Inspired by this question

In Bereshis 47:29 Yaakov asks Yosef to "put his hand under his thigh" (a euphemism) and swear not to bury him in Egypt. Here, unlike by Avraham, there is no indication that the mitzvah of milah is more important to Yaakov than any other (such as learning torah or gid hanasheh). Why then did he ask Yosef to swear in that way?

  • 1
    Why not gid hanashe? ;)
    – HodofHod
    Jan 10, 2013 at 18:18
  • @HodofHod i added that to my question, i've never seen a commentary who says that but it would make sense
    – user2110
    Jan 10, 2013 at 18:19
  • @HodofHod nikmasi: R Waxman suggested it in one of his posts parsha.blogspot.com/2012/01/…
    – Double AA
    Jan 11, 2013 at 4:53
  • @DoubleAA i'm ready to start a petition to include him in the next version of mikros gedolos
    – user2110
    Jan 11, 2013 at 14:17
  • 1
    @DoubleAA careful what you wish for change.org/petitions/… also, someone should tell him.
    – user2110
    Jan 11, 2013 at 16:11

2 Answers 2


From KolTorah.org

The Maharal commenting on Rashi, answers that

this was the way the people back then made Shevu’ot; the one swearing would place their hands under the other thigh of the person he is swearing to (as the Ibn Ezra points out in his commentary to Breishit 24:2 and confirmed by Da’at Mikra ad. loc.). Yaakov thought that if he did not do the Shevuah this way, when Yosef would ask him to go and bury his father, Paroh would respond that he did not make the Shevuah according to the law of the land, and, therefore, the Shevuah was null and void.

The Maharal continues to say that the reason Rashi gave the explanation by Avraham that the bris was his nekitas cheifetz is because it wouldn't make sense to say that Avraham was following the world's custom. Avraham had no reason to have Eliezer swear like the custom, unlike Yaakov, who was concerned that Pharaoh wouldn't recognize anything else.

The ibn Ezra himself would probably give the same explanation for both Avraham and Yaakov.

Much thanks to @b a for helping me understand the Maharal correctly.

  • It would seem the question is premised not on this explanation but that he took the oath this way because of nekitat chefetz
    – Double AA
    Jan 10, 2013 at 19:04
  • Isn't this also the same method that Avraham made Eliezer swear to him? Jan 10, 2013 at 19:28
  • @BruceJames See the link at the top of the question
    – HodofHod
    Jan 10, 2013 at 19:29
  • @DoubleAA The very first words of the Maharal are almost exactly what nikmasi asked. Namely, since swearing under Yaakov's thigh isn't a nekitas cheifetz, why do it? "קשיא לי למה השביע במילה ולא בנקיטת חפץ"?
    – HodofHod
    Jan 10, 2013 at 19:32
  • 1
    @HodofHod He doesn't mention Rashi by name, but he's commenting on him (the dibur hamatchil of the piece is a quote from Rashi). This edition makes it a little more clear.
    – b a
    Jan 11, 2013 at 6:32

The pirush Maharzo on the Medrash Rabba perek 59 siman 8 d.h. bitzaar says Yaakov learned to swear like this from Avraham. The Eitz Yosef there in the name of Yaphe Toar says similarly even though Yaakov was young by his circumcision he still made Yosef swear in this manner, one can say that after Avraham swore like this, the tzadik took his way.

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