Sunday, July 23, 2017

Matot-Masei 5777/2017: Cattle questions

Here are some oldies but goodies of mine.

B'midbar/Numbers, Chapter 32

1 Now the children of Reuben and the children of Gad had a very great multitude of cattle; and when they saw the land of Jazer, and the land of Gilead, that, behold, the place was a place for cattle,
ב  וַיָּבֹאוּ בְנֵי-גָד, וּבְנֵי רְאוּבֵן; וַיֹּאמְרוּ אֶל-מֹשֶׁה וְאֶל-אֶלְעָזָר הַכֹּהֵן, וְאֶל-נְשִׂיאֵי הָעֵדָה לֵאמֹר.2 the children of Gad and the children of Reuben came and spoke unto Moses, and to Eleazar the priest, and unto the princes of the congregation, saying:
ג  עֲטָרוֹת וְדִיבֹן וְיַעְזֵר וְנִמְרָה, וְחֶשְׁבּוֹן וְאֶלְעָלֵה, וּשְׂבָם וּנְבוֹ, וּבְעֹן.3 'Ataroth, and Dibon, and Jazer, and Nimrah, and Heshbon, and Elealeh, and Sebam, and Nebo, and Beon,
ד  הָאָרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר הִכָּה יְהוָה לִפְנֵי עֲדַת יִשְׂרָאֵל--אֶרֶץ מִקְנֶה, הִוא; וְלַעֲבָדֶיךָ, מִקְנֶה.  {ס}4 the land which the LORD smote before the congregation of Israel, is a land for cattle, and thy servants have cattle.' 


Question 1:   If the Israelites had cattle--and, apparently, they did, as they were called on to make a number of sacrificial offerings while still in the wilderness--how could they have been dependent on mahn/manna at the same time?

Question 2:  If, on the one hand, the Israelites have always had cattle, why do only the children of Gad and Reuven say that they have cattle?  If, on the other hand, the cattle was part of the spoils of war, how did only the children of Gad and Reuven end up with cattle?

Y. Bloch, in an old guest post on DovBear, posed questions about the text that may usually be overlooked because they're disturbing.


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