Sunday, July 19, 2009

Moshe's Massacre &c.

Did you catch the massacre Moshe orders toward the end of Matos? A nasty bit of business, no? And the worst part about it, as aptly noted by many, is that it isn't God who tells Moshe to tell Israel to go and rape girl children and murder women and boy children. Per the text, the slaughter is Moshe's own idea:
15 And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive?

16 Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD.

17 Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.

18 But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.
Reading this, all sorts of important questions about "torah morality" and the nature of Moshe's authority come to mind.

Additional puzzlements:
1) When the Israelites go out to war, Pinchas accompanies them. Rashi gives many reasons why he, and not his father Eliezer, Elazar went out with the troops. What Rashi does not explain is this: why isnt Joshua mentioned as the field commander here as in previous battles?

2) Just what exactly does Rashi think a kumaz is? I mean I know he says its some kind of pendant or clasp that went around the, ahem, female crotch area, but what kind of weird jewelry item is that?

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