Monday, June 29, 2009

How atypical is Korach's lineage?

I believe it is extremely atypical. And I premised a good part of my analysis of the midrash on that fact. But others may disagree. Thus, Chaim B. of Divrei Chaim commented on my past post:
The Torah traces lineage back numerous times and never goes all the way back to the Avos (see Maharal).
I replied that I don't believe this to be the case. (See there.) But here, in this followup post, I would like to explore this idea further. What do we consider "tracing back lineage?"

Looking at the Maharal in Gur Aryeh, we have:
"And it does not mention 'son of Yaakov'."
And if you will say that it does not need so write 'son of Yaakov' for in every place it only mentions the lineage until the tribe, and from then on, it is known by itself, so why is it necessary to write further?
And he goes on to analyze and suggest.

However, I do not agree that this lineage throughout Torah proves anything. What seems to be almost unique about Korach is that as a person, he is introduced as A ben B ben C ben D. This is not the same as a genealogy. In a genealogy, we work from the top down. Start from Reuven, and say his sons, and their sons, and so on. But this is no genealogy, in a genealogical section. Within a narrative section, when introducing a person, the pattern is A ben B, or perhaps A ben B of the tribe of Z.

Look for example at that very pasuk with Korach. How are Datan and Aviram's genealogy? How is that of On ben Pelet?
א וַיִּקַּח קֹרַח, בֶּן-יִצְהָר בֶּן-קְהָת בֶּן-לֵוִי; וְדָתָן וַאֲבִירָם בְּנֵי אֱלִיאָב, וְאוֹן בֶּן-פֶּלֶת--בְּנֵי רְאוּבֵן.1 Now Korah, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On, the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men;
Korach is Korach ben Yitzhar ben Kehat ben Levi. There is no gap in generations, so it seems as if we are simply recounting ben achar ben all the way up. In which case it is somewhat strange to stop one short.

Meanwhile, Datan and Aviram are brothers, but it is Datan ben Aliav ben Reuven. That is A ben B, son of tribe_name. Eliav was not one of the sons of Reuven. Rather, he was the son of Pallu, who in turn was the son of Reuven. So we are not enumerating every single generation, and so there is no sudden stop at Reuven. Reuven is the tribal affiliation in this instance.

How many instances in all of Tanach -- that is right, forget this claim of all of Torah, but rather all of Tanach -- where we have A son of B son of C son of D son of E son of F son of G son of H son of I son of J son of K son of L and so on and so forth, all the way to one of the 12 brothers?! That is the comparison, not the lineages in general, where indeed you would expect to find this pattern! I would expect that they could be counted on one hand. And so, this pattern, whether or not Yaakov was mentioned, is atypical, and calls out to be darshened. And then the various reasons for darshening I discussed in that post, and in the comments to that post, come into play.

So again, it is not just the stopping at the level of shevet. That seems to be to be a superficial treatment of the style here. And the question of Maharal thus never gets off the ground.

I should note that just there in Divrei Hayamim we have this pattern. On occasion we see Z, Y his son, X his son, W his son, and so on, but I would say it is rather atypical to have the genealogy go in the opposite direction with such comprehension. But in Divrei Hayamim I 6:
יח וְאֵלֶּה הָעֹמְדִים, וּבְנֵיהֶם: מִבְּנֵי, הַקְּהָתִי--הֵימָן הַמְשׁוֹרֵר, בֶּן-יוֹאֵל בֶּן-שְׁמוּאֵל.18 And these are they that took their station, and their sons. Of the sons of the Kohathites: Heman the singer, the son of Joel, the son of Samuel;
יט בֶּן-אֶלְקָנָה, בֶּן-יְרֹחָם, בֶּן-אֱלִיאֵל, בֶּן-תּוֹחַ.19 the son of Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Eliel, the son of Toah;
כ בֶּן-ציף (צוּף), בֶּן-אֶלְקָנָה, בֶּן-מַחַת, בֶּן-עֲמָשָׂי.20 the son of Zuph, the son of Elkanah, the son of Mahath, the son of Amasai;
כא בֶּן-אֶלְקָנָה, בֶּן-יוֹאֵל, בֶּן-עֲזַרְיָה, בֶּן-צְפַנְיָה.21 the son of Elkanah, the son of Joel, the son of Azariah, the son of Zephaniah;
כב בֶּן-תַּחַת, בֶּן-אַסִּיר, בֶּן-אֶבְיָסָף, בֶּן-קֹרַח.22 the son of Tahath, the son of Assir, the son of Ebiasaph, the son of Korah;
כג בֶּן-יִצְהָר, בֶּן-קְהָת, בֶּן-לֵוִי, בֶּן-יִשְׂרָאֵל. {ס}23 the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, the son of Israel. {S}
כד וְאָחִיו אָסָף, הָעֹמֵד עַל-יְמִינוֹ--אָסָף בֶּן-בֶּרֶכְיָהוּ, בֶּן-שִׁמְעָא.24 And his brother Asaph, who stood on his right hand; even Asaph the son of Berechiah, the son of Shimea;
כה בֶּן-מִיכָאֵל בֶּן-בַּעֲשֵׂיָה, בֶּן-מַלְכִּיָּה.25 the son of Michael, the son of Baaseiah, the son of Malchijah;
כו בֶּן-אֶתְנִי בֶן-זֶרַח, בֶּן-עֲדָיָה.26 the son of Ethni, the son of Zerah, the son of Adaiah;
כז בֶּן-אֵיתָן בֶּן-זִמָּה, בֶּן-שִׁמְעִי.27 the son of Ethan, the son of Zimmah, the son of Shimei;
כח בֶּן-יַחַת בֶּן-גֵּרְשֹׁם, בֶּן-לֵוִי. {ס}28 the son of Jahath, the son of Gershom, the son of Levi. {S}
כט וּבְנֵי מְרָרִי אֲחֵיהֶם, עַל-הַשְּׂמֹאול--אֵיתָן, בֶּן-קִישִׁי, בֶּן-עַבְדִּי, בֶּן-מַלּוּךְ.29 And on the left hand their brethren the sons of Merari: Ethan the son of Kishi, the son of Abdi, the son of Malluch;
ל בֶּן-חֲשַׁבְיָה בֶן-אֲמַצְיָה, בֶּן-חִלְקִיָּה.30 the son of Hashabiah, the son of Amaziah, the son of Hilkiah;
לא בֶּן-אַמְצִי בֶן-בָּנִי, בֶּן-שָׁמֶר.31 the son of Amzi, the son of Bani, the son of Shemer;
לב בֶּן-מַחְלִי, בֶּן-מוּשִׁי, בֶּן-מְרָרִי, בֶּן-לֵוִי. {ס}32 the son of Mahli, the son of Mushi, the son of Merari, the son of Levi. {S}

and you might have others on occasion, with multiple generations, though not all the way to the shevet. Thus, in perek 9 in Divrei Hayamim I:
יב וַעֲדָיָה, בֶּן-יְרֹחָם, בֶּן-פַּשְׁחוּר, בֶּן-מַלְכִּיָּה; וּמַעְשַׂי בֶּן-עֲדִיאֵל בֶּן-יַחְזֵרָה בֶּן-מְשֻׁלָּם בֶּן-מְשִׁלֵּמִית, בֶּן-אִמֵּר.12 and Adaiah the son of Jeroham, the son of Pashhur, the son of Malchijah, and Maasai the son of Adiel, the son of Jahzerah, the son of Meshullam, the son of Meshillemith, the son of Immer;
This is not the same phenomenon to which Maharal is referring, and even this is atypical and differs from these occasional examples.

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