In Vayikra 24:10 it says:

"There came out among the Israelites one whose mother was Israelite and whose father was Egyptian. And a fight broke out in the camp between that half-Israelite and a certain Israelite."

And on this Rashi writes:

"A Baraitha states that ויצא means, he came out of the judicial court of Moses where he had been pronounced to be in the wrong in the following matter: although his father was an Egyptian he had gone to pitch his tent in the camp of the tribe of Dan to whom his mother belonged (cf. v. 11). They (the men of Dan) said to him, “What have you to do here" (lit., what is your character that gives you the right to come here?). He replied. “I am one of the children of the tribe of Dan”. Thereupon they said to him, “Scripture states: (Numbers 2:2) “Every man [of the children of Israel shall encamp] by his own standard, that bears the signs of their father’s house”! He thereupon went in to the judicial court of Moses to have the matter decided and came forth (יצא) declared to be in the wrong. He then stood up and blasphemed."

And the Mizrachi explains that each tribe decided to dwell separately so it would be possible to tell who was of which tribe and who wasn't of any tribe.

Seemingly, the reason the blasphemer was not allowed to dwell with Dan, the tribe of his mother, was because tribal heritage goes according to the father and his father was an Egyptian man. However, in Divrei Hayamim 1 2:22-23 it says:

"Afterward Hezron had relations with the daughter of Machir father of Gilead—he had married her when he was sixty years old—and she bore him Segub; and Segub begot Jair; he had twenty-three cities in the land of Gilead."

This Yair is the one known as "Yair ben Menashe" who captured the cities known as "Chavot Yair", according to Radak and Tur Ha'aroch.

Why was Yair, whose father was from the Tribe of Yehudah and grandmother from Menashe allowed to lived among the Tribe of Menashe, but the blasphemer wasn't allowed to live among the Tribe of Dan?

  • 1
    It's interesting. But if I understand you correctly, your question seemingly should be, Why was there a rule about where people could live in the midbar, when there would be no such rule ever in the land of Israel? Lots of people lived in other tribes' areas, especially (as here) if they had no land of their own. It sounds like there was a set of temporary "mitzvos" from Parshas Bamidbar, on how to arrange the camp.
    – MichoelR
    Commented May 6, 2020 at 21:07
  • @MichoelR perhaps, but I couldn't think of anyone other than Yair (and, of course, Leviim) who don't follow the tribal territories - so it seems that generally people in the land of Israel did follow those.
    – Harel13
    Commented May 6, 2020 at 21:19
  • Well, if someone had land he would normally be on his land. Gerim, Leviim, ... But AFAIK there was never a prohibition.
    – MichoelR
    Commented May 6, 2020 at 21:22
  • @MichoelR I suppose that's true. I'll think about what you wrote.
    – Harel13
    Commented May 6, 2020 at 21:24

2 Answers 2


The blasphemer was no a member of any tribe and the tribes were required to camp in their tribal areas in the desert. The situation in the land was different. Had his father been an Israelite, he would have been required to camp with his father's tribe. Since he was not a member of any tribe, he would have been required to camp with the erev rav.

Remember that the halacha in the midbar and the first generation in the in the land was that a woman who inherited land from her father was not allowed to marry a man from a different tribe. Consider the halacha after the Bnos Tzelaphchad when the elders of Menashe asked for a ruling after they were allowed to inherit their father's property. The pasuk from Divrei Hayamim occurred after the ruling had expired. As Radak explains the wife of Yair inherited these 23 cities from her father and he inherited them from her.

Radak on I Divrei Hayamim 2:22

ורבותינו ז"ל אמרו כי אין זה יאיר הכתוב בתורה אלא זה יאיר בן שגוב לקח אשה בארץ הגלעד ומתה וירשה ומירושת אשתו היו לו אלו עשרים ושלשה ערים:

Our rabbis OB'M explained that this is not the Yair written in the torah but Yair ben Shaguv who married a woman from the land of Gilead and she died and she had inherited and from the inheritance of his wife were these twenty three cities.

Tur Ha'aroch explains that he took on the name of the most prestigious ancestor who was the daughter of Menashe. It was not that he was a member of the tribe but that it was a way of showing a noble ancestry.

ויאיר בן מנשה. כתב הרמב"ן האיש הזה מתייחס אל משפחת אמו בעבור שלקח אחוזתו עמהם כי בדברי הימים מפורש שהוא בן חצרון בן קרח ואמו בת מכיר בן מנשה דכתיב ואחר בא חצרון אל בת מכיר אבי גלעד ותלד לו את שגוב ושגוב הוליד את יאיר ויהי לו עשרים ושלש ערים בארץ הגלעד:

ויאיר בן מנשה, “and Yair, son of Menashe, etc.” Nachmanides writes that this man traced himself to the family tree of his mother, seeing that he had taken possession of his ancestral land with that family. In Chronicles I 2,21 it is stated specifically that paternally he was the son of Chetzron, who in turn was a son of Peretz, son of Yehudah. [My version of the Tur, has this as Chetzron, son of Korach, clearly an error. Ed.] His mother was a daughter of Machir son of Menashe, as we have a verse stating: ואחר בא חצרון אל בת מכיר אבי גלעד ותלד לו את שגוב, ושגוב הוליד את יאיר ויהי לו עשרים ושלוש ערים בארץ גלעד, “after that Chetzron slept with (or married) a daughter of Machir, the father of Gilead. She bore for him Seguv, and Seguv fathered Yair, who had twenty three cities in the land of Gilead.” (Chronicles I 2,22)

Rashi explains that after the ruling expired and Yair was such an important person, the the sons of Machir gave the cities as a dowry to Yair.

And afterwards Hezron came to the daughter of Machir: This was because of David’s honor, because Hezron came to the daughter of Machir, taking her as a concubine, not for matrimony, similar to (Ps. 51: 2): “… when he came to Bathsheba,” and he was sixty years old, thus making two uncomplimentary qualities for Machir’s daughter: one, that he did not take her for the purpose of matrimony, and one, that he was old, but because of the esteem of the families of Judah, they gave her to him, and when Jair begot [children], Machir’s sons gave him twenty-three cities to take one of his daughters as a wife.

The implication is that the sons of Machir knew that they would not be able to adequately defend the cities as we see in verse 23

כג וַיִּקַּ֣ח גְּשֽׁוּר־וַֽ֠אֲרָם אֶת־חַוֹּ֨ת יָאִ֧יר מֵֽאִתָּ֛ם אֶת־קְנָ֥ת וְאֶת־בְּנוֹתֶ֖יהָ שִׁשִּׁ֣ים עִ֑יר כָּל־אֵ֕לֶּה בְּנֵ֖י מָכִ֥יר אֲבִֽי־גִלְעָֽד:

23 And Geshur and Aram took the villages of Jair from them; with Kenath and its villages, sixty cities; all these [belonged to] the sons of Machir, the father of Gilead.

  • That's not Radak's own explanation for the pasuk, though - it's Chazal's. Also, how do you know that before the Tribe of Menashe asked for a ruling from Moshe, there had previously been a law that had expired that said that an inheriting woman couldn't marry outside of her tribe?
    – Harel13
    Commented May 7, 2020 at 12:37
  • @Harel13 The halacha that an inheriting woman should not marry outside her tribe was given after the elders of Menashe came to Moshe Rabbeinu. That is why the Bnos Tzelafchad would have been allowed to marry outside the tribe if they had wanted to. However, they married the sons of their uncles to keep the property within the family. After the Bnai Yisrael settled in the Land, and a generation passed that rule ended on 15 Av and became a day of celebration. Radak is from divrei hayamim about Yair which was after that occurred. It is not about the blasphemer. Commented May 7, 2020 at 14:37
  • you stated in your answer that "this was done after the ruling was expired" - to what ruling are you referring to? And of course I know Radak isn't about the blasphemer. The question, however, is based on the view - shared by some - that Yair was from Yehudah yet was allowed to be part of Menashe, while the blasphemer wasn't allowed to be part of Dan.
    – Harel13
    Commented May 7, 2020 at 19:19
  • This was done means the case of Yair according to the Radak. Yair was allowed to marry a woman from Gilead. Radak does not say that he was allowed to be part of Menashe. I will try to clarify. Commented May 7, 2020 at 19:54
  • I'm confused. Radak in fact, says just that - he was of Yehudah but allowed to be considered an honorary Menashite because his grandmother was the daughter of Machir. The "allowed to marry etc" isn't Radak's own understanding but the Chazalic view also presented by Radak.
    – Harel13
    Commented May 7, 2020 at 20:02

The blasphemer was part Egyptian but his parentage seems not to be the issue. The Bible says that this man, the blasphemer “went out,” left his dwelling (Rabbi S.R. Hirsch) and fought with an Israelites, who could have been Zelophehad (Tosafot, Bava Batra 119). During or after this fight was when the man committed blasphemy.

The midrashic Aramaic translation Targum Pseudo-Jonathan, identifies that the transgressor was “a sinful man, a rebel against the G-d of heaven, who came out of Egypt.” He was “the son of the Egyptian who killed an Israelite in Egypt and had relations with this man’s wife, who conceived and bore a son.” This son wished to pitch his tent with the tribe of Dan, but the tribe of Dan refused him. He then took representatives from Dan to the Israelite court. When the court denied him, he “blasphemed the great and glorious name, and pronounced explicitly (the one) he had heard on Sinai, and deliberately provoked G-d.” It is possible that he [the blasphemer] uttered the Tetragrammaton (Pseudo-Jonathan Sifra, Rashi, and Maimonides).

There is the possibility that he changed or bored off the point in daled in the word echad the Shema's dalet to a reish, from “the L-rd our G-d is One,” to “the L-rd our G-d is other,” thus he changed the shema yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai echad, "Hear, O Israel, the L-rd our G-d, the L-rd is one," echad to acher, "other," thus denying the oneness and uniqueness of G-d. This is in violation of G-d's unity. Some rabbi attributes this view to the Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 56a, and the Zohar but it is more likely, as pointed out in one of the comments, that this source came from Tzror Hamor, which you can read here.

But there are other possibilities for why the blasphemer was denied to reside within the tribe of Dan. Since the days of Jacob, it was customary for the first-born to inherit the tribe of their fathers. Thus the blasphemer parentage seems to be an issue. However, after the golden calf incident, the Levites took the priestly duties away from Aaron's sons. Thus the Torah does away with the first-born privilege. But at the end of the day, anything we might think or say is speculation. We simply do not know and may never know. We can only speculate. True, like this story there are many terms, words, or phrases found in the Torah that are obscure. But this makes the Bible more interactive and helps encourage interpretation.


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