Is there any connection between the word אסף (to gather, collect) and אסם (literally a barn or storehouse but could be from an unised root meaning to heap up).

I wondered because there is a feast in Shemot 23:16 called Chag Ha'asif, the Festival of Ingatherings (Sukkot), which comes from the same root as the ha'asaf'suf, the rabble mentioned in Bamidbar 11:4.

Could this be because like the food ingathered and being heaped up in storehouses, these people were gathered and becomming a heap of people?

  • which comes from the same root as the ha'asaf'suf, the rabble mentioned in Bamidbar 11:4 Why do you think it comes from the same root?
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Jan 15, 2018 at 9:54
  • 1
    @mevaqesh isn't it? אסיף seems to be from אסף if I follow most etymological dictionaries. It could be differently. I know that the term voor ha'asaf'suf is often translated as mixed multitute, but to me it seems more like a group of gathered people within the community of B'nei Yisraël. It's not like this is a mixed group but more or less a united group sharing the same feelings and thoughts.
    – Levi
    Commented Jan 15, 2018 at 11:32
  • You may or may not be right, but you shouldn't just make unsourced claims; , you should back them up with sources in posts rather than comments.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Jan 15, 2018 at 15:54
  • Thank you so much, this makes a lot of sence to me and makes things quite clear
    – Levi
    Commented Jan 15, 2018 at 19:39
  • Did you mean to comment on the answer?
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Jan 15, 2018 at 19:43

1 Answer 1


Rav Hirsch explains on that pasuk that it was an external gathering and making a pile. That is why he (actually Rabbi Levy his grandson translating from German to English) uses the term rabble.

וְהָאסַפְסֻף in the the chumash (both Hirsch and Art Scroll as examples have no vowelization under the aleph) is similar but somewhat different from אסף as explained by Rav Hirscha about Beha'aloscha 11:4 in a way similar to Ibn Ezra.

והאספסוף – שנאספו על ישראל ואינם מהן, והן ערב רב. והמלה כפולה כמו: סחרחר (תהלים ל״ח:י״א), חמרמרו (איכה א׳:כ׳).

As Rav Hirsch explains:

The א being quiescent gives the nuance of meaning that the absorption was more of an external nature, that those who were "gathered in" did not really enter into the real national being of the nation. It was more of a ספף than an אסף. Israel was more of a סף, a container, a vessel, and a "threshold" to them, they were "contained" in Israel but never really became an integral part of it.

Thus, they were piled up inside the Bnai Yisrael and continued to regard themselves as separate in a way as well as insisting on getting all the benefits but not subject to any of the responsibilities.

Note that Rav Hirsch seems to say that חג האסיף would therefore come from the root אסף rather than ספף because the harvesy actually becomes part of Bnai Yisrael and requires תרומות ומעשרות to be taken and made kadosh so that the tevel of the initial in-gathering becomes permitted to the Am Hashem. Something that the rabble did not allow to happen (as shown by their actions).

I should note that it appears that not everyone of them was like this, but that those who were caused the deaths at Kivros Hata'avah. Rav Hirsch goes into more details on the matter in the entire commentary of chapter 11.

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