Bereishit 35:22 goes straight from Reuven lying with Bilhah and Yisrael hearing about it into the introduction of the list of sons to follow:

‫ וַיְהִי, בִּשְׁכֹּן יִשְׂרָאֵל בָּאָרֶץ הַהִוא, וַיֵּלֶךְ רְאוּבֵן וַיִּשְׁכַּב אֶת-בִּלְהָה פִּילֶגֶשׁ אָבִיו, וַיִּשְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל; {פ}

‫ וַיִּהְיוּ בְנֵי-יַעֲקֹב, שְׁנֵים עָשָׂר.

And it came to pass, while Israel dwelt in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father's concubine; and Israel heard of it. {P} Now the sons of Jacob were twelve:

As noted above (and in this question, which asks about how to lein it), there is a paragraph break between "and Yisrael heard" and "Now the sons of Yaakov...". That makes sense; there's a change in topic here.

And yet our tradition does not put a break in pasuk here, almost as if it's trying to rush past the unseemly incident with Reuven and get on to the list of Yaakov's twelve sons. Why is that?

(Rashi says nothing about this, and neither do the chumashim I have handy.)


2 Answers 2


Sforno says that it shows that even though Yaakov knew, he didn't disown Reuven, because he knew that he did tshuvah immediately.

Both Ramban and Radak say that because of what Reuven did, Yaakov had twelve sons, i.e. he did not have any more children after this.

Additionally, the Gemara in Shabbat 55b (phrase 27 in Sefaria) says that he moved Yaakov's bed from Bilha's tent to his mother's. It is impossible that he would have actually sinned this way when his descendants would stand on Har Eival and curse anyone who sins with his father's wife, the Gemara says.


I don't have access to a humash now, but I believe a mefaresh said that the Torah is trying to show that despite the fact that Reuben did this terrible act, he is still counted among the twelve tribes of Israel.

  • Rashi says that Reuven remains firstborn despite his act (from Gen. Rabbah 82:11), but why does that require that it be the same pasuk? Commented Dec 3, 2014 at 3:02
  • 2
    To emphasize the connection.
    – 147zcbm
    Commented Dec 3, 2014 at 3:03

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