Monday, July 17, 2006

Mas'ei 1 - Elidad and Kemu'el

According to the Midrash Tanchuma in P' Beha'alos'cha, the new nesi'im of the tribes of Binyamin and Ephrayim, Elidad ben Kislon and Kemu'el ben Shiftan respectively, were actually Eldad and Meidad, the men who did not respond to Moshe's invitation to take part in a lottery to determine who would become the 70 zekeinim, but who became nevi'im nonetheless (and apparently nesi'im, even). How can this be understood in light of the statement in last week's parsha (26:64) that no man who was part of the census of Moshe and Aharon was part of the census of Moshe and Elazar (besides Yehoshua and Kaleiv)?

The Oznayim LaTorah (ibid.) asks the same question regarding Machir and Yair b'nei Menashe, and quotes the Rashba in Tosfos on B.B. 117, who says that the verse refers only to those who should have rightfully died due to the decree of the spies by virtue of their being of military age, such as Kaleiv, who was 40 at the time (Yehoshua 14:7) and Yehoshua, who was 44 at the time (as calculated from his age at death of 110 (ibid. 24:29) less his reign of 28 years and less the 38 years of sojourning in the desert), while Machir and Ya'ir were by now much older, as they were alive during Ya'akov's lifetime, so therefore were not included in the decree.
A similar answer could be given for Eldad and Meidad, that by the time that they were appointed to be zekeinim, they were also beyond the age of 60, so therefore were not included in the decree.

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