Tuesday, April 8, 2014

In search of the historical Pharoah - Rabbi Yair Hoffman

5 Towns Jewish Times     The Gemorah in Psachim (116b) informs us that, in each generation, we are obligated to view ourselves as if we actually left Mitzrayim. Indeed, in Michtav MeEliyahu, Rav Dessler writes that since time does not progress linearly, but rather travels in a carousel like circle, the 15th of Nissan of the year 2448 is actually the very same 15th of Nissan of our own year now.

This is one of our obligations on the night of Pesach. This being the case, that halachically we must view ourselves as actually leaving Mitzrayim, in our mind’s eye we should envision and picture the escape.

Let’s give it a try. Before us, standing at the water’s edge about to enter it, stands Nachshon Ben Aminadav. Behind us, on a chariot, Pharoah is leading his hordes of well-trained soldiers. They are rapidly catching up. Yes, it is Pharoah – the short, obnoxious leader of the Egyptians that dared to present himself as a god.

But who exactly was he? What was his name? What do we know about him?

In the 77th chapter of a work called Sefer HaYashar, which was first printed in Venice in 1525, there are details as to what his name was, and more about who he may have been. [Alter Bergmann published a more recent edition of it in Tel Aviv]. The author of this Sefer HaYashar is anonymous, and there seems to be a debate as to whether it was written in the times of the Tannaim or is a much later compilation.

So, what do we know about Pharoah according to the Sefer HaYashar? Well, apparently he took the throne at the age of twenty. His father, Melol, was sick for the last ten years of his life, but had reigned for 94 years. His name was Adikam Ahuz. In Egyptian, according to the Sefer HaYashar, Ahuz means short, and short he was. He was an Ammah and one half, exceedingly ugly, and had a beard down to his feet. [One perhaps could best picture him as one of the seven dwarfs a la Snow White, but with a crown instead of a nightcap]. The Sefer HaYashar states that his reign started in the 206th year of Israel’s going down to Mitzrayim, so he reigned for four years.[...]

1 comment :

  1. Chazal themselves can't agree on who Pharoah was. Thanks, but I'll stick with historical experts for this one.
    But what I really want to know: could Pharoach eat two entire handmade matzos in under 2 minutes like Rav Hoffman recommends?


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