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According to Pesachim 119a, Yosef collected all the wealth of the world during the famine and b'nei Yisrael took all of it out during the exodus. The g'mara then traces what happened to it from there:

Thus it [the treasure] lay until Rehoboam, when Shishak king of Egypt came and seized it from Rehoboam [...]. Then Zerah, king of Ethiopia, came and seized it from Shishak; then Assa came and seized it from Zerah king of Ethiopia and sent it to Hadrimon the son of Tabrimon. The Ammonites came and seized it from Hadrimon the son of Tabrimon. Jehoshaphat came and seized it from the Ammonites, and it remained so until Ahaz, when Sennacherib came and took it from Ahaz. Then Hezekiah came and took it from Sennacherib, and it remained thus until Zedekiah, when the Babylonians [Chaldeans] came and seized it from Zedekiah. The Persians came and took it from the Chaldeans; the Greeks came and took it from the Persians . the Romans came and took it from the Greeks, and it is still lying in Rome.

Two things strike me in this passage. First, this great pile of wealth wasn't subdivided and distributed; according to the g'mara it's all in a pile in Rome. And second, this is all the wealth of the world.

But we have material wealth now, and we know that other conquests throughout history have involved redistribution of captured property. So either all the wealth of the world was eventually scattered, or what we consider wealth now is really nothing compared to what we took from Egypt. (Or, probably, some third possibility I haven't thought of.)

How do Chazal and other interpreters understand this passage and its claims about the spoils from Egypt?

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...like the tag says, it's an aggadic story/legend...c'mon, the Ammonites seizing ANYTHING from anybody? – Gary Oct 18 '13 at 20:38
@Gary, but that aggadic story has a context, and Avram smashing Terach's idols (e.g.) is also an aggadah yet we don't just dismiss it as noise. The rabbis presumably had a purpose in recording this aggadah; what are we supposed to understand from it? – Monica Cellio Oct 18 '13 at 20:44
good question! I'd personally put that one into the category with the story about the people with one great leg attached to the ground by an umblical cord... – Gary Oct 18 '13 at 22:02
Personally, I'd assume we need not take this midrashic tael literally... – WhatHathGodWrought Oct 22 '13 at 23:56

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