In Vayigash, Rabenu Bahya (also the Zohar) comments and says that the reason we had Asara Haruge Malchut because the brothers sold Yosef. However, Reuven didn't sell Yosef, so why should the corresponding Rabbi be punished for his actions?

  • related: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/9547/…
    – Menachem
    Jan 1, 2012 at 23:12
  • Note that the source for the Ten Martyrs story is the late Midrash Eleh Ezkerah, and little accuracy is ascribed to it by historians.
    – mevaqesh
    Nov 1, 2016 at 23:17
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    @mevaqesh עי' במדרש שוחר טוב (משלי א יג) אמר ר' יהושע בן לוי, לא נמשכו עשרה הרוגי מלכות אלא בחטא מכירתו של יוסף. Dec 16, 2018 at 6:00
  • He also didn't prevent Yosef from being sold
    – Dude
    Dec 19, 2023 at 19:07

6 Answers 6


Me'am Loez says (citing Zohar Chadash, Eichah) that R. Eliezer is counted among these ten Sages. He was arrested and nearly sentenced to death, but was miraculously spared (Avodah Zarah 16b-17a); he thus corresponds to Reuven, who played a part in the whole drama but wasn't actually involved in the sale.

  • 2
    So I guess my question HAD validity. Jan 1, 2012 at 3:22
  • Ashrecha WeAshre Helkecha Jan 2, 2012 at 1:18
  • Is this true? Can I verify this in historical stack exchange.
    – user4951
    Mar 1, 2012 at 10:01
  • It's not really Asara HARUGEI Malchut, then
    – AEML
    Dec 23, 2012 at 20:19
  • I know this is an old answer, and that Alex may not be here anymore. In any event, the Benei Yissaschar brings this and explains that Yaakov's other children were reincarnated into ten Rabbis and were killed. So it's not that there's an argument if ten were killed or not. In any event, it would seem then that this question isn't fully answered. The Reuven part yes. The ten part no. See here where I ask about it.
    – robev
    Oct 6, 2020 at 17:41

Yalkut Reuveini brings several answers. Here (end of the first full paragraph) he says Reuven was actually punished for moving the beds by Bilhah.

Here he says that Yishmael Kohen Gadol (who was very handsome) was Keneged Yosef because it was Yosef's fault for inciting the brothers (the source for this is Chessed L'Avraham, Ein Mishpat Nahar § 25 and Rav Chaim Vital's Sha'ar HaGilgulim Hakdama 31)

If you can't read the second one here it is written out: ילקוט ראובני על בראשית ל"ז:ח' - ואחר כך נענש יוסף על מה שגירה והסית אחיו עליו שימכרוהו על ידי אותן החלומות, לכך הוצרך שתחזור הנשמה זו בישמעאל בן אלישע כהן גדול, כדי שתסבול עונש המיתה ממש, לכן היה ר' ישמעאל יפה מאד דוגמת יוסף (חסד לאברהם עין משפט נהר כ"ה).

  • "Rabbi Shmuel ben Nahman said in Rabbi Jonathan's name: "Whoever says that Reuben sinned is merely making an error, for it is said, Now the sons of Jacob were twelve, teaching that they were all equal." (Shabbat 55b)"
    – Eli83
    Dec 12, 2017 at 16:59
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    @Eli83 I'm not quite sure what you're trying to say. If you are suggesting that Reuven didn't sin at all by moving the beds I believe Yaakov (who stripped Reuven of his Bechora for it) and Reuven himself (who wore sackcloth and fasted in repentance for it) would disagree with you. All it means is that he didn't sleep with his father's Pilegesh.
    – Eliyahu
    Dec 13, 2017 at 6:12
  • Where is it said in the Torah that Reuven lost his Bechora and that he was wearing sackcloth and fasted?
    – Eli83
    Dec 13, 2017 at 16:08
  • See Rashi on Bereishis 30:29 and 40:4
    – Eliyahu
    Dec 13, 2017 at 18:59
  • What are you talking about? What is the connection with our topic?
    – Eli83
    Dec 13, 2017 at 19:06

The Torah Sheleima mentioned in this answer, while addressing another issue (why Reuven was also fined for the sale) says that Reuven was there when they threw Yosef in the pit, which lead to the sale. He is therefore also liable.

It doesn't say it there, but not only was Reuven there, but it was his idea to throw Yosef into the pit.


I have heard that the 10th martyr is in place of, kavayachol, HaKadosh Baruch Hu, who acquiesced to the beit din shel matah and did not reveal the truth to Yakov.

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    Indeed, I once read (don't recall the source) that R. Akiva corresponds to Hashem, since he was a descendant of gerim and thus not of any of the brothers.
    – Alex
    Jun 19, 2012 at 4:16

Maybe because he wasn't active enough in trying to stop them. Source: speculation.

  • He didn't know. He thought they threw him in the pit. After that he left. Jan 1, 2012 at 3:09
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    @HachamGabriel He left Yosef in their hands. Maybe he should have been more careful.
    – Double AA
    Jan 1, 2012 at 3:12
  • @Okay I just realized the Asara Haruge Malchut is only because Yosef didn't forgive them...Not becasue they sold him. This question is caput. Jan 1, 2012 at 3:17
  • @HachamGabriel, where do you see that Yosef didn't forgive them?
    – Alex
    Jan 1, 2012 at 3:22
  • 1
    @HachamGabriel Can you please then EDIT these sources into the question?
    – Double AA
    Jan 1, 2012 at 3:44

the kotzker rebbe explains that at the time of throwing yosef into the pit they made a cheirem on anyone that informs yaakov, but there were only 9 brothers? the answer is hashem was the 10th. so by the asara harugei malchus one of them represented hashem. which one? the sais that we learn out something from everytime the torah adds the word "es" except for "es hashem tirau"=fear hashem" because "es" represents something close to the thing and nothing is close to g-d. rabbi akiva holds that its including the sages since they are close to g-d. since he holds the sages are close and similar to g-d he represented g-d

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