Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Myth of Jesus

Chapter 7
A Man of Action

The earliest Jewish sources identify Abraham as the first to recognize God.  But what does that really mean?   Scholars have struggled over this question for millennia because the answer is not made explicit in the text.  Yet as we have just seen, the answer has to have something to do with his discovering God through the one איש who is superior to all the אנשים.  Yet we see from the Qumran War Scroll that the angelic  stand opposed to the gods of the pagans - "On this (day), the assembly of gods ('adat elim) and the community of men (qehillat anashim) shall confront each other for great destruction."  The context clearly implies some sort of semi-divine status to the אנשים which is again reflected in the description of the two that went to Sodom are called angels as well as אנשים.

In due course not only did the identity of the one איש but the existence of heavenly אנשים faded from Jewish culture memory.  Yet the Christian tradition preserved the ancient understanding even if later Gentiles no longer read their ancient manuscripts the right way.  Take for instance, Abraham's perfection at the end of his life.  When he asks the sons of Heth ('sons of eight') if he can bury his wife Sarah at the cave of Machpelah (which they locate at the sacred mountain Gerizim) it is deeply significant that they identify him as "my lord, a prince god you are.'  At the end of his days, Abraham has been transformed into a 'man of God' -  איש.  As such it is terribly significant that he identifies himself to the group as a 'stranger and sojourner' - that is the Marcionite epithet of . 

The Samaritans believe until this day that angels are on the mountain even though they are unseen.  The most obvious being associated with the sacred place is איש.  As such attention to the original response in Hebrew is deeply significant:

'Hear us, my lord: thou art a mighty prince among us; in the choice of our sepulchres bury thy dead; איש shall not withhold from thee his sepulchre, but that thou mayest bury thy dead.'

The cave at Gerizim is called to this day 'the place of the three' marking it as the burial place of the three patriarchs.  The idea must be that this mountain whose summit is understood to reach to the highest heavens, is the place where איש resides.  We shall come back to this in our discussion of the Marcionites. 

In the next chapter Abraham makes the elder of his אנשים swear that he will find a wife for his only son Isaac from among his people.  Not surprisingly this figure is only known as the איש.  He appears human in every way but he is explicitly said to be with the Lord.  He runs up to meet Rebekah:

'Give me to drink, I pray thee, a little water of thy pitcher.' And she said: 'Drink, my lord'; and she hastened, and let down her pitcher upon her hand, and gave him drink.

It has long been recognized that the words are identical with the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at Mount Gerizim:

Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour. There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.

The connection between Jesus and the Samaritan woman and the איש and Rebekah is as old as our oldest commentaries on the gospel. 

The narrative in Genesis goes on to say that after she gave the איש a drink and he learns that this is daughter of Abraham's brother the family takes him in.  The איש only explains that he has the Lord's angel with him.  Abraham told him, he recounts:

The LORD, before whom I walk, will send His angel with thee, and prosper thy way; and thou shalt take a wife for my son of my kindred, and of my father's house

By the time the and Rebekah go back to Isaac they get married and have kids and in two time Rebekah gives birth to two אנשים:

And the boys grew; and Esau was a cunning hunter, an איש of the field; and Jacob was a quiet איש, dwelling in tents.

The statement is curious because the narrative is still about Isaac.  The reference to Jacob and Esau being 'men' doesn't make sense yet. 

In due course we find a familiar theme.  The אנשי desire Isaac's wife and he tells them she is his sister to save his life.  Abimelech king of Philistines learns that Isaac and Rebekah are married and warns his men that 'He that toucheth this איש or his wife shall surely be put to death.'  After Isaac is identified as a great איש the narrative moves back to his two sons who strive against one another as two אנשים

And Jacob said to Rebekah his mother: 'Behold, Esau my brother is a hairy איש, and I am a smooth איש

When Jacob goes back to the well the  found his mother Rebekah, her brother Laban identifies him as 'another man' (איש אַחֵר).  By the time he leaves it is said of him "the איש increased exceedingly, and had large flocks, and maid-servants and men-servants, and camels and asses."

It has long been noted that the encounter between Jacob and his brother - the  - foreshadows the wrestling with the איש that follows.  As Jacob leaves Laban 'angels of God' meet him.  Jacob himself sends 'angels' or messengers to announce his meeting with his brother. 

And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying: 'We came to thy brother Esau, and moreover he cometh to meet thee, and four hundred איש with him.' 

In his correspondences with Esau, Jacob repeatedly addresses his brother as 'my lord.'  After they embrace he says that Esau's person resembles that of God.  All of this reflects the author's attempt to blur the distinction between man and God. 

Clearly then Esau is the איש, he is the double in the same way his grandfather's servant was the איש and all people in the narrative have a divine twin.  Jacob's encounter with איש as he attempting to avoid his brother

And he rose up that night, and took his two wives, and his two handmaids, and his eleven children, and passed over the ford of the Jabbok.  And he took them, and sent them over the stream, and sent over that which he had.   And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a איש with him until the breaking of the day.  And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was strained, as he wrestled with him. And he said: 'Let me go, for the day breaketh.' And he said: 'I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.' And he said unto him: 'What is thy name?' And he said: 'Jacob.' And he said: 'Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel; for thou hast striven with God and with אנשים, and hast prevailed.' And Jacob asked him, and said: 'Tell me, I pray thee, thy name.' And he said: 'Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name?' And he blessed him there.  And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: 'for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.'

When we scrutinize the records of early Christian tradition with out hesitation identifies the איש with ΙΣ.  This cannot be viewed as accidental any longer.  Early Christianity developed from an understanding of the איש as the 'image of God' from which Adam was created who lingered on the earth and communicated with great men. 


The Samaritans make this identification of איש as a divine power absolutely explicit.  In Benny Tsedaka's recent English translation of the Pentateuch we see in the marginal comments to this section of Genesis the words:

"And Yaaqob was left alone, and איש wrestled with him until the dawn rising."

Yaaqob knew this was a special man, because Ishaab's men were far away. It should be noticed that when Yaaqob was under a test of his ability he surprisingly became very strong, such as in the case of the big stone on the well (i.e. at Beth El, Gerizim Gen ). It is obvious that Yaaqob was very strong and knew how to wrestle and win, till the angel had to use a divine hit so as to weaken Yaaqob. Yet still Yaaqob never left him, which doubled the angel Fanuwwel's admiration of Yaaqob's personality. In one-on-one wrestling he could win, but not against 400 men and Ishaab the Hunter.

The fact that the Samaritan tradition now identifies the איש by the additional name of Fanuwwel (Penuel) owing to the reference at the end of the narrative (Gen 32:32 ) is not problematic.  The text actually identifies the angel by the name 'איש' and איש is recognized as an angelic name by the Samaritans.   It is also well established that the same angel can be called by different names.

Tsedaka explains at the beginning of his English translation of the Samaritan Pentateuch that there is an interconnectedness to all the separate identifications of angels:

The Israelite Samaritan tradition of angels distinguishes between two groupings of angels. The first group are authorized to do good, and the second group are authorized to do harm.

“Il Raa'ee” — The first angel in the first group is “Il Raa'ee,” who showed himself to Aagaar, the slave wife of Abraam, in the desert (Gen. 16:13) and helped her.

“Enooshem” — There are three angels who showed themselves to Abraahm to announce about his coming child, called “Enooshem” (Gen. 18:2). Two of them were sent on another mission: To destroy Saadem (Gen. 18:16, 19:16).

“Unnamed angel." There is an unnamed angel (Gen. 22:15) who showed himself to Abraahm when he went to sacrifice his son, Yehsaaq. This angel was from the armies of angels who served the Will of Shehmaa. This group of angels also appeared in a vision to Yaaqob upon a ladder (Gen. 28:12).

“Group of Angels” — Yaaqob met this group of angels afterwards and and called them “camp of Eloowwem” (Gen. 32:3).

 “Faanoowwel” — After that meeting Yaaqob met the angel “Faanoowwel,” who wrestled with him (Gen. 32:30-32).

“Yaat” — There is an angel with a double duty. He is the angel who turned Ye'ooda aside to meet Taamaar, his daughter-in-law who turned Ye'ooda aside to meet Taamaar, his daughter-in-law, who sat along the way near the town Inem (Gen. 38:16). His second duty was to escort Yoosef in his master's house and in the prison (Gen. 39:21). The difference between the two duties, fulfilled by this angel, teaches the difference between the two temperaments: the bad temperament of Ye'ooda in comparison to the good temperament of Yoosef.

“Aa'ish” — The angel who guided Yoosef to the camping place of his brothers (Gen. 37:16-17).

“Naasee” — This angel made miracles along the way for the people of Israel from the Sea of Reeds to Mount Sinee: He is the angel who sweetened the water. He is the angel who caused the whole people of Israel to be sated and satisfied from the twelve springs and seventy date-palm trees. He is the angel who made the Maan fall down from heaven. He is the angel who showed Mooshe the place of the water in the rock. He is the angel who stood to the right of Yishraael in the war with 'Aamaaleq, and gave strength to the hands of Mooshe to win in that war. And for him, according to the order of Shehmaa, Mooshe built an altar called “Shehmaa Naasee”

As we shall demonstrate shortly, the Samaritan tradition is not monolithic.  There are many different versions of the actual 'names of the angels.'  The most consistent feature of such understandings however is that איש was the name behind all named beings. 

Most of the names of the angels here are actually derived from the testimony established by the Patriarch after the encounter with the angel.  In other words, the text says Jacob meets איש but the tradition Tsedaka draws from identifies the איש as Phanuel because of how the Patriarch himself memorializes the encounter.  We should never ignore the fact that the angel is however clearly named איש in the text. Similarly there is no reference to an angel in the story of Judah only the Hebrew word 'yaat':

And he turned (yaat) unto her by the way (Gen 38:16)
Why would the Samaritans have taken this silly little word as the sign of an angelic power?  The answer becomes clear when you look at the passage which precedes it

And it came to pass at that time, that Judah went down from his brethren, and turned in to a איש עדלםי , whose name was Hirah.

No one has a clue what adulami means.  The assumption is that because later books in the Jewish Bible mention a king Adulam that the term is a description of a people that lived in the area.  Yet in Micah 1:15 and in other places in the Bible adulm (עדלם) is often supposed to be related to or an error for olam (עולם) - that the ד was a corruption deliberately or otherwise for a ו.

In other words, in the original narrative told the story of Judah's encounter with the 'eternal Man' - the equivalent of the familiar Jewish divine epithet 'eternal Lord' (אדון עולם).  The Jewish tradition preserves his 'eternal' nature by assuming he was still living at the time of king David:

The rabbis say, "This Hirah here is the same as the one in the days of David: 'For Hiram was a lover of David all of his days, This teaches that this man was a lover of this tribe."  R. Judah b. R. Simon said: Hiram was a different person. in the view of the rabbis he lived close on eleven hundred years, while in r. Judah he lived close on five hundred years. 

Indeed as Hector Patmore notes in his study of this figure that this book Genesis Rabbah 85.4 is recording "a dispute over whether the Hirah mentioned in Gen 38:1 is one and the same as Hiram mentioned in Kings/Chronicles. both parties presuppose that the figure mentioned in Ezekiel 28 is the same Hiram."

Just to make absolute explicit then, the Jewish sages near the beginning of the Common Era recall a tradition which identifies 'the king of Tyre' in the Book of Ezekiel chapter 38 with Hirah our 'eternal man.'  That this figure is argued to be some eleven hundred years old would certainly imply he was known to Judah.  The poem in Ezekiel reads:

You were the signet of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
You were in Eden, the garden of God;
every precious stone was your covering, carnelian, chrysolite, and moonstone, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, turquoise, and emerald;
and worked in gold were your settings and your engravings.
On the day that you were created they were prepared.
With an anointed cherub as guardian I placed you;
you were on the holy mountain of God; you walked among the stones of fire.
You were blameless in your ways from the day that you were created, until iniquity was found in you. In the abundance of your trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned;
so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God,
and the guardian cherub drove you out from among the stones of fire.
Your heart was proud because of your beauty;
you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor.
I cast you to the ground; I exposed you before kings, to feast their eyes on you.
By the multitude of your iniquities, in the unrighteousness of your trade, you profaned your sanctuaries.
So I brought out fire from within you; it consumed you,
and I turned you to ashes on the earth in the sight of all who saw you.
All who know you among the peoples are appalled at you;
you have come to a dreadful end and shall be no more forever.

It goes without question that if the Jewish tradition preserves the understanding that Hirah the Adulamite was really 'Hirah the eternal man' we have also found the proper explanation for who stands behind the Samaritan understanding of an angel being present in Genesis chapter 38.


Let's take a second look at the Samaritan interpretation of this section (Genesis 36 - 39).  We can see from the previous chapter (Genesis 37) that the locale of Judas's איש theophany is near Gerizim.  In the previous chapter Joseph has just been sold into slavery by his brothers but we should pay close attention to the איש who almost helps the brothers ensnare him:

And Yishraael said to Yoosef, Are not your brothers pasturing in Ashkem. Come, and I will send you to them. And he said to him, I will.  And he said to him, Go please, and see how your brothers are, and how the flock is, and bring word back to me.  And he sent him from the valley of Eebrone, and he came to Ashkema.  And איש found him, and behold, he was wandering in the field. And איש asked him, What are you looking for. And he said, I am looking for my brothers, please tell me where they are pasturing.  And איש said, They have moved from here, for I heard them say, Let us go to Dooten. And Yoosef went after his brothers and found them at Dooten.

As Benny Tsedaka notes in his English translation to Genesis chapter 37 "the Samaritan Sages in their tradition always considered the איש to be an angel."   Of course we have consistently seen this represented in the text so far.  The only question now is how does it apply here?

So clearly the 'man' who comes to Joseph here is the same divine figure as who previously wrestled with Jacob and more significant for our present purposes, emerges again to establish a messianic descendant of Judah.  As the oldest surviving Jewish commentary on this passage notes, the is preparing the way for the messiah.  It begins with a citation from Micah:

"As far as Adulam will come the glory of Israel" (Mic 1:15): the Holy One of Israel. As far as Adulam will come the king of Israel. As far as Adullam he will come: "At that time" (Gen 38:1).  R. Samuel b. Nahman began his discourse with the verse: "For I know the thoughts" (Jer. 29:11) The tribes were busy with the sale of Joseph, Jacob was busy with his sackcloth and fasting, Judah was busy taking a wife, while the Holy One Blessed be He was creating the light of the king messiah  "Before she labored, she gave birth" (Isa 66:7). Before the first oppressor was born, the final redeemer was born.  

When we look at the two back to back references to the 'איש theophany' it is important to note that this heavenly figure is involved with establishing the heads of the two surviving tribes - Joseph (= Samaria) and Judah (= Judea) for their redemptive role in the community. 

If chapter 37 is odd because it shows the  helping the brothers trap their brother, chapter 38 is even more unusual as it has the  offer up his women for sex with Judah.  Indeed Judah not only has sex with the daughter of the איש but also his firstborn son's wife Tamar.  Yet this isn't even the strangest thing about the narrative.  Just look at how the איש עדלםי hovers around all the sex with no clear role to speak of except Judah 'turning into' (וַיֵּט) him.

And it came to pass at that time, that Judah went down from his brethren, and turned in to a איש עדלםי , whose name was Hirah. And Judah saw there a daughter of a certain Canaanite whose name was Shua; and he took her, and went in unto her.

Why exactly is the 'eternal man' even mentioned at all as he has no relationship with Shua?  The answer seems to be that he must have been understood to be 'assisting' Judah establish the future redeemer of Israel (cf. Genesis 49:10).

It should be noted that the word (yaat) can also mean to 'spread' or 'stretch out' a tent.  But it is very curious that this very same word is used to introduce the idea of Judah 'turning in' to Tamar.  Let us look again at what Benny reports to us the Samaritan tradition believes about this angel:

There is an angel with a double duty. He is the angel who turned Ye'ooda aside to meet Taamaar, his daughter-in-law who turned Ye'ooda aside to meet Taamaar, his daughter-in-law, who sat along the way near the town Inem (Gen. 38:16). His second duty was to escort Yoosef in his master's house and in the prison (Gen. 39:21).

Indeed it is noteworthy to see that איש עדלםי is standing there with Judah 'as a friend' as both Judah's wife and firstborn son die.  Who was it that turned Judah to see Tamar?  The most obvious answer would be that it is the same figure who seems to be hovering in the background the entire narrative, in effect, bringing Judah and Tamar together - i.e. the 'eternal' Man of God. 

Let's take a second look at the entire section as it appears in our standard English translations of the received Jewish text.  Judah's firstborn has just died and now Judah has taken Tamar his wife into his house:

Then said Judah to Tamar his daughter-in-law: 'Remain a widow in thy father's house, till Shelah my son be grown up'; for he said: 'Lest he also die, like his brethren.' And Tamar went and dwelt in her father's house.  And in process of time Shua's daughter, the wife of Judah, died; and Judah was comforted, and went up unto his sheep-shearers to Timnah, he and his friend Hirah the Adullamite. And it was told Tamar, saying: 'Behold, thy father-in-law goeth up to Timnah to shear his sheep.' And she put off from her the garments of her widowhood, and covered herself with her veil, and wrapped herself, and sat in the entrance of Enaim, which is by the way to Timnah; for she saw that Shelah was grown up, and she was not given unto him to wife. When Judah saw her, he thought her to be a harlot; for she had covered her face. And he turned unto (וַיֵּט) her by the way, and said: 'Come, I pray thee, let me come in unto thee' ...

At first glance there does not seem to be any direct involvement of an angel whatsoever in Judah's turning to Tamar's tent.  Nevertheless this doesn't stop the Samaritan tradition from seeing the presence of an angel and the very same is true within the Jewish tradition - i.e. here an angel, usually Michael, helps direct Judah's eyes to Tamar. 

Indeed if we look at the passage one more time we have to consider for a moment that the 'eternal man' of God is walking with Judah at the same time as:

it was told Tamar, saying: 'Behold, thy father-in-law goeth up to Timnah to shear his sheep.' And she put off from her the garments of her widowhood, and covered herself with her veil.

To whom else could this voice belong but the man accompanying Judah?  We need only go back to the formula in the earliest surviving Jewish commentary - while Judah was securing a wife, "the Holy One Blessed be He was creating the light of the king messiah."   Not surprisingly then all aspects of the story have been established to reflect the idea that the 'one like Moses' i.e. the future redeemer is here being established by way of lineage. 

Philo of Alexandria speaks of God's hand being involved throughout this union.  He writes in one place:

For she also being a widow, was commanded to sit down in the house of the father, the only Saviour;  on whose account, having forsaken for ever the company and society of men, she is at a distance from and widowhood of all human pleasures, and receives a divine seed; and being filled with the seeds of virtue, she conceives, and is in travail of virtuous actions. And when she has brought them forth, she carries off the prize against her adversaries, and is enrolled as victorious, bearing the palm as the emblem of her victory. For the name Thamar, being interpreted, means the palm-tree.  And every soul that is beginning to be widowed and devoid of evils, says to the prophet, "O, man of God! hast thou come to me to remind me of my iniquity and of my sin?" For he being inspired, and entering into the soul, and being filled with heavenly love, and being amazingly excited by the intolerable stimulus of heaven-inflicted frenzy, works in the soul a recollection of its ancient iniquities and offences: not in order that it may commit such again, ùbut that, greatly lamenting and bitterly bewailing its former error, it may hate its own offspring, and reject them with aversion, and may follow the admonitions of the word of God, the interpreter and prophet of his will.   For the men of old used to call the prophets sometimes men of God, and sometimes seers, affixing appropriate and becoming names to their enthusiasm, and inspiration, and to the foreknowledge of affairs which they enjoyed.

In no uncertain terms then do we find it understood that the 'man of God' is central to the union.  The man of God not only establishes Judah and Tamar's coming together but also the end product - i.e. the future one like Moses, the man of God. 

In another narrative Philo writes of Judah's efforts to find again the woman he presumed to be a harlot.  Citing from his Greek translation of the same narrative the words - "And Judah sent a kid in the hands of his shepherd, the Adullamite, to receive back his pledge from the woman, and he found her not" - he notes that Judah gave the pledge because he was "eager to purchase the most excellent possession, piety towards God, by three pledges or symbols, namely a ring, and an armlet, and a staff, signifying confidence and sure faith."  The Aramaic translations of the Bible or Targums consistently refer to these three pledges by the name 'three witnesses.'  This is very significant owing to the Samaritan tradition which identifies the requirement of the one to come to prove himself by 'three witnesses.'  In other words, the narrative was clearly deliberately conceived by the author of the Pentateuch as witnessing the advent of the future messiah. 

Moreover it can't be ignored that Philo in another passage refers to Hirah as 'the messenger' arranging the union.  According to the Alexandrian

[Judah] who sent the messenger to inquire, hearing [that the harlot was not there says] ... " if she is such [a pious virtuous woman], let her keep what I have given her--the instruction and the connection of reason with life and of life with reason, and, what is the most necessary of all things, surety and faith."  But let us not be laughed at as appearing to have given gifts which were not merited, while we think that we gave what is most suitable to the soul; for I, indeed, did what was proper for a man to do who wished to make experiment of and to test her disposition, throwing out a bait and sending a messenger; but he has showed me that her nature is not easily caught. 

Of course the interpretation is forced with respect to Judah's intentions.  Judah is otherwise recognized as a mere pawn in a divine plan to secure the future salvation of Israel.  Nevertheless the identification of the eternal man as a messenger or 'angel' is quite significant.

In the Targums by contrast portray Tamar as virtuous and Judah as ultimately less than noble.  We read that Judah sentenced her to be burned alive:

And Jehuda said, Is she not the daughter of a priest ? Let her be brought forth and burned. Tamar was brought forth to be burned, and she searched for the three pledges, but found them not. Uplifting her eyes to the heavens above, she thus said, Mercy I implore from Thee, Lord : answer Thou me in this hour of need, and enlighten mine eyes to find the three witnesses; and I will dedicate unto Thee from my loins three saints, who shall sanctify Thy name, and descend to the furnace of fire in the plain of Dura. In that hour the Holy One, blessed be He, signed to Michael, who enlightened her eyes, that she found (the witnesses) and took and cast them before the feet of the judges, and said, The man to whom these pledges belong is he by whom I am with child.  Yet though I may be burned I do not make him manifest: never theless the Lord of the world will cause him in his heart to acknowledge them, and will deliver me from this great judgment.

Notice at once that the 'Holy One' has the power to 'enlighten the eyes' and to 'cause a change of heart.'  So too he must also have the power to make people 'incline' in a certain direction, the understanding at the heart of the Samaritan interpretation of the narrative. 

In the account of the so-called Jerusalem Targum similarly we read "in that hour the Word of the Lord heard the voice of her supplication and said to Mikael, Descend, and let her eyes have light."  With respect to changing Judah's heart we read her prayer as follows "though I may be burned, I declare him not, but confide in the Ruler of all the world, the Lord who is witness between me and him, that He will give to the heart of the man to whom these belong, to acknowledge whose are these his ring, and mantle, and staff."  Clearly then the angel originally identified as  by the Samaritans is preserved under a host of divine names in the Jewish tradition. 


In the last reference to the איש in the Book of Genesis in Benny Tsedaka's English translation, let's note how the איש helped Joseph, the head now of the northern Samaritan people. He wrote that his duty was "to escort Yoosef in his master's house and in the prison (Gen. 39:21)." At first the presence of the איש isn't readily apparent - that is until you look at one of the first lines immediately following the previous narrative where Joseph was sold into slavery:

And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh's, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hand of the Ishmaelites, that had brought him down thither. And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.  And his master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand.  

The normal reading is that the narrator is saying that Joseph was a 'prosperous man' but that makes very little sense given that he has just been stripped of everything and sold into slavery.  We should read it instead as a reference to the heavenly איש who has just finished securing the future redeemer with Judah. 

Why does he call the איש 'prosperous'?  To understand this we must go back to the narrative of the איש going and finding Rebekah.  There we read very similar words used to describe him:

And she said: 'Drink, my lord'; and she hastened, and let down her pitcher upon her hand, and gave him drink.  And when she had done giving him drink, she said: 'I will draw for thy camels also, until they have done drinking.'  And she hastened, and emptied her pitcher into the trough, and ran again unto the well to draw, and drew for all his camels. And the איש looked stedfastly on her; holding his peace, to know whether the Lord had made his journey prosperous or not.

The same Hebrew word for 'prosper' is used in either place and indeed throughout the narrative involving the finding of Rebekah. 

Indeed very significant is it to notice that when the servant recounts his journey to her family he speaks of an angel who accompanied him who secured his journey's prosperity and it would seem the prosperity of all journey's

And he (Abraham) said unto me: The Lord, before whom I walk, will send His angel with thee, and prosper thy way; and thou shalt take a wife for my son of my kindred, and of my father's house

And again a little later:

And he said unto them: 'Delay me not, seeing the Lord hath prospered my way; send me away that I may go to my master.'

The situation that seems to be set up is that God has an angel named  who is sent on important journeys and helps secure the prosperity of that journey. 

The burred distinction in the Joseph story between the heavenly man and Joseph is not without precedent.  In the early Hellenistic Jewish text Joseph and Aseneth, the heavenly man appears in a form which greatly resembles Joseph.  The text has been identified by some as related to Christianity.  It would seem however that these arguments rest on a rather late Syriac translation which more than likely added Christian elements to the original Hellenistic Jewish text.  Nevertheless critics of this theory have not been sympathetic enough to the idea that the reason Christians later adopted this text was because they found elements which seemed strikingly similar to their beliefs about Jesus. 

Without getting too deeply into a critique of previous theories about this text it should only be noted that there is a consistent parallel developed between Joseph and the figure of the 'man of God.'  Joseph is so called throughout the narrative.  After Aseneth is alerted to Joseph's coming, we hear about the arrival of alternatively 'man from heaven' 'man of light from heaven' or 'the man of God' who "stood at her head and called to her."  When she states "Here am I, my lord, tell me who you are" we read:

and the man said, "I am the commander of the Lord's house and chief captain of all the host of the Most High: stand up, and I will speak to you."  And she looked up and saw a man like Joseph in every respect, with a robe and a crown and a royal staff.  But his face was like lightning, and his eyes were like the light of the sun, and the hairs of his head like flames of fire, and his hands and feet like iron from the fire.  And Aseneth looked at him, and she fell on her face at his feet in great fear and trembling.    

The point here clearly is that is emphasized that Joseph and the heavenly 'man of God' are twins of one another in the very manner, later of Moses and the איש and previously of Jacob and Judah and this angel.  This being has clearly been around throughout the lives of the Patriarchs. 

That Joseph is called 'the Son of God' or some such equivalent, that Aseneth and her seven brides seem to reflect Christian notions of the 'bride of Christ' is all certainly important to other studies of the text.  Our only purpose here is to understand how the Samaritan interest in the angel who "escort Yoosef in his master's house and in the prison" could be איש.  As we have already seen, like the Joseph and Aseneth narrative the איש is his heavenly twin.  He is said to be there in the house as a 'man of prosperity' moreover throughout the narrative it is recognized by all that 'the Lord is with Joseph.'  The tendency of the earliest interpretations of the Pentateuch stressed the presence of a divine being acting as messenger for Yahweh.  As such it stands to reason that איש was accepted originally as the divine presence. 

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Stephan Huller's Observations by Stephan Huller
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