Honor Will Come to Those Who Deserve It

Dedicated to the memory of Louis Levine z"l, Baruch Aryeh ben Avraham Halevi, on his fourth Yahrzeit, 19th Sivan


In Parshat Behaalotcha, Bamidbar 26-29, we read about Eldad and Meidad: “Two men remained behind in the camp, the name of one was Eldad and the name of the other was Meidad, and the spirit rested upon them, they had been of the recorded ones, but they had not gone out to the Tent and they prophecied in the camp. The youth ran and told Moshe, and he said ‘Eldad and Meidad are prophesying in the camp.’ Yehoshua Bin Nun, the servant of Moshe since his youth spoke up and said ‘My lord Moshe, incarcerate them!’ Moshe said to him, ‘Are you being zealous for my sake? Would that the entire people of God could be prophets, if God would but place His spirit upon them!”


What does “they were among the recorded ones” mean?


The Sanhedrin only had 70 seats so Moshe had to select six members from each tribe and the 72 that were chosen would have to draw lots for the seventy seats. Seventy lots said “elder” on them and two were blank.


Why did Eldad and Meidad stay in the camp and not attend the drawing?


According to Rashi quoting Sifre, they did not attend the drawing because they were so humble that they felt that they did not deserve the honor.


In the Talmud, Sanhedrin 17a we see the opinion that they were afraid that they would draw blank lots and be humiliated.


In the end, two other candidates drew blank lots and Eldad and Meidad became members by default.


What was their prophecy?

  1. Rashi quoting Sifre says that the prophecy was: Moshe will die and Yehoshua will bring Israel into the Land.

2. In Sanhedrin 17a Abba Chanin said in the name of Rabbi Eliezer: It was concerning the quails that they prophesied- They said “Arise birds! Arise, birds!” The episode of Eldad and Meidad took place immediately before the arrival of the quails.


3. Rav Nachman gives a third opinion in Sanhedrin 17a, They prophesied        concerning Gog and Magog (the Messianic era will be preceeded by the war of Gog and Magog when Gog, the king of Magog will attack Israel).


Why was Yehoshua so disturbed by their prophecy?


The answer can be found in Sanhedrin 17a: Yeshoshua felt that it was not proper conduct for them to prophesy in the presence if Moshe because it was like a student rendering a Halachic decision in the presence of his teacher.


We see from here that Eldad and Medad as well as Yehoshua and Moshe did not seek out honor yet honor was brought to them on account of their humbleness. Eldad and Medad stayed back in the camp as opposed to running over to see if they would be chosen for the Sanhedrin, Yehoshua didn’t want Moshe’s honer to be tarnished and Moshe was humble in the fact that he didn’t have a problem with others having prophecy as well.


We can learn from Eldad, Meidad, Yehoshua and Moshe that honor will come to those who don’t specifically go to seek it out.