In Bamidbar (11:11-15) Moshe tells Hashem how the difficult it is to carry the people and questioning where he would procure meat for he entire nation. Hashem's response was to gather the elders so they would receive part of His spirit, then the fatal fowl flew into the camp.

How did the elders help with Moshe's desire for help supporting the people? (I expected them to shoulder a similar responsibility to Yisro's suggestion to have a series of lower courts to ease Moshe's immediate responsibilities, but here they're just appointed after Moshe is unsure of providing meat without seemingly much of a support.)


3 Answers 3


Sforno says a parent can lead children because the children know, on some level, that the parent has their best interests at heart. The people no longer trusted that Moshe was doing what was good for them. Hence a panel of people they knew better (many of whom had literally taken beatings for them in Egypt, while Moshe was in a faraway land).


In part of a hesped for Rav Dovid Trenk at the 2020 Carteret Yeshiva Dinner, Rav Yaakov Bender explained based on the Ramban that the elders were appointed to help calm each individual in Klal Yisroel by delving into what underlying concern each individual truly had. Rather than complaining about meat on the surface, the elders were designed to help each individual overcome whatever was truly bothering them deep down.


Technically they weren't needed to help to bring the fowl .

The Rishonim give two reasons for why Moshe was told to gather them with him

(1)Because Moshe had said "I can not do this all alone"

(2)The elders who left Mitzrayim were no longer alive at this point (because of their behavior elsewhere). The elders who Moshe chose now were to be the new elders. Having them stand with Moshe when Hashem spoke to him would cause them to be accepted and respected as the new elders.

  • The sfas emes page 84 says they were the elders from mitsraim citing midrash. And adds that they were not on the madrega now to be led by moshe therefore they needed the seventy elders. Almost exactly the opposite what you said. Can you quote source.
    – interested
    Commented Jun 14, 2020 at 9:08
  • The Sfas Emes there explains that Moshe Rabbeinu could supply mann (no waste, "level of adam harishon before the sin"), but not meat ("knowledge of good and evil") - for that level the elders were needed.
    – MichoelR
    Commented Jun 14, 2020 at 18:44
  • 1
    Rashi by Taveira (11:1) brings the Midrash that the elders from Mitzrayim died at that point, because of their sin in Shmos 24:11: "And they ate and drank" in the presence of the Shechinah.
    – MichoelR
    Commented Jun 14, 2020 at 18:48

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