Wednesday, January 21, 2009

430 Years or 210 Years?

Last week, on parshat Shemot, I discussed one point from a larger theory that there were multiple generations within the 210 years, from R' Medan. I addressed whether the intent of 6 in one keres likely was intended by Chazal to mean across the woman's entire lifetime, as opposed to in a single pregnancy, and concluded that it was unlikely. But even that particular detail was off, the larger theory is quite possibly sound, and quite possibly true. It tries to squeeze multiple generations -- 9 of 'em -- into the three generations of Kehat, Amram, Moshe, and that other sons were born alongside those who were explicitly named, so the apparent average birthrate of 3 to a family and three generations not generating the needed 60 myriads is resolved.

This was response to Shadal's theory, that there were many generations, but across the 430 years that the pasuk gives, rather that 210 years; that the being fruitful and multiplying was impressive but not entirely miraculous as it would be for 6 per pregnancy; that holid means that he was the ancestor, rather than father, such that the "lifespans" given for Levi, Kehat, Amram did not overlap, but were instead sequential. Or perhaps they were sons, but what is being discussed here are the families. Sort of like dynasties, where at a specific point the family expanded and it was called after the name of that person. This would also eliminate any issues about Levi or Yocheved's age.

Most impressive, IMHO, is his point that if you add up the "lifespans" given, taken them sequentially, and add as well the 17 years Yaakov was in Egypt, you come pretty close to the 430 year figure the pasuk gives for living in Egypt, without having to resort to kvetches like counting from the time of Yitzchak's birth.

And so I present for your enjoyment the words of Shadal. On Shemot 6:20:
כ וַיִּקַּח עַמְרָם אֶת-יוֹכֶבֶד דֹּדָתוֹ, לוֹ לְאִשָּׁה, וַתֵּלֶד לוֹ, אֶת-אַהֲרֹן וְאֶת-מֹשֶׁה; וּשְׁנֵי חַיֵּי עַמְרָם, שֶׁבַע וּשְׁלֹשִׁים וּמְאַת שָׁנָה. 20 And Amram took him Jochebed his father's sister to wife; and she bore him Aaron and Moses. And the years of the life of Amram were a hundred and thirty and seven years.
Shadal writes:
כ] ויקח עמרם וגו' : על כרחנו צריכים אנו לומר שהשמיט הכתוב קצת דורות בין קהת לעמרם, כי במדבר ג' כ"ח היו לקהת פקודים במספר כל זכר מבן חדש ומעלה 8600, ולא היו לו רק ארבעה בנים שהעמידו משפחות, הרי לכל אחד מארבעה בני קהת בנים 2150; והנה עמרם לא הוליד רק אהרן ומשה ומרים, ומשה לא הוליד רק שני בנים ואהרן ארבעה, ואיך ייתכן שיהיו לעמרם וכן ליצהר ולחברון ועוזיאל 2150 נפשות בשנה השנית בצאתם מארץ מצרים?
"And Amram took...": We are compelled to say that Scriptures omitted a few generations between Kehat and Amram, for in Bemidbar 3:28:
כז וְלִקְהָת, מִשְׁפַּחַת הַעַמְרָמִי וּמִשְׁפַּחַת הַיִּצְהָרִי, וּמִשְׁפַּחַת הַחֶבְרֹנִי, וּמִשְׁפַּחַת הָעָזִּיאֵלִי; אֵלֶּה הֵם, מִשְׁפְּחֹת הַקְּהָתִי. 27 And of Kohath was the family of the Amramites, and the family of the Izharites, and the family of the Hebronites, and the family of the Uzzielites; these are the families of the Kohathites:
כח בְּמִסְפַּר, כָּל-זָכָר, מִבֶּן-חֹדֶשׁ, וָמָעְלָה--שְׁמֹנַת אֲלָפִים וְשֵׁשׁ מֵאוֹת, שֹׁמְרֵי מִשְׁמֶרֶת הַקֹּדֶשׁ. 28 according to the number of all the males, from a month old and upward, eight thousand and six hundred, keepers of the charge of the sanctuary.
there are to Kehat the census counting all males from one month and onwards of 8600, and he {=Kehat} only had 4 sons who established families. Thus, for each of the four sons of Kehat there would be 2150 {because that is 8600 / 4}; and behold Amram only fathered Aharon, Moshe and Miriam, and Moshe only fathered 2 sons and Aharon 4, and how is it possible that there would be to Amram, and so too to Yitzhar, Chevron and Uziel {the sons of Kehat} 2150 souls {meaning descandants, each} in the second year of their leaving from the land of Egypt?

לפיכך צריך שנסכים עם דעתו של חוקר אחד, שאמר כי לוי, קהת ועמרם לא היו דורות תכופים זה לזה, אך דורות אחרים היו ביניהם, ולפי זה יתיישב כמשמעו מספר שלושים שנה וארבע מאות שנה שישבו בני ישראל במצרים ( שמות י"ב מ ), ולפי זה יובן עוצם ריבוי בני ישראל במצרים, שלא אמרה תורה שהיה דרך נס ממש

Therefore, it is necessary that we agree with the position of a certain exegete who said that Levi, Kehat and Amram were not generations immediately following one another, but rather that there were other generations between them. And according to this it is explained with its normal implication the figure of 430 years that Israel dwelled in Egypt. (See Shemot 13:40:

מ וּמוֹשַׁב בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, אֲשֶׁר יָשְׁבוּ בְּמִצְרָיִם--שְׁלֹשִׁים שָׁנָה, וְאַרְבַּע מֵאוֹת שָׁנָה. 40 Now the time that the children of Israel dwelt in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years.


והחכם יאסט אומר כי השמות האלה הנזכרים כאן הם שמות המשפחות, כי יאמר שכל זמן שהיה האב חי, על הרוב היו כל צאצאיו לאגודה אחת במשפחה אחת (אעפ"י שלפעמים היו הבנים מתפרדים בחיי אביהם, כגון יצחק וישמעאל בחיי אברהם, ויעקב ועשו בחיי יצחק), ובמות האב היתה המשפחה נחלקת, ולפעמים גם אחר מיתת האב לא היתה מתחלקת עד אחר זמן מה. והנה משמעות הפרשה הזאת לפי דעתו היא כי משפחת לוי נשארה בתואר משפחה אחת ונקראת ע"ש לוי משך 137 שנים אחרי מות יעקב, ואז אחר זמן שמת לוי נחלקה לשלוש משפחות, ע"ש גרשום, קהת ומררי . וכן משפחת קהת עמדה לאגודה אחת 133 שנים, ואח"כ נחלקה לארבע משפחות. ובזמן יציאת מצרים כבר עברו 137 שנים, שהיתה משפחת עמרם משפחה אחת, וממנה היו משה ואהרן. והנה אם תחבר שלושת המספרים האלה 137 ו-133 ו-137, ותוסיף עליהם 17 שנה שעברו לישראל במצרים קודם מיתת יעקב, יהיו בידך 424 שנים, כלומר קרוב ל-430 שנה. לפיכך (הוא אומר) כל מקום שנאמר בן יצהר, בן קהת וכיוצא, ענינו מזרע יצהר מזרע קהת

And the scholar Yust {Isaac Markus Jost -- thanks!} says that these names which are mentioned here are named of families, for he says that so long as the father lives, in general all his descendants are combined into one band in a single family (even though at times the sons separate from one another in the lifetime of their father, such as Yitzchak and Yishmael in the lifetime of Avraham, and Yaakov and Esav in the lifetime of Yitzchak). And when the father dies, the family divided, and at times even after the death of the father it is not divided until some long time. And behold, the implication of this parsha according to his position is that the family of Levi remained in its form as a single family and was called no the name of Levi for a span of 137 years after the death of Yaakov. And then, after the time that Levi died, it was divided into three famlies, on the names of Gershom, Kehat and Merari. And so too the family of Kehat stood as a single band for 133 years, and afterwards it was divided into four families. And at the time of the Exodus from Egypt there already passed 137 years, such that the family of Amram was a single family, and from that was Moshe and Aharon.

And behold, if you combine together the three numbers {of Levi, Kehat, Amram}

and add to them the 17 years that passed for {the people of} Israel in Egypt before the death of Yaakov, you will have in your hand 424 years, that is to say close to 430 years.

Therefore (he says) that every place it says "son of Yitzhar"; "son of Kehat"; and the like, its meaning is "from the seed of Yitzhar; from the seed of Kehat."


Blog Widget by LinkWithin