that the oath of the Nesiim to let the Giveonim live only bound the Nesiim and not the entire nation. On the other hand, if Yehoshua allowed the Giveonim to be killed, in spite of the oath of the Nesiim, and in spite of their acceptance of the mitzvoth and belief in one G-d, there would be a great “Chillul Hashem” (desecration of G-d’s name). Therefore, in order to prevent Chillul Hashem and ensure a Kiddush Hashem in the eyes of the Giveonim and all who would later learn of what happened, Yehoshua made them woodcutters and water-carriers for the Mikdash, for now and for future generations. This compromise was a combination of taxation and servitude, allowing them to fulfill all three criteria and be allowed to live (see Malbim to Yehoshua 9, at length.)
Interestingly, the story doesn’t end there. The Emorim, another of the seven nations, attacks the Giveonim for allying themselves with an enemy nation, and the Giveonim send word to Yehoshua requesting aid. Yehoshua, in a great act of loyalty to the Giveonim, leads the people to their aid and wins the battle. In pursuit of the fleeing Emorim, G-d performs a tremendous miracle by causing the sun to stop its course in the heavens, and allows enough time for Yehoshua to defeat the remaining Emorim (see Yehoshua 10). As a result of this great miracle, performed in Yehoshua’s merit, all the nations of the world recognized the greatness of G-d and His People and Kiddush Hashem was achieved. This is what Yaakov hinted at when he gave the blessing to Efraim in (Bereishit 48:19): “…Vizaroh yihiyeh miloh hagoyim” “And his offspring (i.e. his offspring’s fame) will fill the nations”, that is, the Kiddush Hashem when the nations hear of Yehoshua’s stopping the sun in the heavens (see Bereishit Rabbah 97:6.)
A final hint to Yehoshua’s manifestation of the mission of Mashiach ben Yosef in his lifetime is the juxtaposition of Yehoshua’s burial to the burial of Yosef. Sefer Yehoshua (24:29-30) recounts Yehoshua’s death and burial. Yehoshua, like Yosef, died at the age of one-hundred and ten (Bereishis 50:22, Yehoshua 24:29.) The following pasukim relate that Am Yisrael served Hashem throughout Yehoshua’s lifetime and throughout the generation of the Zikenim (Elders) that lived afterward. Then (in pasuk 32) Yosef’s burial in Shechem is recounted, clearly pointing out the strong connection between Yosef and Yehoshua. Yehoshua, being the continuation of the spiritual legacy and mission of Yosef HaTzaddik, who fully encompassed the role of Tikkun Olam, setting the precedent for all future Mashichei ben Yosef to follow. Until the final stage of the process is fulfilled and we merit the coming of Mashiach ben David, may he come speedily in our days, Amen.
I offer Thanks and Praise to Hashem for granting me the merit and ability to complete this work.
Thanks to Rav Daniel Krentzman for giving his permission to publish the sefer on this blog.