Sefer Shemos opens up with listing Yaakov's sons' names, the fact that they all died, and the fact that the Jews multiplied so rapidly.

My question is: We know most of this already. Why is it repeated? Their names are mentioned several times throughout Parshios Vayeitzei through Vayechi. The fact that at least Yosef died is the last passuk of Bereishis, but we wouldn't know that all of the brothers died before the slavery started without that passuk (see Rashi to Shemos 6:16). And we know that the Jews multiplied rapidly from Bereishis 47:27. So why doesn't Shemos open up with "After Yosef, his brothers, and that entire generation died, a new king arose..."?

EDIT: Apparently there is a debate about whether there are unnecessary words. I guess this question only applies to those who hold there are not.

  • see Rashi this week at the beginning Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 21:47
  • It's a new book. Most books open with a prologue or by catching you up. You're used to seeing all 5 books together, but they aren't one book. They are five that we regularly print together. It's like having a Harry Potter boxed set: 7 books in one package.
    – Double AA
    Commented Jan 14, 2017 at 23:08
  • @DoubleAA That still doesn't entitle the Torah to go against the norm and say things unnecessarily. Do you see any of the later three books opening up with a prologue?
    – DonielF
    Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 0:33
  • @DonielF Book 5 does. Shoftim sort of does. Many of the Neviim open up with some background info about who is speaking and when. It's just not the same thing as having read it the verse before, as you seem to imply. ("against the norm and say things unnecessarily" I'm not claiming this was unnecessary, but I'm not sure why you think that's the norm. We seek deep meaning in everything where we can, but Pshat is Pshat. Sometimes on a Pshat level something is just emphasis or setting.)
    – Double AA
    Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 0:38
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat.
    – DonielF
    Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 15:11

1 Answer 1


Rashi ad loc. says it lists the children of Jacob who went to Egypt again because God lists them repeatedly out of His love for them.

Ramban ad loc. says it mentions the descendants of Jacob who went to Egypt again because now it will describe the exile and that was the start of the exile.

Rashbam ad loc. says it mentions the descendants of Jacob who went to Egypt again because it wants to describe how their descendants expanded in number so stresses again that they started as but seventy.

Daas Z'kenim ad loc. (paraphrasing Midrash Raba) says it mentions the descendants of Jacob who went to Egypt again because now, when they started working for the state, it was as if they arrived.

  • I'll give you half credit. It doesn't explain why the passuk needed to repeat that they multiplied rapidly.
    – DonielF
    Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 0:34

You must log in to answer this question.

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