The verse narrates God’s promise to cast away the locusts destroying the land. However the symbolic name of the enemy (’Northener’, i.e. one who comes from the north) and the intense imagery of the verse, led the homilist to seek for another, less trivial, enemy in the verse, one which might also be relevant for his own experience. The ‘northener’ (tzfoni) is thus read as the yetzer [hara], hidden (tzafun) in every person’s heart.
Our Rabbis taught: But I will remove far off from you the hidden one (Joel 2:20)—This is the evil yetzer [the evil inclination] which is hidden in man’s heart; and will drive him into a land barren and desolate means—to a place where there are no men for him to attack; with his face toward the eastern sea—[implies] that he set his eyes against the first Temple and destroyed it; and his hinder part toward the western sea—[implies] that he set his eyes against the last Temple and destroyed it, and killed the sages therein. That his foulness may come up and his ill-savour may come up—[implies] that he leaves the other nations and attacks only Israel. Because he hath done great things—[Rabbi] Abaye explained, [the yetzer acts] against sages more than against anyone;
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Author: Rabbi Michael Mayersohn
Keywords: Adversary, Angel of darkness, Body of death, Christ tempted, Christ's temptation, Christ's temptation in the wilderness, Deliver us from evil, Devil, Devil and Jesus, Devil tempts Jesus, diabolos, Evil angel, Evil Inclination, Evil nature, Evil one, Good angel, Good nature, Hara Yetser, Ha-ra Yetser, Hara Yetzer, Ha-ra Yetzer, Hara Yezer, Ha-ra Yezer, Intentional misspelling, Intentionally misspelled, Jesus' temptation, Jesus' temptation in the wilderness, Jesus tempted, Jesus tempted by Satan, Jesus tempted by the devil, Jesus tempted in the wilderness, Jesus's temptation, Jot, Jot and tittle, Jots, Man's sinful nature, Mispelled word, Mispelling, Misspelling, Misspelled word, Personification of evil, Satan, Satan and Jesus, Satan tempts Christ, Satan tempts Jesus, Seducer, Sexual temptation, Sin in the flesh, Sin within, Sinful nature, Snatcher, Temptation, Temptation from within, Temptation in the wilderness, Tempted in the wilderness, Tempted of Satan, Tempted of the devil, Tempted sexually, Tempted to do evil, Tempts Christ, Tempts Jesus, The devil tempts Christ, The devil tempts Jesus, The Evil Inclination, The Evil One, Tittle, Two jots, Two yodhs, Two yods, Wicked one, Wilderness temptation, Wretched man, Yatsar, Yetsarim, Yetser ha ra, Yetser ha tov, Yetser ra, Yetser tov, Yetzer, Yetzer ha ra, Yetzer ha tov, Yetzer Hara, Yetzer ra, Yetzer tov, Yezer ha ra, Yezer ha tov, Yezer Hara, Yezer tov, Yod, Yodh, The Northerner
Bible reference(s): Joel 2:20, Matthew 4:1-11
Source: Ishay Rosen-Zvi, “Sexualising the Evil Inclination: Rabbinic ‘Yetzer’ and Modern Scholarship,” Journal of Jewish Studies, v. LX, no. 2, Autumn 2009, pp. 270-271.
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