Post: A bold comment by Ibn Ezra in parashas Matos, but easy to miss. In perek 31:
|ו וַיִּשְׁלַח אֹתָם מֹשֶׁה אֶלֶף לַמַּטֶּה, לַצָּבָא: אֹתָם וְאֶת-פִּינְחָס בֶּן-אֶלְעָזָר הַכֹּהֵן, לַצָּבָא, וּכְלֵי הַקֹּדֶשׁ וַחֲצֹצְרוֹת הַתְּרוּעָה, בְּיָדוֹ.||6 And Moses sent them, a thousand of every tribe, to the war, them and Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, to the war, with the holy vessels and the trumpets for the alarm in his hand.|
Klei hakodesh implies plural. And perhaps one can readily explain it as going into battle arrayed in certain bigdei kehuna, in his role as mashuach milchama. But I can also see it as referring to the aron, which we know went out to battle with the Israelites in sefer Shmuel.
Midrash Rabba (as well as Tanchuma) puts it as a machlokes, whether it is the aron or the urim veTumim.
וכלי הקדשAnd Rashi puts it as follows:
זה הארון, שנאמר: כי עבודת הקדש וגו'.
רבי יוחנן אמר:
אלו בגדי כהונה שהם אורים ותומים, כמו שנאמר: ובגדי הקדש אשר לאהרן.
|the sacred utensils: The holy Ark (Sifrei Mattoth 34, Num. Rabbah 22:4) and the golden showplate (Mid. Aggadah), since Balaam was with them and through sorcery was able to make the Midianite kings fly, and he flew along with them, he [Phinehas] showed them the showplate on which God’s Name was engraved, and they fell down [to earth]. For this reason it says, concerning the Midianite kings, “upon their slain” (verse 8), for they fell from the air on top of those slain. Likewise, it says in the book of Joshua (13:22) in connection with Balaam,“upon (sic) their slain.” - [Mid. Tanchuma Mattoth 4]||וכלי הקדש: זה הארון והציץ. שהיה בלעם עמהם ומפריח מלכי מדין בכשפים, והוא עצמו פורח עמהם. הראה להם את הציץ, שהשם חקוק בו, והם נופלים, לכך נאמר על חלליהם במלכי מדין, שנופלים על החללים מן האויר, וכן בבלעם כתיב (יהושע יג, כב) אל חלליהם:|
Rashi does not put it as the Urim VeTumim, but as the tzitz and the aron. Rashi appears to be combining sources here. The Ark from Sifrei and Bereishit Rabba; and the tzitz from midrash aggada. Though Tanchuma also mentions the tzitz, which had this effect, in which case it is encompassed among the bigdei kehuna, which had included the Urim veTumim.
On this, Ibn Ezra writes:
וכלי הקדש -הארון.
Thus, he identifies it as the aron. This might not be so shocking, because there is a good peshat reason to think it is the aron, as above. But he is almost certainly saying this having seen Rashi. If so, his choice of aron only may well be a rejection of the midrash about Pinchas flying and showing them the tzitz, at least on the level of peshat. This is to be expected, but it just goes to show how one should read meforshim in context, context being what other sources and meforshim are saying.