The Conquests of Menashe

July 19th, 2006 by Yaakov Ellis

ADDeRabbi gives an interesting explanation regarding some difficulties with the sons of Menashe conquering the territory of Gilad.

Interestingly enough, the answer given in the end (from Rav Sa’adia Gaon) for the inconsistencies and questions raised is that the passage here in Bamidbar which talks about the Bnei Machir Ben Menashe conquering the area of Gilad is that this took place during the lifetime of Machir (the grandson of Yosef) while he was a general in the Egyptian army. This does answer all of the questions presented by ADDeRabbi, but I think that it raises some other points (that while they do not reject the answer, are still worth addressing):

  • Why is this recorded in Bamidbar? I know that this section is talking about the division of this land, but as is pointed out in the post, there is a different section in Devarim that deals with the conquering of (what seems to be) the same territory from Og. If this section (in our parasha) was referring back to the real Machir ben Menashe, then why does it say that Moshe gave the land “to Machir ben Menashe” (32:40) and not to “bnei Machir ben Menashe” as they are referred to in the previous verse.
  • Do we have any other records of people in Bnei Yisrael leaving Mitzrayim before Moshe, other than to bury Yaakov? The only other thing that I can think of is the incident when some members of Bnei Yisrael left 30 years before everyone else (coincident with the 400th anniversary of Brit bein haBetarim, thirty years before the birth of Yitzchak) only to be defeated (and presumably killed) when reaching Eretz Yisrael (since they left too early).

That aside (these questions are not too difficult to answer) – a very neat explanation for the pesukim.


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