A Rabbinic view on seeking righteousness in the world

There is a midrash that implies that had Abraham not asked God for no more trials and sufferings, the trials and sufferings of Job would have come to Abraham!

Professor Gerald Aranoff,

Judaism Prof. G. Aranoff
Prof. G. Aranoff
INN:GA

Abraham made Eliezer swear: and I will make you swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites among whom I dwell, but will go to the land of my birth and get a wife for my son Isaac (Genesis 24:3-4).  

Abraham sought a righteous wife for Isaac.   Abraham’s relatives were righteous.

The Rashbam explains to the land as meaning not to go to those who are not my relations, but only go to [my relations] of my birth.

Eliezer did as Abraham requested: Then the servant took ten of his master's camels and set out, taking with him all the bounty of his master; and he made his way to Aram-naharaim, to the city of Nahor (Ibid. 24:10).

Abraham and his righteous relatives taught the ways of God to the world.

(Genesis 12:5) Abram took his wife Sarai and his brother’s son Lot, and all the wealth that they had amassed, and the persons that they had acquired in Haran; and they set out for the land of Canaan. When they arrived in the land of Canaan,.

Rashi says “they had acquired in Haran-they brought them under the wings of Devine Presence, Abraham converted the men and Sarah converted the women.”

Abraham had a long-time partner, his brother Nahor.

Genesis 11:28-29: Haran died in the lifetime of his father Terah, in his native land, Ur of the Chaldeans. Abram and Nahor took to themselves wives, the name of Abram’s wife being Sarai and that of Nahor’s wife Milcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah and Iscah.

Nahor married Milcah, his niece, and had 8 children with Milcah, including Job.

The Bible tells us: Some time later, Abraham was told, Milcah too has borne children to your brother Nahor: Uz the first-born, and Buz his brother, and Kemuel the father of Aram; and Chesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph, and Bethuel", Bethuel being the father of Rebekah. These eight Milcah bore to Nahor, Abraham's brother (Ibid. 22-20-23).

Midrash Sechel Tov Genesis 22:21:  “Uz the first-born, writ needed only to cite Rebekah, why start with Uz? [Abraham] being afraid of suffering [of being involved in further trials]. Said the Holy One, blessed be He, to him: “Thou needst have no fear, for already he has been born who is to receive them, viz. Uz the first-born .  Buz, grandfather of Elihu son of Barachel , and Kemuel who rose against God’s people namely Balaam, the father of Aram, father of tricksters namely Laban.”

Interesting, this midrash implies that had Abraham not asked God for no more trials and sufferings, the trials and sufferings of Job would have come to Abraham!

Baba Bathra 15b: Seven prophets prophesied to the heathen, namely, Balaam and his father, Job, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, Zophar the Naamathite, and Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite.

Baba Bathra 15a: You say that Moses wrote his book and the section of Balaam and Job.

The history of Abraham starts with Terah, father of Abraham and of Nahor: Then Joshua said to all the people, “Thus said the Lord, the God of Israel: In olden times, your forefathers—Terah, father of Abraham and father of Nahor—lived beyond the Euphrates and worshiped other gods. (Joshua 24:2).

The midrash, Sefer Hayashar (Hebrew) printed Tamuz 5765, states on page 38: Haran son of Terah, older brother to Abram, took a wife in those days. Haran was 39 years old when he took her. Haran wife became pregnant and gave birth to a boy, he called Lot. She became pregnant again and gave birth to a girl, she called Milcah. She became pregnant again and gave birth to a girl, she call Sarai.

And on age 58: The matter was indeed marvelous in the eyes of the King [Nimrod] and his servants, that Abram was saved and Haran burnt.  The king gave Abram many presents and gave him two great servants in the king’s palace, one named Oney and the name of the second Eliezer.

Page 117: And Nahor son of Terah brother to Abraham died in those days when Isaac was 40 years old.  Nahor lived 172 years, died, and was buried in Haran.  Abraham heard that his brother died and was enraged and he mourned his brother many days.

In the midrash those that witnessed Abraham surviving Nimrod’s furnace became righteous. Haran, Abraham’s older brother, father of  Lot, Milcah and Sarai, died at that time. Terah later repented of his wicked ways. Nahor was righteous and stood by Abraham.

Nahor and Abraham, two brothers, married their nieces, sisters, daughters of Haran. Nahor married Milcah and had 8 children with her.  Abraham married Sarai and had Isaac with her.

God commanded Abraham to go to Israel: The Lord said to Abram, “Go forth from your native land and from your father’s house to the land that I will show you (Genesis 12:1).  Terah and Nahor were righteous though they stayed at Haran and did not go to Israel as Abraham did.

Abraham and Sarai long time partners with Nahor and Milcah, converting men and women.

My theory is that Laban and Balaam and Balaam’s father Beor were good and righteous at first. The Israelites went to war against Balaam: Along with their other victims, they slew the kings of Midian: Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba, the five kings of Midian. They also put Balaam son of Beor to the sword. (Numbers 31:8).

Didn’t Jacob spend 20 years with Laban, until Laban tried to kill Jacob? Now Jacob became incensed and took up his grievance with Laban. Jacob spoke up and said to Laban, “What is my crime, what is my guilt that you should pursue me?" (Genesis 31:36).

Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob tried to make righteous the whole world. So did Nahor and Milcah.  In the midrash, when Abraham heard that Milcah had children, he recited the blessing on hearing unusually good news:

Midrash Rabbah 57:2: “Like cold water to a parched throat Is good news from a distant land (Proverbs 25:25). We learned elsewhere: As for good tidings one recites the blessing: Blessed be He who is good and doeth good, so for cold water [i.e. rain] one recites the blessing, Blessed is He who is good and doeth good. And Like cold water to a parched throat Is good news from a distant land; while he [Abraham] was still on Mount Moriah, he was informed that his son's mate had been born, in accordance with the verse, Some time later, Abraham was told, Milcah too has borne children to your brother Nahor

We pray, speedily in our times, to see the world accepting God’s dominion: And the Lord shall be king over all the earth; in that day there shall be one Lord with one name (Zachariah 14:9).





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