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Re: Naphtali

On Sun, 17 Dec 1995 MANN@vms.huji.ac.il wrote:

> Well, Naphtali does have a special role in TPatr. He is one of the three
> patriarchs who see visions in a dream. The other two are Levy and Joseph. Levy
> is very prominent in TPatr, and Joseph is a well known dreamer, but when we
> come to the third, we again have the question: why Naphtali?
> One possibility (since wild surmises are allowed here) is that the second half
> of Jacob's blessing to Naphtali describes him as a visionary. The first half
> explains why he is a messenger. Maybe he is also a messenger of God? If I
> remember right, he was the only one who told his father about his vision.
> Two verses in Tobit may support (with difficulty) the role of Naphtali as a
> prophet. First, Tovi comes from Tishbe (1:2). Maybe this place name is related
> to Elijah. Next, in (4:12) tovi says to his son: "...do not take a foriegn
> woman who is not of your father's tribe, for we are the descendants of
> prophets...".

Some interesting suggestions, particularly since they might provide a 
further link to the Enoch literature (which is also visionary); however, it 
appears to me that they will need to deal with two issues:

1. How readily can one go from the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs to the 
testament literature at Qumran?  In his intro to the literature of 
Judaism of this period, Nickelsburg uses the presence of a testament of 
an obscure patriarch like Naphtali at Qumran to suggest that the rest of 
the testments of the 12 were present there (beyond Levi), but can we make 
that leap?  And if we can't, how far can we go in using a comparative 
study of the 12 from the testaments of the 12?  

2. If the reference above is to the blessing of Naphtali in Genesis, that 
verse strikes me as obscure and ambiguous, capable of more than one 

Just some more food for thought.

Best wishes,

David Suter
Saint Martin's College