Yoni Mozeson
FInding God's hiding places

A country of all women

The Midrash relates two military encounters of Alexander the Great. The first is against a nation of all women. The queen of the nation puts a stop to Alexander before he can even start. She tells him that if he plans to wage war against her country, there can only be 2 outcomes. Alexander wins and is the laughing stock of the world for taking on a country of women. Or Alexander loses and it’s an even bigger embarrassment. Alexander concedes and goes on his way.

His next encounter is with a country identified only as “Africa.” The King of this African country offers to show Alexander the integrity of their justice system. Alexander agrees to sit in on an argument between 2 litigants. One person sold his neighbor a dilapidated house and when the buyer knocked it down he discovered gold. The seller of the house claimed that the gold rightfully belonged to the buyer and refused to take the gold back. The buyer claimed that he has no right to the gold and the seller should be forced to take the gold. The judge found out that one claimant had a daughter and the other had a son. His final ruling was that the son and daughter should marry so both families benefit equally from the gold. Alexander was flabbergasted and said that if he was the judge he would have killed the 2 litigants and stolen the gold (Midrash Tanchuma Emor, 6:1).

Alexander reflects the morals of society.

Alexander the Great reflected the moral values of those worshiping the pagan gods of Macedonia. What attracted ancient people to idolatry was the fact that religious practices were spiced with witchcraft, black magic and sexual immorality.

But perhaps their most attractive characteristic is that there were no moral consequences to their actions.

That is exactly the contrast that the Midrash wants to present. The Priestly class were the teachers. If you seek true moral guidance – turn to them. Don’t look to the morals of the great leaders of the civilized world – Alexander the Great . Perhaps the Torah is also saying that the reason for bringing a sacrifice (Korban) is to remind us that when we sin we are acting like an animal. Despite our superior intellect and a more refined moral consciousness, we can sink to great depths. This too is reflected in the persona of Alexander the Great. His exploits expose his pursuit of power and prestige through exploitation, theft, and murder.

About the Author
(Almost 100 Midrash Video summaries can be found on my youtube playlist: After college and Semicha at Yeshiva University my first pulpit was Ogilvy where I wrote TV commercials for brands like American Express, Huggies and Duracell. My passion is Midrash Tanchuma. I am an Architect of Elegant Marketing Solutions at We are living in (where else) the Nachlaot neighborhood of Jerusalem.