Monday, November 14, 2022

Yakov was called G-d

 Bereishis (33:20) And he erected there an altar, and called it El-Elohe-Israel.

Megila (18a): How do we know that G-d, called Jacob G-d Because it says, And the G-d of Israel called Jacob G-d. For should you suppose that what the text means is that Jacob called the altar G-d, then it should be written, ‘And Jacob called it’. But as it is not written so, we must translate, ‘He called Jacob G-d’. And who called him so? The G-d of Israel.

Bereishis Rabbah (79:8) AND HE ERECTED THERE AN ALTAR, AND CALLED IT EL-ELOHE-ISRAEL Jacob declared to Him: ‘Thou art G-d in the celestial spheres and I am a G-d in the terrestrial sphere.’ R. Huna commented in the name of R. Simeon b. Lakish: G-d reproved him: ' Even the synagogue superintendent cannot assume authority of himself, yet thou didst take authority to thyself. To-morrow thy daughter will go out and be dishonoured!’ 

Rabbeinu Bachya (Bereishis 33:20)  A kabbalistic approach: the G’d of Israel called Yaakov “EL.” This is also what our sages have said in Bereshit Rabbah 79,8. The wording there is that G’d said to Israel: “I am G’d in heaven whereas you are “EL” on earth.” This would reflect what we have quoted repeatedly that Yaakov’s likeness is engraved on the throne of G’d. The meaning of these strange words in the Midrash is that the שכינה resides in the land of Israel. This would account for Bileam having said in Numbers 23,8 “how can I curse when “EL” has not cursed?” He referred to Yaakov when he said “EL.” 

Rashi ((Bereishis 33:20) G-d called Jacob by the name El. The verse therefore should be translated “and the God of Israel called Jacob El”. And in reference to all these different explanations it may be said that the words of the Torah — just as a hammer splits the rock into many different pieces may be given many different explanations. I however make it my aim to give the plain sense of Scripture. 

Ramban (Bereishis 33:20) And by way of the Truth as being in accord with the Midrash which the Rabbis have expounded in Tractate Megillah: There is in this matter a great secret, which the Sages have additionally mentioned in Bereshith Rabbah  in another way: “Jacob said to G-d, ‘Thou art the G-d of those on high, and I am the master of those down below.’” The Sages thereby alluded to that which they constantly say: the likeness of Jacob is engraved in the Heavenly Throne. The intent of Jacob’s statement quoted in the Midrash — “I am the master of those down below” — is that the Divine Glory rests in the Land of Israel. The student learned in the mystic lore of the Cabala will understand.

Chovas HaLevavos (6:1) You made him but slightly less than the angels. This [phrase] refers to Yaakov, Our Sagessaid “The God of Israel called him [i.e., Yaakov] God.”

Netziv (Bereishis 33:20) The medrash explains that Yakov called himself G-d. The doesn’t mean that he called himself G-d, Heaven forfend!, but that he called himself Israel and consequently G-d was called the G-d of Israel. In other words that Yakov prayed before the altar “ The G-d of Avraham and the G-d of Yitzchok and the G-d of Israel. Yakov was punished for this with the incident of his daughter Dinah being raped as is stated in Bereishis Rabbah (79:8). In other words even though an angel had told him that his name had been changed to Israel, nevertheless G-d had not called that as we see in the gemora. . 

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