In parashat shemini, chapter 10, verse 1 it is written:

וַיִּקְחוּ בְנֵי אַהֲרֹן נָדָב וַאֲבִיהוּא אִישׁ מַחְתָּתוֹ וַיִּתְּנוּ בָהֵן אֵשׁ וַיָּשִׂימוּ עָלֶיהָ קְטֹרֶת וַיַּקְרִיבוּ לִפְנֵי יְהֹוָה אֵשׁ זָרָה אֲשֶׁר לֹא צִוָּה אֹתָם׃

Why, after ויתנו בהן , it is written וישימו עליה ?

  • 1
    just off the top of my head, eish is singular and the ketoret went on a singular fire (either the combined fires of the two, or two separate, singular fires -- is there a plural for "fire"?). the fire had been placed in a singular pan but the fire had been placed in both pans (vahen) by them (vayitNU). so it might just be a function of the nature of the noun eish.
    – rosends
    Apr 5, 2013 at 13:41
  • I think Dan's got it - esh is a "mass noun" and so it would take a singular: "they lit fire in them [the pans] and they placed incense on it [the fire]". Apr 5, 2013 at 20:49
  • @Dan Isn't the plural אשים Ishshim (dagesh in the shin)?
    – Double AA
    Apr 5, 2013 at 21:57

1 Answer 1


Ralbag's commentary clarifies that "עָלֶיהָ/on it" means "on the fire", and that they placed the incense on the fire after placing the fire on the inner altar. [The Torah would not say "וַיָּשִׂימוּ בָהֵן קְטֹרֶת/and placed incense in them", in the pans, because they didn't put the incense in the pans according to Ralbag.]

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