Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Calev ben Yefuneh's double identity

Summary: A Midrash Tanchuma and gemara conflates some Biblical characters, and Ibn Ezra opposes. Could a 170 year old father a child, without the pasuk telling us? If the pesukim go out of their way to make a distinction between Calevs, should we conflate them in a closed-canon approach?

Post: In parashas Ki Sisa, we are introduced to Betzalel, and hear just a little bit of his lineage, up to his grandfather, followed up with a tribal affiliation:

ב  רְאֵה, קָרָאתִי בְשֵׁם, בְּצַלְאֵל בֶּן-אוּרִי בֶן-חוּר, לְמַטֵּה יְהוּדָה.2 'See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah;

Midrash Tanchuma speaks of several Biblical characters who go by several names. And then it turns to Betzalel, who was also called by names (karati beshem):

בצלאל נקרא לו ששה, ואתה מיחס ובא משבטו של יהודה בדברי הימים, שנאמר: ובני יהודה פרץ חצרון וכרמי וחור ושובל (שם ד א). ש
והרי אין חצרון אלא בן בנו של יהודה היה, דכתיב: ויהיו בני פרץ חצרון וחמול (ברא' מו יב). וכתוב אחד אומר: ואחר מות חצרון בכלב אפרתה ואשת חצרון אביה ותלד לו את אשחור אבי תקוע (דה"א ב כד). ש
וכי יש שום אדם מת באדם שהוא אומר ואחר מות חצרון בכלב?!

אלא מה הוא?

משמת חצרון, בא כלב אל אפרת, זו מרים, שפרו ורבו ישראל על ידיה.
וכתיב: ותמת עזובה ויקח לו כלב את אפרת ותלד לו את חור, וחור הוליד את אורי, ואורי הוליד את בצלאל (שם שם יט-כ).

וראיה בן שובל הוליד את יחת, ויחת הוליד את אחומי ואת להד, אלה משפחות הצרעתי (שם ד ב). ש
בצלאל, שם שקראה לו אמו אומתו.
והקדוש ברוך הוא קרא לו חמשה, על שמו של משכן של אהבה.
ראיה, שהראה הקדוש ברוך הוא לכל ישראל שהוא מתוקן מבראשית לעשות את המשכן.
בן שובל, שהוא בא להעמידו.
יחת, שנתן חתיתו של הקדוש ברוך הוא על ישראל.
אחומי, שאיחה את ישראל להקדוש ברוך הוא.
להד, שהעמיד הוד והדר במשכן שהייתה הדרן של ישראל.

ורבי אדא בר חייא אמר:
להד, שהדל שבשבטים מדבק לו במשכן. 
and a similar discussion in Midrash Rabba. To summarize,
the midrash bridges the missing generations in order to provide Betzalel's lineage all the way back to Yehuda. There are several ways of understanding the implications of the midrash, in terms of identifications, but I will try to stick to the basics. Divrei Hayamim I, 4:

א  בְּנֵי, יְהוּדָה:  פֶּרֶץ חֶצְרוֹן וְכַרְמִי, וְחוּר וְשׁוֹבָל.1 The sons of Judah: Perez, Hezron, and Carmi, and Hur, and Shobal.
ב  וּרְאָיָה בֶן-שׁוֹבָל, הֹלִיד אֶת-יַחַת, וְיַחַת הֹלִיד, אֶת-אֲחוּמַי וְאֶת-לָהַד; אֵלֶּה, מִשְׁפְּחוֹת הַצָּרְעָתִי.  {ס}2 And Reaiah the son of Shobal begot Jahath; and Jahath begot Ahumai, and Lahad. These are the families of the Zorathites.{S}

We might treat those in the first pasuk as brothers, all who are sons of Yehuda. But in Bereishit 46:12:

יב  וּבְנֵי יְהוּדָה, עֵר וְאוֹנָן וְשֵׁלָה--וָפֶרֶץ וָזָרַח; וַיָּמָת עֵר וְאוֹנָן בְּאֶרֶץ כְּנַעַן, וַיִּהְיוּ בְנֵי-פֶרֶץ חֶצְרֹן וְחָמוּל.12 And the sons of Judah: Er, and Onan, and Shelah, and Perez, and Zerah; but Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan. And the sons of Perez were Hezron and Hamul.

So Chezron was Peretz's son. Rather than claiming this is an error, contradiction of sources, or that nephew and uncle bore the same name, we now understand that this is weird Biblical style in Divrei Hayamim, in which each person in the first pasuk is the son of the previous. (This style surfaces elsewhere.) So in Ki Tisa, we have Betzalel son of Uri son of Chur. In Divrei Hayamim, we have Chur son of Carmi son of Chezron son of Peretz son of Yehuda.

Another pasuk, in Divrei Hayamim I, perek 2:

כד  וְאַחַר מוֹת-חֶצְרוֹן, בְּכָלֵב אֶפְרָתָה; וְאֵשֶׁת חֶצְרוֹן, אֲבִיָּה, וַתֵּלֶד לוֹ, אֶת-אַשְׁחוּר אֲבִי תְקוֹעַ.  {ס}24 And after that Hezron was dead in Caleb-ephrath, then Abiah Hezron's wife bore him Ashhur the father of Tekoa. {S}

Kalev-ephrat would seem to be a place. But the midrash understands it otherwise, be-kalev as ba Calev, Calev came. The pasuk is then to be parsed:  וְאַחַר מוֹת-חֶצְרוֹן -- and after Chetzron died. בְּכָלֵב
 -- Calev came to (and took) Ephrat, אֶפְרָתָה. And who is Ephrat? That is Miriam, who caused Israel to multiply (pru erevu).

A bit earlier in that perek in Divrei Hayamim:

יח  וְכָלֵב בֶּן-חֶצְרוֹן, הוֹלִיד אֶת-עֲזוּבָה אִשָּׁה--וְאֶת-יְרִיעוֹת; וְאֵלֶּה בָנֶיהָ, יֵשֶׁר וְשׁוֹבָב וְאַרְדּוֹן.18 And Caleb the son of Hezron begot children of Azubah his wife--and of Jerioth--and these were her sons: Jesher, and Shobab, and Ardon.
יט  וַתָּמָת, עֲזוּבָה; וַיִּקַּח-לוֹ כָלֵב אֶת-אֶפְרָת, וַתֵּלֶד לוֹ אֶת-חוּר.19 And Azubah died, and Caleb took unto him Ephrath, who bore him Hur.
כ  וְחוּר הוֹלִיד אֶת-אוּרִי, וְאוּרִי הוֹלִיד אֶת-בְּצַלְאֵל.  {ס}20 And Hur begot Uri, and Uri begot Bezalel. {S}

From pasuk 19, we see that Calev indeed took Ephrat! (On a peshat level, the place where Chetzron died was the territory that belonged to Calev and his wife Ephrat, thus called Calev Ephrat.) And Calev was the father of Chur. And (pasuk 20) Chur had Uri who had Betzalel.

The midrash goes on to intepret all the names in Divrei Hayamim I 4:2 to be a reference to Betzalel. Those pesukim again:

א  בְּנֵי, יְהוּדָה:  פֶּרֶץ חֶצְרוֹן וְכַרְמִי, וְחוּר וְשׁוֹבָל.1 The sons of Judah: Perez, Hezron, and Carmi, and Hur, and Shobal.
ב  וּרְאָיָה בֶן-שׁוֹבָל, הֹלִיד אֶת-יַחַת, וְיַחַת הֹלִיד, אֶת-אֲחוּמַי וְאֶת-לָהַד; אֵלֶּה, מִשְׁפְּחוֹת הַצָּרְעָתִי.  {ס}2 And Reaiah the son of Shobal begot Jahath; and Jahath begot Ahumai, and Lahad. These are the families of the Zorathites.{S}

If so, we need to equate Shoval with Uri. And we need to associate Carmi with Calev.

More than that. They mentioned that Ephrat was Miriam. If so, the Calev in question is Calev ben Yefuneh. It does not seem to state this explicitly in this midrash, but it seems the likely intent. In Sotah 11b - 12a:
And Caleb the son of Hezron begat children of Azubah his wife and of Jerioth,' and these were her sons: Jesher and Shobab and Ardon. 'The son of Hezron'? He was the son of Jephunneh!— [It means] that he was a son who turned [panah] from the counsel of the spies. Still, he was the son of Kenaz, as it is written: And Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother, took it! — Raba said: He was the stepson of Kenaz. There is also evidence for this, since it is written, [And Caleb the son of Jephunneh] the Kenizzite. Conclude, therefore, that Azubah is identical with Miriam; and why was her name called Azubah? Because all men forsook her ['azabuhah] at first.
And it goes on at length there. See inside. And so Yefuneh = Chetzron.

In parshat Ki Tisa, Ibn Ezra takes exception to this conflation of Biblical characters. He writes:
והטעם קראתי בשמו 
שאין כמוהו לעשות המשכן.
ועל דרך הפשט כלב בן יפונה איננו כלב בן חצרון בראיות גמורות. והמשכילים יבינו.
Thus, he argues with the midrash. Perhaps we will examine his clear proofs and see if we are convinced. Mevaser Ezra tells us where to look for them:
וראיותיו אלה מבוארות בפי׳ לבראשית ל ״ח א׳ ובפיה״ק לשמות כ״ד י״ד יעו״ש,
The first place, Ibn Ezra's commentary to Bereshit 38, is rather unhelpful:
[לח, א]
ויהי בעת ההוא -
אין זאת העת כאשר נמכר יוסף רק קודם המכרו.
וכמוהו: משם נסעו הגדגדה.
בעת ההוא הבדיל ה' את שבט הלוי.
ושבט הלוי נבחר בשנה השנית ונסעו אל גדגד בשנת הארבעים ובמקומו אפרשנו.
ולמה הזכיר הכתוב זאת הפרשה במקום הזה והיה ראוי להיות אחר והמדנים מכרו אותו פרשת ויוסף הורד מצרימה להפריש בין מעשה יוסף בדבר אשת אדוניו למעשה אחיו.
והוצרכתי לפירוש הזה בעבור שאין מיום שנמכר יוסף עד יום רדת אבותינו במצרים רק כ"ב שנה והנה נולד אונן שהוא שני לבני יהודה, וגדל עד שהיה לו זרע וזה לא ימצא פחות מי"ב שנה ועוד וירבו הימים, גם הרתה תמר והולידה פרץ והוא בא אל מצרים, ויש לו שני בנים. ואל יקשה עליך דבר בצלאל, כי בגעתי אל מקומו אפרשנו.
He says he will explain the matter of Betzalel when he reaches its place. But it has to do with making the chronology work out. His lengthy "short" commentary on Shemot 24:14 is much more illuminating:

"...And there are those of the kadmonim who said that Chur was the husband of Miriam, and we do not know who. And it is written in the words of one individual that he {=Chur} was was the son of Calev ben Yefuneh, and Chur was the father of Uri who was the father of Betzalel. And since Calev said {Yehoshua 14:7}
ז  בֶּן-אַרְבָּעִים שָׁנָה אָנֹכִי, בִּשְׁלֹחַ מֹשֶׁה עֶבֶד-יְהוָה אֹתִי מִקָּדֵשׁ בַּרְנֵעַ--לְרַגֵּל אֶת-הָאָרֶץ; וָאָשֵׁב אֹתוֹ דָּבָר, כַּאֲשֶׁר עִם-לְבָבִי.
7 Forty years old was I when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh-barnea to spy out the land; and I brought him back word as it was in my heart.

behold it turns out that Betzalel, when he made the Mishkan, was 13 years old. {Josh: Because if Kalev is father of Chur, father of Uri, father of Betzalel, each would have to be at least 9 when fathering. If Kalev fathered Chur at 9, Chur would be ~30 years old at this point. And if Chur fathered Uri at 9, then Uri would be ~20 years old. And if Uri fathered Betzalel at 9, Betzalel would be about 10. Of course, consider a 9 or 7 month pregnancy, and you have a few years to add to Betzalel, but he would be about 10-13.} And this is very far-fetched. And I will give you proofs that this is not the road, and this is not the city {to arrive at}. Rather, that which our kadmonim recorded, za"l, regarding intercourse {that a nine year old is capable of fathering, and possibly an eight-year old, depending on if we rely on the earlier generations} is true via tradition, and it is not necessary to produce evidence from Scriptures. 

And now set your heart -- know that Chetzron son of Peretz fathered sons, Kaluvi and Yerachmeel {Divrei Hayamim I, 2:9}. And this Kaluvi was called Kalev, and so is written, "Kalev son of Chezron" {Divrei Hayamim I 2:18}. And further, "And Calev the brother of Yerachmeel." And the Scripture must go out of its way to specify him {via his father, or his brother} in order to distinguish between Calev ben Chetzron and Calev ben Yefuneh, since both of them were from a single tribe. And the derash that he פנה {turned} himself from
the spies {and was therefore called Yefuneh, but really his father was named Chetzron} is derash {rather than peshat and a matter of historical record}. For do you not see that ben, with a segol is because it is a construct; while e.g.
ז  וַתַּהַר עוֹד--וַתֵּלֶד, בִּלְהָה שִׁפְחַת רָחֵל:  בֵּן שֵׁנִי, לְיַעֲקֹב.
with a tzeirei, for the one with two dots is a noun. And how could the father {Yefuneh} be called based on the action the son did? Rather, this Calev, the prince, was the son of Yefuneh, and Yefuneh was the son of Kenaz -- therefore he is called the Kenizite {in Bemidbar 32:12}.

And regarding that which some ask, "how come the Scriptures does not give his {full} lineage", if so, why are the lineages of all the prophets written? 

Do you not see that the names of the sons and grandsons of of Calev ben Yefuneh are not the same as the sons of Calev ben Chetzron.

And behold, Betzalel was of the fourth generation of those who descended to Egypt. And the greatest complete proof that Calev ben Chetzron is not Calev ben Yefuneh is that the Scriptures writes that Calev ben Chetzron had a wife whose name was Azuvah; and when she died, he took another wife and fathered, from her, Chur. And Chur fathered Uri, and Uri fathered Betzalel. And it states after this, "and afterwards, Chetzron came upon the daughter of Machir the father of Gilead and he took her, and he was 60 years old." And this is not possible! For if Calev the son of the Nasi was the son of Chetzron, and Chetzron was of those who descended to Egypt, and such is written -- and such is written, "and it was that the sons of Peretz were Chetzron and Chamul" (Bereishit 46:12 and Divrei Hayamim I 2:5) -- and our ancestors lived in Egypt for 210 years, and when you connect up the 40 years of Calev the Prince when he went with the spies in the second year of their leaving Egypt, behold Chetzron must have fathered him when he was 170 years. {210 - 40 = 170. And Chetzron must have existed when they entered Egypt.} And the Scriptures stated that after
Calev took Efrat and fathered, Calev, who via the path of derash is Calev the Prince, it states regarding Chetzron that he was 60 years old. And in the days of Avraham it was an astounding this, that "could a 100 year old father?" {Bereishit 17:17}. And if this astonishing matter were so, that Chetzron fathered, in the days of Moshe, when he was 170 years old, it would have been written in the Torah. And behold the best evidence is related in Divrei Hayamim."

Mekor Chaim explains Ibn Ezra's words, and that they are against what Chazal said in the midrash. And he explains that though Ibn Ezra believes in miracles explicitly written in the text, he does not hold by miracles which are not explicitly written. I discussed this several times in the past (e.g. here and here).

As we might expect, Avi Ezer does not think much of this Ibn Ezra and Mekor Chaim. He writes:
"I say regarding the the words of the Rav {=Ibn Ezra} and the words of the Mekor Chaim that it is not fitting for the masters to say this. For it is an explicit, drawn-out gemara in perek Ben Sorer that Kalev ben Yefuneh is Calev ben Chetzron and that he had two names. And he is also called by the name Mered, as is explained in perek Kohen Gadol 19. And it was not concealed from our Sages the verses in Divrei Hayamim upon which the Rav ruminates. For they were darshened well in Midrashim. And we, the sons of the Living God, who turn our faces to the gemara and midrashim, do not believe in the methodology of investigation {chakira} at all, which contradicts their words. And even if nowadays we have not seen someone father a child at the age of 80, however in the early days they fathered and also gave fruit in those years. And all their {=Chazal's} words are like glowing coals."

My own {=Josh's} thoughts on the matter: I don't put too much stock in arguments based on calculations of chronology, though this one of Ibn Ezra seems fairly solid. (I've interpreted the genealogical lists as Chetzron being born in Egypt, which would undermine some of this, if true.) And fathering children at such an age is not a matter of nishtaneh hateva, such that it was not a source of wonder in Biblical times. Ibn Ezra cites a pasuk that it was astonishing for Avraham to father a child at the age of 100. The pasuk tells us it is a thing of wonder. How is Avi Ezer going to explain the pasuk away, even if we would buy his nishtaneh hateva?! It is useful to see such a frum rejection, in order to realize just how "radical" Ibn Ezra is being here. Except Ibn Ezra was a Rishon, and he and Ralbag did indeed reject midrashim on the basis of such calculations, and on the basis of the pasuk not mentioning what should be a miracle. Perhaps this should make us question our "frum" inclinations. And I don't agree with Avi Ezer on the rejecting this sort of methodology in its entirety. After all, ain mikra yotzei; and perhaps these midrashim were simply allegorical or homiletical. And the attempt to derive the low age of having children, in the gemara in Sanhedrin 69b, is a setama!


yaak said...

Does the Ibn Ezra say the same thing regarding Yocheved being a mother at the age of 130? (I couldn't find anything about it in either Vayigash or Shemot, but maybe I missed it.)

joshwaxman said...

yes; see ibn ezra here:

ש אומר:
כי מספר שבעים, בעבור שהוא סך חשבון כי שישים ותשע היו. וזה המפרש טעה, בעבור שמצאנו כל נפש בניו ובנותיו שלשים ושלש. והם שלשים ושתים ובדרש, כי יוכבד נולדה בין החומות, גם זה תמה למה לא הזכיר הכתוב הפלא שנעשה עמה שהולדת משה והיא בת ק"ל שנה?! ולמה הזכיר דבר שרה שהיתה בת תשעים!
ולא די לנו זה הצער עד שעשו פייטנים פיוטים ביום שמחת תורה. יוכבד אמי אחרי התנחמי והיא בת ר"נ שנה וכי אחיה חי כך וכך שנים דרך אגדה או דברי יחיד


yaak said...

Thanks - I missed it.

yaak said...

Now if this almost-130-year-old woman got pregnant, that would be a major news story.

joshwaxman said...



Hillel said...

R' Waxman,
You wrote: "we now understand that this is weird Biblical style in Divrei Hayamim, in which each person in the first pasuk is the son of the previous." But why would you assume this to be the case? What seems to make the most sense to me is that the pasuk is listing the more noteworthy ancestors, rather than specifically father-to-son.

The reason I suggest this is because in Yehoshua, Achan is listed as son of Carmi, son of Zavdi, son of Zerach. Assuming it's the same Carmi (avoiding the issue of having 2 Carmi's of the same generation in the same family), he can't be the son of Peretz and Zerach!

Plus, to make that math work - since Peretz and Zerach were born before BNY went down to Egypt, even if you assume Achan was an old man at the time of the battle of Yericho (say 80 or 90 years old), and even if you assume 210 years from their arrival to leaving Egypt, plus 40 years in the desert, you still need to assume Peretz, Cheztron and Carmi (and/or Zerach, Zavdi and Carmi) each gave birth to their first son around age 50. That's not biologically impossible, of course, but extremely unlikely in a world where people got married in their teens and the average lifesapn was around 44.

Kol tuv,

joshwaxman said...

thanks for your comments.

when i wrote, "we now understand that this is weird Biblical style in Divrei Hayamim, in which each person in the first pasuk is the son of the previous" i was giving a rough summary / sparse translation of the ideas in the midrash given immediately above that quote.

i certainly am open to other interpretations, which would help resolve the chronological difficulties. which are indeed difficult. (and i am not entirely convinced that all those sons were not indeed brothers.) though i am not entirely that it is truly a difficulty to have two cousins with the same name. my first-cousin Josh Waxman would surely agree! despite sparse genealogies in Tanach, we don't really know if this would be plausible or not. and given that we sometimes see *brothers* with very close names, it does not seem out of the realm of possibility.

i try to sidestep the chronology issues entirely, as i hinted in the critique of ibn ezra's position at the end of this post. i think they lead to a lot of speculation, which more often than not takes us further away from the intended peshat.

"the average lifesapn was around 44."
given a high infant and child mortality rate, the mean is not necessarily the most informative statistic. perhaps the mode...



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