Avos Derebbi Nassan 9:2 says that Miriam criticized Moshe for being haughty by divorcing his wife.

אבל הוא מפני שדעתו גסה עליו פירש הוא מאצל אשתו

But Moses, because he is so arrogant, separated from his wife.

This is actually pretty logical considering that the Passuk immediately afterwards says:

והאיש משה ענו [עניו] מאד מכל האדם אשר על־פני האדמה

Now Moses was a very humble man, more so than any other man on earth.

However, Avos Derebbi Nassan then proceeds to walk back the claim that she criticized Moshe for being haughty somewhat by saying that they didn't judge him as being certainly haughty, merely as being possibly haughty.

ולא היו דנין אותו בודאי אלא בספק ספק שדעתו גסה עליו ספק שאין דעתו גסה עליו.

While this is a logical reading of the Pesukim in the end of Beha'alosecha, it is quite a striking claim. Does anyone else concur with this interpretation?

Even better would be if anyone can find someone who says this without walking it back halfway.

  • 1
    The Avos Drav Nosson doesn't seem to be retracting it seems to be clarifying.
    – Schmerel
    Jul 27, 2020 at 14:07
  • @schmerel I agree with you but it reads pretty strange. It says that she accused him definitively without any qualification and then says afterwards that she only meant it as a Safek (although she didn't use words to imply that).
    – Eliyahu
    Jul 27, 2020 at 14:14
  • Are you sure that דעתו גסה means, haughty? Not such a usual phrase. See Taanis 20a.
    – MichoelR
    Aug 14, 2023 at 22:03

1 Answer 1


The first quotation: אבל הוא etc. is a direct quote from אהרון.

אהרן אמר: אלי היה דבור ולא פירשתי מאצל אשתי ואף אבותינו הראשונים היה דבור עליהם ולא פרשו מאצל נשותיהן אבל הוא מפני שדעתו גסה עליו פירש הוא מאצל אשתו

The next quotation: ולא היו דנין etc. is a comment/clarification of אהרון's words.

This does not seem to be backtracking. אהרון is quoted and his quote is then qualified.


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