Chapter 22כ״ב
1 א

וַיְדַבֵּר משֶׁה אֶל רָאשֵׁי הַמַּטּוֹת, אִישׁ כִּי יִדֹּר נֶדֶר לַה' (במדבר ל, ב ג), הֲדָא הוּא דִּכְתִיב (ירמיה ד, ב): וְנִשְׁבַּעְתָּ חַי ה' בֶּאֱמֶת בְּמִשְׁפָּט וּבִצְדָקָה, אָמַר לָהֶם הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְיִשְׂרָאֵל, לֹא תִהְיוּ סְבוּרִים שֶׁהֻתַּר לָכֶם לְהִשָּׁבַע בִּשְׁמִי אֲפִלּוּ בֶּאֱמֶת, אֵין אַתָּה רַשַּׁאי לְהִשָּׁבַע בִּשְׁמִי אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן יִהְיוּ בְּךָ כָּל הַמִּדּוֹת הָאֵלּוּ (דברים י, כ): אֶת ה' אֱלֹהֶיךָ תִּירָא, שֶׁתְּהֵא כְּאוֹתָן שֶׁנִּקְרְאוּ יִרְאֵי אֱלֹהִים, אַבְרָהָם, אִיוֹב וְיוֹסֵף. אַבְרָהָם דִּכְתִיב (בראשית כב, יב): כִּי עַתָּה יָדַעְתִּי כִּי יְרֵא אֱלֹהִים אַתָּה, אִיּוֹב דִּכְתִיב (איוב א, ח): אִישׁ תָּם וְיָשָׁר יְרֵא אֱלֹהִים, יוֹסֵף דִּכְתִיב (בראשית מכ, יח): אֶת הָאֱלֹהִים אֲנִי יָרֵא, הֱוֵי אֶת ה' אֱלֹהֶיךָ תִּירָא. (דברים י, כ): וְאֹתוֹ תַעֲבֹד, אִם אַתָּה מְפַנֶּה עַצְמְךָ לַתּוֹרָה וְלַעֲסֹק בְּמִצְווֹת וְאֵין לְךָ עֲבוֹדָה אַחֶרֶת, לְכָךְ נֶאֱמַר: וְאֹתוֹ תַעֲבֹד. (דברים י, כ): וּבוֹ תִדְבָּק, וְכִי יָכוֹל אָדָם לִדָּבֵק בַּשְּׁכִינָה, וַהֲלֹא כְּבָר נֶאֱמַר (דברים ד, כד): כִּי ה' אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֵשׁ אֹכְלָה הוּא, אֶלָּא לוֹמַר לָךְ, כָּל הַמֵּשִׂיא בִּתּוֹ לְתַלְמִיד שֶׁקּוֹרֵא וְשׁוֹנֶה וְעוֹשֶׂה פְּרַקְמַטְיָא וּמְהַנֵּהוּ מִנְּכָסָיו, זֶהוּ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר עָלָיו: וּבוֹ תִדְבָּק, אִם יֵשׁ בְּךָ כָּל הַמִּדּוֹת הָאֵלּוּ אַתָּה רַשַּׁאי לְהִשָּׁבַע, וְאִם לָאו אֵין אַתָּה רַשַּׁאי לְהִשָּׁבַע. מַעֲשֶׂה בְּיַנַּאי הַמֶּלֶךְ שֶׁהָיוּ לוֹ שְׁנֵי אֲלָפִים עֲיָרוֹת וְכֻלָּם נֶחֶרְבוּ עַל שְׁבוּעַת אֱמֶת, כֵּיצַד, אוֹמֵר אָדָם לַחֲבֵרוֹ בִּשְּׁבוּעָה שֶׁאֲנִי הוֹלֵךְ וְאוֹכֵל כָּךְ וְכָךְ בְּמָקוֹם פְּלוֹנִי, וְאֶשְׁתֶּה כָךְ וְכָךְ בְּמָקוֹם פְּלוֹנִי, וְהָיוּ הוֹלְכִין וּמְקַיְּמִין שְׁבוּעָתָן, וְנֶחֶרְבוּ. מַה הַנִּשְׁבָּע בֶּאֱמֶת כָּךְ, הַנִּשְׁבָּע עַל הַשֶּׁקֶר עַל אַחַת כַּמָּה וְכַמָּה.

1 (Numb. 30:2-3) “And Moses said to the heads of the tribes, ‘When someone makes a vow (neder) to the Lord.’” This is related to that which is written (in Jer. 4:2), “And you shall swear, ‘As the Lord lives,’ [in truth, in justice, and in righteousness].” The Holy One, blessed be He, said to Israel, “Do not think that you have permission to swear in My name even in truth. You are not entitled to swear by My name unless you possess all the following attributes (of Deut. 10:20), ‘The Lord your God you shall fear, Him you shall serve, to Him you shall hold fast, [and by Him you shall swear].’” That you should be like those who were called God-fearing, Abraham, Job, and Joseph: Abraham of whom it is written (in Gen. 22:12), “For now I know that you fear [God].” Concerning Job it is written (in Job 1:1), “the man was blameless and upright, one who feared God.” Concerning Joseph it is written (in Gen. 42:18), “for I fear God.” Ergo (in Deut. 10:20), “The Lord your God you shall fear.” (Deut. 10:20, cont.) “Him you shall serve.” [You do so,] if you turn [all] your attention to the Torah, fulfill [its] commandments and have no other work (abodah). It therefore is stated (ibid.), “Him you shall serve (rt.: 'bd).” (Deut. 10:20, cont.) “To Him you shall hold fast.” Can one hold fast to the Divine Presence? Moreover, has it not already been stated (in Deut. 4:24), “For the Lord your God is a consuming fire?” It is simply [being stated with reference to] anyone marrying off his daughter to a scholar who reads [Scripture] and recites [Mishnah], that he engage in commerce1Gk.: pragmateia. for him and have him benefit from his assets.2Ket. 111b; cf. Sot. 14a. It is with reference to [such a] one that it is stated (in Deut. 10:20), “to him you shall hold fast.”
If you have all these [attributes] you may swear; if not, you are not entitled to swear. There is a story about King Jannai, that he had two thousand towns and they all were destroyed because of a true oath. How so? One man said to his fellow, “It is an oath that I will walk and eat such and such in place x”; and they would walk and fulfill the oath, and [the towns] were [nevertheless] destroyed. [If] this is with someone that swears truthfully, all the more so with one who swears falsely.

2 ב

נְקֹם נִקְמַת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל מֵאֵת הַמִּדְיָנִים אַחַר תֵּאָסֵף אֶל עַמֶּךָ (במדבר לא, ב), רַבִּי יְהוּדָה אוֹמֵר אִלּוּ הָיָה רוֹצֶה משֶׁה לִחְיוֹת כַּמָּה שָׁנִים הָיָה חַי, שֶׁאָמַר לוֹ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא נְקֹם וְאַחַר תֵּאָסֵף, תָּלָה הַכָּתוּב מִיתָתוֹ בְּמִדְיָן, אֶלָּא לְהוֹדִיעֲךָ שִׁבְחוֹ שֶׁל משֶׁה, אָמַר בִּשְׁבִיל שֶׁאֶחְיֶה יְעַכֵּב נִקְמַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, מִיָּד (במדבר לא, ג): וַיְדַבֵּר משֶׁה אֶל הָעָם לֵאמֹר הֵחָלְצוּ מֵאִתְּכֶם אֲנָשִׁים לַצָּבָא, אֲנָשִׁים, צַדִּיקִים. וּלְהַלָּן (שמות יז, ט): בְּחַר לָנוּ אֲנָשִׁים, וְכֵן (איוב ד, יג): בִּנְפֹל תַּרְדֵּמָה עַל אֲנָשִׁים. (במדבר לא, ג): לָתֵת נִקְמַת ה' בְּמִדְיָן, הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אָמַר: נִקְמַת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, וּמשֶׁה אָמַר: נִקְמַת ה' בְּמִדְיָן, אָמַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לָהֶם אֵינוֹ אֶלָּא דִּיקוֹ שֶׁלָּכֶם, שֶׁגָּרְמוּ לִי לְהַזִּיק אֶתְכֶם, אָמַר משֶׁה רִבּוֹן הָעוֹלָמִים, אִם הָיִינוּ עֲרֵלִים, אוֹ עוֹבְדֵי עֲבוֹדַת כּוֹכָבִים, אוֹ כּוֹפְרֵי מִצְווֹת, לֹא הָיוּ שׂוֹנְאִין אוֹתָנוּ וְאֵינָן רוֹדְפִין אַחֲרֵינוּ אֶלָּא בִּשְׁבִיל תּוֹרָה וּמִצְווֹת שֶׁנָּתַתָּ לָנוּ, הִלְכָּךְ הַנְּקָמָה שֶׁלְּךָ לָתֵת נִקְמַת ה' בְּמִדְיָן.

2 (Numb. 31:2) “Exact vengeance [for the Children of Israel on the Midianites; afterward you shall be gathered unto your people]”: R. Judah said, “If Moses had wanted to live for several [more] years, he could have remained alive; as the Holy One, blessed be He, had made his death dependent upon the vengeance against Midian. It is simply to show you the praise of Moses, as he said, ‘For the sake of my remaining alive, I shall delay the Children of Israel's vengeance on Midian?’ [Rather] immediately (in vs. 3), ‘Moses spoke unto the people, saying, “Arm some of your number (anashim) for the army, and let them fall on Midian.”’” [The word,] anashim, [implies that they were] righteous. So also elsewhere (in Exod. 17:9), “Choose anashim for us.”3Here also, as in Numb. 31:3, anashim implies that those chosen were righteous. And so too (in Job 4:13), “in the falling of slumber upon anashim.” (Numb. 31:3, cont.) “To render the vengeance of the Lord against Midian”: The Holy One, blessed be He, had said (in vs. 2), “the vengeance of the Children of Israel”; but Moses says (here in vs. 3), “the vengeance of the Lord.” The Holy One, blessed be He, said to them, “It is your judgment that is called for, because they caused Me to harm you.” [But] Moses said, “Master of the world, if we had been uncircumcised or practitioners of star worship or had denied [the binding force of] the commandments, they would not have persecuted us. But [they have done so precisely] because of the Torah and commandments which You have given. The vengeance, therefore, is Yours,” (as in Numb. 31:3), “to render the vengeance of the Lord against Midian.”

3 ג

(במדבר לא, ד): אֶלֶף לַמַּטֶּה וגו', יֵשׁ אוֹמְרִים שְׁנֵי אֲלָפִים מִכָּל שֵׁבֶט וְשֵׁבֶט שָׁלַח, וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִים שְׁלשֶׁת אֲלָפִים מִכָּל שֵׁבֶט וְשֵׁבֶט, שְׁנֵים עָשָׂר אֶלֶף מְשַׁמְּרִים אֶת כְּלֵיהֶם, עֲלֵיהֶם נֶאֱמַר (שיר השירים ד, ב): שִׁנַּיִךְ כְּעֵדֶר הַקְּצוּבוֹת, שֶׁכֻּלָּם מַתְאִימוֹת, וּשְׁנֵים עָשָׂר אֶלֶף לִתְפִלָּה. וּמִנַיִן שֶׁכֵּן, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: אֶלֶף לַמַּטֶּה אֶלֶף לַמַּטֶּה, הֲרֵי עֶשְׂרִים וְאַרְבָּעָה אֲלָפִים, (במדבר לא, ה): וַיִּמָּסְרוּ מֵאַלְפֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶלֶף לַמַּטֶּה, הֲרֵי שְׁנֵים עָשָׂר אֲחֵרִים, מַהוּ וַיִּמָּסְרוּ מֵאַלְפֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶלֶף לַמַּטֶּה, שֶׁהָיוּ נִמְסָרִין זוּגוֹת זֶה לָזֶה. דָּבָר אַחֵר, וַיִּמָּסְרוּ, בְּעַל כָּרְחָן, לְפִי שֶׁתָּלָה הַכָּתוּב מִיתַת משֶׁה בְּנִקְמַת מִדְיָן, אָמְרוּ נֵלֵךְ לְמִדְיָן וְיָמוּת משֶׁה, וְנִמְנְעוּ מִלֵילֵךְ. אָמַר לוֹ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְמשֶׁה הַפֵּל גּוֹרָלוֹת עַל הַשְּׁבָטִים וְהֵם מֻסָּרִין מֵאֲלֵיהֶן.

3 (Numb. 31:4) “[You shall send to the war] a thousand per tribe [from all the tribes of Israel]”: Some say, “He sent two thousand from each and every tribe.” But others say, “Three thousand from each and every tribe, [with twelve thousand fighters], twelve thousand to guard the baggage, and about them it is stated (in Cant. 4:2), ‘Your teeth are like a flock of ewes that are perfectly matched’; and twelve thousand for prayer.” And where is it shown? Where it is stated (ibid.), “A thousand per tribe (literally, a thousand per tribe; a thousand per tribe).” That is twenty-four thousand. (Numb. 31:5) “So from the thousands in Israel there were furnished a thousand per tribe.” That is twelve thousand others. What is the meaning of “were furnished?” That they were furnished for each other in pairs.4Gk.: zeuge, zuga; Lat.: jugera. The probable meaning is that for each thousand who fought, there were a thousand replacements. Another interpretation [of “were furnished”]: They were furnished by force. Since Scripture had made the death of Moses dependent upon the vengeance against Midian, they said, “Shall we go against Midian and let Moses die?” They refrained from going. The Holy One, blessed be He, said to Moses, “Cast lots over the tribes, and they will be furnished automatically.”

4 ד

וַיִּשְׁלַח אֹתָם משֶׁה (במדבר לא, ו), אָמַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְמשֶׁה: נְקֹם נִקְמַת, אַתָּה בְּעַצְמְךָ, וְהוּא מְשַׁלֵּחַ אֶת אֲחֵרִים, אֶלָּא מִפְּנֵי שֶׁנִּתְגַּדֵּל בְּאֶרֶץ מִדְיָן אָמַר אֵינוֹ בְּדִין שֶׁאֲנִי מֵצֵר לְמִי שֶׁעָשָׂה בִּי טוֹבָה, הַמָּשָׁל אוֹמֵר בּוֹר שֶׁשָּׁתִיתָ מִמֶּנּוּ אַל תִּזְרֹק בּוֹ אֶבֶן. וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִים שֶׁאֵינָהּ זוֹ מִדְיָן שֶׁנִּתְגַּדֵּל בָּהּ משֶׁה, שֶׁזּוֹ בְּצַד מוֹאָב וְהִיא חֲרֵבָה עַד עַכְשָׁו, לָמָּה שָׁלַח פִּינְחָס, אָמַר, מִי שֶׁהִתְחִיל בְּמִצְוָה הוּא גוֹמֵר, הוּא הֵשִׁיב אֶת חֲמָתוֹ וְהִכָּה אֶת הַמִּדְיָנִית, הוּא יִגְמֹר מִצְוָתוֹ. (במדבר לא, ו): וּכְלֵי הַקֹּדֶשׁ, זֶה הָאָרוֹן, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר ז, ט): כִּי עֲבֹדַת הַקֹּדֶשׁ וגו'. רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן אָמַר אֵלּוּ בִּגְדֵי כְּהֻנָּה, שֶׁהֵם אוּרִים וְתֻמִּים, כְּמוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות כט, כט): וּבִגְדֵי הַקֹּדֶשׁ אֲשֶׁר לְאַהֲרֹן. (במדבר לא, ז ח): וַיִּצְבְּאוּ עַל מִדְיָן כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוָּה ה' אֶת משֶׁה וַיַּהַרְגוּ כָּל זָכָר, וְאֶת מַלְכֵי מִדְיָן וגו' הָרְגוּ בֶּחָרֶב, מַה בִּקֵּשׁ שָׁם, אֶלָּא שֶׁהָלַךְ לִטֹּל שְׂכָרוֹ מִן עֶשְׂרִים וְאַרְבָּעָה אֶלֶף, עָלָיו נֶאֱמַר (משלי כו, כז): כֹּרֶה שַׁחַת בָּהּ יִפּוֹל וְגוֹלֵל אֶבֶן אֵלָיו תָּשׁוּב. (במדבר לא, יא יב): וַיִּקְחוּ אֶת כָּל הַשָּׁלָל וְאֵת כָּל הַמַּלְקוֹחַ, וַיָּבִאוּ אֶל משֶׁה וְאֶל אֶלְעָזָר הַכֹּהֵן, לְהוֹדִיעַ שִׁבְחָן שֶׁלֹא נָטְלוּ כְּלוּם מִן הַבִּזָּה שֶׁלֹא בִּרְשׁוּת, אֶלָּא הֵבִיאוּ לִפְנֵיהֶם וְאַחַר כָּךְ נָטְלוּ. (במדבר לא, יג): וַיֵּצְאוּ משֶׁה וְאֶלְעָזָר הַכֹּהֵן וְכָל נְשִׂיאֵי הָעֵדָה לִקְרָאתָם, לְהוֹדִיעַ עִנְוְתָנוּתוֹ וְשִׁבְחוֹ שֶׁל משֶׁה שֶׁהָיוּ כֻּלָּם תַּלְמִידֵי תַלְמִידָיו.

4 (Numb. 31:6) “Then Moses sent them”: The Holy One, blessed be He, said to Moses (in vs. 2), “’Take vengeance,’ by yourself,” and he sent others? It was simply because he had been raised in Midian, he said, “It is not right for me to oppress those who have done good to me.” The proverb says, “Do not cast a stone into a cistern from which you have drunk water.” But some say that this is not the same Midian in which Moses was raised. As this one is next to Moab and it is [still] desolate until now. And why did He send Phinehas (instead of someone else)? He said, “Whoever has begun a commandment should finish it. [Phinehas] has (according to Numb. 25:11) ‘turned around My wrath’ and smote the Midianite woman. Let him finish the commandment [that he undertook].” (Numb. 31:6, cont.) “And the vessels of the sanctuary (haqodesh)”: This refers to the ark (and its contents), since it is stated (in Numb. 7:9), “because they (i.e., the Children of Kohath) had the service of the holy (haqodesh) objects, which they carried on the shoulder.” R. Johanan said, “These were the priestly garments, in which were the urim and thummim, as stated (in Exod. 29:29), ‘And the sacred (haqodesh) garments of Aaron.’” (Numb. 31:7-8) “And they gather the army against Midian […. …] and they killed [Balaam ben Beor] with the sword”: Now what was he doing there? He had simply gone to receive a reward for the twenty-four thousand from Israel that had fallen through his counsel. And about him is it stated (in Prov. 26:27), “He who digs a pit will fall in it.” (Numb. 31:11-12) “Then they took all the plunder…. And they brought unto Moses and Elazar the Priest”: [This text serves] to show their excellence, for they did not want to take the spoils without permission. Rather they had brought all of it before them; and [only] after that, they took [them with his permission]. (Numb. 31:13) “Then Moses, Elazar the Priest, and the princes of the congregation went out to meet them”: [This text serves] to show Moses' humility, for they all were disciples of his disciples.

5 ה

דָּבָר אַחֵר, נְקֹם נִקְמַת, זֶה שֶׁאָמַר הַכָּתוּב (איוב לו, ז): לֹא יִגְרַע מִצַּדִּיק עֵינָיו וְאֶת מְלָכִים לַכִּסֵּא, מַהוּ לֹא יִגְרַע מִצַּדִּיק עֵינָיו, אֵין הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מוֹנֵעַ מִן הַצַּדִּיק מַה שֶּׁרוֹצֶה בְּעֵינָיו, לְלַמֶּדְךָ שֶׁמּשֶׁה מִתְאַוֶּה לִרְאוֹת בְּנִקְמַת מִדְיָן קֹדֶם שֶׁיָּמוּת, וְהָיָה מְבַקֵּשׁ מִן הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא שֶׁיִּרְאֶה בְּעֵינָיו, עַל משֶׁה נֶאֱמַר (תהלים נח, יא): יִשְׂמַח צַדִּיק כִּי חָזָה נָקָם, נִקְמַת מִדְיָן, (תהלים נח, יא): פְּעָמָיו יִרְחַץ בְּדַם הָרָשָׁע, זֶה בִּלְעָם, אָמַר משֶׁה לְפִינְחָס וּלְאַנְשֵׁי הַצָּבָא, יוֹדֵעַ אֲנִי שֶׁבִּלְעָם הָרָשָׁע הוּא שָׁם לִטֹּל שְׂכָרוֹ, עַד שֶׁהַזְּאֵב בָּא לַצֹּאן פָּרְשׂוּ לוֹ מְצוּדָה, וְאוֹתוֹ רָשָׁע אִם תִּרְאוּ אוֹתוֹ שֶׁעוֹשֶׂה כְשָׁפִים וּפוֹרֵחַ בַּאֲוִיר הָעוֹלָם, הַרְאוּ לוֹ אֶת הַצִּיץ שֶׁכָּתוּב בּוֹ (שמות כח, לו): קֹדֶשׁ לַה', וְהוּא נוֹפֵל וְהִרְגוּ אוֹתוֹ, וְאֶת מַלְכֵי מִדְיָן הָרְגוּ עַל חַלְלֵיהֶם, שֶׁהָיוּ עוֹשִׂין כְּשָׁפִים עִם בִּלְעָם וּפוֹרְחִין וּכְשֶׁרָאוּ אֶת הַצִּיץ נָפְלוּ עַל חַלְלֵיהֶם.

5 Another interpretation (of Numb. 31:2) “Exact vengeance for the Children of Israel.” This text is related (to Job 36:7), “He does not withdraw His eyes from a righteous person […].” What is the meaning of “He does not withdraw His eyes from a righteous person (literally, withdraw from a righteous person his eyes)?” The Holy One, blessed be He, does not keep back from a righteous person what he wants to see with his eyes. [The text] teaches that Moses longed to see vengeance on the Midianites before he died, and [so] he requested from the Holy One, blessed be He, about it, that he should [see it] with his eyes. Thus it is stated concerning Moses (in Ps. 58:11), “A righteous person will rejoice when he sees vengeance,” i.e., vengeance on Midian; “he will bathe his feet in the blood of the wicked person,” i.e., of Balaam. Moses said to Phinehas and the warring men, “I know that Balaam the Wicked is there, as he went to collect his wage. Before the wolf comes to the flock, spread the trap for him. And if you see that that wicked man is doing magic and is flying in the air […], show him the diadem, upon which it is written (according to Exod. 28:36), ‘holy to the Lord.’ And [when] he shall [then] fall, kill him.” (Numb. 31:8) “And upon their [other] corpses they killed the kings of Midian,” as they were doing magic with Balaam and flying in the air; so they showed them the diadem and they fell upon their corpses.

6 ו

אָמְרוּ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ כְּתִיב בִּיהוֹשֻׁעַ (יהושע א, ה): כַּאֲשֶׁר הָיִיתִי עִם משֶׁה אֶהְיֶה עִמָּךְ, וְהָיָה צָרִיךְ יְהוֹשֻׁעַ לִחְיוֹת מֵאָה וְעֶשְׂרִים שָׁנָה, כְּמשֶׁה רַבֵּינוּ, וְלָמָּה נִתְקַצְּרוּ שְׁנוֹתָיו עֶשֶׂר שָׁנִים, בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁאָמַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְמשֶׁה: נְקֹם נִקְמַת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל מֵאֵת הַמִּדְיָנִים אַחַר תֵּאָסֵף אֶל עַמֶּךָ, וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁנִּתְבַּשֵֹּׂר בְּשׁוֹרַת מָוֶת לֹא אֵחַר הַדָּבָר אֶלָּא נִזְדָּרֵז, וַיִּשְׁלַח אֹתָם משֶׁה. אֲבָל יְהוֹשֻׁעַ כֵּיוָן שֶׁבָּא לְהִלָּחֵם עִם שְׁלשִׁים וְאֶחָד מְלָכִים, אָמַר אִם אֲנִי הוֹרְגָם מִיָּד, מִיָּד אֲנִי מֵת כְּשֵׁם שֶׁעָשָׂה משֶׁה רַבֵּינוּ, מֶה עָשָׂה הִתְחִיל מְעַכֵּב בְּמִלְחַמְתָּם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (יהושע יא, יח): יָמִים רַבִּים עָשָׂה יְהוֹשֻׁעַ אֶת כָּל הַמְּלָכִים הָאֵלֶּה מִלְחָמָה, אָמַר לוֹ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא וְכָךְ עָשִׂיתָ, הֲרֵינִי מְקַצֵּר שְׁנוֹתֶיךָ עֶשֶׂר שָׁנִים. אָמַר שְׁלֹמֹה (משלי יט, כא): רַבּוֹת מַחֲשָׁבוֹת בְּלֶב אִישׁ וַעֲצַת ה' הִיא תָקוּם.

6 Our masters said “It is written about Joshua (in Josh. 1:5), ‘as I was with Moses, so I will be with you.’ So Joshua should have lived a hundred and twenty years like Moshe our teacher. And why were they shortened by ten years? Because at the time that the Holy One, blessed be He, said to Moses (in Numb. 31:2), ‘Exact vengeance for the Children of Israel […],’ even though the announcement of [his] death was [also] announced, he did not delay the thing. Rather, he showed alacrity, [as stated] (in Numb. 31:6), ‘And Moses sent them.’ But Joshua did not do like this. When he came to war against thirty-one kings, he said, ‘If I kill them, I will die immediately, as happened to Moshe our teacher.’ What did he do? He began to stall in the war with them, as stated (in Josh. 11:18), ‘Joshua waged war with all those kings over a long period.’ [So] the Holy One, blessed be He, said to him, ‘This is what you did? See that I will shorten your years by ten years.’ Solomon said (about this in Prov. 19:21), ‘Many thoughts are in the heart of a man, [but it is the counsel of the Lord that will stand].’”

7 ז

וּמִקְנֶה רַב הָיָה לִבְנֵי רְאוּבֵן וְלִבְנֵי גָד. הֲלָכָה שָׁלשׁ מַתָּנוֹת נִבְרְאוּ בָּעוֹלָם, זָכָה בְּאַחַת מֵהֶן נָטַל חֶמְדַת כָּל הָעוֹלָם, זָכָה בְּחָכְמָה זָכָה בַּכֹּל, זָכָה בִּגְבוּרָה זָכָה בַּכֹּל, זָכָה בְּעשֶׁר זָכָה בַּכֹּל, אֵימָתַי בִּזְּמַן שֶׁהֵן מַתְּנוֹת שָׁמַיִם וּבָאוֹת בְּכֹחַ הַתּוֹרָה, אֲבָל גְּבוּרָתוֹ וְעָשְׁרוֹ שֶׁל בָּשָׂר וָדָם אֵינוֹ כְּלוּם, שֶׁכֵּן שְׁלֹמֹה אוֹמֵר (קהלת ט, יא): שַׁבְתִּי וְרָאֹה תַּחַת הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ כִּי לֹא לַקַּלִּים הַמֵּרוֹץ וְלֹא לַגִּבּוֹרִים הַמִּלְחָמָה וְגַם לֹא לַחֲכָמִים לֶחֶם וְגַם לֹא לַנְּבֹנִים עשֶׁר וְגַם לֹא לַיֹּדְעִים חֵן כִּי עֵת וָפֶגַע יִקְרֶה אֶת כֻּלָּם. וְכֵן יִרְמְיָה אוֹמֵר (ירמיה ט, כב כג): כֹּה אָמַר ה' אַל יִתְהַלֵּל חָכָם בְּחָכְמָתוֹ וְאַל יִתְהַלֵּל הַגִּבּוֹר בִּגְבוּרָתוֹ אַל יִתְהַלֵּל עָשִׁיר בְּעָשְׁרוֹ, כִּי אִם בְּזֹאת יִתְהַלֵּל וגו', וּמַתָּנוֹת אֵלּוּ בִּזְּמַן שֶׁאֵינָן בָּאִין מִן הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא סוֹפָן לְהִפָּסֵק מִמֶּנּוּ. שָׁנוּ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ, שְׁנֵי חֲכָמִים עָמְדוּ בָּעוֹלָם, אֶחָד מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל וְאֶחָד מֵעוֹבְדֵי כּוֹכָבִים, אֲחִיתֹפֶל מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל וּבִלְעָם מֵאֻמּוֹת הָעוֹלָם, וּשְׁנֵיהֶם נֶאֶבְדוּ מִן הָעוֹלָם. וְכֵן שְׁנֵי גִּבּוֹרִים עָמְדוּ בָּעוֹלָם, אֶחָד מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל וְאֶחָד מֵאֻמּוֹת הָעוֹלָם, שִׁמְשׁוֹן מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל וְגָלְיַת מֵאֻמּוֹת הָעוֹלָם, וּשְׁנֵיהֶם נֶאֶבְדוּ מִן הָעוֹלָם. וְכֵן שְׁנֵי עֲשִׁירִים עָמְדוּ בָּעוֹלָם, אֶחָד מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל וְאֶחָד מֵאֻמּוֹת הָעוֹלָם, קֹרַח מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל וְהָמָן מֵאֻמּוֹת הָעוֹלָם, וּשְׁנֵיהֶם נֶאֶבְדוּ מִן הָעוֹלָם, לָמָּה, שֶׁלֹא הָיָה מַתְּנָתָן מִן הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אֶלָּא חוֹטְפִין אוֹתָהּ לָהֶם. וְכֵן אַתָּה מוֹצֵא בִּבְנֵי גָד וּבְנֵי רְאוּבֵן שֶׁהָיוּ עֲשִׁירִים וְהָיָה לָהֶם מִקְנֶה גָּדוֹל, וְחִבְּבוּ אֶת מָמוֹנָם וְיָשְׁבוּ לָהֶם חוּץ מֵאֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל, לְפִיכָךְ גָּלוּ תְּחִלָּה מִכָּל הַשְּׁבָטִים, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברי הימים א ה, כו): וַיַּגְלֵם לָראוּבֵנִי וְלַגָּדִי וְלַחֲצִי שֵׁבֶט מְנַשֶּׁה, וּמִי גָּרַם לָהֶם עַל שֶׁהִפְרִישׁוּ עַצְמָם מִן אֲחֵיהֶם בִּשְׁבִיל קִנְיָנָם, מִנַּיִן, מִמַּה שֶּׁכָּתוּב בַּתּוֹרָה: וּמִקְנֶה רַב הָיָה לִבְנֵי רְאוּבֵן וגו'.

7 (Numb. 32:1) “Now the Children of Reuben and the Children of Gad] had much livestock”: A legal teaching: Three gifts were created in the world. A person meriting one of them receives what is most desirable in the whole world. A person meriting wisdom has merited everything. A person meriting strength has merited everything. A person meriting wealth has merited everything. When? When they are gifts of the Heavens and come from the power of Torah. But human strength and wealth are nothing; for thus has Solomon stated (in Eccl. 9:11), “Again I saw that under the sun the race does not belong to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor even wealth to the discerning, nor even favor to the knowledgeable […].” Thus also has Jeremiah stated (in Jer. 9:22), “Thus says the Lord, ‘Let not the wise boast in their wisdom, nor the strong boast in their strength, nor the wealthy boast in their wealth.’” So these gifts, when they do not come from the Holy One, blessed be He, will finally be cut off from them. Our masters taught, “Two wise men arose in the world, one from Israel and one from the nations of the world. Ahitophel was from Israel, while Balaam was from the nations of the world; but both of them were lost from the world. Two strong men arose in the world, one was from Israel and one from the nations of the world. Samson was from Israel, while Goliath was from the nations of the world; but both of them were lost from the world. Two wealthy men arose in the world, Korah from Israel and Haman from the nations of the world; but both of them were lost from the world. Why? Because their gift was not from the Holy One, blessed be He. Rather they grabbed it up for themselves. So also do you find with the Children of Gad and the Children of Reuben that they were very wealthy and had a lot of livestock. But they loved their money and resided outside the Land of Israel [as a result]. For that reason they were the first of the tribes to go into exile, as stated (in I Chron. 5:26), ‘and he carried them into exile, i.e., the Reubenites and the Gadites […].’ Who brought [the exile] upon them? [It happened] because they had separated themselves from their siblings for the sake of their livestock. And where is it shown? From what is written in the Torah (in Numb. 32:1), ‘Now the Children of Reuben [and the Children of Gad] had much livestock.’”

8 ח

זֶה שֶׁאָמַר הַכָּתוּב (תהלים עה, ז ח): כִּי לֹא מִמּוֹצָא וּמִמַּעֲרָב וְלֹא מִמִּדְבַּר הָרִים, כִּי אֱלֹהִים שֹׁפֵט זֶה יַשְׁפִּיל וְזֶה יָרִים, מַהוּ כִּי לֹא מִמּוֹצָא וּמִמַּעֲרָב, לֹא מִמַּה שֶּׁאָדָם יוֹצֵא וְעָמֵל בִּסְחוֹרָה וְהוֹלֵךְ מִמִּזְרָח לְמַעֲרָב נַעֲשָׂה עָשִׁיר, אֲפִלּוּ פּוֹרֵשׁ בִּסְפִינוֹת וְהוֹלֵךְ מִמִּזְרָח לְמַעֲרָב וְחוֹזֵר עַל הַמִּדְבָּרוֹת וְעַל הֶהָרִים, אֵינוֹ נַעֲשָׂה עָשִׁיר, מַהוּ וְלֹא מִמִּדְבַּר הָרִים, אָמַר רַבִּי אַבָּא מֵרוּמַנְיָא, כָּל הָרִים שֶׁבַּמִּקְרָא הָרִים הֵם, חוּץ מִזֶּה שֶׁהוּא רוֹמֵמוּת, שֶׁאֵין אָדָם מִתְרוֹמֵם מִן הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלּוּ, מַה הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא עוֹשֶׂה נוֹטֵל נְכָסִים מִזֶּה וְנוֹתֵן לָזֶה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: כִּי אֱלֹהִים שֹׁפֵט זֶה יַשְׁפִּיל וְזֶה יָרִים, לְכָךְ נִקְרָא שְׁמָם נְכָסִים שֶׁנִּכְסִים מִזֶּה וְנִגְלִין לָזֶה, וְלָמָּה נִקְרָא שְׁמָם זוּזִין, שֶׁזָּזִים מִזֶּה וְנִתָּנִין לָזֶה. מָמוֹן, מָה אַתָּה מוֹנֶה אֵינוֹ כְּלוּם. מָעוֹת, מַה לְּעֵת, וְכַלָּשׁוֹן הַזֶּה אַתָּה דּוֹרֵשׁ. וְכֵן חַנָּה אוֹמֶרֶת (שמואל א ב, ו ז): ה' מֵמִית וּמְחַיֶּה מוֹרִיד שְׁאוֹל וַיָּעַל, ה' מוֹרִישׁ וּמַעֲשִׁיר מַשְׁפִּיל אַף מְרוֹמֵם. מַה אַף מְרוֹמֵם, בְּאַף שֶׁהוּא מֵבִיא לָזֶה, מְרוֹמֵם אֶת זֶה. שָׁאֲלָה מַטְרוֹנָה אַחַת אֶת רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן חֲלַפְתָּא, לְכַמָּה יָמִים בָּרָא הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אֶת הָעוֹלָם, אָמַר לָהּ לְשֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות כ, יא): כִּי שֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים עָשָׂה ה' אֶת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֶת הָאָרֶץ, אָמְרָה לוֹ מֵאוֹתָהּ שָׁעָה וְעַד עַכְשָׁיו מֶה עוֹשֶׂה, אָמַר לָהּ יוֹשֵׁב וְעוֹשֶׂה סֻלָּמוֹת, מַעֲלֶה לָזֶה וּמוֹרִיד לָזֶה, לְכָךְ נֶאֱמַר: כִּי אֱלֹהִים שֹׁפֵט זֶה יַשְׁפִּיל וְזֶה יָרִים. תֵּדַע לְךָ כְּשֶׁבִּקֵּשׁ שֶׁיַּעֲשִׁירוּ בְּנֵי רְאוּבֵן וּבְנֵי גָד הִפִּיל אֶת הַמִּדְיָנִים לִפְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל כְּדֵי שֶׁיַּעֲשִׁירוּ בְּנֵי גָד וּבְנֵי רְאוּבֵן, מַה כְּתִיב לְמַעְלָה (במדבר לא, ט): וַיִּשְׁבּוּ בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת נְשֵׁי מִדְיָן וְאֶת טַפָּם, וְאַחַר כָּךְ (במדבר לב, א): וּמִקְנֶה רַב, הָא שֶׁהִשְׁפִּיל הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אֶת הַמִּדְיָנִים וְרוֹמֵם אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל, לְקַיֵּם מַה שֶּׁנֶּאֱמַר: כִּי לֹא מִמּוֹצָא וּמִמַּעֲרָב וְלֹא מִמִּדְבַּר הָרִים, אֶלָּא כִּי אֱלֹהִים שׁפֵט זֶה יַשְׁפִּיל וְזֶה יָרִים.

8 This is related to the verse (in Ps. 75:7), “For it is not from the east or from the west or from the wilderness that there comes an exaltation (harim) […].” What is the meaning of (Ps. 75:7) “For it is not from the east (rt.: mts') or from the west?” It is not from a person working hard by going out (rt.: mts') for trade and traveling from east to west and searching in wildernesses and on mountains (harim) that he becomes wealthy. Rather even if one sails away in ships to go from east to west and searches in wildernesses and on mountains (harim), he does not become wealthy. What is the meaning of (Ps. 75:7, cont.), “or from the wilderness that there comes an exaltation (harim)?” R. Abba of Rumania says, “Every use of harim in Scripture denotes mountains except for here, where it denotes exaltation. Thus one is not exalted from these things.” So what does the Holy One, blessed be He, do? He takes possessions (nekhasim) from one and gives them to another, as stated (in Ps. 75:7, cont.), “For God it is who gives judgment; He brings down one man, He lifts up another.” That is why they are called nekhasim, as they are covered (nikhsim) from one and revealed to another. And why is the name of [common coins] called zuzim? Because they move (zazim) from one and are given to another. [It is called] money (mammon), because what you count (mah [she’atah] moneh) is not anything. [It is called] coins (ma’ot), because they are something for a time (mah le’et). And one can expound [with these] expression[s of money]. And so did Hannah say (in I Sam. 2:6-7), “[…] The Lord makes poor and makes rich; He casts down, He also lifts high.” What is the meaning of, “He also (af) lifts high?” With the anger (af) that He bring upon one, He lifts up the other. A certain matron asked R. Jose ben Halafta, “In how many days did the Holy One, blessed be He, create His world? He said to her, “In six days, as stated (in Exod. 31:17), ‘for in six day the Lord made the heavens and the earth.’”5Gen. R. 68:4; PRK 2:4; Lev. R. 8:1; Numb. R. 3:6. She said to him, “And what has He been doing since that time?” He said to her, “He sits down and makes ladders [for] raising up one and putting down another. Hence it is stated (in Ps. 75:7), ‘For God it is who gives judgment; He brings down one man, He lifts up another.’” You yourself know that, when He wanted the Children of Gad and the Children of Reuben to become wealthy, He brought down the Midianites in front of Israel, so that the Children of Gad and the Children of Reuben would become wealthy. What is written above (in Numb. 31:9)? “Then the children of Israel took the women and children of the Midianites captive, [and all their cattle, all their livestock, and all their wealth they seized as plunder].” Then after that, it is written (in Numb. 32:1), “Now [the Children of Reuben and the Children of Gad] had much livestock.” See that He brought down the Midianites and raised up Israel, to fulfill that which is stated, (in Ps. 75:8), “For it is not from the east or from the west…, for it is God who judges; He brings down one man, He lifts up another.”

9 ט

דָּבָר אַחֵר, וּמִקְנֶה רַב, זֶה שֶׁאָמַר הַכָּתוּב (קהלת י, ב): לֵב חָכָם לִימִינוֹ וְלֵב כְּסִיל לִשְׂמֹאלוֹ, לֵב חָכָם לִימִינוֹ, זֶה יֵצֶר טוֹב, שֶׁהוּא נָתוּן בִּימִינוֹ. וְלֵב כְּסִיל לִשְׂמֹאלוֹ, זֶה יֵצֶר הָרָע, שֶׁנָּתוּן בִּשְׂמֹאלוֹ. דָּבָר אַחֵר, לֵב חָכָם לִימִינוֹ, אֵלּוּ הֵם הַצַּדִּיקִים שֶׁהֵן נוֹתְנִין לִבָּם לַתּוֹרָה שֶׁהִיא מִיָּמִין, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים לג, ב): מִימִינוֹ אֵשׁ דָת לָמוֹ. וְלֵב כְּסִיל לִשְׂמֹאלוֹ, אֵלּוּ הֵן הָרְשָׁעִים שֶׁהֵן נוֹתְנִין לִבָּם לְהַעֲשִׁיר, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (משלי ג, טז): בִּשְׂמֹאולָהּ עשֶׁר וְכָבוֹד. דָּבָר אַחֵר, לֵב חָכָם לִימִינוֹ, זֶה משֶׁה. וְלֵב כְּסִיל לִשְׂמֹאלוֹ, אֵלּוּ בְּנֵי רְאוּבֵן וּבְנֵי גָד, שֶׁעָשׂוּ אֶת הָעִקָּר טָפֵל וְאֶת הַטָּפֵל עִקָּר, שֶׁחִבְּבוּ אֶת מָמוֹנָם יוֹתֵר מִן הַנְּפָשׁוֹת, שֶׁהֵן אוֹמְרִים לְמשֶׁה (במדבר לב, טז): גִּדְרֹת צֹאן נִבְנֶה לְמִקְנֵנוּ פֹּה וְעָרִים לְטַפֵּנוּ. אָמַר לָהֶם משֶׁה, אֵינָהּ כְּלוּם, אֶלָּא עֲשׂוּ אֶת הָעִקָּר עִקָּר, תְּחִלָּה (במדבר לב, כד): בְּנוּ לָכֶם עָרִים לְטַפְּכֶם, וְאַחַר כָּךְ (במדבר לב, כד): וּגְדֵרֹת לְצֹנַאֲכֶם, הֱוֵי לֵב חָכָם לִימִינוֹ זֶה משֶׁה, וְלֵב כְּסִיל לִשְׂמֹאלוֹ אֵלּוּ בְּנֵי רְאוּבֵן וּבְנֵי גָד, אָמַר לָהֶם הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אַתֶּם חִבַּבְתֶּם אֶת מִקְנֵיכֶם יוֹתֵר מִן הַנְּפָשׁוֹת, חַיֵּיכֶם אֵין בּוֹ בְּרָכָה, עֲלֵיהֶם נֶאֱמַר (משלי כ, כא): נַחֲלָה מְבֹהֶלֶת בָּרִאשׁוֹנָה וְאַחֲרִיתָהּ לֹא תְבֹרָךְ. וְכֵן הוּא אוֹמֵר (משלי כג, ד): אַל תִּיגַע לְהַעֲשִׁיר מִבִּינָתְךָ חֲדָל. וְאֵיזֶה הוּא עָשִׁיר הַשָֹּׂמֵחַ בְּחֶלְקוֹ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (תהלים קכח, ב): יְגִיעַ כַּפֶּיךָ כִּי תֹאכֵל אַשְׁרֶיךָ וְטוֹב לָךְ.

9 (FN Sefaria Community Translation) Another interpretation of "And much cattle" (Numbers 32:1). This is [the meaning of] that which is stated by the verse (Ecclesiastes 10:2), "A wise man’s heart is to his right," that is the good impulse; "but a fool’s heart is to his left," that is the evil impulse. Another interpretation: "A wise man’s heart is to his right," that is the righteous who put their hearts to Torah which is from the right, as it is stated (Deuteronomy 33:2), “from His right, a fiery law to them; "but a fool’s heart is to his left," that is the evildoers who put their hearts to becoming rich, as it is stated (Proverbs 3:16), “in her left, riches and honor.” Another interpretation: "A wise man’s heart is to his right," that is Moshe; "but a fool’s heart is to his left," that is the Children of Reuven and the Children of Gad, who made the essential, secondary, and the secondary, essential. Why? Because they loved their possessions more than the [human] souls. As they said to Moshe (Numbers 32:16), "'We will build here sheepfolds for our flocks, and towns for our children.'" Moshe said to them, "This is nothing; rather make the essential, essential. First 'build towns for your children,' and afterwards 'sheepfolds for your flocks' (Numbers 32:24)." Hence, "A wise man’s heart is to his right," that is Moshe; "but a fool’s heart is to his left," that is the Children of Reuven and the Children of Gad. The Holy One, blessed be He, said to them, "You loved your money more than [your] souls. By your lives, there is no blessing in this, as stated (Proverbs 20:21), 'An estate acquired in haste at the outset will not be blessed in the end.'" And it likewise states (Proverbs 23:4), "Do not toil to gain wealth; have the sense to desist." And who is wealthy? One who is happy with his lot, as stated (in Psalms 128:2), "You shall eat the produce of your hands; you shall be happy, and it shall go well with you."