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Steinsaltz

The Gemara comments: The language of another verse is also precise based on this explanation, as it is written: “And Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said unto him” (Joshua 14:6). Although his father was Jephunneh, he is known as “the Kenizzite,” although he was not actually a son of Kenaz. The Gemara accepts this proof and states: Conclude from it that Rava’s explanation is correct.

The verse states: “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” (I Chronicles 2:18). The Gemara analyzes the verse: The verse refers to the wife of Caleb by the name Azubah. The Sages teach that this is Miriam. And why is she called Azubah? As everyone initially abandoned her [azavuha] and did not want to marry her because she was sickly and unattractive. The verse additionally states: “And Caleb, the son of Hezron, begot children [holid] of Azubah his wife” (I Chronicles 2:18). The Gemara asks: Why use the term “holid,” begot children? But doesn’t this verse state that he married her? Rabbi Yoḥanan says: This teaches us that with regard to anyone who marries a woman for the sake of Heaven, as he married her due to her righteousness without concern for her appearance, the verse ascribes him credit as if he gave birth to her.

The same verse refers to Miriam additionally as Jerioth, which the Gemara explains was appropriate, for her face was like extremely pallid curtains [yeriot].

The verse continues: “And these were her sons [vaneha].” The Gemara explains: Do not read it as vaneha, her sons; rather, read it as boneha, her builders. In other words, the rest of the names in the verse are not the names of her children, but rather appellations for her husband, whose marriage to her built her, as it were. The first appellation for Caleb, “Jesher,” is referring to his actions, as he set himself straight [yisher] and did not join in the counsel of the spies. The second appellation, “Shobab,” is referring to the fact that he broke [sibbev] his evil inclination by rebelling against the other spies. The third appellation, “and Ardon [veArdon],” is referring to the fact that he ruled [rada] over his evil inclination. And some say: Because the face of his wife Miriam became beautiful like a rose [vered] after they were married, she was also called Vardon, due to her rose-like complexion.

The Gemara interprets an additional verse as referring to Caleb. It is stated: “And Ashhur the father of Tekoa had two wives, Helah and Naarah” (I Chronicles 4:5). Ashhur is Caleb. And why was he called Ashhur? Because his face became blackened [husheḥaru] from the extensive fasts that he accepted upon himself so that he would not be entrapped by the counsel of the spies. “The father of” is also referring to Caleb, as he became like a father to his wife. The next word in the verse, “Tekoa,” is an additional reference to Caleb, as he attached [taka] his heart to his Father in Heaven.

The phrase in the verse “had two wives” actually means it is as if Miriam became like two wives, because she changed over the course of time. And therefore the two names written in the verse: “Helah and Naarah,” were not two separate women, Helah and Naarah. Rather, initially Miriam was sickly [ḥela] and forlorn, and ultimately she was healthy and beautiful like a young woman [na’ara].

The Gemara expounds the following verse as referring to Miriam: “And the children of Helah were Zereth [Tzeret] and Zohar and Ethnan” (I Chronicles 4:7). She was now called Tzeret,” for she became so beautiful that she was like a rival [tzara] to other women, as they were jealous of her beauty. She is called “Zohar,” as her face shined like the sun does at noon [tzohorayim]. She is called “Ethnan,” as any man that saw her would be aroused so much that he would bring a gift [etnan] to his wife to entice her.

§ The Gemara returns to the discussion of the bondage in Egypt. “And Pharaoh charged all his people, saying: Every son that is born you shall cast into the river, and every daughter you shall save alive” (Exodus 1:22). Rabbi Yosei, son of Rabbi Ḥanina, says: The use of the phrase “every son that is born” indicates that he decreed even on his own nation that all their male babies must be killed. And Rabbi Yosei, son of Rabbi Ḥanina, says further: He decreed three decrees. Initially, he commanded the midwives only with regard to Jewish infants: “You shall look upon the stones. If it be a son, then you shall kill him; but if it be a daughter, then she shall live” (Exodus 1:16). And afterward, he decreed with regard to the Jewish infants: “Every son that is born you shall cast into the river” (Exodus 1:22). And ultimately, he decreed even on his own nation that Egyptian infant boys should be cast into the river as well.

The verse states: “And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took for a wife a daughter of Levi” (Exodus 2:1). The Gemara asks: To where did he go? Rav Yehuda bar Zevina says: He went according to the advice of his daughter Miriam, as the Gemara will proceed to explain.

A Sage teaches: Amram, the father of Moses, was the great man of his generation. Once he saw that the wicked Pharaoh said: “Every son that is born you shall cast into the river, and every daughter you shall save alive” (Exodus 1:22), he said: We are laboring for nothing by bringing children into the world to be killed. Therefore, he arose and divorced his wife. All others who saw this followed his example and arose and divorced their wives.

His daughter, Miriam, said to him: Father, your decree is more harsh for the Jewish people than that of Pharaoh, as Pharaoh decreed only with regard to the males, but you decreed both on the males and on the females. And now no children will be born. Additionally, Pharaoh decreed to kill them only in this world, but you decreed in this world and in the World-to-Come, as those not born will not enter the World-to-Come.

Miriam continued: Additionally, concerning Pharaoh the wicked, it is uncertain whether his decree will be fulfilled, and it is uncertain if his decree will not be fulfilled. You are a righteous person, and as such, your decrees will certainly be fulfilled, as it is stated with regard to the righteous: “You shall also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto you” (Job 22:28). Amram accepted his daughter’s words and arose and brought back, i.e., remarried, his wife, and all others who saw this followed his example and arose and brought back their wives.

The Gemara asks: If Amram remarried Jochebed, rather than say: “And took for a wife a daughter of Levi” (Exodus 2:1), it should have stated: “And returned for a wife the daughter of Levi.” Rav Yehuda bar Zevina says: He performed an act of marriage just as one would do for a first marriage. He sat her on a palanquin [appiryon], and Aaron and Miriam danced before her, and the ministering angels said: “A joyful mother of children” (Psalms 113:9).

The verse is referring to Jochebed as “a daughter of Levi” (Exodus 2:1). The Gemara asks: Is it possible that this is Jochebed? Jochebed was then 130 years old and the verse still calls her a daughter? Jochebed’s age is established based on a tradition concerning the number of the descendants of Jacob who came to Egypt, as follows: While the verse states that Leah had thirty-three descendants (Genesis 46:15), only thirty-two were enumerated. This was explained as Rabbi Ḥama, son of Rabbi Ḥanina, says: The “daughter of Levi” is Jochebed, whose conception was on the road, as the family of Jacob descended to Egypt, and she was born between the walls, i.e., in Egypt, as it is stated: “And the name of Amram’s wife was Jochebed, the daughter of Levi, who was born to Levi in Egypt” (Numbers 26:59).

This interpolation concerning her birth is interpreted: Her birth was in Egypt, but her conception was not in Egypt. Since the Jewish people were in Egypt for two hundred ten years and Moses was eighty years old at the time of the exodus, Jochebed was one hundred thirty years old when Moses was born. In light of this, the Gemara is asking how the verse can refer to her as a daughter. Rabbi Yehuda says: The signs of a young woman were born in her when her husband remarried her, and she became like a young girl again.

§ The verse states concerning Moses: “And the woman conceived, and bore a son; and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months” (Exodus 2:2). The Gemara asks: But Jochebed was pregnant with Moses for three months at the outset, before Amram remarried her, as will be explained further. Rav Yehuda bar Zevina said: The intention of the verse is to juxtapose her giving birth to her becoming pregnant. Just as her becoming pregnant was without pain, so too, her giving birth was without pain. From here it is derived concerning righteous women that they were not included in the verdict [pitkah] of Eve that a woman will suffer pain during childbirth (see Genesis 3:16).

The verse states with regard to the birth of Moses: “And the woman conceived, and bore a son; and when she saw him that he was a goodly [tov] child, she hid him three months” (Exodus 2:2). It is taught in a baraita that Rabbi Meir says: “Tov” is his, Moses’, real name, as it was given to him by his parents when he was born. Rabbi Yehuda says: His name was Toviya. Rabbi Neḥemya says: They said he was good because they saw that he was fit for prophecy. Others say: They said he was good because he was born when he was already circumcised. And the Rabbis say: At the time when Moses was born, the entire house was filled with light, as it is written here: “And when she saw him that he was a goodly [tov] child,” and it is written there: “And God saw the light, that it was good [tov]” (Genesis 1:4).

The verse continues: “And she hid him three months” (Exodus 2:2). The Gemara explains that she was able to hide him for three months because the Egyptians counted the nine months of her pregnancy only from the time her husband took her back, but she was pregnant with Moses for three months from the outset of her remarriage.

The next verse states: “And when she could no longer hide him” (Exodus 2:3). The Gemara asks: Why couldn’t she hide him any longer? Let her continue to hide him. Rather, anywhere that the Egyptians heard that a baby was born and they wanted to locate the baby, they would bring another baby there in order that it could be heard crying, and the two babies would cry together, as it is written: “Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vineyards; for our vineyards are in blossom” (Song of Songs 2:15). The infants who were used to uncover the hidden babies are referred to as little foxes.

The verse states: “And when she could no longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with bitumen and with pitch; and she put the child therein, and laid it in the willows by the river’s bank” (Exodus 2:3). The Gemara asks: What is different about bulrushes that she decided to use them? Rabbi Elazar says: From here it is derived concerning righteous people that their money is more precious to them than their bodies, as she took an inexpensive material to build the ark. And why do they care so much about their money? Because they do not stretch out their hands to partake of stolen property. Therefore, their own property is very precious to them.

Rabbi Shmuel bar Naḥmani says an alternative reason for her taking bulrushes for the ark: She took a soft material like bulrush, which is able to withstand an impact both before a soft item and before a hard item. She feared that if she would have made the box from a hard material like wood, if it were to collide with a hard item in the water it might break.

The verse continues: “And daubed it with bitumen and with pitch” (Exodus 2:3). A Sage teaches: She daubed bitumen on the interior and pitch on the exterior, so that righteous person, i.e., Moses, would not smell a foul odor, such as that of pitch.

The verse continues: “And she put the child therein, and laid it in the willows [bassuf ]” (Exodus 2:3). Rabbi Elazar says: This means she placed him in the Suf Sea, i.e., the Red Sea. Rabbi Shmuel bar Naḥmani says:

Talmud - Bavli - The William Davidson digital edition of the Koren No=C3=A9 Talmud
with commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz Even-Israel (CC-BY-NC 4.0)
אדם סלומון
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