Parshas Matos

Words in bold represent changes to the traditional translation based on the Aramaic translation/commentary attributed to Onkelos the Ger.

Parshas Matos

Rishon

2. Moshe spoke with the heads of the tribes of the children of Israel, saying, “This is the thing that Hashem has commanded:

3. A man who will make a vow before Hashem or take an oath to prohibit a prohibition on himself, he shall not annul[1] his word; according to all that will come out from his mouth he shall do.

4. And a woman who will make a vow before Hashem or prohibit a prohibition in her father’s house, in her youth,

5. and her father hears (of) her vow and her prohibition that she prohibited on herself and he is silent to her, all her vows will stand and all prohibitions[2] that she prohibited on herself will stand.

6. And if her father restrains her on the day that he heard, all her vows and prohibitions that she prohibited on herself will not stand, and from before Hashem it will be forgiven her because her father restrained her.

7. And if she be (married) to a man and her vows are upon her, or the utterance of her lips that she prohibited on herself,

8. and her husband will hear, and he is silent to her on the day that he heard, her vows will stand and her prohibitions that she prohibited on herself will stand.

9. And if her husband restrained her on the day that he heard (of) it, and he canceled the vow that was upon her and the utterance of her lips that she prohibited on herself, and from before Hashem it will be forgiven her.

10. And the vow of a widow and a divorcee, all that she has prohibited on herself shall stand for her.[3]

11. And if she makes a vow or prohibits a prohibition on herself through oath , (while in) her husband’s house,

12. and her husband will hear and is silent to her, he does not restrain her. All her vows will stand and all prohibitions that she prohibited on herself will stand.

13. And if her husband releases them on the day that he heard, all that came out of her lips of her vows and to prohibit herself will not stand. Her husband has canceled them and from before Hashem it will be forgiven her.

14. Every vow and every prohibiting oath to afflict (her)self, her husband may uphold them and her husband may cancel them.

15. If her husband will be silent to her from (that) day to (the next) day, and upholds all her vows or all her prohibitions that are upon her, he has upheld them because he was deaf to her on the day that he heard.

16. And if he cancels them after (the day on which) he heard, he will receive her sin.

17. These are the statutes that Hashem commanded Moshe between a man and his wife, (and) between a father and his daughter in her youth, (in her) father’s house.

Chapter 31

Sheini

1. Hashem spoke with Moshe, saying,

2. “Inflict (the) punishment[4] of the children of Israel from the Midianites, after (which) you will be gathered to your people.”

3. Moshe spoke with the people, saying, “Let men be armed from among you for battle, and they will be upon Midian to give the punishment of judgment of Hashem’s people on Midian.

4. You shall send to battle 1,000 per Tribe[5] for all the tribes of Israel.”

5. From the thousands of Israel, 1,000 per Tribe were selected[6] – 12,000 armed for battle.

6. Moshe sent them – 1,000 per Tribe – to battle them, and Pinchas son of Elazar was the priest of the battle, and the holy implements and the trumpets of the blasts (were) in his hand.

7. They battled against Midian as Hashem commanded Moshe, and they killed every male.

8. And they killed the kings of Midian among their victims: Evi, Rekem, Tzur, Chur and Reva – the five kings of Midian. And they killed Balaam son of Beor by the sword.

9. The children of Israel took captive the women of Midian and their infants, and all their cattle, all their flocks, and all their wealth they took as spoils.

10. And all their cities in all their settlements and all their places of worship they burned with fire.

11. They captured all the spoils and all the plunder of man and of beast,

12. They brought to Moshe, to Elazar the priest, and to the congregation of the children of Israelite the captives, the plunder and the spoils, to the camp, to the plains of Moav that are on the Jordan of Jericho.

Shlishi (Sheini)

13. Moshe, Elazar the priest, and all the leaders[7] of the congregation went out to greet them, to outside the camp.

14. Moshe became angry with the commanders of the army, the officers of thousands and the officers of hundreds, who came from fighting the war.

15. Moshe said to them, “Did you keep every female alive?

16. Behold, they’re the ones who were to the children of Israel at Balaam’s advice,[8] to act falsely[9] before Hashem in the matter of Peor, and the plague was upon Hashem’s congregation.

17. Now kill every male among the infants, and kill every woman who has known a man through lying with a male,

18. and every infant among the women who has not known lying with a male you shall keep alive for yourselves.

19. You shall camp outside the camp (for) seven days. Everyone who killed a person[10] and everyone who touched the slain shall sprinkle on him[11] on the third day and on the seventh day – you and your captives.

20. And every garment, every vessel of skin, everything made from goat(s’ hair) and every utensil of wood you shall sprinkle on it.”

21. Elazar the priest said to the men of the army who came to war, “This is the decree[12] of the Torah that Hashem has commanded Moshe:

22. Only the gold and the silver, the copper, the iron, the tin and the lead –

23. any object that is brought[13] into fire, you shall pass it through fire and it will be pure, except that it must be sprinkled with the sprinkling water, and everything that is not brought into fire, you shall pass it through water.

24. You shall wash your clothes on the seventh day and be pure, and afterwards you may come to the camp.”

Revii

25. Hashem said to Moshe, saying,

26. “Receive an accounting[14] of the plunder that was captured, of man and of beast – you and Elazar the priest and the heads of the fathers of the congregation.

27. Divide the plunder in half between the men who fought the war who went out to battle and between the entire congregation.

28. You shall separate a tax before Hashem: from the men who fought the war, who went out to battle, one soul from (every) 500 from the people, from the cattle, from the donkeys and from the sheep,

29. from their half you shall take and give to Elazar the priest (as a) gift to Hashem.

30. And from the half of the children of Israel you shall take one drawn from (every) 50 of the people, of the cattle, of the donkeys and of the sheep – of all the animals – and give them to the Levites, the keepers of the watch of Hashem’s Tabernacle.”

31. Moshe and Elazar the priest did as Hashem commanded Moshe.

32. The plunder, over the spoils that the people who went out to the army had plundered, was 675,000 sheep,

33. 72,000 oxen,

34. 61,000 donkeys,

35. and human souls from the women who had not known lying with a male – all soul(s) 32,000.

36. And the half, (the) share of the men who went out in battle, the number of sheep (was) 337,500,

37. and the tax before Hashem from the sheep (was) 675.

38. And the cattle: 36,000, and their tax before Hashem: 72.

39. And the donkeys: 30,500, and their tax before Hashem: 61.

40. And the human souls: 16,000, and their tax before Hashem: 32.

41. Moshe gave the tax separated before Hashem to Elazar the priest as Hashem had commanded Moshe.

Chamishi

42. And from the half of the children of Israel that Moshe divided from the men who had gone out to the army,

43. the half of the congregation from the sheep (was) 337,500,

44. 36,000 oxen,

45. 30,500 donkeys,

46. and 16,000 human souls.

47. Moshe took from the half of the children of Israel the one drawn in (every) 50 of the people and of the animals, and he gave them to the Levites, the keepers of the watch of Hashem’s Tabernacle, as Hashem had commanded Moshe.

48. The commanders of the thousands of the army, the officers of thousands and the officers of hundreds, drew near to Moshe.

49. They said to Moshe, “Your servants have received an accounting of the men who fought the war who are with us[15] and no man is missing from us.

50. We have brought an offering of Hashem – (each) man that which he found – gold items: anklets,[16] bracelets, rings, earrings and body jewelry,[17] to atone for our souls before Hashem.”

51. Moshe and Elazar the priest took the gold from them, all items of work.[18]

52. All the gold, the gift that they separated before Hashem – 16,750 sela[19] from the officers of thousands and the officers of hundreds.

53. The men of the army plundered (each) man for himself.

54. Moshe and Eleazar the priest took the gold from the officers of thousands and from the officers of hundreds, and they brought it to the Tent of Meeting (as a) remembrance for the children of Israel before Hashem.

Chapter 32

Shishi (Shlishi)

1. The children of Reuven and the children of Gad had many cattle – very great (numbers). They saw the land of Yazeir and the land of Gilad and behold, the place was a place appropriate as land for cattle.

2. The children of Gad and the children of Reuven came and they said to Moshe, to Elazar the priest and to the leaders of the community, saying,

3. “Machlelta, and Mabeshta, and Kumrin, and Beis Nimrin, and Beis Chushbanei, and Baalei D’vava, and Sima, and Moshe’s gravesite[20] and B’on –

4. the land whose residents Hashem struck before the congregation of Israel – it is a land appropriate as a place for cattle, and your servants have cattle.

5. They said, “If we have found favor in your eyes, let this land be given to your servants as a possession; do not cause us to cross the Jordan.”

6. Moshe said to the children of Gad and the children of Reuven, “Should your brothers come to war and you remain here?

7. Why will you trouble[21] the heart of the children of Israel from crossing to the land that Hashem gave them?

8. Thus your fathers did when I sent them from R’kam Geiah[22] to see the land.

9. They went up until the Eshkol valley and they saw the land. They troubled the heart of the children of Israel against coming to the land that Hashem gave them.

10. Hashem’s anger intensified on that day and He swore, saying,

11. ‘If the men who went up from Egypt, from the age of 20 years and up, will see the land that I swore to Avraham, to Yitzchak and to Yaakov, because they did not follow after reverence of Me

12. except Kaleiv son of Yefuneh the K’nizi and Yehoshua son of Nun, because they followed after reverence of Hashem.’

13. Hashem’s anger intensified against Israel and He caused them to delay[23] in the wilderness (for) 40 years until the entire generation that did what was evil before Hashem was ended.

14. And behold, you have arisen after your fathers, students of sinful men,[24] to add more on Hashem’s strong[25] wrath towards Israel.

15. If you turn away from following reverence of Him, He will add further to make them delay in the wilderness; you will destroy this entire people.

16. They approached him and said, “We will build sheep pens for our flocks here, and cities for our children.

17. We will quickly arm (ourselves) before the children of Israel until we bring them into their place. Our children will remain in fortified cities because of the residents of the land.

18. We will not return to our houses until the children of Israel inherits, (each) man his inheritance.

19. Because we will not inherit with them on the other side of the Jordan, because we have received our inheritance to us[26] on the east side of the Jordan.”

Shevii (Revii)

20. Moshe said to them, “If you do this thing, if you arm (yourselves) before Hashem’s people, to war,

21. and everyone armed among you crosses the Jordan before Hashem’s people, until He drives His enemies from before Him,

22. and the land is conquered before Hashem’s people, and after this you return, (then) you shall be cleared from before Hashem and from Israel. This land will be your possession before Hashem.

23. But if you do not do thus, behold, you will have sinned before Hashem. Know your sin that will find you.

24. Build for yourselves cities for your children and pens for your flock, and do that which will go out from your mouths.”

25. The children of Gad and the children of Reuven said to Moshe, saying, “Your servants will do as my master commands.

26. Our children, our wives, our flocks and all our other cattle will be there in the cities of Gilad,[27]

27. and your servants will cross – all those armed for battle – before Hashem’s people for war, as my master has spoken.”

28. Moshe commanded (regarding) them (to) Elazar the priest, Yehoshua son of Nun, and the paternal heads of the Tribes of the children of Israel.

29. Moshe said to them, “If the children of Gad and the children of Reuven crosses the Jordan with you – everyone armed for war before Hashem’s people – and the land is conquered before you, you shall give to them the land of Gilad for a possession.

30. And if they don’t cross armed with you, they will receive possession among you in the land of Canaan.”

31. The children of Gad and the children of Reuven answered, saying, “That which Hashem has spoken regarding your servants, so we shall do.

32. We will cross armed before Hashem’s people (to) the land of Canaan, and with us, the possession of our inheritance on the other side of the Jordan.”

33. Moshe gave them – to the children of Gad, and to the children of Reuven, and to half the tribe of Menashe son of Yoseif – the kingdom of Sichon, king of the Amorites, and the kingdom of Og, king of Masnan – the land according to its cities in its borders, the cities of the land all around.[28]

34. The children of Gad built Divon, Ataros and Aroeir,

35. and Atros-Shofan, Yazeir and Ramasa,[29]

36. and Beis-Nimra and Beis-Haran – fortified cities and pens for flocks.

37. The children of Reuven built Cheshbon, El’alei and Kiryasayim,

38. and N’vo, and Baal-M’on – their names were changed – and Sivma. They called the names of the cities that they built by (their) names.

39. The children of Machir son of Menashe went to Gilad. They conquered it and drove out the Amorites who were in it.

40. Moshe gave Gilad to Machir son of Menashe, and he settled in it.

41. Yair son of Menashe went and conquered their villages, and he called them Chavos-Yair.

42. And Novach went and conquered K’nas and its villages.[30] He called it Novach, in his name.

[1] Rather than “desecrate.”

[2] Onkelos changes this word from singular to plural.

[3] Literally, “on.”

[4] Rather than “avenge the vengeance.”

[5] Literally, “1,000 per Tribe, 1,000 per Tribe.”

[6] Rather than “given over.”

[7] The Hebrew is commonly translated as “princes.”

[8] Rather than “word.”

[9] As opposed to “treacherously.”

[10] Literally, “a soul.”

[11] Rather than “purify.”

[12] Rather than “statute.”

[13] As opposed to the more passive “comes into.”

[14] Chumash: “raise the head,” i.e., take a census.

[15] Rather than “who are in our hands.”

[16] Onkelos pluralizes each form of jewelry.

[17] Worn in the manner of a chastity belt.

[18] i.e., of craftwork

[19] Rather than shekel, an equivalent denomination.

[20] Chumash: “Ataros, and Divon, and Yazeir, and Nimra, and Cheshbon, and El’alei, and S’vam, and N’vo….” The Talmud (Brachos 8b) specifies that one should study the Targum even for “Ataros and Divon,” i.e., this verse, presumably because it has no Aramaic translation. We see here that it does in fact have a translation. This presumably represents a later edit.

[21] As opposed to restrain.

[22] Chumash: “Kadeish Barneia.”

[23] Rather than “wander.”

[24] As opposed to “a breed of sinful men.”

[25] Rather than “burning.”

[26] Rather than “our inheritance has come to us.”

[27] Onkelos omits the article “the” from “the Gilad.”

[28] Onkelos doubles the adjective meaning “around.”

[29] Chumash: “Yagb’ha.”

[30] As opposed to “daughters,” meaning its suburbs.

© Copyright 2022 Rabbi Jack Abramowitz