I'm told there's a midrash which takes it literally when the Torah says that 'Jared begot Enoch' and so on, ie it argues that it was the men who gave birth in those days. Can anyone help me find it? (NB Jared/ Enoch are just an example, I'm not saying that the midrash specifically refers to those two.)

  • Jared and Enoch are not relevant to this midrash because there it's ויולד. You're probably thinking of 4:18.
    – Heshy
    Dec 10, 2019 at 21:43
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    @Heshy Why should ויולד (vowelized active tense in 5:18) be different than ילד in 4:18?
    – DonielF
    Dec 11, 2019 at 4:15
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    @donielf because ויולד is hifil. Vayeiled would be kal.
    – Heshy
    Dec 11, 2019 at 10:51
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    Why don't you ask the person who told you where the Medrash is?
    – Schmerel
    Dec 11, 2019 at 16:39
  • @Schmerel I don't think that's a helpful response.
    – Zarka
    Dec 12, 2019 at 9:35

2 Answers 2


This does not appear to be an accurate usage of the term. That is, the word translated as begot means fathered. The Rashi explains this pasuk Bereishis 4:18.

יח וַיִּוָּלֵ֤ד לַֽחֲנוֹךְ֙ אֶת־עִירָ֔ד וְעִירָ֕ד יָלַ֖ד אֶת־מְחֽוּיָאֵ֑ל וּמְחִיָּיאֵ֗ל יָלַד֙ אֶת־מְת֣וּשָׁאֵ֔ל וּמְתֽוּשָׁאֵ֖ל יָלַ֥ד אֶת־לָֽמֶךְ:

18 And Irad was born to Enoch, and Irad begot Mehujael, and Mehijael begot Methushael, and Methushael begot Lemech.


ועירד ילד: יש מקום שהוא אומר בזכר הוליד ויש מקום שהוא אומר ילד, שהלידה משמשת שתי לשונות, לידת האשה ניישטר"א בלע"ז [ללדת], וזריעת תולדות האיש איניינדרי"ר בלע"ז [להוליד] כשהוא אומר הוליד בלשון הפעיל מדבר בלידת האשה, פלוני הוליד את אשתו בן או בת, וכשהוא אומר ילד מדבר בזריעת האיש, והוא בלע"ז איניינדרי"ר:

and Irad begot: Heb. יָלַד In some places, it says regarding the male הוֹלִיד, and in some places it says יָלַד, because the verb ילד can be used to express two meanings: the giving birth by the woman, naistre in Old French (naître in modern French), and the man’s begetting, engendrer in Old French (engendrer in modern French). When it says הוֹלִיד in the הִפְעִיל conjugation (causative), it speaks of the woman’s giving birth, i.e., so-and-so caused his wife to bear a son or a daughter. When it says יָלַד, it speaks of the man’s begetting, and that is engendrer in Old French.

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    I don't see how this answers the question, which sought a citation for a father giving birth.
    – msh210
    Dec 11, 2019 at 4:03
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    @msh210 - seems like SabbaHillel is simply being polite. Would you prefer that he write "don't talk nonsense?" Dec 11, 2019 at 10:30
  • @danny there's still a reason why the pasuk uses binyan kal in some places and hifil in others. This (supposed) midrash is pointing that out. Rashi is basically glossing over it. At a pshat level that's fine, but this question is trying to go beyond pshat, so Rashi isn't an answer.
    – Heshy
    Dec 11, 2019 at 10:55
  • @Heshy then he should ask the question properly. Rashi is saying that the pasuk says וַיִּוָּלֵ֤ד לַֽחֲנוֹךְ֙ אֶת־עִירָ֔ד to mean Irad was fathered by Chanoch and וְעִירָ֕ד יָלַ֖ד אֶת־מְחֽוּיָאֵ֑ל means Irad fathered Mechuyael. No medrash would say the male gave birth to the infant. Dec 13, 2019 at 21:02

The concept doesn't come from a midrash (unless you are calling Sefer Yetzirah a midrash), but from the Talmud, Sanhedrin 19b, which says in the name of Rabbi Shmuel bar Nachmani in the name of Rabbi Yonatan:

אמר רבי שמואל בר נחמני א"ר יונתן כל המלמד בן חבירו תורה מעלה עליו הכתוב כאילו ילדו שנאמר (במדבר ג, א) ואלה תולדות אהרן ומשה וכתיב ואלה שמות בני אהרן לומר לך אהרן ילד ומשה לימד לפיכך נקראו על שמו

Rabbi Shmuel bar Naḥmani says that Rabbi Yonatan says: Anyone who teaches another person’s son Torah, the verse ascribes him credit as if he sired him, as it is stated: “Now these are the generations of Aaron and Moses” (Numbers 3:1), and it is written immediately afterward: “And these are the names of the sons of Aaron: Nadav the firstborn and Avihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar” (Numbers 3:2), but it does not mention the names of Moses’ children. This serves to say to you that Aaron sired his children, but Moses taught them Torah. Therefore, the children were also called by his name.

And this also follows the concept as explained in the commentary Pri Yitzchok to Sefer Yetzirah 3:2:3, which explains that the concept of Avot relates to the brains and that the children (which are in this context the Middot) are born, meaning they come forth, from the Fathers.

ויצאו מהם אויר ומים ואש ומהם נולדו אבות ומאבות תולדות. ר"ל כי ג' ראשונות שהם סוד ג' אמות אמ"ש שרש כח אמ"ש אויר מים אש מהם יצאו הג' מוחין חב"ד דז"א שהם בסוד אויר מים אש ואז ע"י נתגדל הז"א ונעשה בו הג"ר שהם בסוד ג' אבות כי חג"ת ונה"י הם בסוד בנים להם כמ"ש זה בסה"כ על ומביא גואל לבני בניהם גואל הוא יסוד לבני בניהם הם נ"ה בני חג"ת הנקראים בנים לאבות הראשונים שהם חב"ד וכשיש בז"א הג' מוחין דגדלות שהם בסוד אבות אז מהם יצאו תולדות בעולמות כי ידוע כל זמן שז"א הוא בבחינת קטנות שאין לו המוחין דגדלות אז הוא אינו ראוי לזווג להוליד תולדות וזהו מאבות תולדות ודוק והבן היטב מ"ש.

In this context, the change in language can be referring to the primary influence on the offspring in terms of what they were taught.

  • So why does it use binyan kal for Kayin's kids in particular?
    – Heshy
    Dec 11, 2019 at 14:59
  • @Heshy I haven't made any deep research into what is unusual in regard to the children of Kayin. However, it's worth noting that in the writings from the Ari z"l dealing with Gilgul HaNeshamot, this detail is brought out repeatedly. There is probably something very significant there worth looking into. Bli neder, another item on my list to learn in greater depth! Dec 11, 2019 at 16:03
  • What about: ובתואל ילד את רבקה
    – Nic
    Dec 12, 2019 at 13:08
  • @Nic As memory serves, I believe the particulars of the pedigree between Rivkah and Bethuel are discussed in the midrash, Sefer Yashar. Dec 12, 2019 at 14:23

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