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During krias haTorah, I noticed that while during the counting, most tribes were counted like this (taking Yehuda as an example):

לבני יהודה תולדתם למשפחתם לבית אבותם במספר שמות מבן עשרים שנה ומעלה כל יצא צבא
Bamidar 1:26

On the other hand, Shimon gets a different treatment from every other tribe:

לבני שמעון תולדותם למשפחתם לבית אבתם פקדיו במספר שמות לגלגלתם כל זכר מבן עשרים שנה ומעלה כל יצא צבא
ibid. 1:22

Can anyone explain why that is?

[sourced answers preferred]

  • 1
    The answer can be seen here.Lekach Tov,Medrash Agadah and ,Medrash Hagadol. hebrewbooks.org/pagefeed/hebrewbooks_org_51470_30.pdf – sam May 25 '14 at 4:45
  • naphtali the last tribe is also different. The lamed of livnai is missing. Either because they were the only ones left or they had more girls. – preferred May 25 '14 at 13:07
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This source (found thanks to a link in the comments;) discusses my question (and others), and answers (quoting Terumas Hadeshen explaining Rashi) that because Shimon was not the leader of his דגל flag-group, he got the word "פקודיו" added to his count as compensation.
[He adds that Menashe also has a change in his count -- "והחונים עליו," for a similar reason (his younger brother אפרים was head of his group)]


This source (Thanks to @sam) brings down several comments that discuss this question, and here they are:

  • לקח טוב writes that Shimon was counted with the word פקודיו because they would eventually lose a whole bunch of people.
  • מדרש אגדה writes that Shimon and Reuven were counted differently because they annoyed their father (Yaakov; I would assume with שכם and with switching the beds), and needed to atone for that.
  • Similarly, מדרש הגדול writes that the word פקודיו was used for Shimon in the sense of פוקד עון אבות, that the sins of the ancestor (Shimon) are remembered [again, probably שכם].

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