Thursday, June 16, 2016

Equal Tribes

Each of the twelve tribes of Israel descended from one of Jacob’s twelve sons, and each had distinct qualities for which they were renowned. The tribe of Issachar, for instance, was known for its Torah scholars, whereas the tribe of Judah was known for producing leaders. While each tribe was unique, they were each of equal importance to the nation of Israel. Few incidents in the Torah are as demonstrative as the gifts of the tribal presents.

At the grand inauguration of the Mishkan (Tabernacle), the princes of the 12 tribes brought “six covered wagons and twelve oxen, a wagon for each two princes and an ox for each one” (7:3).
In addition to this unified gift, the princes brought individual offerings as well. The fact that every prince presented the same gift represented the beautiful equality of each tribe.

The first to bring his gift was the prince of the tribe of Judah, Nachshon ben Aminadav, who gave one silver bowl and one silver sprinkling basin both filled with fine flour mixed with olive oil, one golden spoon filled with incense, one young bull, one ram, one first year lamb, and one he-goat. Additionally, he donated two oxen, five rams, five he-goats, and five first-year lambs (7:11-17). The next day, Nethanel ben Zu’ar of Issachar brought the exact same offerings; and so forth until Ahira ben Enon of Naphtali brought the very same offering on the twelfth day.

It might have been simpler for the Torah to just state that the prince of each tribe brought the exact same items, listing them only once Instead, each prince and his offerings are listed separately and equally, requiring a total of 128 verses, to show the significance of each individual and his offering.

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