Archive for December 4th, 2009

What kind of messengers did Jacob send to Esau?

Genesis 32:4 יַעֲקֹב מַלְאָכִים לְפָנָיו אֶל־עֵשָׂו אָחִיו  וַיִּשְׁלַח – Jacob sent messengers before him to his brother Esau —   The term מַלְאָךְ is used with both human and supernatural messengers. Often it refers to it refers to human beings who act as God’s messengers, i.e., prophets[1] or priests[2] but in this particular sense the envoys Jacob sent functioned in a secular capacity.  Not all rabbinic sources accept this kind of interpretation.

Rashi and his supporters argued that the visionary ...

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