The Torah says:

וְלִבְנֵ֤י הַפִּֽילַגְשִׁים֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר לְאַבְרָהָ֔ם נָתַ֥ן אַבְרָהָ֖ם מַתָּנֹ֑ת וַֽיְשַׁלְּחֵ֞ם מֵעַ֨ל יִצְחָ֤ק בְּנוֹ֙ בְּעוֹדֶ֣נּוּ חַ֔י קֵ֖דְמָה אֶל־אֶ֥רֶץ קֶֽדֶם׃ -- but to Abraham’s sons by concubines Abraham gave gifts while he was still living, and he sent them away from his son Isaac eastward, to the land of the East. [Gen. 25:6]

Rashi comments:

Another explanation is: all that he had received as gifts because of Sarah — and other gifts that people had given him — all these he gave to them because he did not wish to derive any benefit from these.

He gives no source. Who are these gift-givers and why didn't Abraham want to derive benefit from these gifts?

  • 1
    Everything Rashi says he had a מסורה for it, even down the exact לשון of how he wrote it Commented Nov 12, 2023 at 4:58
  • @KapinKrunch Could you forward a clear source for that statement to me please?
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Commented Dec 12, 2023 at 15:12
  • My rosh yeshiva, Rav Binyamin Moskowitz שליט״א, heard this from the Ponovezher rov ז״ל many times during his 20 years in the Bnei Brak yeshiva. He would go on to repeat this statement to us Bochurim nearly daily Commented Dec 15, 2023 at 3:22

2 Answers 2


One angle that the mefarshim explain explicitly, is that these "gifts" were not gifts in the literal sense but relating to the names of G-d or pagan deities. In other words, they came from Avraham's wider understanding of the world and the various areas of knowledge he had accrued over time.

For example, the Daas Zekeinim notes:

נתן אברהם מתנות, “Avraham had already given gifts.” According to the Talmud in tractate Sanhedrin folio 91, these “gifts” were the ability to utter the names of the holy name of the Lord without thereby incurring severe harm. Even nowadays, according to our author, the Moslems who are trained in theology are able to do this without coming to any harm thereby. It was difficult for Rabbi Moses to understand how Avraham a great and devout man could possibly have taught the holy Name of the Lord to wicked people. In view of this problem, Rabbi Yaakov, son of Rabbi Nachman, interpreted that line in the Talmud differently by saying that the word טומאה used in the Talmud there refers to the names of certain demons. The names of these demons are associated with the evil spirits making their homes in certain ruins, or certain cemeteries as described by the Talmud in tractate Chagigah folio 3. This is alluded to by the fact that the spelling of the word “matanot” is spelled as if it were a singular, the letter ו having been omitted. As spelled in the Torah here, the numerical value of the letters in the words נתן אברהם מתנת equals the numerical value of למדם להשביע השדים. [I have not quite figured this out. At any rate, the idea is that Avraham taught these sons of his how, when they used the names of deities when swearing an oath, they could do it in such a way as not to be guilty of violating the third of the Ten Commandments.

If we go with the second p'shat it would answer your question as to why Avraham didn't want to derive benefit from such gifts as they are based on impure / evil foundations.

Refer also to the Chizkuni for a similar approach.

The HaKesav Vehakabbalah explains why Avraham acted as he did:

הודיע להם שמות אלה כדי ליתן אל לבם לדעת להשתמר מהם ולא יבואו להחליף שם טומאה בטהרה ולעבדם בלתי ידיעה

He informed them of these names in order to let their hearts know to guard against them and they would not come to replace impurity with purity and serve them without knowledge.

If we build on this approach, we can answer why Rashi gives no source. They were not gifts in the literal sense (although there are some commentaries that suggest they were indeed of monetary value - e.g. Radak) and thus Avraham only had knowledge to pass on. The Sifsei Chachomim makes the logical deduction:

שם טומאה מסר להם. והא כבר נתן ליצחק כל ממונו:

He transmitted to them impure names. [Rashi knows this] because Avraham had already given all his possessions to Yitzchok.

As such, logically, it did not have to state where they came from, as they were of a tangible/material nature as it was just forwarding knowledge.


I thougt they were the gifts given to Avraham for the marraige of Sarah. Like when pharoh and avimelech kidnapped her. He didn't want to benefit from them because he didn't receive them 100% kosher. By pharoh he got some because they wanted to marry sarah. Taima dikra said he was allowed to keep them because of taos accum. Also they might not have been given wholeheartedly, just to appease Sarah. We find Amoraim didn't wish to benefit from things that weren't 100% kosher eventhough it was permissible to benefit from them by the letter of the law.

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