There is a reference to Bereshis Rabba 65:20 and Vayikra Rabba 33:5 to 2 Chronicles 13:17 which says that 500,000 soldiers of the northern tribes killed by the army of Yehuda. The Midrash states that the dead were mutilated so their wives would become agunas (unable to remarry) because their husbands would not be identified. This involves (lechoyra) an incredible disgrace of the dead AND punishment for the innocent wives, especially since their identities would not be done even if buried in a mass grave within the first 3 days. (This itself shows that the women of Yisroel were very pious for 500,000 of them to accept the status of agunah.)

Can anyone with access to the midrashim check the meforshim to explain what was going on over there?

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    Welcome to Mi Yodeya thanks for bringing this question here. You could improve your question if you could be more specific about the answer you are looking for. – not-allowed to change my name Mar 10 '13 at 18:23
  • The answer would be an explanation of those two midrashim! Thanks. – Duvy Mar 10 '13 at 22:15
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    If it helps, the number "500,000" is not likely to be a real number, but rather a number that is intended to mean "enormous". Armies of that size did not exist till around the time when the events of Purim took place. (And that's assuming that every single person in the army died.) – Ariel Mar 11 '13 at 2:09
  • I totally disagree. Nothing in Tanach is taken out of its simple meaning UNLESS Chazal say so. Furthermore, do meforshim explain the Midrashic reference to the mutilation and the agunas? – Duvy Mar 11 '13 at 22:01
  • However, I cannot understand how a king of Yehuda could come up with the idea of mutilating 500,000 soldiers so that their wives could not remarry and become agunas. Especially if soldiers used to divorce their wives before going to war. Perhaps if their divorces were conditional (get al tnay), then if their bodies could not be identified the get would not work since it could not be proven that they had died. But WHY would the king want to do that to so many bnos yisroel of the northern kingdom?! – Duvy Mar 13 '13 at 17:30

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