Numbers 34:18:

וְנָשִׂ֥יא אֶחָ֛ד נָשִׂ֥יא אֶחָ֖ד מִמַּטֶּ֑ה תִּקְח֖וּ לִנְחֹ֥ל אֶת־הָאָֽרֶץ׃

Numbers 34:29

אֵ֕לֶּה אֲשֶׁ֖ר צִוָּ֣ה יְהוָ֑ה לְנַחֵ֥ל אֶת־בְּנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל בְּאֶ֥רֶץ כְּנָֽעַן׃

Rashi on Numbers 34:18:

לנחל את הארץ. שיהא נוחל וחולק אותה במקומכם:

My translation of Rash"i, if I'm correct:

That they should inherit and divide it instead of you (I'm unsure what Rash"i means by the last word.)

Rashi on Numbers 34:29:1:

לנחל את בני ישראל. שהם ינחילו אותה לכם למחלקותיה:

The first verses verb form is kal, so it seems to translate as "inherit" Rash"i seems to explain what seems to be the "Hiph'il" form of the verb "N-CH-L" in the 2nd verse. I'm not quite following how Rash"i translates the form נַחֵ֥ל. Does it mean "inherit" or "divide"?

  • I can hazard a guess - nachal is also a term for a stream or geographic feature that divides land into separate sections. Y-R-SH is generically used for physical objects that are DISTRIBUTED among the inheritors, while N-CH-L is a term for land that is demarcated and DIVIDED among the participants. Jul 16, 2015 at 21:55
  • @IsaacKotlicky It's an interesting conjecture. But, be careful regarding that translation of Y-R-SH this way, as the Torah is called a morasha which means "heritage". The Torah is not "distributed" in the same sense that a "yerusha" is. Nonetheless, morasha emanates from the same shoresh.
    – DanF
    Jul 17, 2015 at 14:15
  • Very true, which is why I used a comment rather than an answer. Nevertheless, I think that the word morasha is substantially different - it's not an inheritance itself (ירושה) but a tool through which we inherit (מורשה) עולם הבא, the term describes its use. Jul 17, 2015 at 14:28

1 Answer 1


One way of translating the verb נ-ח-ל is 'take possession of'.

Thus, the kal form used in the first verse means that the princes are to take possession of the various portions of land, on behalf of the members of their respective tribes. (במקומכם in Rashi meaning “in your place” or “on your behalf “, rather than “instead of you”.)

The pi’el form in the second verse connotes that the princes caused the people to take possession of their plots of land, by allocating the portions to each tribe.


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