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The Complete Jewish Bible with Rashi Commentary
   

Shemot - Exodus - Chapter 1

Shemot - Exodus - Chapter 1

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Rashi's Commentary:

Chapter 1

1. And these are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt; with Jacob, each man and his household came:   א. וְאֵלֶּה שְׁמוֹת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הַבָּאִים מִצְרָיְמָה אֵת יַעֲקֹב אִישׁ וּבֵיתוֹ בָּאוּ:
And these are the names of the sons of Israel: Although [God] counted them in their lifetime by their names (Gen. 46:8-27), He counted them again after their death, to let us know how precious they are [to Him], because they were likened to the stars, which He takes out [From beyond the horizon] and brings in by number and by name, as it is said: who takes out their host by number; all of them He calls by name (Isa. 40:26). [From Tanchuma Buber, Shemot 2; Exod. Rabbah 1:3]   ואלה שמות בני ישראל: אף על פי שמנאן בחייהן בשמותן, חזר ומנאן במיתתן [אחר מיתתן], להודיע חבתן שנמשלו לכוכבים, שמוציאן ומכניסן במספר ובשמותם, שנאמר (ישעיהו מ כו) המוציא במספר צבאם לכולם בשם יקרא:
2. Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah.   ב. רְאוּבֵן שִׁמְעוֹן לֵוִי וִיהוּדָה:
3. Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin.   ג. יִשָּׂשכָר זְבוּלֻן וּבִנְיָמִן:
4. Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher.   ד. דָּן וְנַפְתָּלִי גָּד וְאָשֵׁר:
5. Now all those descended from Jacob were seventy souls, and Joseph, [who] was in Egypt.   ה. וַיְהִי כָּל נֶפֶשׁ יֹצְאֵי יֶרֶךְ יַעֲקֹב שִׁבְעִים נָפֶשׁ וְיוֹסֵף הָיָה בְמִצְרָיִם:
and Joseph, [who] was in Egypt: Now were not he and his sons included in the seventy? What then does this teach us? Did we not know that he was in Egypt? But [this clause comes] to inform you of Joseph’s righteousness. He, the Joseph who tended his father’s flocks, is the same Joseph who was in Egypt and became a king, and he retained his righteousness. [From Sifrei, Ha’azinu 334]   ויוסף היה במצרים: והלא הוא ובניו היו בכלל שבעים, ומה בא ללמדנו, וכי לא היינו יודעים שהוא היה במצרים, אלא להודיעך צדקתו של יוסף, הוא יוסף הרועה את צאן אביו, הוא יוסף שהיה במצרים ונעשה מלך ועומד בצדקו:
6. Now Joseph died, as well as all his brothers and all that generation.   ו. וַיָּמָת יוֹסֵף וְכָל אֶחָיו וְכֹל הַדּוֹר הַהוּא:
7. The children of Israel were fruitful and swarmed and increased and became very very strong, and the land became filled with them.   ז. וּבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל פָּרוּ וַיִּשְׁרְצוּ וַיִּרְבּוּ וַיַּעַצְמוּ בִּמְאֹד מְאֹד וַתִּמָּלֵא הָאָרֶץ אֹתָם:
and swarmed: They bore six children at each birth.   וישרצו: שהיו יולדות ששה בכרס אחד:
8. A new king arose over Egypt, who did not know about Joseph.   ח. וַיָּקָם מֶלֶךְ חָדָשׁ עַל מִצְרָיִם אֲשֶׁר לֹא יָדַע אֶת יוֹסֵף:
A new king arose: [There is a controversy between] Rav and Samuel. One says: He was really new, and the other one says: His decrees were new. [From Sotah 11a, Exod. Rabbah 1:8] Since the Torah does not say: The king of Egypt died, and a new king arose, it implies that the old king was still alive, only that his policies had changed, and he acted like a new king. [Rashi on Sotah 11a]   ויקם מלך חדש: רב ושמואל חד אמר חדש ממש. וחד אמר, שנתחדשו גזרותיו:
and who did not know: [means that] he acted as if he did not know about him.   אשר לא ידע: עשה עצמו כאלו לא ידע:
9. He said to his people, "Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more numerous and stronger than we are.   ט. וַיֹּאמֶר אֶל עַמּוֹ הִנֵּה עַם בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל רַב וְעָצוּם מִמֶּנּוּ:
10. Get ready, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they increase, and a war befall us, and they join our enemies and depart from the land."   י. הָבָה נִתְחַכְּמָה לוֹ פֶּן יִרְבֶּה וְהָיָה כִּי תִקְרֶאנָה מִלְחָמָה וְנוֹסַף גַּם הוּא עַל שׂנְאֵינוּ וְנִלְחַם בָּנוּ וְעָלָה מִן הָאָרֶץ:
Get ready, let us deal shrewdly with them: Heb. הָבָה. Every הָבָה [found in the Torah] is an expression of preparation and readiness. That is to say: Prepare yourselves for this.   הבה נתחכמה לו: כל הבה לשון הכנה והזמנה לדבר הוא, כלומר הזמינו עצמכם לכך:
let us deal shrewdly with them: With the people [of Israel]. Let us act shrewdly regarding what to do to them. Our Rabbis, however, interpreted [that Pharaoh said], Let us deal shrewdly with the Savior of Israel [thus interpreting לוֹ as to him] by afflicting them [to die] with water, for He has already sworn that He would not bring a flood to the world. (But they [the Egyptians] did not understand that upon the whole world He would not bring [a flood] but He would bring it upon one nation In an old Rashi manuscript.) from Sotah 11a]   נתחכמה לו: לעם. נתחכמה מה לעשות לו. ורבותינו דרשו נתחכם למושיען של ישראל לדונם במים, שכבר נשבע שלא יביא מבול לעולם (והם לא הבינו שעל כל העולם אינו מביא, אבל הוא מביא על אומה אחת):
and depart from the land: against our will. Our Rabbis, however, interpreted [i. e., depicted Pharaoh] as a person who curses himself but ascribes his curse to others. And it is as if it were written: and we will depart from the land, and they will take possession of it. [From Sotah 11a]   ועלה מן הארץ: על כרחנו. ורבותינו דרשו כאדם שמקלל עצמו ותולה קללתו באחרים, והרי הוא כאלו כתב ועלינו מן הארץ והם יירשוה:
11. So they appointed over them tax collectors to afflict them with their burdens, and they built store cities for Pharaoh, namely Pithom and Raamses.   יא. וַיָּשִׂימוּ עָלָיו שָׂרֵי מִסִּים לְמַעַן עַנֹּתוֹ בְּסִבְלֹתָם וַיִּבֶן עָרֵי מִסְכְּנוֹת לְפַרְעֹה אֶת פִּתֹם וְאֶת רַעַמְסֵס:
over them: Over the people.   עליו: על העם:
tax collectors: Heb. שָׂרֵי מִסִּים, lit., tax officers. מִסִּים denotes an expression of a tax (מַס), [so מִסִּים denotes] officers who collect the tax from them. Now what was the tax? That they build store cities for Pharaoh.   מסים: לשון מס, שרים שגובין מהם המס. ומהו המס, שיבנו ערי מסכנות לפרעה:
to afflict them with their burdens: [I.e., with the burdens] of the Egyptians.   למען ענתו בסבלתם: של מצרים:
store cities: Heb. מִסְכְּנֹתעָרֵי. As the Targum renders: קִרְוֵי בֵיתאוֹצָרָא, cities of storehouses], and similarly, Go, come to this treasurer (הַסּוֹכֵן) (Isa. 22:15), to the treasurer appointed over the storehouses. [From Exod. Rabbah 1:10]   ערי מסכנות: כתרגומו. וכן (ישעיהו כב טו) לך בא אל הסוכן הזה, גזבר הממונה על האוצרות:
Pithom and Raamses: which were originally unfit for this, and they strengthened them and fortified them for storage.   את פתם ואת רעמסס: שלא היו ראויות מתחלה לכך ועשאום חזקות ובצורות לאוצר:
12. But as much as they would afflict them, so did they multiply and so did they gain strength, and they were disgusted because of the children of Israel.   יב. וְכַאֲשֶׁר יְעַנּוּ אֹתוֹ כֵּן יִרְבֶּה וְכֵן יִפְרֹץ וַיָּקֻצוּ מִפְּנֵי בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל:
But as much as they would afflict them: In whatever [way] they set their heart to afflict [them], so was the heart of the Holy One, blessed be He, to multiply [them] and to strengthen [them].   וכאשר יענו אתו: בכל מה שהם נותנין לב לענות, כן לב הקב"ה להרבות ולהפריץ:
so did they multiply and so did they gain strength: Heb. כֵּן יִרְבֶּה וְכֵן יִפְרֹץ, lit., so will they multiply and so will they gain strength. [It means, however,] so did they multiply and so did they gain strength. Its midrashic interpretation is, however: The Holy Spirit says this: You [Pharaoh] say, Lest they multiply, but I say, So will they multiply. [From Sotah 11a]   כן ירבה: כן רבה וכן פרץ. ומדרשו רוח הקודש אומרת כן אתם אומרים פן ירבה, ואני אומר כן ירבה:
and they were disgusted: They were disgusted with their lives. (Others explain: And the Egyptians were disgusted with themselves, and it is easy to understand why.) Our Rabbis, however, interpreted it to mean that they [the Israelites] were like thorns (כקוצים) in their eyes -[from Sotah 11a] They we   ויקצו: קצו בחייהם. ורבותינו דרשו כקוצים היו בעיניהם:
13. So the Egyptians enslaved the children of Israel with back breaking labor.   יג. וַיַּעֲבִדוּ מִצְרַיִם אֶת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּפָרֶךְ:
with back-breaking labor: Heb. בְּפָרֶ. With hard labor that crushes the body and breaks it.   בפרך: בעבודה קשה המפרכת את הגוף ומשברתו:
14. And they embittered their lives with hard labor, with clay and with bricks and with all kinds of labor in the fields, all their work that they worked with them with back breaking labor.   יד. וַיְמָרֲרוּ אֶת חַיֵּיהֶם בַּעֲבֹדָה קָשָׁה בְּחֹמֶר וּבִלְבֵנִים וּבְכָל עֲבֹדָה בַּשָּׂדֶה אֵת כָּל עֲבֹדָתָם אֲשֶׁר עָבְדוּ בָהֶם בְּפָרֶךְ:
15. Now the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, one who was named Shifrah, and the second, who was named Puah.   טו. וַיֹּאמֶר מֶלֶךְ מִצְרַיִם לַמְיַלְּדֹת הָעִבְרִיֹּת אֲשֶׁר שֵׁם הָאַחַת שִׁפְרָה וְשֵׁם הַשֵּׁנִית פּוּעָה:
to the midwives: Heb. לַמְיַלְּדֹת. This is an expression similar מוֹלִידוֹת, [meaning] causing to give birth, but there is a light form and there is a heavy form, similar to שׁוֹבֵר, breaks, and מְשַׁבֵּר, shatters, דּוֹבֵר, says, and מְדַבֵּר, speaks. So are מוֹלִיד and מְיַלֵּד. Rashi classifies the Hebrew conjugations, those that have a dagesh in the second root letter, and those that do not. Of the seven conjugations, three have a dagesh, and four do not. Since it is more difficult to pronounce the letters with the dagesh, those conjugations are referred to as the heavy form, and those without the dagesh are referred to as the light (קַלִּים) [Sefer Hazikkaron]   למילדת: הוא לשון מולידות, אלא שיש לשון קל ויש לשון כבד, כמו שובר ומשבר, דובר ומדבר, כך מוליד ומילד:
Shifrah: This was Jochebed, [called Shifrah] because she beautified [מְשַׁפֶּרֶת] the newborn infant. [From Sotah 11b]   שפרה: זו יוכבד על שם שמשפרת את הולד:
Puah: This was Miriam, [called Puah] because she cried (פּוֹעָה) and talked and cooed to the newborn infant in the manner of women who soothe a crying infant. פּוֹעָה is an expression of crying out, similar to “Like a travailing woman will I cry (אֶפְעֶה) " (Isa. 42:14). Rashi on Sotah 11b explains that she played with the infant to soothe and amuse him.   פועה: זו מרים שפועה ומדברת והוגה לולד כדרך הנשים המפייסות תינוק הבוכה. פועה לשון צעקה, כמו (ישעיהו מב יד) כיולדה אפעה:
16. And he said, "When you deliver the Hebrew women, and you see on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall put him to death, but if it is a daughter, she may live."   טז. וַיֹּאמֶר בְּיַלֶּדְכֶן אֶת הָעִבְרִיּוֹת וּרְאִיתֶן עַל הָאָבְנָיִם אִם בֵּן הוּא וַהֲמִתֶּן אֹתוֹ וְאִם בַּת הִוא וָחָיָה:
When you deliver: Heb. בְּיַלְדְכֶן, like בְּהוֹלִידְכֶן. See Rashi on preceding verse.   בילדכן: כמו בהולידכן:
on the birthstool: Heb. הָאָבְנָיִם, the seat of the woman in childbirth, but elsewhere (Isa. 37:3) it is called מַשְׁבֵּר Similar to this, [we find] who does work on the אָבְנָיִם (Jer. 18:3), the seat [i.e., place] of the tools of a potter. (Compare commentary digest in Judaica Press Jer. 18.3.)   על האבנים: מושב האשה היולדת, ובמקום אחר קוראו משבר, וכמוהו (ירמיהו יח ג) עושה מלאכה על האבנים, מושב כלי אומנות יוצר חרס:
if it is a son, etc: Pharaoh cared only about the males, because his astrologers told him that a son was destined to be born who would save them. [From Exod. Rabbah 1:18]   אם בן הוא וגו': לא היה מקפיד אלא על הזכרים, שאמרו לו אצטגניניו שעתיד להוולד בן המושיע אותם:
she may live: Heb. וָחָיָה, וְתִחְיֶה, she may live.   וחיה: ותחיה:
17. The midwives, however, feared God; so they did not do as the king of Egypt had spoken to them, but they enabled the boys to live.   יז. וַתִּירֶאןָ הַמְיַלְּדֹת אֶת הָאֱלֹהִים וְלֹא עָשׂוּ כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר אֲלֵיהֶן מֶלֶךְ מִצְרָיִם וַתְּחַיֶּיןָ אֶת הַיְלָדִים:
but they enabled the boys to live: They provided water and food for them. [From Sotah 11b] [The word וַךְתְּחַיֶּיןָ is found in verse 17 and again in verse 18.] The first is translated וְקַיָּמָא, and they enabled to live, and the second וְקַיֵּמְךְתִּין, and you enabled to live, because in Hebrew, for the feminine plural, this word and others like it are used as the third person past tense and the second person past tense, e.g. “And they said (וַךְתֹּאמַרְןָ), ‘An Egyptian man מִצְרִי) (אִישׁ ’” (Exod. 2:19), the past tense, like וַיֹּאמְרוּ for the masculine plural; you have spoken (וַךְתְּדַבֵּרְנָה) with your בְּפִיכֶם (Jer. 44:25), an expression like וַךְתְּדַבֵּרְנָה, the equivalent of דִבַּרְךְתֶּם for the masculine plural. Similarly, You have profaned (וַךְתְּחַלֶּלְנָה) Me before My people (Ezek. 13:19), the past tense, an expression like חִלַּלְךְתֶּם, the equivalent of וַךְתְּחַלּלוּ for the masculine plural. If it was necessary to supply the infants with food, Ohr Hachayim asks why the midwives did not do it prior to Pharaoh’s decree. He answers that the Torah means that despite Pharaoh’s decree, the midwives continued their previous practice, that is, supplying needy children with nourishment. He suggests further that they particularly sustained the male children lest one die and they be suspected of being responsible for his death. Rashi explains that in the Hebrew, there is a conversive vav, (turning past into future and future into past). Therefore, since the future forms of the feminine plural, both in the second person and in the third person, are identical, the same is true for the past forms with the conversive vav. [Mizrachi] In Aramaic, however, since there is no conversive vav, the two past forms are different. [Divrei David]   ותחיין את הילדים: מספקות להם מים ומזון. תרגום הראשון וקיימא והשני וקיימתין, לפי שלשון עברית לנקבות רבות, תיבה זו וכיוצא בה, משמשת לשון פעלו ולשון פעלתן, כגון (שמות ב יט) ותאמרנה איש מצרי, לשון עבר, כמו ויאמרו לזכרים, ותדברנה בפיכם (ירמיהו מד כה) לשון דברתן, כמו ותדברו לזכרים. וכן (יחזקאל יג יט) ותחללנה אותי אל עמי, לשון עבר חללתן, כמו ותחללו לזכרים:
18. So the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and said to them, "Why have you done this thing, that you have enabled the boys to live?"   יח. וַיִּקְרָא מֶלֶךְ מִצְרַיִם לַמְיַלְּדֹת וַיֹּאמֶר לָהֶן מַדּוּעַ עֲשִׂיתֶן הַדָּבָר הַזֶּה וַתְּחַיֶּיןָ אֶת הַיְלָדִים:
19. And the midwives said to Pharaoh, "Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are skilled as midwives; when the midwife has not yet come to them, they have [already] given birth."   יט. וַתֹּאמַרְןָ הַמְיַלְּדֹת אֶל פַּרְעֹה כִּי לֹא כַנָּשִׁים הַמִּצְרִיֹּת הָעִבְרִיֹּת כִּי חָיוֹת הֵנָּה בְּטֶרֶם תָּבוֹא אֲלֵהֶן הַמְיַלֶּדֶת וְיָלָדוּ:
for they are skilled as midwives: Heb. חָיוֹת, as skillful as midwives. The Targum מְיַלְּדֹת is חַייָתָא Our Rabbis (Sotah 11b), however, interpreted it to mean that they [the Israelite women] are compared to beasts (חַיּוֹת) of the field, which do not require midwives. Now where are they compared to beasts? A cub [and] a grown lion (Gen. 49:9), a wolf, he will prey (Gen. 49:27), His firstborn bull (Deut. 33:17), a swift gazelle (Gen. 49:21). Whoever [was not compared to a beast as above] was included by Scriptures in [the expression] and blessed them (Gen. 49:18). Scripture states further: How was your mother a lioness? (Ezek. 19:2). [From Sotah 11b]   כי חיות הנה: בקיאות כמילדות. תרגום מילדות חיתא. ורבותינו דרשו הרי הן משולות לחיות השדה שאינן צריכות מילדות. והיכן משולות לחיות, גור אריה (בראשית מט ט), זאב יטרף (שם כז), בכור שורו (דברים לג יז), אילה שלוחה (בראשית מט כא), ומי שלא נכתב בו הרי הכתוב כללן (בראשית מט כח) ויברך אותם, ועוד כתיב (יחזקאל יט ב) מה אמך לביא:
20. God benefited the midwives, and the people multiplied and became very strong.   כ. וַיֵּיטֶב אֱלֹהִים לַמְיַלְּדֹת וַיִּרֶב הָעָם וַיַּעַצְמוּ מְאֹד:
God benefited: Heb. וַיֵּיטֶב, bestowed goodness upon them. This is the difference in a word whose root is two letters and is prefixed by “vav yud” : When it is used in the causative sense, the “yud” is vowelized with a “tzeirei,” which is a “kamatz katan” (or with a “segol,” which is a “pattach katan” ), e.g., God benefited (וַיֵּיטֶב) the midwives ; and He increased (וַיֶרֶב) in the daughter of Judah (Lam. 2:5), He increased pain; And he exiled (וַַיֶּגֶל) the survivors (II Chron. 36:20), referring to Nebuzaradan, he exiled the survivors; and turned (וַיֶּפֶן) tail to tail (Jud. 15:4), he turned the tails one to another. All these are the causative conjugation [lit., causing others to do]. When it is used in the simple, kal conjugation, however, the “yud” is vowelized with a “chirik,” e.g., and it was pleasing (וַיִּיטַב) in his eyes (Lev. 10:20), an expression meaning that it was good; and similarly, and the people multiplied (וַיִּרֶב) (Exod. 1:20), the people increased; And Judah went into exile (וַיִּגֶל) (II Kings 25:21), Judah was exiled; He turned (וַיִּפֶן) this way and that way (Exod. 2:12), he turned here and there. Do not refute me from וַיֵּלֶ, וַיֵּשֶׁב, וַיֵּרֶד, and וַיֵּצֵא, because these are not of the grammatical form of those, for the “yud” is the third radical in them, יָלֹך, יָשׁב, יָרֹד, and יָצֹא, in which the “yud” is the third letter.   וייטב: הטיב להם. וזה חלוק בתיבה שיסודה שתי אותיות ונתן לה וי"ו יו"ד בראשה, כשהיא באה לדבר בלשון ויפעיל הוא נקוד היו"ד בציר"י שהוא קמ"ץ קטן, כגון וייטב א-להים למילדות, וירב בבת יהודה (איכה ב ה), הרבה תאניה, וכן ויגל השארית (דברי הימים ב' לו כ), דנבוזראדן הגלה את השארית, ויפן זנב אל זנב (שופטים טו ד), הפנה הזנבות זו לזו, כל אלו לשון הפעיל את אחרים. וכשהוא מדבר בלשון ויפעל, הוא נקוד היו"ד בחיר"ק, כגון (ויקרא י כ) וייטב בעיניו, לשון הוטב, וכן וירב העם (פסוק כ), נתרבה העם, ויגל יהודה (מלכים ב' כה כא) הגלה יהודה, ויפן כה וכה (ב יב), פנה לכאן ולכאן. ואל תשיבני וילך, וישב, וירד, ויצא, לפי שאינן מגזרתן של אלו, שהרי היו"ד יסוד בהן, ירד, יצא, ישב, ילך, היו"ד אות שלישית בו:
God benefited the midwives: What was this benefit?   וייטב א-להים למילדת: מהו הטובה:
21. Now it took place when the midwives feared God, that He made houses for them.   כא. וַיְהִי כִּי יָרְאוּ הַמְיַלְּדֹת אֶת הָאֱלֹהִים וַיַּעַשׂ לָהֶם בָּתִּים:
He made houses for them: The houses of the priesthood, the Levitic family, and the royal family, which are called houses, as it is written: And he built the house of the Lord and the house of the king, (I Kings 9:1) [sic] 5, the priesthood and the Levitic family from Jochebed and the royal family from Miriam, as is stated in tractate Sotah (11b).   ויעש להם בתים: - בתי כהונה ולויה ומלכות שקרויין בתים. (ויבן) [הבתים] את בית ה' ואת בית המלך (מלכים א' ט א) (לקוטי שיחות חלק כ"א, ע' 2 הערה 29). כהונה ולויה מיוכבד, ומלכות ממרים, כדאיתא במסכת סוטה (סוטה יא ב):
22. And Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, "Every son who is born you shall cast into the Nile, and every daughter you shall allow to live."   כב. וַיְצַו פַּרְעֹה לְכָל עַמּוֹ לֵאמֹר כָּל הַבֵּן הַיִּלּוֹד הַיְאֹרָה תַּשְׁלִיכֻהוּ וְכָל הַבַּת תְּחַיּוּן:
all his people: He issued this decree upon them as well. On the day Moses was born, his astrologers told him [Pharaoh], Today the one who will save them has been born, but we do not know whether from the Egyptians or from the Israelites, but we see that he will ultimately be smitten through water. Therefore, on that day he issued a decree also upon the Egyptians, as it is said: Every son who is born, and it does not say: who is born to the Hebrews. They did not know, however, that he [Moses] would ultimately suffer because of the water of Meribah (Num. 20:7-13) [i.e., that he would not be permitted to enter the Holy Land]. [From Sotah 12a, Exod. Rabbah 1:18, Sanh. 101b]   לכל עמו: אף עליהם גזר. יום שנולד משה אמרו לו אצטגניניו היום נולד מושיען, ואין אנו יודעין אם ממצרים אם מישראל, ורואין אנו שסופו ללקות במים, לפיכך גזר אותו היום אף על המצרים, שנאמר כל הבן הילוד, ולא נאמר הילוד לעברים, והם לא היו יודעים שסופו ללקות על מי מריבה:
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