After Moshe received the Aseret HaDevarim he came down from the mountain and heard a lot of noise coming from amongst the people that awaited his arrival. The people had just built a golden calf, and were singing and dancing around it. Yehoshua who was there with Moshe interpreted the sound as people shouting. But Moshe replied: "Not a sound shouting strength nor a sound shouting weakness; a sound of distress do I hear." (Exodus, 32:18)

What did Moshe hear that Yehoshua couldn’t in order for him to interpret this sound as a sound of distress. What could Moshe have meant when he said this to Yehoshua?

1 Answer 1


Ther are 2 Explanations In the Peirush Tur Haoroch (Rav Yaakov Ben Asher 14th Century)

  1. קול ענות אנכי שומע. כ' הרמב"ן לא מפני שידע משה הדבר כי אדרבה לא להגיד לו כי לא רצה לספ' בגנותן של ישרא' אלא אמר קול זה הנשמע הוא כקול שחוק. The Ramban explains that Moshe and Yehoshua were both far away so when Yehoshua said to Moshe that the people were "at war" Moshe told him you cannot incriminate without proper evidence saying big sounds (i.e incriminating sound) or small sounds (i.e non incriminating) rather there is a Sound in the Camp and investigation will take place later on to find out what it is.

  2. ובמדרש שאמר לו משה מי שעתיד לנהוג שררה על ישראל אינו מבחין בין קול לקול But the Medrash Rabba says that Moshe had a deeper understanding what was going on than Yehoshua who thought there was a war, He knew they were worshiping idols and was hinting to Yehoshua that he was still not on the right level to lead Israel without that extra sense of whats going on so thats why he told him not to come to conclusions until he attained a Higher level of understanding.

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