(א) וְאֵ֗לֶּה שְׁמוֹת֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל הַבָּאִ֖ים מִצְרָ֑יְמָה אֵ֣ת יַעֲקֹ֔ב אִ֥ישׁ וּבֵית֖וֹ בָּֽאוּ׃ (ב) רְאוּבֵ֣ן שִׁמְע֔וֹן לֵוִ֖י וִיהוּדָֽה׃ (ג) יִשָּׂשכָ֥ר זְבוּלֻ֖ן וּבִנְיָמִֽן׃ (ד) דָּ֥ן וְנַפְתָּלִ֖י גָּ֥ד וְאָשֵֽׁר׃ (ה) וַֽיְהִ֗י כׇּל־נֶ֛פֶשׁ יֹצְאֵ֥י יֶֽרֶךְ־יַעֲקֹ֖ב שִׁבְעִ֣ים נָ֑פֶשׁ וְיוֹסֵ֖ף הָיָ֥ה בְמִצְרָֽיִם׃ (ו) וַיָּ֤מׇת יוֹסֵף֙ וְכׇל־אֶחָ֔יו וְכֹ֖ל הַדּ֥וֹר הַהֽוּא׃
(1) These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob, each coming with his household: (2) Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah; (3) Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin; (4) Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher. (5) The total number of persons that were of Jacob’s issue came to seventy, Joseph being already in Egypt. (6) Joseph died, and all his brothers, and all that generation.
(1) ויוסף היה במצרים lit., AND JOSEPH WAS IN EGYPT — But were not he and his sons included in the seventy? What, then, is this statement intended to tell us? Do we not know that he was in Egypt? But its purpose is to inform you of Joseph’s righteousness: this is the same Joseph who tended his father’s sheep; this is the same Joseph who was in Egypt and became king there, and yet he remained steadfast in his righteousness.
(ט) כָּל הַנֶּפֶשׁ הַבָּאָה וגו' וּבְנֵי יוֹסֵף אֲשֶׁר יֻלַּד לוֹ וגו' (בראשית מו, כו כז), רַבִּי לֵוִי בְּשֵׁם רַבִּי שְׁמוּאֵל בַּר נַחְמָן רָאִיתָ מִיָּמֶיךָ אָדָם נוֹתֵן לַחֲבֵרוֹ שִׁשִּׁים וְשִׁשָּׁה כּוֹסוֹת וְחוֹזֵר וְנוֹתֵן לוֹ אַף שְׁלשָׁה וְהוּא מוֹנֶה אוֹתָם שִׁבְעִים, אֶלָּא זוֹ יוֹכֶבֶד שֶׁהִשְׁלִימָה מִנְיָן שֶׁל יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּמִצְרָיִם... וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִים יַעֲקֹב הִשְׁלִים עִמָּהֶם אֶת הַמִּנְיָן... וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִים הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא הִשְׁלִים עִמָּהֶם אֶת הַמִּנְיָן. וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִים חוּשִׁים בֶּן דָּן הִשְׁלִים עִמָּהֶן אֶת הַמִּנְיָן... וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִים סֶרַח בַּת אָשֵׁר הִשְׁלִימָה עִמָּהֶן אֶת הַמִּנְיָן
The total number of persons... and Yosef's children... Rabbi Levi explains in the name of Rabbi Shmuel bar Nachman: [Why do we count them as seventy people if there are not seventy people that came down to Egypt with Yaakov? It seems like there are only 69 people.] Rather it must be that (a) Yocheved completed the number of the seventy family members that went down to Egypt... Some say that (b) Yaakov completed the count... Some say that (c) Hashem finished the number. Some say that (d) Chushim ben Dan was the missing person from the count... Some say that (e) Serach bat Asher completed the seventy for the count.
The number 70 seems to be important.
The Midrash and Commentaries try to figure out who was included in the specific number. The Midrash brings five different options of who was missing from the count of people which would make the family census an even 70.
Why do you think it was such an important number?
שבעים נפש, “seventy persons.” This verse was written primarily to tell of G-d’s miracles, to remind the reader that whereas only 70 persons of Yaakov’s family migrated to Egypt, after 210 years over 600,000 male adults between the ages of 20 and 60 left Egypt, in addition to the elderly, women, and children [more than two million people].
Is there a specific reason behind the number 70 based on the Chizkuni?
שבעים נפש, “seventy persons.” We find “seventy persons” mentioned three times corresponding to the 210 years they were in Egypt, because three times 70 is 210...
תחלת גלות ראשון ע' נפש ובסוף בגלות אחרון עתידים לירש שבעים אומות זה שכתוב ויוסף היה במצרים הזכירו בסוף לרמוז על משיח בן יוסף שעתיד לבוא באחרונה לגאול את ישראל:
שבעים נפש, “seventy persons.” The beginning of the first exile was with seventy people, and in the end of the final exile we will inherit the 70 nations of the world. This is why we are told that Yosef was in Egypt. This hints at the end of days with Mashiach ben Yosef that will come and redeem the Jewish people.
What are the reasons for 70 in previous two sources?
Was the number 70 specific or just a general number?
Same number... different context:
אָמַר רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן: כׇּל יָמָיו שֶׁל אוֹתוֹ צַדִּיק, הָיָה מִצְטַעֵר עַל מִקְרָא זֶה: ״שִׁיר הַמַּעֲלוֹת בְּשׁוּב ה׳ אֶת שִׁיבַת צִיּוֹן הָיִינוּ כְּחֹלְמִים״, אָמַר: מִי אִיכָּא דְּנָיֵים שִׁבְעִין שְׁנִין בְּחֶלְמָא? יוֹמָא חַד הֲוָה אָזֵל בְּאוֹרְחָא, חַזְיֵיהּ לְהָהוּא גַּבְרָא דַּהֲוָה נָטַע חָרוּבָא, אֲמַר לֵיהּ: הַאי, עַד כַּמָּה שְׁנִין טָעֵין? אֲמַר לֵיהּ: עַד שִׁבְעִין שְׁנִין. אֲמַר לֵיהּ: פְּשִׁיטָא לָךְ דְּחָיֵית שִׁבְעִין שְׁנִין? אֲמַר לֵיהּ הַאי גַּבְרָא: עָלְמָא בְּחָרוּבָא אַשְׁכַּחְתֵּיהּ. כִּי הֵיכִי דִּשְׁתַלוּ לִי אֲבָהָתִי — שְׁתַלִי נָמֵי לִבְרָאִי.
The Gemara relates a story about Choni HaMe’aggel: One day, he was walking along the road when he saw a certain man planting a carob tree. Choni said to him: This tree, after how many years will it bear fruit? The man said to him: It will not produce fruit until seventy years have passed. Choni said to him: Is it obvious to you that you will live seventy years, that you expect to benefit from this tree? He said to him: I found a world full of carob trees. Just as my ancestors planted for me, I too am planting for my descendants.
He used to say: At five years of age the study of Scripture; At ten the study of Mishnah; At thirteen subject to the commandments; At fifteen the study of Talmud; At eighteen the bridal canopy; At twenty for pursuit [of livelihood]; At thirty the peak of strength; At forty wisdom; At fifty able to give counsel; At sixty old age; At seventy fullness of years; At eighty the age of “strength”; At ninety a bent body; At one hundred, as good as dead and gone completely out of the world.
What do 70 years signify?
וַיֹּ֨אמֶר ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֗ה אֶסְפָה־לִּ֞י שִׁבְעִ֣ים אִישׁ֮ מִזִּקְנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵל֒ אֲשֶׁ֣ר יָדַ֔עְתָּ כִּי־הֵ֛ם זִקְנֵ֥י הָעָ֖ם וְשֹׁטְרָ֑יו וְלָקַחְתָּ֤ אֹתָם֙ אֶל־אֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֔ד וְהִֽתְיַצְּב֥וּ שָׁ֖ם עִמָּֽךְ׃
Then ה said to Moses, “Gather for Me seventy of Israel’s elders of whom you have experience as elders and officers of the people, and bring them to the Tent of Meeting and let them take their place there with you.
There were 12 tribes, and if we chose six leaders from each tribe there would be seventy-two.
Why do you think only 70 were chosen? What is special about 70?
And you shall write on the stones all the words of this Torah, well explained.
(1) באר היטב EXPLAINING THEM WELL — i.e. in seventy languages (Sotah 32a).
באר את התורה [MOSES BEGAN] TO EXPLAIN THIS LAW — in the seventy languages of the world did he explain it to them (Midrash Tanchuma; Sotah 32a).
To explain the Torah well or fully,
why does it needs to be translated or explained in the 70 languages?
Rabbi Elazar said: These seventy bulls sacrificed as Musaf korban on Sukkot, to what do they correspond? They correspond to the seventy nations of the world. Why is a single bull sacrificed on Shemini Atzeret? It corresponds to the singular nation, Israel.
Now we hear that there are seventy nations of the world.
The seventy korbanot on Sukkot are for those nations.
It required forty days, for such is the full period of embalming. The Egyptians cried over him for seventy days.
The Egyptians cried for Yaakov for more than the typical shiva (seven days).
They remembered and mourned for Yaakov for seventy days.
Why do you think they cried for seventy days? Would seven have been enough?
The exodus from Egypt is mentioned at night. Rabbi Elazar ben Azarya said: I am approximately seventy years old, and I was never privileged to understand that the exodus from Egypt mentioned at night, until Ben Zoma interpreted it. Ben Zoma derived it as it is stated: “That you may remember the day you went out of the land of Egypt all the days of your life” (Deuteronomy 16:3). The days of your life, refers to daytime; All the days of your life, comes to add nights as well. And the Rabbis say: The days of your life, refers to the days in this world, all is added to include the days of the Messiah.
Why does Rabbi Elazar ben Azarya find it important to say that he was seventy years old and never realized something significant.
The number 70 is a complete entity and is in many ways Shaleim - whole.
Yaakov went down with his whole family of seventy people.
Seventy nations make up the whole world.
Seventy elders are able to represent all of the Jews.
וַיָּבֹ֣אוּ אֵילִ֔מָה וְשָׁ֗ם שְׁתֵּ֥ים עֶשְׂרֵ֛ה עֵינֹ֥ת מַ֖יִם וְשִׁבְעִ֣ים תְּמָרִ֑ים וַיַּחֲנוּ־שָׁ֖ם עַל־הַמָּֽיִם׃
And they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees; and they encamped there beside the water.
What do you think the seventy palm trees represent?
What do the twelve springs of water represent?
Why do you think we keep on seeing the number seventy?
What was the most interesting place you saw the number seventy?
The mishna continues: The mitzva to establish a Sanhedrin with the authority to administer capital punishments is in effect both in Eretz Yisrael and outside Eretz Yisrael. A Sanhedrin that executes a transgressor once in seven years is characterized as a destructive tribunal. Since the Sanhedrin would subject the testimony to exacting scrutiny, it was extremely rare for a defendant to be executed. Rabbi Elazar ben Azarya says: This categorization applies to a Sanhedrin that executes a transgressor once in seventy years. Rabbi Tarfon and Rabbi Akiva say: If we had been members of the Sanhedrin, we would have conducted trials in a manner whereby no person would have ever been executed. Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel says: In adopting that approach, they too would increase the number of murderers among the Jewish people. The death penalty would lose its deterrent value, as all potential murderers would know that no one is ever executed.
(א) ויהי כל נפש יוצאי ירך יעקב שבעים נפש. בענין תשלום ע' נפש שחסר אחת. רז"ל אמרו יוכבד השלימה. ופירש הר"י. דשר של מצרים נמשל לנקבה ולכך יוכבד השלימה החשבון וממנה נולד הגואל משה רבינו ע"ה. וי"א דכביכול הוא השלים המנין ואפשר זה רמז אנכי ארד עמך אנכי כינוי לשכינה ארד. עמך ר"ת ע' משלים כבודי. ולמ"ד דאסנת היתה בת דינה שנתעברה משכם ונשאת ליוסף אפשר לו' דאסנת השלימה החשבון ומצטרפת עם בעלה ובניה לחיי"ם ולשלום:
(1) The total number of persons that were of Jacob’s issue came to seventy. In the matter of counting to 70 people it seems to be missing one person from the count. The rabbis say that (a) Yocheved completed the number...
Rabbi Yoḥanan said: What does it mean: “The Lord gives the word; the women that proclaim the tidings are a great host” (Psalms 68:12)? Each and every utterance that emerged from the mouth of the Almighty divided into seventy languages. The school of Rabbi Yishmael taught with regard to the verse: “Behold, is My word not like fire, declares the Lord, and like a hammer that shatters a rock?” (Jeremiah 23:29). Just as this hammer breaks a stone into several fragments, so too, each and every utterance that emerged from the mouth of the Holy One, Blessed be He, divided into seventy languages. The Gemara continues in praise of the Torah. Rav Ḥananel bar Pappa said: What is the meaning of that which is written: “Listen, for I will speak royal things, and my lips will open with upright statements” (Proverbs 8:6)? Why are matters of Torah likened to a king? To teach you that just as this king has the power to kill and to grant life, so too, matters of Torah have the power to kill and to grant life.
וַיְהִי הַמַּקְרִיב בַּיּוֹם הָרִאשׁוֹן אֶת קָרְבָּנוֹ נַחְשׁוֹן וגו' (במדבר ז, יב), הֲדָא הוּא דִכְתִיב (תהלים נא, כ כא): הֵיטִיבָה בִרְצוֹנְךָ אֶת צִיּוֹן וגו' אָז תַּחְפֹּץ זִבְחֵי צֶדֶק וגו'. לְפִי שֶׁבַּמִּדְבָּר בַּהֲקָמַת הַמִּשְׁכָּן הִקְרִיבוּ לַחֲנֻכַּת הַמִּזְבֵּחַ קִמְעָה, כְּמָה דְתֵימָא (במדבר ז, יג יז): קָרְבָּנוֹ קַעֲרַת כֶּסֶף וגו' כַּף אַחַת וגו' פַּר אֶחָד וגו' שְׂעִיר עִזִּים וגו' וּלְזֶבַח הַשְּׁלָמִים וגו', הֲרֵי כָּל הַקָּרְבָּן, לְמָה הַדָּבָר דּוֹמֶה לְמֶלֶךְ שֶׁיָּצָא לַדֶּרֶךְ וְהָיוּ מְבִיאִים לְפָנָיו סְעוּדָה לְפִי הַדֶּרֶךְ וּלְפִי הַפּוּנְדָק, אָמַר לָהֶם הַמֶּלֶךְ כָּךְ אַתֶּם מְכַבְּדִים לִי וְכָךְ אַתֶּם נוֹתְנִים לִי, אֵינִי מֶלֶךְ וְאֵינִי שׁוֹלֵט בַּמַּלְכוּת. אָמְרוּ לוֹ: אֲדוֹנֵינוּ, בַּדֶּרֶךְ אֲנַחְנוּ וּלְפִי הַדֶּרֶךְ וּלְפִי הַפּוּנְדָק הִכְנַסְנוּ לְךָ, כְּשֶׁתִּכָּנֵס לַמְּדִינָה וְתִכָּנֵס לַפַּלְטֵרִין שֶׁלְךָ תִּרְאֶה כַּמָּה אָנוּ מְכַבְּדִין אוֹתְךָ. כָּךְ כְּשֶׁהוּקַם הַמִּשְׁכָּן הִקְרִיבוּ לוֹ הַנְּשִׂיאִים דּוֹרוֹן וְקָרְבָּן, קְעָרָה וּמִזְרָק וְכַף, פַּר אֶחָד וגו' וּשְׂעִיר עִזִּים וגו' וּלְזֶבַח וגו', אָמַר לָהֶם הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא כָּךְ הוּא כְּבוֹדִי. אָמְרוּ לוֹ: רִבּוֹן הָעוֹלָמִים בַּמִּדְבָּר אָנוּ נְתוּנִים וּלְפִי הַמִּדְבָּר הִקְרַבְנוּ לְפָנֶיךָ, כְּשֶׁתִּכָּנֵס לַפַּלְטֵרִין שֶׁלְךָ אַתָּה רוֹאֶה כַּמָּה קָרְבָּנוֹת וְכַמָּה פָּרִים נַקְרִיב לְפָנֶיךָ, הֲדָא הוּא דִכְתִיב: הֵיטִיבָה בִרְצוֹנְךָ אֶת צִיּוֹן תִּבְנֶה חוֹמוֹת יְרוּשָׁלָיִם, אָז תַּחְפֹּץ זִבְחֵי צֶדֶק אָז יַעֲלוּ עַל מִזְבַּחֲךָ פָרִים, וְלֹא פַּר אֶחָד. וְכֵן אַתְּ מוֹצֵא בִּשְׁלֹמֹה שֶׁבָּנָה בֵּית הַמִּקְדָּשׁ וּבִקֵּשׁ לְהַקְרִיב לַחֲנֻכַּת בֵּית הַמִּקְדָּשׁ, רְאֵה מַה כְּתִיב שָׁם (מלכים א ח, סג): וַיִּזְבַּח שְׁלֹמֹה אֶת זֶבַח הַשְּׁלָמִים וגו'. וְכֵן בִּימֵי עֶזְרָא (עזרא ו, יז): וְהַקְרִבוּ לַחֲנֻכַּת בֵּית אֱלָהָא דְנָה תּוֹרִין מְאָה דִּכְרִין וגו', הֱוֵי: הֵיטִיבָה בִרְצוֹנְךָ אֶת צִיּוֹן וגו' אָז תַּחְפֹּץ וגו'.
“…seventy shekels according to the holy shekel…” (Numbers 7:13) Seventy in parallel to the seventy nations which descended from him (from Adam). Another explanation. Why seventy? In parallel to the seventy verses from the beginning of the book of Genesis to the curse of the snake. R’ Pichas said: there are two enemies who were not cursed until seventy verses had been completed about them – the snake and Haman the wicked. Regarding the snake, from “In the beginning…” (Genesis 1:1) until “…cursed be you more than all the cattle…” (Genesis 3:14) is seventy verses. Regarding Haman, from “After these events, King Ahasuerus promoted Haman…” (Esther 3:1) until “And they hanged Haman…” (Esther 7:10) is seventy verses. For the purpose of seventy he was hanged on fifty (cubits of wood). Another explanation. In parallel to the seventy holy names from ‘In the beginning’ until the story of the snake. And if you say there is one more (than seventy) “…and you will be like gods…” (Genesis 3:5) is not a holy name. Another explanation. In parallel to the seventy years before Terach gave birth to Avraham, as it says “And Terach lived seventy years…” (Genesis 11:26) Two people lived in two generations for seventy years. Kenan in the first generation, “And Kenan lived seventy years…” (Genesis 5:12) and Terach in the second generation. Another explanation. Parallel to the seventy days which they wept over Yaakov the pious, as it says “…and the Egyptians wept over him for seventy days.” (Genesis 50:3) Another explanation. Parallel to the seventy days of goodness which the Holy One gave to Israel – seven days of Passover, eight days of Sukkot, Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur, Shavuot and the fifty two days of Shabbat in the solar year make seventy. Another explanation. Parallel to the seventy names of the Holy One, the seventy names of Israel, the seventy names of the Torah, the seventy names of Jerusalem. Another explanation. Parallel to the seventy years that Adam took away from his life and gave to David ben Yishai. It was fit that he live for a thousand years, as it says “…for on the day that you eat thereof, you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:17) And a day to the Holy One is a thousand years, as it says “For a thousand years are in Your eyes like yesterday, which passed, and a watch in the night.” (Psalms 90:4)