Parashat Miketz almost always falls out during Chanukah, so we pretty much never read the designated haftorah for Miketz (going through my 200-year calendar, we read it 21 times in 200 years; the last time was in 2000 and the next time will be in 2020). But I just heard Rabbi David Fohrman’s lecture on this from the 2017 ימי עיון בתנ״ך, and I thought it was interesting enough to review. So let’s look at it.
The connection between the parasha and the haftorah is in the first pasuk:
וייקץ והנה חלום means that it was a Dream with a capital D. And something must be done!
What was Shlomo’s dream? It’s not in the haftorah, but in the first half of the perek:
So what does Shlomo do with his dream? It’s more that something is done to him. ה׳ sets up a situation where he can demonstrate his wisdom:
The wisdom here is understanding human nature, לב שמע לשפט את עמך. A strictly just solution would in fact involve dividing the infant:
(presumably with a joint custody agreement, not a sword)
But Rabbi Fohrman says there’s something much deeper here. ה׳ is teaching Shlomo something about himself. Who was Shlomo? It goes back to David and Bat Sheva:
Rabbi Fohrman notices the parallels to the נשים זנות story: there are two infants, one alive, one dead. There are two parents, David and Uriah. While the baby is biologically David’s (and David in fact tries to hide that by having Uriah sleep at home), the history of David’s family involves a lot of יבום, the idea that the child of a widow is the spiritual heir of her late husband. In this model, Shlomo is being metaphorically told that this very case came before הקב״ה: two parents with a claim to an infant. How should Bat Sheva’s child be divided?
There is precedent for this idea. We are familiar with the story of Naval and Avigail, and how David marries Avigail right after Naval dies. She has a son:
We see through ספר שמואל and ספר מלכים all the jockeying for power among David’s sons, but כלאב בן אביגיל never comes up. Rav Medan notes other oddities: his mother is called אשת נבל הכרמלי, even though נבל is dead. And he seems to be named after נבל:
In this model, we are reading the famous משל of the poor man’s ewe incorrectly. The little lamb represents Uriah’s son. Uriah had no children; in a real sense, David took them away from him. So this baby, who is David’s biological child, should be (בראשית פרק לח:ט) לא לו יהיה הזרע.
The reason for את הכבשה ישלם ארבעתים is that is the appropriate punishment for sheep-stealing:
But how does that fit in David’s life? Rav Medan answers that he loses four children. He notes that בת שבע had 4 children before שלמה: the unnamed baby who died after a week and those named in דברי הימים:
What I’m going to say is a little different from the way Rabbi Fohrman presented it, but I think it represents an interesting way to look at the text.
When David prays for Bat Sheva’s baby, ויבקש דוד את האלקים בעד הנער, what is he praying for? He needs this baby:
The key phrase there is אשר יצא ממעיך, in the future. Not only will David not build the בית המקדש, but none of the children he has now will build it. This child represents his hope of a legacy, of a future. He can’t give it up. But after the sin of Uriah and Bat Sheva, נתן told him (שמואל ב יב:י) ועתה לא תסור חרב מביתך עד עולם. This, Rabbi Forhman says, is the meaning of (מלכים א ג:כד) ויאמר המלך קחו לי חרב. Both Uriah and David have a spiritual claim to the child. ה׳ says, OK, split him in half. But no child can survive that. It’s not in the text, but Rabbi Fohrman understands that for Shlomo, David realizes that he cannot be the father. He is willing to let the יבום stand and remove this son from his legacy (similar to the way we understood כלאב above). Then ה׳ says, now this child can be your legacy. But remember that he is not really yours; he is Mine: אני אהיה לו לאב והוא יהיה לי לבן. And so ה׳ gives him an additional name: וה׳ אהבו; וישלח ביד נתן הנביא ויקרא את שמו ידידיה בעבור ה׳.
With the incident of the two זנות, ה׳ gives Shlomo a glimpse of his own past and his own destiny, as it said in the dream: לא היה כמוך איש במלכים כל ימיך.