the weekly Torah reading by the faculty of
Dr. Amihai Nahshon
for Basic Jewish Studies and
The first part of this week’s reading opens with Esau's supposed
threat to Jacob’s welfare after Jacob returns from
The prophet Amos emphasizes that Esau is Jacob’s brother, a relationship which is mentioned elsewhere frequently.  After all, Esau and Jacob were twins (Gen. 25:23-26); calling them brothers attests to the positive relations that were expected of them in the various prophecies. But, as the prophecies about Edom indicate, this expectation was belied time and again, invoking G-d's wrath as described in various eschatological prophecies, including the haftarah for this week’s reading: “And no survivor shall be left of the House of Esau” (Ob. 1:18). 
Many of the prophecies for the end of days that describe
the demise of
Ezekiel calls the Edomites’ claim
to possess the land of Israel 'ne’atzot'
 and a
lot of words:
“You shall know that I the Lord have heard
all the taunts you uttered against the hills of Israel:
‘They have been laid waste; they have been
given to us as a prey.’ And you spoke
arrogantly against Me and multiplied your words against Me:
I have heard it” (Ezek. 35:12-13).
This reproach is said with respect to the
plan of the Edomites:
“Because you thought ‘The two nations and the two lands shall be mine
and we shall possess them’ – although the Lord was there” (Ezek.
35:10). In other words, the
Edomites thought that because the Israelites had been
exiled and the land laid waste, they could take possession of the
The prophet Malachi describes a vision of the end of days
in which the punishment by G-d will be overpoweringly fearsome.
His words however also relate to the initial
conflict between Esau and Jacob in our parasha:
“Esau is Jacob’s brother; yet I have accepted
Jacob” (Mal. 1:2). In this way the
connection between the historical attitude towards
Yisrael Yuval, Two Nations in Your Womb,
 In the
stories of Jacob and Esau, Esau is frequently called “brother” (
eg., Gen. 27:6, 41, 44; 32:3, 6).
In the narrative about the Israelites’
wandering in the wilderness it says, “From Kadesh,
Moses sent messengers to the king of
 See Isaiah 34, esp. verse 8; Isaiah 63:1-6; Jeremiah 49:7-22, and elsewhere.
 For a detailed overview of such studies, see my doctoral dissertation, p. 67, note 375; other aspects are covered in Eli Assis, “Why Edom? On the Hostility towards Jacob’s Brother in Prophetic Sources,” VT 51 (2006), pp. 1-20.
similar accusation appears in Psalms:
“Remember, O Lord, against the Edomites the
 The Hebrew word ni’utz means to hold in contempt, to scorn. The root n-’ – tz is used in similar fashion to the Akkadian nāşû. In Psalms, scorning is ascribed to the wicked (Ps. 10:13; 74:10, 18). In some scriptural passages it is applied to those who rebel against G-d; for example, Num. 11:11, 23; Num. 16:30; Deut. 31:20; I Sam. 2:17. Hence, the harsh contempt that is placed in the words of the enemy regarding the Lord is tantamount to rebellion against Him.
 Arrogance attests to an attempt to insult G-d with words. This is similar to the words of the Psalmist, “May the Lord cut off all flattering lips, every tongue that speaks arrogance. The say, ‘By our tongues we shall prevail; with lips such as ours, who can be our master?’” (Ps. 12:4-5).
 This expression means use of many words. Similar uses of ribu’i (meaning many, much) are the expressions ribu’i ashan, rendered as a “thick cloud of smoke” (Ezek. 8:11), and ribu’i neshikot, rendered as “profuse kisses” (Prov. 27:6).
 Olam ha-Tanakh, Ezekiel, Tel Aviv 1997, p. 180.
Greenberg, Ezekiel, 21-