In B'reshis 49:1, Yaakov tells his sons:

Gather, and I'll tell you what will occur to you in the end of the days.

S'forno explains "in the end of the days":

at the end of the days, with the coming of a redeemer…. And Yaakov told this in his saying [verses 10–11] "Shilo will come, and to him a gathering of nations, tying to the vine his donkey foal".

Rashi agrees with part of this explanation of verses 10–11. He writes in explanation of "until Shilo will come":

the messiah-king, whose is kingdom

You'd think, then, that Rashi would explain as S'frono does in verse 1: that Yaakov revealed the "end" in verse 10. But he doesn't. He writes instead:

Yaakov sought to reveal the end, and the divine presence left him, and he began to say other things.

What is the difference of opinion between Rashi and S'forno here? Specifically:

Rashi and the S'forno interpret part of verses 10–11 differently from one another. For example, Rashi doesn't mention that the messiah will ride a donkey (as I quote from S'forno above). Is that the "end" that Rashi says Yaakov was prevented from telling? (That would explain why S'forno doesn't agree Yaakov was prevented: he explains the later verses as Yaakov's telling those details.) If not — if, in fact, there's more that, according to Rashi, Yaakov was prevented from telling — then

  1. does S'forno maintain he told it? Or does he agree Yaakov was prevented from telling it?
  2. what was it? (Most likely we don't know the exact content. After all, Yaakov was prevented from telling it. But what sort of information was it?)

1 Answer 1


Rashi says - as I've always been taught - that Yaakov intended to inform them the time of the final redemption.

רש"י ואגידה לכם. בקש לגלות את הקץ ונסתלקה ממנו שכינה, והתחיל אומר דברים אחרים (ב"ר צח, ב.): (רש"י) ‏

At that point the information was withheld from him and he started talking about other things - i.e. blessing each one, as Rashi summarised in verse 28. - וַיְבָרֶךְ אוֹתָם אִישׁ אֲשֶׁר כְּבִרְכָתוֹ בֵּרַךְ אֹתָם:

The Seforno says that Yaakov is going to speak about the future.

ספורנו באחרית הימים. לקץ הימין בבוא גואל שיהיה אחרית ימי האומות אויבי ה' ומלכותם שתתמלא סאתם עד סוף מלואה כאמרו כי אעשה כלה וכו' וכזה דבר בלעם באמרו באחרית הימים כמו שהעיד באמרו וקרקר כל בני שת וכן הנביאים באמרם והיה באחרית הימים יהיה הר בית ה' נכון כראש ההרים וזה הגיד יעקב כזה באמרו כי יבא שילה ולו יקהת עמים אוסרי לגפן עירה וכו': (ספורנו) ‏

If you follow the Seforno on each individual Bracha, you will see that he mentions certain things as being relevant to Moshiach-times. E.g. verse 12: חכלילי עינים מיין - וכאמרם עתידה ארץ ישראל שתוציא גלוסקאות וכלי מילת.

It would seem that Rashi says that Yaakov wanted to inform them when the end of days would happen, and what it will be all about, abut he was prevented from doing so.

A hint of this information is given in the Targum Yonathan:

יונתן וּקְרָא יַעֲקב לִבְנוֹי וַאֲמַר לְהוֹם אִדַכּוּ מִסוֹאֲבוּתָא וְאֲחַוִי לְכוֹן רַזְיָיא סְתִימַיָא קִיצַיָיא גְנִיזַיָא וּמַתַּן אַגְרְהוֹן דְצַדִיקַיָיא וּפוּרְעָנוּתְהוֹן דִרְשִׁיעַיָא וּטְלָנֵיתָא דְעֵדֶן מָה הִיא כַּחֲדָא מִתְכַּנְשִׁין תְּרֵיסַר שִׁבְטֵי יִשְרָאֵל מַקְפִין דַרְגְשָׁא דְדַהֲבָא דִרְבִיעַ עֲלָהּ מִן דְאִיתְגְלֵי אִיקָר שְׁכִינְתָּא דַיְיָ קִיצָא דְעָתִיד מַלְכָּא מְשִׁיחָא לְמֵיתֵי אִיתְכְּסֵי מִינֵיהּ וּבְכֵן אָמַר אִיתוּ וְאִיתְנֵי לְכוֹן מַה דְיֶאֱרַע יַתְכוֹן בְּסוֹף יוֹמַיָא: (תרגום יונתן) ‏

Roughly translated as: Yaakov calls his sons and informs then: I will tell you the secrets of the end of days, the reward of the righteous and punishment of the wicked and the details of Gan Eden. So his 12 sons gathered around his golden bed, and when he was about to inform them of the timing of the coming of Moshiach, the information was taken from him and instead he started telling them what each one's role would be in the end of days.

The Seforno seems to think that Yaakov informs each one what his role will be in the future - some to the end of days, but he doesn't discuss the timing.

Sources can be seen here.

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