In a few places, Rash"i quotes a midrash, usually associated with how Datan and Aviram addressed Moshe. They referred to him as "ben Amram' (Son of Amram). Rash"i implies that this term was considered derrogatory or disrespectful. I would think that since Amram had a pretty high and respected status in the community, and he was the proud father of 3 notable children that it would be honorable to be known as the son of Amram. Is Rash"i implying something else?

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    It's possible that they were implying that he was only significant BECAUSE of his lineage, and that not recognizing his own importance would be disrespectful. May 27, 2014 at 17:05
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    There are other cases where Rashi quotes a Medrash calling him Ben Amram as not at all disrepectful (e.g.), so I think the premise of the question is mistaken.
    – Yishai
    May 27, 2014 at 17:09

1 Answer 1


This is consistent with Rashi's explanation of Taanit 3a, wherein Rabbi Joshua Son of Bteira is at times simply cited as 'son of Bteira'. The Talmud states that they would call him by his name after he was ordained as a rabbi, and by the name of his father before his ordination.

Rashi explains in s.v. מקמי דליסמכוהו‏ that he was not a man of stature before his ordination, so they called him by his father's name. Only after he became a rabbi was he regarded by his own name as well, having gained renown by his own right.

Datan and Abiram referred to Moses as 'son of Amram' to imply that he had no acclaim of his own, and was thus only known by way of his eminent father. This was obviously a disrespectful, given Moses' position as our leader from the Exodus onward.

  • A plausible argument for it being interpreted as derogatory in principle, however ...
    – Yishai
    May 27, 2014 at 17:46
  • @Yishai I think context could dictate if it was derogatory. It certainly could be derogatory, as per the Rashi of the answer, and the fact that sometimes it isn't wouldn't mean it never is. May 27, 2014 at 19:01
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    @yishai perhaps the splitting of the sea was to Moses as ordination was to Joshua b'b? See beginning of song of the sea.
    – Baby Seal
    May 27, 2014 at 20:06
  • @BabySeal, Good point.
    – Yishai
    May 27, 2014 at 20:12

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