In Shmuel 1:10:21 it says:

"Then Samuel brought forward the tribe of Benjamin by its clans, and the clan of the Matrites was indicated; and then Saul son of Kish was indicated. But when they looked for him, he was not to be found."

This seems to indicate that one of Shaul's forefathers was called Matar or Matri (מטר/מטרי).

However, in Yalkut Shimoni on Nach, 1053:5, it says:

"...ושמו מרדכי בן יאיר בן שמעי בן קיש, וכי בנו של קיש היה והלא הרבה דורות היו ביניהם, שכן הוא אומר בן יאיר בן שמעי בן בענא בן מוצא בן אלה בן מפיבשת בן יהונתן בן שאול בן קיש בן אביאל בן צרור בן בכורת בן אפיח בן שחריה בן עזריה בן שוקק בן מיכאל בן אלילאל בן עמיהוד בן שפטיה בן פתואל בן פיתן בן מלוך בן ירובעל בן חנניה בן זבדי בן שמריה בן זכריה בן מרימות בן חושם בן שחריה בן אצבעון בן עזריה בן גרא בן בלע בן בנימין בן יעקב..."

Translation: "...and his name was Mordechai ben Yair ben Shim'i ben Kish, but was he a son of Kish? After all, many generations set them apart, as it says, "ben Yair, ben Shim'i, ben Ba'ana, ben Motza, ben Elah, ben Mefiboshet, ben Yehonatan, ben Shaul, ben Aviel, ben Tz'ror, ben Bechoret, ben Afiach, ben Sh'charyah, ben Azaryah, ben Shokek, ben Michael, ben Eliel, ben Amihud, ben Sh'fatiyah, ben Petuel, ben Pitan, ben Maluch, ben Yeruba'al, ben Chananyah, ben Zavdi, ben Shmaryah, ben Zecharyah, ben Merimot, ben Chusham, ben Sh'charyah, ben Etzba'on, ben Azaryah, ben Gera, ben Bela, ben Binyamin, ben Yaakov"..."

The gist of this is that in the midrash, nowhere is Matar/Matri mentioned. Alternate versions can be found in Midrash Panim Acherim, version B (pg. 8) and Targum Sheni on Esther, 2:5, but he's not there either. It might be an alternate or secondary name to one of these people. Is there any source that discusses this discrepancy or is there another way to resolve this (other than identifying one of these people with Matar/Matri)?

  • @JoelK Thanks, I was going to link that article, but forgot when posting. The explanation there for the name is a very drashic explanation, while this midrash is very p'shat-like (the midrash doesn't go on to explain in drashic fashion every single name on the list, but seems to contend that there was ancient source that had this list of names, such as Sefer Yochasin or the longer version of Divrei Hayamim mentioned in Kiddushin 30a).
    – Harel13
    Mar 10, 2021 at 15:03

1 Answer 1


We find in many sources that sometimes smaller or less prominent families were folded into bigger ones. For example, the children of Yosef born after Ephraim and Menashe were included in those two tribes. The Ibn Ezra says this is common:

ואם יטעון טוען כי לא מצאנו ליוסף בנים אחרים. גם זו איננה טענה כי יתכן שהיו ובעבור שירשו עם אחיהם לא הזכירם הכתוב ורבים כאלה

And we know that Shaul came from a very small family: (Ibid 9:21)

וַיַּ֨עַן שָׁא֜וּל וַיֹּ֗אמֶר הֲל֨וֹא בֶן־יְמִינִ֤י אָ֙נֹכִי֙ מִקַּטַנֵּי֙ שִׁבְטֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וּמִשְׁפַּחְתִּי֙ הַצְּעִרָ֔ה מִכָּֽל־מִשְׁפְּח֖וֹת שִׁבְטֵ֣י בִנְיָמִ֑ן וְלָ֙מָּה֙ דִּבַּ֣רְתָּ אֵלַ֔י כַּדָּבָ֖ר הַזֶּֽה׃ Saul replied, “But I am only a Benjaminite, from the smallest of the tribes of Israel, and my clan is the least of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin! Why do you say such things to me?”

So perhaps the Matri family included Shaul's family even though he was not a descendant of the person named Matri or Matar.

  • The Ephraim/Menashe and Shimon/Levi source seems weak to me, because ultimately, all four tribes received portions in the land (even Levi, with their Levite cities). You mention "many sources", could you perhaps provide a different one? I should also note, that even if the Matrites are indeed a large family that swallowed up Shaul's, this doesn't seem evident anywhere else - they are only ever mentioned here. Not even a hint in Divrei Hayamim.
    – Harel13
    Mar 11, 2021 at 14:40
  • This has nothing to do with Shimon and Levi. The point is that any other sons of Yosef would be part of either Ephraim or Menashe.
    – N.T.
    Mar 11, 2021 at 18:05
  • Okay. But he didn't have any other sons. So, do you have an example of something that did happen, not just theoretically?
    – Harel13
    Mar 11, 2021 at 18:09
  • A. In some commentators it does say he had other sons. B. Even if it was only theoretical, the principle is still true.
    – N.T.
    Mar 11, 2021 at 18:11
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat.
    – Harel13
    Mar 12, 2021 at 14:39

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