Mashiach ben Gerim?

It has often been pointed that King David is the descendant of a convert, Ruth, often called the first convert. And the most common tradition for the messiah is that he will be Mashiach ben David, a descendant of David.

There’s a less widely known tradition (I don’t even rightly know where it comes from) of Mashiach ben Yosef, that the messiah will be a son of Joseph.

During beit midrash time while I was visiting Hebrew College yesterday, we were reading closely through part of the Joseph narrative and it occurred to me that both messiah traditions have the messiah descended from non-Jewish women. Ephraim and Menasheh are born to Joseph’s Egyptian wife, Asnat, which would make any of their descendants of partially non-Jewish stock.

I’m not pointing this out because I think it’s troubling, but because I can’t be the first person to have thought of this. Anyone know of any drashes or teachings or anything about this?

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

7 Responses to Mashiach ben Gerim?

  1. BZ April 22, 2010 at 3:22 pm #

    What about the wives of Jacob’s other sons? We’re all descended from non-Jewish women!

    • David A.M. Wilensky April 22, 2010 at 4:28 pm #

      Maybe. We don’t know their identities, do we? But in the case of Osnat, we not only know, but the text makes an unusually big deal about her identity. Normally, a character like her wouldn’t even get a name, but she gets named twice within a few verses.

    • Ramazatz May 4, 2010 at 2:48 pm #

      You don’t even need to go to Jacob’s daughters-in-law! What about Rachel and the idols she kept from Laban’s house?

      Gen. 31:17-19   Thereupon Jacob put his children and wives on camels; and he drove off all his livestock and all the wealth that he had amassed, the livestock in his possession that he had acquired in Paddan-aram, to go to his father Isaac in the land of Canaan. Meanwhile Laban had gone to shear his sheep, and Rachel stole her father’s household idols.

      We can whitewash the non-Jewish origins of our matriarchs (and I am sure midrash does it with this case as well), but the peshat of the text seems clear that Rachel kept her loyalty to the idols even after she had Yosef.

  2. Tim April 22, 2010 at 5:06 pm #

    Its true to an extent, but what is interesting is that in both situations the non-Jewish woman has connections to am Israel. In the related midrash we learn that Osnat is actually the daughter Dina and Shechem. Also, we know from Torah that Rut is from Moav, the nation coming from Lot, who was almost :) a Jew. Bringing in Rut is like some kind of tikkun. Mashiach is the elevator of the goyim.

  3. Randi April 22, 2010 at 5:26 pm #

    Have you ever seen the Pseudepigrapha of Joseph and Asenath? It’s a great little read….backstory on how she becomes a super-giyoret after an initial repulsion to Joseph….

    • Lee April 22, 2010 at 10:02 pm #

      oh, I love that! It’s a great little Greek novel with kidnapping and romance and everything.

  4. David April 23, 2010 at 7:33 am #

    Take a look at the mefarshim on Lot’s daughters’ sons after they sleep with their father. Lots of good related stuff in there.