Saturday, 7 July 2018

Parsha: Matot/Maasei, "How did Hatzi Shevet Menashe Get There?"

The tribes of Gad and Reuven approach Moshe about staying in East Jordan...
- Bamidbar: 32

Question: how did the "half-tribe of Menashe" get in the picture? Why Menashe and not another tribe?

I have a surprise answer....

...OK...

clear your minds.

I taught a parsha class for many years at Congregation Mt Sinai in Washington Heights. I found that many of the tribal dynamics had to do with the Matriarchs, Jacob's four wives. I don't have the time or space to explain it all now, but use that as a prism for viewing these inter-tribal dynamics. Now apply that here.
  • Reuven, one of Leah's sons.
  • Gad, one of the two maidservants' sons. (Zilpah)
Which matriarch is missing?
Rachel

Now take a loot at the proportions:
Leah gave birth to six sons. However, Levi didn't receive any land,  leaving five to inherit the land of Israel. So Reuven is about 20% of of the inheriting sons of Leah. Gad is about 25% of the maidservants' children.

What's needed?  20-25% of Rachel's children. Half the tribe of Menasseh is about 12.5 to 20% depending on how you compute the population. Shevet Menasseh is much larger than either Shevet Ephraim or Shevet Benjamin.

So Moses' agenda was to assert a matriarchal balance over East-Jordan. Half (or part of) Menasseh did the trick

Proof?

None

Hint?

Look at the configuration of the tribes in pasrshiot Bamidbar and Beha'alotecha. The tribes march along according to matriarch - except one. Gad, who is promoted to replace Levi along with Reuven and Shim'on.

This model "suggests" the Torah had a matriarchal proportion re: tribe vs tribe. Since half-Menasseh seems to jump out of nowhere, I simply plugged them in. Voila! It conformed to a an existing model.

Shalom,

RRW



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