Extract from "Ephraim" by Yair Davidy

     The nickname "Yank" applied to  someone from the U.S.A. is derivable from a possible pronunciation of the Hebrew name Yaacov or Jacob rendered as "Yankel" in Yiddish.


 The Patriarch Joseph son of Israel had two sons, Ephraim and Menasseh, whose names testified to aspects of their national destiny:  "And unto Joseph were born two sons  before the years of famine came, which Asenath the daughter of Poti-phera priest of On bare unto him.

 "And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: For God has caused me to forget [Hebrew: `Nashani'] all my troubles and my father's family (Genesis 41;50-51).
  The Hebrew word translated above as "forget" is derived from a root, "NOSHE", connoting "movement from its proper place":  One forgets when something "slips one's mind", as if to say that whatever has been forgotten has moved from its proper place in the brain's retrieval system. Similarly,  "And Jacob was left alone and there wrestled a man with him....... "And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh, and the hollow of Jacob's thigh  was out of joint as he wrestled with him........  "Therefore the children of Israel eat not of the displaced nerve [Hebrew: "Gid HaNosheh")... (Genesis 32;24,25,32).

The sciatic nerve is called "Gid HaNoSHeh"  meaning "the sinew that was displaced" (Genesis 32;33) when Jacob wrestled with the angel, and consequently (though victorious) limped away..By the same principle a creditor in Hebrew is called a "Nosheh" since what is rightfully his he has moved out of his domain and placed in charge of another and may demand an accounting of his own. Women collectively are called in the Plural "NoSHim" [and not "Ishoth" as they should logically be] since communally their collective rights are delegated elsewhere, i.e. in their husbands upon whom they have a claim to be represented by them. It follows that any name derived from this root "NoSHeH" has several possible connotations including "forget", "move,  or slip", "credit or oblige an accounting" (i.e. hold responsible), or be responsible to and "represent". It seems that the name Menasseh (derived from the root "NaSHeH") may be understood to mean "responsible representation" which is the type of Democratic Government the U.S.A. sometimes seems to base its whole being upon.

  A linguistic analysis (freely translated) of the name "Manasseh" by Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch (1808-1888) extracted from his Commentary on the Book of Genesis serves as background to the above interpretation: [Genesis 41;51:`.."Forget" is not the only meaning of "Nosheh". "Nosheh" also means: to be the bearer of a claim, to be a creditor. 

  [Genesis 32;33:]`  "Nosheh" ...to have body or property in anothers trust.
Thus the "NoSHeH" (Creditor) has  passed to another person part of his property  and as a result he demands something from him.....a woman in the singular [Hebrew: "Ishah"] ...complements (her husband) and stands by his side as an equal. In the plural [i.e. in the plural name for women, "NoSHim"], however, is revealed the communal status of woman, who surrenders some of her rights to the man and these rights are represented by him. Only in the mass, in the life of the general whole group, do women reveal themselves as weak and lacking resourcefulness. - Women, however, are "Noshim" (i.e. "creditors") with a claim [to be represented] on the husband  who owes it to them' (S.R. Hirsch on Genesis 32;33).

The relevant verse regarding the name MENASSEH, Genesis 41;51, says:  "And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: For God has caused me to forget [Hebrew: `Nashani'] all my troubles and my father's family (Genesis 41;50-51).
S.R. Hirsch on the above states that "nashani" does not mean "forget" in case of the name "Menasseh" (Genesis 41;51 continued) but rather delegated representation:   `The correct interpretation  therefore of "Nashani" [from which the name "Menasseh is derived] is that God has made my tragedy and my [loss of] family credit claims. From that which till now appeared to be tragedy and torment God has made a tool to form my happiness. I am greatly obligated to my tragedy and [loss of] family'.

In the light of the above observations and the Commentary of Rabbi S.R. Hirsch, the verse (Genesis 41;512) may be re-formulated  and understood as saying: "And he called the name of the firstborn Menasseh: for of all my troubles and [loss of] my father's family, God has made representative agents [Hebrew: "nashani"=] acting on my behalf and to whom I am obliged".

 The name MENASSEH is therefore derivable from the root "Nosheh" as demonstrated in the above verse. A Creditor is a "nosheh" because he has a claim on somebody else; women are "noshim" ["nosh-im" = plural of "noshe"!] because as a group they have a claim on their husbands to represent their interests. Joseph named his firstborn "Menasseh" because (through God's agency) he "owed" his success to his personal troubles and loss which had become both his creditors and agents on his behalf. "MENASSEH" according to the above study  actually means: "RESPONSIBLE REPRESENTATION OBLIGATING THE REPRESENTED"!

  The U.S.A. was founded and dominated by descendants of Menasseh. Before the foundation of the U.S.A.  North America was settled by migrants mainly from the British Isles. Friction developed between the British Government and the settlers who adopted the slogan: "No Taxation Without Representation". In other words they demanded the application of those very principles embodied in the name "Menasseh" according to the above explanation!!

 When these demands were not met, Revolution resulted and all those ("Loyalists") who were not prepared to fight against the "mother country" were driven out and moved to Canada. The Americans were prepared to kill or be killed and to engage in fratricidal strife all for the sake of an ideal which in Hebrew could be termed "MENASSEH"! After the War of Independence 13 colonies (representing 13 Tribes of Israel?) formed the U.S.A. It was proposed and seriously considered to adopt Hebrew as the national language and the Mosaic Code as obligatory Constitutional Law. A picture of the Israelites crossing the Red Sea was suggested as the National emblem.  The Constitution of the United States of America laid the basis for Responsible Representative Government. Foreign observers are constantly surprised by the importance attached by Americans to their Constitution.

Whether something is right or wrong or whether or not it is "Constitutional" appear to be synonymous considerations to the American mind, as if the principle embodied in the name "Menasseh" is part of their very personal being!! Much of the U.S.A.'s foreign policy often seems dedicated ideally to encouraging forms of representative responsible government (resembling that of the U.S.A.) being adopted by others. Other countries are Democratic but only the U.S.A. makes Republican Democracy an expression of itself. Only the U.S.A. is Menasseh!  The American Civil War was brought on by several factors including the issue of slavery but the immediate cause was over the Constitutional right claimed by some States to secede from the UNION.

 Regardless of which side was or was not in the right, the victorious "Yankee" northern "Union" side believed it was fighting for the principle enunciated by Abraham Lincoln of: "Government of the people, by the people, and for the people". Another aspect of the name "Menasseh" according to the explanation of S.R.Hirsch was that through representation  (in this case before God) Joseph had been enabled to turn his failure and deprived status into the basis of his later success: The American belief in equality of opportunity reflects this same principle.

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