Thoughts on Judaism

Sunday, December 18, 2011

More Chumash issues

Last week, we discussed Dishon and Dishan. We could also have discussed another Rashi comment of "I do not know what it teaches us". When G-d finished speaking, it says, "and Jacob built an altar, in the place that G-d had spoken to him." This latter verbiage is the same as the previous pasuk and is not present when Avraham met the same situation. For Rashi to say that he doesn;t know, it must be that there is an obvious interpretation, but that it does not agree with Rashi's p'shat in other respects. I did not yet find a good resolution for this one.

This week, there is another editorial mishap. To whom did the brothers sell Yosef? They sold him to the Yishmaelim for 20 silver coins. However, the people who pulled him from the pit were Midyanim, socharim (meaning, Midianite middlemen). Rashi implies that socharim means many different middelmen, separate from the Midianites. So it is clear that the Yishmaelites sold him to the Midianites, who then took him to market in Egypt for sale. However, later the pasuk says that he was sold to the Medanim, whose name is spelled similarly to the Midianites, but Medan and Midian were two separate descendents of Avraham in parshat Chayai Sarah. So the Midyanim sold him to the Medanim as implied by Rashi's comment "he was sold many times". However, the Gutnick Chumash among others, and the Medrash list only the Yishmaelim, the Midianim, the unspecified socharim and Potiphar. From where did the Medanim come? Of course, we can escape by saying that they are the among the socharim. However, why mention them by name? Did the Mesoretic scribes simply leave out a yud, at which point the pasukim would flow perfectly?

Medrash is bothered by the question, and answers that the Medanim merged with the Midianim at some point in history and they were the same tribe. OK, that is better than rocks for breakfast. It is even supported by the fact Chayai Sarah mentions the sons of Midian, but not the sons of Medan. Perhaps they merged.

As a side point, there seem to have been many people in the early Torah named Utz. I am not sure I have ever met anyone with that name, at least outside the potato chip industry. But it is a dare to anyone having a bris soon who is a rebellious teenager.


  • I don't remember it saying they sold them to the yishmaliym. After all, why was Reuven anguished when he saw the empty pit?

    By Blogger Holy Hyrax, at 12:11 AM  

  • Gen 37:27-8
    Yehuda says "Let's sell him to the Yishmaelim." Then, the Midianite middelmen took him out of the pit. Then "they (?)" sold him to the Yishmaelim.

    You can make it come out right, but it is confusing. You can say that they sold him to the Yishmaelim, but that they needed laborers to bind him for travel and provide his needs. So the Midianim took him from the pit and the Yishmaelim paid them. The, the brothers made the sale to the Yishmaelim, then the Yishmaelim sold to the Medanim, who were the retailers in Egypt.

    Reuven wasn't there when Yehuda decided to sell him. He thought they were going to kill him, and when he arrived and Yosef wasn't there, he thought they had gone ahead with the plan. However, he was in on the plan to deceive Yaakov, so he must have found out that they had sold him.

    By Blogger Rebeljew, at 9:36 AM  

  • >Reuven wasn't there when Yehuda decided to sell him.

    I think you are wrong. He was eating with them at a different location. It says "he returned" to the pit. And then it says "he returned" to the brothers. I think what happened was that Reuven realized his entire plan of rescuing Yosef was going to go down the drain when he heard Yehuda suggest to save him. So he was like "shit", and ran quickly to the pit and saw he was gone.

    By Blogger Holy Hyrax, at 1:09 PM  

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