If the King Was So Powerful We Would Know His Name

In Honor of Sharona & Josh Halickman’s 18th Anniversary (5th of Tamuz)


In Parshat Chukat, Bamidbar 20:14-21, Moshe sent emissaries from Kadesh to the King of Edom (the descendents of Esav) asking him if B’nail Yisrael could pass through their territory. Edom refused to let B’nai Yisrael pass through and even threatened them.


Ramban points out that the king of Edom’s name is not mentioned. In the stories of Sichon the king of Emori and Og the king of Bashan we do know the names of the kings.


Why wasn’t the name of the king of Edom mentioned? Sichon and Og were well known for their strength and were well known among the nations. It is clear that the king of Edom was not in the same category.


Every Shabbat and holiday morning in the Psukei D’Zimra as well as at the Pesach Seder, we praise God saying Psalm 136 which begins with the words: “Hodu L’Hashem ki Tov ki L’Olam Chasdo, Hodu L’Elokei HaElohim ki L’Olam chasdo…”, “Give thanks to God, for He is good, for his steadfast love endures forever…” In sentences 17-20 we read: “To Him that smote great kings; for His mercy endures forever…Sichon the king of the Emori, for his mercy endures forever and Og, King of Bashan, for His mercy endures forever.


In the book of Yehoshua (10:5) as well, there were five kings of the Emori that were listed. The other kings who were not known for their strength were not specifically listed.


We can see from here that the king of Edom was not one of the more powerful kings. In fact, he wasn’t even the one who said that they can’t pass through.  Rather it was the Edomite nation as a whole who would not let them pass through as it says in Bamidbar 20:21: “Edom refused to allow Yisrael to pass through its territory…”