hebrew
1)

Why did Balak consult the elders of Midyan and not the king?

1.

Ramban #1 (citing the Ibn Ezra): The five elders of Midyan were in fact, the kings. 1

2.

Ramban #2: For the advice they were seeking, 2 they needed to ask the elders, who would have known best who Moshe was, and not the kings.

3.

Ramban: Initially, Midyan had kings, only Sichon fought with them and subjugated them, removing their sovereignty, turning Midyan into a vassal state and relegating them to the status of judges. 3


1

See Ramban.

2

Refer to 22:4:2:1.

3

Ramban: And they are the five leaders of Midyan which the Pasuk refers to, sometimes as kings (See Bamidbar 31:5) and sometimes, as elders (here) or princes (See Yehoshu'a, 13:21) - See Ramban.

2)

Bearing in mind the Pasuk in Bereishis (36:35), which depicts Midyan and Mo'av as enemies, why did Balak consult the elders of Mo'av?

1.

Rashi and Ramban (citing the Midrash): (Out of a common fear of Yisrael, 1 they made peace and joined forces


1

It is unclear what Midyan were afraid of, since Yisrael were not traveling in their direction and in no way threatened them?

3)

What is the significance of Balak comparison of Yisrael to an ox licking the grass?

1.

Rashi: Yisrael destroy their surroundings, 1 just as an ox destroys the area where it feeds by tearing out the grass by its roots. 2

2.

Ramban: He was afraid that, like an ox that destroys large areas of grassland, so too, due to their large numbers Yisrael will capture all the surrounding area, 3 and force them to engage in slave-labor. 4

3.

Rashbam: He was afraid that they would devour all the produce and all kinds of food (that was growing in the areas surrounding Mo'av).


1

See Bamidbar 21:35 (Sifsei Chachamim).

2

Rashi: There is no sign of B'rachah wherever an ox has eaten.

3

Ramban: just as they captured the two kings of the Emori.

4

Ramban: Even though he knew that they only wanted to pass through his land and were not interested in capturing it (See Ramban).

4)

What are the connotations of "ba'Eis ha'Hi"?

1.

Rashi: Balak was not in line to be a king, and they only appointed him then out of necessity. 1

2.

Ramban #1: Refer to 22:2:1:2.

3.

Ramban #2: Based on their fear of Yisrael, Mo'av did two things: 1. Acting on the advice of the elders of Midyan, they appointed Balak king; 2. Following the command of their new king, they sent to Bil'am to come and curse Yisrael. 2

4.

Seforno: Despite the fact that the great warrior Balak was king of Mo'av at that time, he did not dare to attack Yisrael. 3

5.

Targum Yonasan: This refers to the agreement between Midyan and Mo'av to take turns to sit on the throne.


1

Refer to 22:2:1:1.

2

Refer to 22:2:1:1.

3

Seforno: See Shoftim, 11:25. See Seforno.

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