In Devarim 9:7, Moshe reproves Bnai Yisrael by stating that you were rebellious from the time you came out of Egypt until you came to this point. In verse 8, he starts by focusing on what happened at Horev (Mt. Sinai) with the sin of the Golden Calf.

From there until verse 21, he describes what happened at Horev. In verses 22-23 he describes some of the other rebellious events. (Sounds OK, to me, b/c the intro verse was listing the rebellious events in general>) Verse 24, he makes a "summary" statement.

Then, it seems Moshe reverts back to the Horev event from verses 25 - 29, he goes back to HOrev. It continues in the next chapter from 10:1 - 10:5.

Then from 10:6 - 10:8 there seems to be verses that seem completely disconnected from the event at Horev and it doesn't seem to be any type of "reproof". It talks about Aharon's death and the priesthood going to his son Elazar and how the Levi'im didn't get a portion of land.

Finally, from 10:10 - 10:11 we are back to what happened at Horev.

Essentially, there are two interruptions.

The first one seems to be related to Moshe's reproof, so it has direct relevance. But, why not move that section to the end after discussing the events at Horev?

The second interruption puzzles me. I don't understand at all why it's there.

  • To me, the question shouldn’t be directed at 10:6-9 but at 10:10-11. The segue from Chorev to Aharon’s death and the Levi’s portion seems reasonable on its own; the problem is that we go back to Chorev afterwards. All Rashi says is that “since Moshe didn’t specify how long he was on the mountain, he went back to specify that.” He doesn’t exactly address this.
    – DonielF
    Commented Aug 13, 2017 at 6:59

1 Answer 1


Although the Ibn Ezra and Ramban both explain what the sins in 9:22 were, they don’t explain the relevance to the passage as a whole. You’re probably right as to their relevance.

The second interruption, on the other hand, has had much ink spilled over it as to its relevance.

Rashi to 10:6 starts by noting that Aharon did not die where this passuk says he did, nor did the B’nei Yisrael travel in the manner that these pesukim relate. He explains that on Aharon’s death, the Jews rebelled and retreated several stops to return to Mitzraim, before Shevet Levi stepped up and fought their brethren to prevent them from retreating father. Eventually, they realized that this bloodshed was because they failed to eulogize Aharon properly. The Ramban fills in the missing pieces from Yerushalmi Yoma 1:1, which Rashi is quoting, that their desire to return to Mitzraim and the associated bloodshed are as “difficult” for HaShem as the day they served the Eigel. Rashi to 10:8 explains that Moshe also threw in Shevet Levi’s appointment for good measure, as they were the ones who stepped up in both of these incidents.

Ibn Ezra back on 10:6 explains that since Moshe related previously that he prayed that Aharon be spared (9:20), he is now relating that Aharon indeed did not die immediately, but rather only after 40 years. According to him, we return to the topic at hand in verse 8; in his opinion, the Leviim were separated at the time of the Eigel. As for the difficulties brought by Rashi, he hand-waves them by saying that the pesukim here are referring to those places by different names, or introducing new cities not mentioned previously, for whatever reason.

The Ramban to the same passuk gives an alternative explanation to the geography set forth by the passuk (calling Ibn Ezra’s understanding “Divrei Ruach” - presumably similar to the English idiom “full of hot air”), but he agrees with the Ibn Ezra as to the relevance of Aharon’s death here. However, to 10:8, he quotes Rashi’s explanation as to Shevet Levi’s elevation being mentioned here, and disagrees based on textual difficulties (Ramban saves his harsh words for the Ibn Ezra in general). In his opinion, Shevet Levi is mentioned here because since we just mentioned that Elazar became Kohen Gadol instead of his father, he also had to mention that the entire Shevet had previously been elevated.

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