In Exodus 31, Gd designates Bezalel son of Uri son of Hur the Judite, Oholiab son of Ahisamach the Danite, and 'all the wise-hearted' to construct the tabernacle.

Why are Bezalel and Oholiab mentioned by name? Why doesn't the verse simply include them in the phrase about the other wise-hearted?

  • Wasn't Betzalel the grandson of Hur, the guy who was killed before the golden calf, the guy who held up Moshe's hands during the battle with Amalek, and also Miriam's husband? – Clint Eastwood Feb 17 '14 at 0:54
  • @ClintEastwood, he was. – msh210 Feb 17 '14 at 1:09
  • @ClintEastwood are you suggesting that his prolific lineage demanded mentioning? – Baby Seal Feb 17 '14 at 2:38
  • because Hur was the only non-levite who was actively on the "good" side of the golden calf incident. He probably didn't merit to lose his bechor privaliges as did all the other non-levites. Perhaps his grandson's appointment to build the mishkan has something to do with it. – Clint Eastwood Feb 17 '14 at 2:49
  • @ClintEastwood interesting idea! the Rosh happens to say that, while Levi was the only full tribe to rally around Moses, other tribes did, in parts. However they did lose the Firstborn rights, that is evident, so your point has merit in any event. – Baby Seal Feb 17 '14 at 2:55

Sifse Chachaim 22 (tav) to 31:6 indicates that B'tzal'el was in charge, Aholiav helped him with his tasks, and the two of them delegated other responsibilities to the others. In other words, the two of them were in charge; this, I assume, is why they were mentioned by name.


Exodus Rabah 40:4 explains that Judah was the greatest of the tribes, whereas Dan was the least of them1. Gd mentions Bezalel, a noble of the exalted Judites, descendant of Prince Caleb and the Prophetess Miriam, (Sotah 11b, Numbers 13:2-3, Megilla 14a), grandson of Hur, a leader recognized by Moses, (Exodus 24:14), alongside Oholiab the lowly Danite, notable only in his comparative unremarkabiliy, to protect Oholiab from embarrassment, and Bezalel from his ego, for the great and the small are equal before Gd.

For this the highest of honors; selection by Gd to build His Dwelling in our midst, these two particular individuals; one an Israelite of great stature, the other simply an Israelite, are mentioned to teach us that we are- all of us - equally special and ordinary before Gd, no matter the case, regardless of Tribe or class.

1. Commentaries explain either that he only had one son, (and that son was himself hard of hearing), or that Dan's son's name, Chushim, means lowly and weak. One could perhaps also cite Judges 18, Kings I 12:28-29, and Bahya Ibn Pakuda's remarks on Dan's camp and claim that Dan struggled with a strong inclination toward foreign worship even in the desert, (Targum pseudo Yonatan on Amalek's assault in the end of Beshalach).

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    So just to clarify, both Betzalel and Oholiav had regular jobs in the workforce, and if you hadn't read the Torah but just lived then you wouldn't have noticed anything unique about them. – Double AA Feb 19 '14 at 3:37
  • And it's just a coincidence that Betzalel is the one who happens to construct the Aron (Shemot 37:1) and the Copper Altar (Divrei Hayamim II 1:5)? – Double AA Feb 19 '14 at 4:39
  • @DoubleAA 38:23 mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt0238.htm, and regardless, what did the midrash just teach us about perceived hierarchies? – Baby Seal Feb 19 '14 at 19:19
  • @DoubleAA Rashi says that Bezalel is mentioned there because he exerted himself the most, not because he was the only one who made the Aron – Baby Seal Feb 23 '14 at 1:16

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