Thursday, November 17, 2011

DovBear on resurrection: Originally a Jewish idea?

See here and here. Did Yitzchak/Isaac actually die at the time of the Akeidah/Binding of Isacc and was he resurrected by G-d, and, if so, did the Christians take the idea of resurrection from us (or did we and the Christians borrow it from pagan traditions)?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't buy it.

Abraham came down alone because Isaac went off to live win Ishmael and Hagar.


Fri Nov 18, 01:05:00 PM 2011  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

That's midrash. While I certainly have no objection to midrash, I do insist on distinguishing what's in Torah sheh-Bich'tav/the Written Torah from what's in the midrash (rabbinic interpretive stories). The Torah sheh-Bich'tav clearly states that Avraham returned alone to his servants after the Akeidah. That does raise interesting questions.

You could legitimately make a case that the tale stating that HaShem resurrected Yitzchak is *also* midrash. In this case, the Torah sheh-Bi-ch'tav leaves all of us guessing. The function of midrash is frequently to try to fill in missing blanks such as this one regarding why Yitzchak did not accompany Avraham back from the Akeidah. That does not necessarily mean, however, that all Jews accept the explanation given by midrash, and, in fact, as in this case, there's even frequently more than one explanation given by midrash.

Sat Nov 19, 07:33:00 PM 2011  
Blogger The Reform Baal Teshuvah said...

Of COURSE it's Midrash. But the difference between it, and the death-and-resurrection-of-Isaac shtuss that DB is promulgating, is that my little drush does not contradict Torah sheBichtav, and resolves the question (why did Abraham return alone) without creating a whole bunch of new problems.

The Torah specifically states that Abraham was STOPPED from killing Isaac. I'm sorry, but I'm with Ibn Ezra on this one, anyone who supposes that Abraham returned alone because Isaac died is going against Torah.

As for my midrash, here are the points in its favor:

1) When Hagar Flees from Sarah the first time, she names the place where she finds a well B'er el-roi.

2) When Hagar is banished by Sarah, she and Ishmael wind up in a place with a well. It may or may not be b'er el roi, but I do not contradict Torah by assuming that it is.

3) When next we meet Isaac, he is returning from . . . b'er el roi.

There are a lot of Midrashim out there - traditional ones even - that contradict the Torah sheBichtav. I regard such contradictions as reason to discard such midrashim out of hand.

Every now and again we find a Midrash - like the death-and-resurrection-of-Isaac, or the idea that Abraham was born under a miracle star, and subject to a sweep of infant males by Nimrod - that echo the Christian Scriptures. These may be viewed as the "Chanukah Bushes" of those generations, a kind of Me-Too-ism to make us less distant from the dominant culture.

The basic question of whether or not Resurrection is a Jewish idea that DB raises, may simply be answered "Yes." Elijah resurrects the son of a woman who gives him shelter and Ezekiel has the vision of the valley of the dry bones.

Sat Nov 19, 10:23:00 PM 2011  
Blogger The Reform Baal Teshuvah said...

Oh, and also, somehow Isaac acquired a taste for game that Esau was able to find favor with him by meeting - and Ishmael was a bowhunter - these two data points are p'shat - present in the written Torah. My drush is that it was in living with Ishmael that he acquired his taste for game.

Sat Nov 19, 10:34:00 PM 2011  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

All excellent points, Reform BT. Technically, Yitzchak is coming from Be'er-*lahai*-roi, but it's close enough. That would explain Yitzchak's love of venison, as you said.

It's a rather sad thought, though, that perhaps Yitzchak refused to return home and/or ran away because he couldn't trust his father not to try to kill him and his mother couldn't protect him (because, as usual, no one had bothered to tell her what was happening). :( If that's the case, then he trusted his stepmother and half-brother more than his own parents.

Mon Nov 21, 11:23:00 AM 2011  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

I would add, though, that the jury may still be out on the question of whether or not resurrection is an idea of Jewish *origin*--the examples that you cite are both from N'viim/Prophets, books that were written late enough to reflect possible pagan inflence. By now, however, resurrection has had a long history as a Jewish idea.

Mon Nov 21, 11:53:00 AM 2011  

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