Concordance Module #3
"וַיַּעַשׂ לָהֶם בָּתִּים"
Reward or Punishment?
Concordance Module #3
Paroh and the Midwives
לגרסה של מודול זה בעברית, לחצו
The second half of Shemot 1 speaks of Paroh's directive to the midwives to kill all baby boys.
Let's access the
Mikraot Gedolot on Shemot 1:17-21
to see the midwives' reaction to Paroh's command.
The midwives refuse to abide by the decree and
"וַיְהִי כִּי יָרְאוּ הַמְיַלְּדֹת אֶת הָאֱלֹהִים וַיַּעַשׂ לָהֶם בָּתִּים"
What does the word
mean, and what purpose are these "בָּתִּים" meant to serve?
2. Multiple Meanings of "בית"
click on the word "בָּתִּים"
to view the entry in the
Scan the first few verses of the entry using their contexts to determine the
meaning of the word "בית"
in each verse.
What three possible meanings can the word sustain?
How many of these could be applicable to our verse?
3. Concordance and Commentators: Rashi
return to the Mikraot Gedolot
to see how our commentators understand the word in context. To close the concordance, click on the x in the top corner of the pop-up.
discusses the verse in his comments to
to see his explanation.
Which of the above meanings of the word does he adopt?
How would you evaluate his prooftext? What verse might you have chosen instead?
4. Concordance and Commentators: Ibn Ezra and Shadal
Scroll down in the Mikraot Gedolot to
Ibn Ezra (First Commentary)
there. How is he similar to, yet somewhat different, from Rashi?
According to him, how are these "בָּתִּים" a "measure for measure" reward?
See also the last three lines of
on the verse.
Why does he suggest that the blessing of large families would have been especially rewarding for the midwives?
5. Concordance and Commentators: R. Saadia and Rashbam
At the end of Ibn Ezra's comments discussed above, he cites the opinion of
R. Saadia Gaon
. Compare R. Saadia's reading of the verse with that of
According to both, what does the word "בָּתִּים" mean?
Where, though, do these two commentators differ?
According to each, who is making the "houses"? With what purpose? Are they a reward, punishment, or something else?
6. Bonus Work: The Idiom "עשה בית"
Though the word בית clearly takes on more than one meaning, is this also true for the idiom
Let's return to the concordance by clicking
(or on any word in the verse).
Switch to Advanced Mode
by toggling the button in the top right corner. This mode allows one to search for up to three words.
In the first input field,
, and choose the verb form from the drop down options. In the second input field,
and choose the noun form.
All verses in which the two words appear together will now display.
7. The Idiom "עשה בית"
Only some of the results are relevant to us, but
to Shemuel I 25:28 (#56) and Melakhim I 7:8 (#75).
Based on these verses, can also the idiom (like the noun) sustain both of the meanings of building a physical structure and creating a family or dynasty?
Had the verse employed the language of
, would the same be true?
, input בנה (choosing the verb form from the drop down menu) and בית (choosing the noun form).
Scan the first 15-20 verses on the list. Are the two meanings equally prevalent?
8. Additional Reading
For elaboration on the ramifications of the various readings raised above, see:
ויעש להם בתים – Rewarding the Midwives
For an iBook about Resistance to Paroh see:
For additional Pesach and Haggadah resources, see:
Haggadah Home Page
9. Further Options
Return to the beginning of this module
Go to Module #1: פסח
Go to Module #2: שאילת כלים
Return to the Concordance Home Page