Weekly Cycle

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

The 70 Souls of Israel, the 70 Nations of the World, and the Jewish Calendar

In honor of the passing of Maran, Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef, of Blessed Memory, on the day of this writing:

As already mentioned in the introduction to Book 5, there is an interesting parallel between the 70 souls of the Jewish people that descended to Egypt and the calendar. Leah's children are seven in total, six men (the first six sefirot/ the first six days of the week) and one female (malchutShabat).

The counting of the omer/ weeks of the year. Leah children and grandchildren are 33 in total, including Yocheved, the hidden descendant. (See Rashi)Bilhah's (Leah's maidservant) descendants are 16, bringing the total number to 49. Dina again plays a special role, she's number 33, like Lag Ba'omer.

Book 4b then included Rachel, Joseph and Binyamin (which are mentioned next in the verse in Vayigash) as parallel to the weeks of Pessach/Shavuot, weeks 50, 51 and 52. (See Introduction to Book 1 as to why the last three weeks of the year represent the end of one cycle as well as the beginning of the next).

The remaining descendants of Rachel, her grandchildren, are 12 in total, and appear to parallel the months of the year. This would follow the notion that Joseph's progeny were supposed to parallel Jacob's, and it is well known that each of Jacob's sons, the Tribes, represent a month of the year. Because of the test Joseph faced with Potiphar's wife, he ended up having only two sons instead of twelve. However, not by coincidence, Benjamin has ten sons, all named after Joseph. 

Zilpah's descendants are seven in total, like Leah's children, one for each day of the week. 49 (52), 12, and 7 are the numbers most associated with the months, weeks, and days of the calendar. 

The listing of the 70 souls that descended to Egypt is in Chapter 46 of Genesis, which can be found here:

There also appears to be a parallel between the 70 souls that descended to Egypt and the nations of the world, which we read about in this week's portion. Verse 8 in Haazinu states: "When the Most High gave  nations their lot, when He separated the sons of man, He set up the boundaries of peoples according to the number of the children of Israel." This is also mentioned in the Zohar, Shemot 5)[1]

- The sons of Japheth are 7, which parallel the children of Leah (or the descendants of Zilpah).

- The grandchildren of Japheth are also 7, which also parallel the children of Leah (or the descendants of Zilpah).

- The descendants of Shem are 26, which parallel the grandchildren of Leah.

- The descendants of Ham are 30, which parallel the descendants of Rachel (14) plus those of Bilhah (16). 

Below is Chapter 10 of Bereshit, with numbers added by the descendants: 

1. And these are the generations of the sons of Noah: Shem, Ham, and Japheth, and sons were born to them after the Flood.  
2. The sons of Japheth were Gomer and Magog and Madai and Javan and Tubal, and Meshech and Tiras. (Sons of Japheth: 7)
3. And the sons of Gomer were Ashkenaz and Riphath and Togarmah. (3)
4. And the sons of Javan were Elishah and Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim. (4)
(Descendants of Japheth: 14)

6. And the sons of Ham were Cush and Mizraim and Put and Canaan. (Sons of Ham: 4)
7. And the sons of Cush were Seba and Havilah and Sabta and Raamah and Sabtecha, and the sons of Raamah were Sheba and Dedan. (7)
8. And Cush begot Nimrod; he began to be a mighty man in the land. 
13. And Mizraim begot the Ludim and the Anamim and the Lehabim and the Naphtuhim,
14. And the Pathrusim and the Casluhim, from whom the Philistines emerged, and the Caphtorim. (7)  
15. And Canaan begot Zidon his firstborn and Heth.
16. And the Jebusites and the Amorites and the Girgashites.
17. And the Hivvites and the Arkites and the Sinites.
18. and the Arvadites and the Zemarites and the Hamathites, and afterwards the families of the Canaanites were scattered. (11)
(Descendants of Ham: 30)

22. The sons of Shem were Elam and Asshur and Arpachshad and Lud and Aram. (Sons of Shem: 5) 23. And the sons of Aram were Uz and Hul and Gether and Mash. (4)
24. And Arpachshad begot Shelah, and Shelah begot Eber. (2)
25. And to Eber were born two sons: one was named Peleg, because in his days the earth was divided, and the name of his brother was Joktan. (2)
26. And Joktan begot Almodad and Sheleph and Hazarmaveth and Jerah.
27. And Hadoram and Uzal and Diklah.  
28. And Obal and Abimael and Sheba.  
29. And Ophir and Havilah and Jobab; all these were the sons of Joktan. (13)
(Descendants of Shem: 26)

The following is a link to Chapter 10 of Genesis: http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/8174

Observation: Interestingly, Nimrod is usually not included in the counting of the nations of the world. Instead "Plishtim," the Philistines are included. If one groups the Philistines with Canaan instead of  Mizraim (after all, historically they dwelt in the Land of Canaan), then the 30 descendants of Ham can be further subdivided int two groups:

Put, Canaan and their descendants (including Plishtim) total 14, which parallel the descendants of Rachel.

Cush, Mizraim and their descendants (not including Plishtim) are 16, which parallel the descendants of Bilhah.

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