I apologize for not posting as frequently as in the past - having started to teach Daf Yomi, and other urgent matters knocked me off schedule and I have to figure out how to get back on track. In the meantime, here is a thought on Brochos 10a.
A certain Min said to R. Abbahu: It is written: A Psalm of David when he fled from Absalom his son. And it is also written, A mihtam of David when he fled from Saul in the cave.
Which event happened first? Did not the event of Saul happen first? Then let him write it first?
He replied to him: For you who do not derive interpretations from juxtaposition, there is a difficulty, but for us who do derive interpretations from juxtaposition there is no difficulty. For R. Johanan said: How do we know from the Torah that juxtaposition counts? Because it says, They are joined for ever and ever, they are done in truth and uprightness.
Why is the chapter of Absalom juxtaposed to the chapter of Gog and Magog? So that if one should say to you, is it possible that a slave should rebel against his master, you can reply to him: Is it possible that a son should rebel against his father? Yet this happened; and so this too [will happen].
How did R. Abbahu know that these heretics do not interpret juxtpositions and why would they not do so?
What is the significance of Slave, Son and Master?
Were there not many examples in the Torah of rebels aganst G-d, such as Pharaoh etc(Maharsho)?
Answer: R. Abbahu knew that the heretics do not learn from juxtposition because to them all of the Torah is an allegory prefiguring Jesus.
The method of interpretation by allegory is familiar to us from the writings of Philo and it was taken from him into the Christian method of interpretation. In their hands, allegory served to divest the Jewish Bible of its meaning and to ascribe to it whatever meaning served best their theological ends. In such an approach juxstpositions mean nothing. While it is true that an allegorical interpretation does not necessarily preclude a literal interpretation and; interpreters such as Origen of Alexandria and Augustine of Hippo maintained that the Bible is true on multiple levels at the same time, we must remember that the method of allegory was generated by Greek interpreters in order to bring their myths into concordance with philosophy and necessarily deny their literal meaning. Jerome, the one of the "Hebrew Truth", was not a fan of allegory either.
Once you understand that the Min deliberately ignored juxtpositions, you also understand that when he spoke of the story of Abshalom, he would have trouble, for it must have sounded to him as statement of the rejection of Jesus by G-d and reaffirmation of the election of Israel. Jesus cried out on the cross:, My God why ahve you abandoned me?" David, who is supposed to be a prefiguration of Jesus, however, was not abandoned and neither was Israel. Here is the psalm:
A psalm of David. When he fled from his son Absalom.
1 Lord, how many are my foes!
How many rise up against me!
2 Many are saying of me,
“God will not deliver him. ”
3 But you, Lord, are a shield around me,
my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
4 I call out to the Lord,
and he answers me from his holy mountain.
5 I lie down and sleep;
I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.
6 I will not fear though tens of thousands
assail me on every side.
7 Arise, Lord!
Deliver me, my God!
Strike all my enemies on the jaw;
break the teeth of the wicked.
8 From the Lord comes deliverance.
May your blessing be on your people.
On the other hand, he would relate to Psalms about Saul better both because it echoes some of his beliefs and becasue it ends with the praise of the nations and not Israel..
For the director of music. To the tune of “Do Not Destroy.” Of David. A miktam.[b] When he had fled from Saul into the cave.
1 Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me,
for in you I take refuge.
I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings
until the disaster has passed.
2 I cry out to God Most High,
to God, who vindicates me.
3 He sends from heaven and saves me,
rebuking those who hotly pursue me—[c]
God sends forth his love and his faithfulness.
4 I am in the midst of lions;
I am forced to dwell among ravenous beasts—
men whose teeth are spears and arrows,
whose tongues are sharp swords.
5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth.
6 They spread a net for my feet —
I was bowed down in distress.
They dug a pit in my path—
but they have fallen into it themselves.
7 My heart, O God, is steadfast,
my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and make music.
8 Awake, my soul!
Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.
9 I will praise you, Lord, among the nations;
I will sing of you among the peoples.
10 For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth.
Therefore, Min asks: "Why is not this psalm at the beginning of the book of Psalms"
R. Abbahu answered that the Min's preferred Pslams is connected to the psalm 2 that speaks of the rebellion of Gog and Magog and Israel's eventual justification over the rebellious nations of the World.
Min counters that it is impossible the his fellow believers are wrong. His argument is found in Nitsachon Vetus. It is that Chrisitans are more religious than the Jews and sacrifice more. Christian monks abandon pleasures of the world and of society, do not marry and devot themselves wholly to religion. Jews do not do so, so how could Christians be wrong?
R. Abbahu's response is about Jesus himself. Pslam 3 tels us that even a son can betray his father, for Absalom betrayed David. The founder of Cristianity was a Son who rebelled against his Father and he is prefigured in the person of Absalom. Yes, sometimes Jesus is prefigured in the Bible but not in the complimentary way that Christians believe him to be. It is similar to the argument of Nitsachon Vetus that Jesus is referred to in the verse :When your brother, the son of your mother, incites you saying, let us go and worship other gods (Devarim 13:6)". Just as it is possible to be well meaning and even sacrifice oneself but still be mistaken, so it is possible for the nations to attack Israel in the name of their religions, but still be wrong.