There are often cases in Tanach where the Bnei Yisrael speak/answer simultaneously. Is there a general rule behind what this means or does it change from verse to verse? It would seem difficult to assume that all the nation would say a sentence in synchrony; unless, of course, it is miraculous.

For instance in the blessings and curses (perhaps easier for a whole nation to answer one word simultaneously): וְאָמַר כָּל-הָעָם, אָמֵן. This expression repeats a number of times.

Another example is Bamidbar (11:4): וַיֹּאמְרוּ מִי יַאֲכִלֵנוּ בָּשָׂר. Rashi comments initially that the eirev rav instigated this complaint but the Bnei Yisrael joined in in complaining collectively. I would imagine that this complaint is the 'general feeling' of the nation at the time rather than each person saying in synchrony "who will feed us meat"?

Another example is Yehoshua (24:24): וַיֹּאמְרוּ הָעָם, אֶל-יְהוֹשֻׁעַ: אֶת-יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ נַעֲבֹד, וּבְקוֹלוֹ נִשְׁמָע. Does this mean that everyone actually said these words or is this a way of documenting the general acceptance of all.

  • 2
    Also of interest, "naase" and "naase v'nishma". +1.
    – msh210
    Commented Jun 17, 2013 at 4:08
  • The first example you bring should not be a problem, because in those verses Mosheh was directing the people what to say throughout the ceremony, and even if what they were to answer was longer, it would be no different than people answering "Amen, Yehe' Shemeh Raba" in the saying of the Qadish. Regarding your second example, and in general, I think it's to be understood from the context that they didn't all say the exact words, or in unison, and that the Miqra is bringing a shortened version of what they said.
    – Tamir Evan
    Commented Jun 17, 2013 at 5:39
  • @Tamir do you have a source for this?
    – bondonk
    Commented Jun 17, 2013 at 23:39
  • For which? What I said about your first example to me is obvious from rest of the verses there. As for the rest of it, as I said "I think it's to be understood ...", i.e. I have no source. If I had it would have been an answer, instead of a comment.
    – Tamir Evan
    Commented Jun 19, 2013 at 16:16

1 Answer 1


My Rosh Yeshiva, R' Leib Tropper, told me that the Chizkuni and other commentators say that it means the Roshei HaEida, the leaders of the community.

  • "it" = every time this comes up?
    – msh210
    Commented Aug 7, 2013 at 17:14
  • @msh210 I guess so. I didn't see it inside.
    – Adám
    Commented Aug 7, 2013 at 17:17

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