In the second chapter of Shemos, we're introduced to a man who marries a woman, and they have a son who has a sister.

After ten verses of narrative about this family, we're finally told the son's name - Moshe. We get introduced to his brother Aharon a few chapters later, and we don't find out the names of their parents until Chapter 6. And the sister is left unnamed until Chapter 14, where the Torah says that Miriam was Aharon's sister, so we can deduce that she was Moshe's sister as well, and thus probably the one who watched over him as a child.

The question is, why are all the names hidden? Usually, the Torah tells us people's names and genealogies as soon as they're introduced. Here they are withheld for many chapters. Why?

2 Answers 2


According to רמב"ן (Nachmanides) on that verse (2:1), a discussion of the lineage of Moshe and his parents would prolong the narrative unnecessarily; at this point, the Torah would like to just get on with the story.

ויקח את בת לוי ולא הזכיר הכתוב שם האיש ולא שם אשתו אשר לקח, והיה זה בעבור כי יצטרך ליחסם ולהזכיר שמם מי אביהם ואבי אביהם עד אל לוי, ועכשיו ירצה לקצר עד לדת המושיע, ואחר כן (להלן ו יד~כה) ייחס גם שאר השבטים בעבורו בסדר השני

And he married a daughter of Levi, and the verse doesn't mention the name of the man, nor the name of his wife that he married; this is because (if their names would have been mentioned) we would have had to discuss their lineage, and mention the names of their fathers and grandfathers, through to Levi; at this point, the Torah wished to speak in a shorter manner. Later (6:14-25), the lineages of the other shevatim (tribes) are discussed also, so that his (Moshe's) lineage can be discussed as well.

(translation mine)

As a discussion here about Aharon and Miriam would also prolong the narrative unnecessarily, Nachmanides's point would apparently apply to them, as well.


I heard in a shiur many years ago that the Torah is trying to emphasize that Moshe was a normal human being like you or me, without any divinity. "A man went...and married a women" is there for emphasis: normal mom, normal dad. If names were used, you could start darshaning.

Purely for illustration purposes, one might be tempted to say the following kefirah:

AmRam - With the heights, this is G-d who is with the angels on high. YoCheved - This is G-d who hid Moshe as a child. Again, this whole block is total heresy.

Once it has been established that Moshe is a normal human born through normal human processes, the Torah then goes and explains his lineage knowing we won't misunderstand it.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .