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Moses’ Sons

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The inherent desire to have one’s legacy last into the future is, most likely, the root of the laws of primogeniture (the special inheritance of the firstborn son). And while the laws surrounding the Jewish king and the Hight Priest are rooted in dynastic succession, no other position of Jewish leadership is formally designed to pass from father to son. (That is not to say that there have not been impressive Jewish dynasties coming from one family, e.g. Aaron and his sons, Rabban Gamliel and his sons, etc..)

Perhaps the most fascinating proof that leadership among the Jewish people must be earned can be learned from Gershom and Eliezer, the two sons of Moses who births are recorded in Exodus 18, but little more is mentioned of them in the Five Books of Moses.

A fascinating Midrash sheds a bit more light onto Moses’ family:

[When it was decided that the daughters of Zelophchad could inherit their father’s property] Moses argued: The time is opportune for me to demand my own needs. If daughters inherit, it is surely right that my sons should inherit my glory. The Holy One, blessed be He, said to him: ’Whoever keeps the fig-tree shall eat the fruit thereof; and he that waits on his master shall be honored (Proverbs 27:18). Your sons sat idly by and did not study the Torah. Joshua served you much and he showed you great honor. It was he who rose early in the morning and remained late at night at your House of Assembly; he used to arrange the benches, and he used to spread the mats. Seeing that he has served you with all his might, he is worthy to serve Israel, for he shall not lose his reward…” (Numbers Rabbah 21:14).

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