The Prophet from the land of Kedar

 

Deu 33-2Devarim 33-2

Rabbi Shlomo ben Yitzhak (Rashi) 1  in his Perush ‘al ha-Torah on the Sefer Devarim (Deuteronomy) 33:2, wrote:

וזרח משעיר למו שפתח לבני עשו שיקבלו את התורה ולא רצו ספרי :
הופיע להם מהר פארן שהלך שם ופתח לבני ישמעאל שיקבלוה ולא רצו ספרי :ואתה לישראל

(“And He rose from Seir unto them. He offered the Torah to the children of Esau, and they did not desire my scripture. He shined forth to them from mount Paran because He went there and offered the Torah to the children of Ishmael, that they should accept it but they did not desire my the scripture. And You came unto Israel”).

This piece of commentary is really interesting because it shows that jewish scholarship understand that God speaks not only to the Israelites at mount Sinai but God also speaks to Edomites at Seir, and God too speaks to the Arabs at mount Paran. God therefore blessed the children of Israel through Moses at Sinai but God also blessed the children of Esau through Job and likewise the same God also blessed the children of Ishmael.

Sinai revelation allude to the religion of Israelites, Seir revelation refers to the religion of Edomites, while Paran revelation allude to the faith of the Ishmaelites. Moses was one of Israelites who received the the words of God at mount Sinai; and Job was one of Edomites who received the words of God at Seir.

Another great rashonim rabbi Moshe Maimonides or RAMBAM wrote a letter in Judeo-Arabic to Yamanite Jews  (אגרת תימן Iggerot Teyman) on the origin of Job.

לאן איוב וצופר ובלדד ואליפז ואליהוא כלהם ענדנא אנביא ואן כאנו ליס מן ישראל

(אגרת תימן)

Lianna Ayyub wa Shofar wa Bildad wa Elifaz wa Elihu kulluhum ‘indana Anbiya’ wa in kanu laysa min Yisroil (Iggerot Teyman) 

“For Job, and Zophar, and Bildad, and Eliphaz and Elihu are all considered prophets and are non-Jews.” 2.

Clearly Rambam understood that Job and his confidants: Zophar, Bildad, Elifaz and Elihu received prophecy even though they were not of Jewish stock. Raymond P. Scheindlin, a Professor of Medieval Hebrew Literature at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America elaborate that Job was a non-Israelite, probably as an Edomite, since Utz, Job’s homeland is connected elsewhere in the Bible with Edom, the desert territory to the Southeast of the Dead Sea; so also his friends, Zophar, Eliphaz Elihu and Bildad were non-Israelites 3.

God sent Moses as a prophet from among the children of Israel, and God also sent Job as a prophet from among the children of Esau, but the question was who was the one sent as a prophet among the children of Ishmael?

In his commentary Rambam quoted the text of Psalms of David, and he explained it (also written in Judeo-Arabic) according to the Midrashic methodology 4.

קאל אויה לי כי גרתי משך שכנתי עם אהלי קדר. ואעתברוא תכציצה קדר מן בני ישמעאל לאן משגע תאול אנמא הו בני קדר כמא הו משהור פי נסבה

Qola  “אויה לי כי גרתי משך שכנתי עם אהלי קדר” (Ps 120:5). Wa’tibaru takhshishiha Qedar min bani Yismail li anna mesuga’ ta’wilu innama huwa min bani Qedar kama huwa masyhur fi nasabihi.

Said (David): “Woe is me, that I sojourn with Meschech, that I dwell beside the tents of Kedar.” (Psalms 120:5). Notice the distinction of Kedar from the children of Ishmael, because the mesuga is meant only from the children of Kedar of which well-known in their lineage 5.

Rambam mentioned that there was a mesuga’ 6 of God from among the children of Ishmael, from one of the children of Kedar. Note how the verse sets apart Kedar from the other children of Ishmael. This is  the “locus classicus” for ecumenically minded rabbis, since even before Christian times, that there are obscure passages from the testament of Moses (Sefer Devarim 33:2. Talmud Bavli, Avodah Zarah 2b and Sifrei 343) whose meaning can be explained by this text. We can say that the text of Deuteronomy 33:2 is not only referring to a historical fact, but it is also referring to a prophecy.

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch says:

“Seir (שעיר) is Esau, Paran (פרן) is Ishmael (Genesis XXI:21). What it could want to say here would be – the promise to Abraham could have been fulfilled on Ishmael and Esau; but when Paran developed from Ishmael and still more when Seir was later formed by Esau, their characteristics showed that the realisation of God’s promise would have to wait for a later generation until finally Israel by accepting the Torah offered an entry for the glory of G-d on earth” 7

 


 

Footnotes:

  1. A medieval French rabbi (1040 – 1105 CE.) renown as the author of a comprehensive commentary on the Talmud as well as a comprehensive commentary of the Torah. He is considered the father of all commentaries post Talmud.
  2. See Abraham S. Halkin. Moses Maimonides’ Epistle to Yemen. The Arabic Original and the Three Hebrew Versions. Edited from Manuscripts with Introduction and Notes (New York: American Academy for Jewish Research, 1953), pp. 50-52
  3. See Raymon P. Scheindlin. “The Book of Job. Translation, Introduction and Notes (New York – London: W.W. Norton & Company, 1998), pp. 11-13.
  4. See Abraham S. Halkin. Moses Maimonides’ Epistle to Yemen. The Arabic Original and the Three Hebrew Versions. Edited from Manuscripts with Introduction and Notes (New York: American Academy for Jewish Research, 1952), pp. 94-96
  5. “kama huwa masyhur fi nasabihi” ( כמא הו משהור פי נסבה) is clearly an arabic sentence  which must be based on genealogical records but there was never a mention from Jewish and Islamic history any denial from the Arabs that prophet Muhammad ﷺ was from Ishmael lineage throuh Kedar. This can be read from  Tarikh AtThabari, he list the prophet genealogy to Kedar through Nabit bin Ismail, and through Khaidar bin Ismail.
  6. Rambam’s use of the word mesuga’ was NOT intended in any negative sense like in modern hebrew usage, but to indicate or confirm that Muhammad ﷺ , was indeed God messenger, that he was indeed  the ish ha-Elohim of the TaNaKH, the man of God/ rasulullah. Why Rambam referred to a prophet as mesuga’? because that is how it describes the experience of prophets receiving prophecy: “Their limbs tremble, their physical powers become weak, they lose control of their senses, and thus, their minds are free to comprehend what they see.” (Rambam’s Yesodei haTorah 7:12).  Rambam did not use the word “nabi” because the prophet Malachi was supposed to be the last Jewish prophet to the Jewish people. But of course he is not the last prophet to the non-Jews and the jews know that that could be an unlimited number of non Jewish prophets after Malachi.
  7. See Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch. Chamisha Chumshe Torah. Sefer Devarim. The Pentateuch. Translated & Explained. vol. V. Deuteronomy (London – New York: Bloch Publishing Company, 1962), p. 664

 

 

 



Categories: Bible

Tags: ,

14 replies

  1. Shalom Brother Eric good to see you back alongside Brother Paul. I have just rediscovered the new Blogging Theology.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Wow, this is great! It really shows that God not only was for the Jews, but for all his creation!

    Like

  3. This is an interesting take and I would like to see some more examples. Rambam who was hostile to Islam even says quite explicitly the “man of the camel” is the Prophet (saw).

    “From the prophecies of Daniel and Isaiah and the statement of our sages it is clear that the advent of the Messiah will take place some time subsequent to the universal expansion of the Roman empire and Arabic rule, which is an actuality today. This fact is true beyond question or doubt. Daniel in the latter part of his vision alludes to the Kingdom of the Arabs, to the rise of Mohammed and then to the arrival of the Messiah. Similarly Isaiah intimated that the coming of the Messiah will occur after the rise of the Madman, in the verse “A man riding on an ass, a man riding on a camel, and two men riding on horses.” (21:7). Now “the man riding on an ass” is a symbolical reference to the Messiah as is evident from another verse which describes him as “lowly and riding on an ass” (Zechariah 9:9). He will follow the “man riding on the camel” that is, the Arabic kingdom. The statement “two men riding on horses” refers to both empires, the Roman and the Arabian. A similar interpretation of Daniel’s vision concerning the image and the beasts is correct beyond doubt. They are conclusions derived from the plain meaning of the text.”

    https://www.sefaria.org/Iggerot_HaRambam%2C_Iggeret_Teiman.98?ven=Igeret_Teiman&lang=bi&with=all&lang2=en

    Clearly, his kufr blinded him regarding the two horses but I know there is something there in regards to Daniel 2.

    Like

    • Stew…. I’m so glad that you posted a reply here, giving Eric a thumbs for this fantastic article.

      You and Eric clearly have never read the entire Iggeret to Teman and neither of you can read Hebrew. Rambam says EXACTLY the opposite of what you and eric claim… I’m gonna be nice and assume the two of you never read this letter,rather than assume you’re both retarded…. Just to be clear…. Do you agree with Eric’s statement

      “‘Rambam’s use of the word mesuga’ was NOT intended in any negative sense like in modern hebrew usage, but to indicate or confirm that Muhammad ﷺ , was indeed God messenger, that he was indeed the ish ha-Elohim of the TaNaKH, the man of God/ rasulullah” .

      Also, explain this
      ‘Clearly Rambam understood that Job and his confidants: Zophar, Bildad, Elifaz and Elihu received prophecy even though they were not of Jewish stock. Raymond P. Scheindlin, a Professor of Medieval Hebrew Literature at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America elaborate that Job was a non-Israelite, probably as an Edomite, since Utz, Job’s homeland is connected elsewhere in the Bible with Edom, the desert territory to the Southeast of the Dead Sea; so also his friends, Zophar, Eliphaz Elihu and Bildad were non-Israelites’ .

      Please give your interpretation of these 2 paragraphs.

      Like

      • @ Anthony

        Several points:

        1. I haven’t insulted you so I would appreciate the reprication so conversation can be more beneficial.

        2. I thumbs uped him because I learned something new about medieval Jews.

        3. I am aware Rambam was hostile towards Islam (and quite frankly if he didn’t repent in the Fire)

        4. I am also aware classical Hebrew is not the same as modern and I said this. Hence my point that the Torah was not meant for eternity.

        5. Finally I NEVER CLAIMED to be able to read Hebrew (and quite frankly the MAJORITY ofnyour nation can’t/couldn’t either because it is a d.e.a.d language) please see point 4.

        Liked by 3 people

  4. Paul, did you review this article? I seriously doubt that Eric has ever read Rambam’s epistle to Yemen, otherwise he would never have written this. What Rambam says is exactly the opposite of what Eric claims he says.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is somewhat hard to find in Deuteronomy 33:2 an “Islamic connection”. Nonetheless it is still taken as foretelling of prophet Muhammad, as was most recently done even by an obviously intelligent and well-read person such as Adnan Rashid in the debate with Samuel Green (its on Youtube, Is Muhammad foretold in the Bible?). Consider for example the following points:

      1. The passage is not a prophecy as Adnan says, but a prolegomenon or exordium, to the blessings of Moses. It talks about something that had already taken place.

      2. The subject who shone forth from Paran is God, not a person (prophet Muhammad, according to Adnan).

      3. Biblical Paran is not identified by most biblical scholars in Arabia as Adnan says at around 45:40. Biblical scholars generally place Paran in the eastern part of the Sinai Peninsula or even further to the north, though the exact location cannot be identified.

      There are more grave problems with his interpretation that have to do with the linguistics of this verse. He also appeals to Habakkuk 3:3 as supporting his interpretation (at about 48:50 onward) by incorrectly translating the text.

      Perhaps one can be more sympathetic to Eric’s reading as he does not push it quite as far as Adnan does. He reads Seir as referring to Biblical Edom which is actually in the biblical text (though the idea of specific individuals such as Job is not) and not as a reference to Jesus as Adnan does, which is not supported by any biblical text I know of. He also wisely exercises more caution in describing the connection between Ishmael and Paran, only hinting not jumping as straightforwardly to Muhammad as Adnan does. Still, it is highly problematic to see in Deut. 33:2 a reference to Islam, the prophet Muhammad or the Quran.

      Liked by 1 person

      • As you can see, the argument was totally exposed by Allan Ruhl who recently put up two posts showing some of Adnan’s errors in the debate. Even more ironic errors were pointed out in the comment section. Apparrently, his presentation was neither based on thourough knowledge of the subject nor imbued with the skills to handle the evidence correctly.

        http://allanruhl.com/adnan-rashid-and-paran/

        http://allanruhl.com/adnan-rashid-and-sela/

        Liked by 1 person

      • “3. Biblical Paran is not identified by most biblical scholars in Arabia as Adnan says at around 45:40. Biblical scholars generally place Paran in the eastern part of the Sinai Peninsula or even further to the north, though the exact location cannot be identified.”

        Pre-Islamic Jewish literature DOES identify Paran with Arabs and Arabia. See Haggai Mazuz’s article “Tracing Possible Jewish influence on a common Islamic commentary on Deuteronomy 33:2”

        Like

  5. Have you actually read Mazuz’s paper? It doesn’t really support what Adnan is saying.

    Biblical scholars think that Paran is in the Sinai Peninsula or Seir in present day Israel/Palestine/Jordan and so yes Arabia Petrea, some 1000-1300 kilometers from Mecca. Biblical scholars do not identify Paran with Mecca as Adnan suggests.

    To begin with, the sources quoted by Mazuz mostly date to after Islam and some are of uncertain date. The one certain pre-Islamic text quoted makes the link of Ishmael and Paran (cf. Gen. 21:21 mostly understood as Sinai peninsula) and the Arabic tongue, but does not go much beyond that, it is “somewhat vague” as Mazuz points out on p. 294. The remaining texts add very little in support for Adnan’s contention and the connection Paran-Mecca or the Hejaz, for that matter, is not found in any of the Jewish texts in Mazuz’s study. That identification, based on the Ishmael and Paran link, is made only much later and then in the Islamic literature, which expanded on this link to include Mecca and Muhammad, as Mazuz points out on pp. 302-304.

    The problem for Adnan is that he has to find prophet Muhammad specifically, in the Bible and so he takes Deut. 33:2 to speak of specific prophets and sites of revelation. Sinai he takes to be mt. Sinai where the Torah was revealed to Moses and Seir to be Jerusalem and Jesus. Accordingly the “Mountain of Paran” in 33:2 he says is Mecca, Muhammad and the Quran. In the end there is no historical evidence for such an identification and biblical scholars identify Paran as far away from Mecca and the Hejaz.

    But by all means, if you can quote a pre-Islamic Jewish source that identifies Paran with Mecca please do so.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Burhanuddin1 for a Muslim, you sure love posts made by non believers.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: