How did the daughters of Zelophehad present themselves to Moshe (וַתִּקְרַבְנָה בְּנוֹת צְלָפְחָד), to Eleazar the priest, and before the princes and all the congregation in Bamidbar 27?

What was the protocol?

Did the daughters prostrate themselves? Were they on their knees? Where they on their feet? Or all of the above, not at the same time but in stages, because "verse 2" appears to say, they were standing, if the verb in question וַתַּעֲמֹדְנָה can only mean standing ( וַתַּעֲמֹדְנָה לִפְנֵי מֹשֶׁה ). Can it also mean anything else apart from "to stand"?

I have seen various illustrations, and I just want to know if our Sages had anything to say about it?

  • Does וַתִּקְרַבְנָה suggest what the posture might be? Does it suggest prostration, kneeling, bowed down, etc...? Because by the next sentence, it says וַתַּעֲמֹדְנָה. This reminds me of the various Midrashim, Aggadot, Gemora passages, etc., where a certain person starts out prostrated making a request, and then the person, being requested on, tells the requester, to stand up.
    – ninamag
    Aug 17 '17 at 2:11
  • 2
    Why would you think this is different than any other time in which someone posed a halachic question to Moshe?
    – DonielF
    Jul 3 '18 at 4:46
  • @DonielF I do not know if "this is different than any other time" and I do not know if men approached Moshe differently than would women, etc..
    – ninamag
    Jul 3 '18 at 17:42

See Yalkut shmoni, where the episode is explained as having occurred in the Beis Hamidrash, at the time that Moshe was teaching all those gathered, which you have mentioned, the Halachos of Yibum, and they used the teaching as a springboard for their request. Chazal also teach us that Torah must be learned while standing. (besides for Beis Din during a case). This being the case, one can assume that there was no official protocol that would accommodate them, but that they set themselves up as participants in the talmudic discourse, and that they were standing the entire time, together with the rest of the gathered crowd.

  • I believe Yalkut Shimoni is a midrash? I respect it, but I would rather rely on a more authoritative work.
    – ninamag
    Aug 16 '17 at 15:01
  • @ninamag judaism.stackexchange.com/q/53349
    – DonielF
    Aug 16 '17 at 18:26
  • @DonielF Thanks for your referral to a different posting about "Midrash".
    – ninamag
    Aug 17 '17 at 2:08
  • @ninamag Just trying to help you out here - you’re welcome to go with those who don’t take Midrashim literally. :)
    – DonielF
    Aug 17 '17 at 2:13
  • 1
    @ninamag why is a midrash not authoritative in your view?
    – Harel13
    Oct 28 at 18:57

וַתַּעֲמֹדְנָה literally means standing. Occasionally it can refer to stopping to wait, but I don't think that makes sense in context. So presumably, the verse clearly says they stood. You can't trust illustrations, because a Venn diagram of gifted artists and authoritative rabbis would probably have zero overlap.

You must log in to answer this question.

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