Torah Portion

Beha’alotcha

בהעלתך

Numbers 8:1-12:16
Zechariah 2:14–4:7

How Many Trumpet Blasts to Travel? MT+SP=LXX

How Many Trumpet Blasts to Travel? MT+SP=LXX

YHWH instructs Moses to sound a teruah blast to get the eastern camp to travel, and a second for the southern camp. What about the western and northern camps? The answer can be found by comparing the Masoretic Text, the Samaritan Pentateuch, and the Septuagint: It was a parablepsis.

Dr. Rabbi
Zev Farber
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Moses’ Kushite Wife Was Zipporah the Midianite

Moses’ Kushite Wife Was Zipporah the Midianite

Moses is married to a Kushite woman (Numbers 12:1). While the term Kushite is generally understood as meaning black African, several places in the Bible refer to other locations as Kush, including Midian, the home of Moses’ wife Zipporah.

Prof.
David Goldenberg
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Moses’ Black-Skinned Wife: What Does the Torah Think of Her?

Moses’ Black-Skinned Wife: What Does the Torah Think of Her?

Miriam and Aaron speak negatively about Moses for marrying a Kushite woman. Does their issue have to do with her skin color? Miriam’s punishment may hold the key.

Prof.
Sidnie White Crawford
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The Two Arks: Military and Ritual

The Two Arks: Military and Ritual

Tradition and source criticism both see two ark traditions in the biblical text: The Ark of the Covenant and the Ark of the Testimony. The former accompanies Israelite troops into battle; it appears in Numbers 10 (וַיְהִי בִּנְסֹעַ הָאָרֹן) and in the stories of battles against the Philistines and Ammonites in Samuel. The latter remains in the Tabernacle, serving as a seat for YHWH’s glory and revelation.

Dr. Rabbi
Tzemah Yoreh
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Did Moses Become Celibate?

Did Moses Become Celibate?

The Israelite men are commanded to separate from their wives before the revelation at Sinai. The rabbis learn from this that Moses permanently separated from his wife (Num 12), to be available to speak with God at all times. Joseph ibn Kaspi (14th c.), however, claims that this distorts the plain meaning of the text and that celibacy is an affront to Jewish values.

Prof. Rabbi
Marty Lockshin
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The Paradox of Pesach Sheni

The Paradox of Pesach Sheni

As a historical commemoration, Passover is tied to a specific date. Nevertheless, the Torah gives a make-up date for bringing the offering a month later. Gerim, non-Israelites living among Israelites as equals, are also allowed to bring this offering, even though it wasn’t their ancestors who were freed. How do we make sense of these anomalies?  

Prof.
Steven Fraade
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Why Did King Hezekiah Celebrate His Inaugural Passover a Month Late?

Why Did King Hezekiah Celebrate His Inaugural Passover a Month Late?

Upon purifying the Temple in his first year as king, Hezekiah delays the celebration of Passover until the 14th of Iyar, the date of the Torah’s Pesach Sheni, “Second Passover.” A close examination of the story (2 Chr 29–30) demonstrates that this wasn’t a simple application of the Pesach Sheni law, but that Hezekiah was innovating in order to create unity between the northern Israelites and southern Judahites.

Dr.
David Glatt-Gilad
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The Double Quail Narratives and Bekhor Shor’s Innovative Reading

The Double Quail Narratives and Bekhor Shor’s Innovative Reading

Exodus 16 and Numbers 11 each describe God miraculously bringing quail to the hungry Israelites in the wilderness. What is the relationship between these two accounts?

Prof.
Jonathan Jacobs
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Will the Real Miriam Please Stand Up?

Will the Real Miriam Please Stand Up?

In biblical tradition, Miriam is known as Moses’ sister. Critical analysis reveals more about this ancient and once independent leader. 

Prof.
Tamar Kamionkowski
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Were the Israelites Craving for Meat or Starving for Food?

Were the Israelites Craving for Meat or Starving for Food?

“There is nothing at all, nothing but this manna” (Num 11:6): How the manna tradition overtook the suffering in the wilderness tradition.

Prof. Rabbi
David Frankel
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Eldad and Medad Successfully Challenge Moses’ Control over Prophecy

Eldad and Medad Successfully Challenge Moses’ Control over Prophecy

When Eldad and Medad prophesy in the camp, Joshua zealously presses for their incarceration. Moses, however, exclaims that all the people should ideally be prophets.

Prof. Rabbi
David Frankel
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What Is Prophecy?

What Is Prophecy?

The nature of prophecy is perhaps one of the most overlooked questions, but it was critically important to the medieval Jewish philosophers Sa’adia Gaon, Judah Halevi, Ibn Ezra, and Maimonides.

Prof.
Haim (Howard) Kreisel
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Re-Encountering Miriam

Re-Encountering Miriam

The biblical portrait of Miriam can leave the feminist reader with a lingering bitterness but a literary rereading helps highlight her prophetic leadership role.

Prof. Rabbi
Wendy Zierler
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The Torah Is Not an Allegory

The Torah Is Not an Allegory

In a polemical response to Christian and Jewish allegorical interpretation of the Torah’s laws, Bekhor Shor writes that just as God speaks to Moses “clearly and without riddles” (Num 12:8), so too the Torah is clear and means what it says, and should not be interpreted allegorically.

Prof. Rabbi
Shaye J. D. Cohen
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Moses and the Kushite Woman: Classic Interpretations and Philo's Allegory

Moses and the Kushite Woman: Classic Interpretations and Philo's Allegory

Ancient interpreters debated the identity of Moses’ Kushite wife and the nature of Miriam and Aaron’s complaint. Philo allegorizes her as an eye’s perfect focus, reflecting Moses’ direct perception of God. Reading this together with Philo’s allegorical understanding of Zipporah as a “bird” with direct access to heaven highlights the greatness of Moses’ wife as the fourth matriarch of Israel.

Dr.
Elad Filler
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Manna and Mystical Eating

Manna and Mystical Eating

Ancient interpreters contemplated the substance of manna, a food that traverses the chasm between divine and mundane realms, falling from heaven to be consumed on earth. In kabbalistic thought, the Zohar presents manna as granting the desert generation an embodied experience of knowledge of God; such an opportunity is available to mystics in everyday eating and through birkat ha-mazon (Grace after Meals).

Prof.
Joel Hecker
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Beha’alotcha

בהעלתך

Numbers 8:1-12:16

וְהָאִישׁ מֹשֶׁה עָנָיו מְאֹד מִכֹּל הָאָדָם אֲשֶׁר עַל פְּנֵי הָאֲדָמָה׃

במדבר יב:ג

Now Moses was a very humble man, more so than any other man on earth.

Num 12:3

Numbers

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