Wednesday, December 30, 2009


The Gemora in Sotah (36b) explains: Even though Levi was below, the people standing by Mount Gerizim were more numerous because the descendants of Yosef (who were very populous) were with them; as it says: And the descendants of Yosef spoke to Yehoshua, saying, “Why have you given me but one lot and one portion for an inheritance, seeing that I am a huge nation?”

Rashi in Yehoshua notes that the descendants of Yosef were from the Tribe of Menasheh. The Radak explains that the descendants of Efraim did not have any legitimate complaint, for they had more people in their tribe when they left Egypt than now, when they entered Eretz Yisroel. Menasheh, on the other hand, had a valid complaint, for they had twenty thousand and five hundred more people now than when they left Egypt. The portions of land were allocated according to the amount of people each tribe had when they left Egypt, and since they were more numerous when they entered Eretz Yisroel than when they left Egypt, each one of them would be receiving a lesser portion.

Minchas Yaakov adds that this explanation can inferred from the verse which states that the descendants of Yosef spoke to Yehoshua. Reb Yaakov Kaminetzky in Emes l’Yaakov asks: Why by the spies, does the Torah state, to the Tribe of Yosef, to the tribe of Menasheh, but by Efraim, the Torah only writes, to the Tribe of Efraim? Why isn’t Yosef’s name mentioned? He answers that it is written [Breishis 48: 5 – 6]: And now, as for your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt, until I came to you, to the land of Egypt they are mine. Efraim and Menasheh shall be mine like Reuven and Shimon. But your children, if you beget any after them, shall be yours; by their brothers’ names, they shall be called in their inheritance. The children born to Yosef afterwards did not merit being included in the Tribe of Yosef. Yosef had the choice of delivering them to any tribe that he wished. Since Menasheh was the firstborn, he combined all of his other children with them. It emerges that the descendants of Yosef, who were not offspring of Menasheh and Efraim, were included in the Tribe of Menasheh. It is for this reason that the Torah writes, to the Tribe of Yosef, to the tribe of Menasheh.

Our verse, which states that “the descendants of Yosef spoke to Yehoshua” is referring to the Tribe of Menasheh, which consisted of Menasheh’s offspring, plus the offspring of Yosef.