Ben-Tzion Spitz
Ben-Tzion Spitz
Former Chief Rabbi of Uruguay

Behaalotcha: African royalty

 He that can work is born to be king of something. -Thomas Carlyle

There is a large gaping mystery in the biography of Moses. The Torah describes the birth of Moses in Egypt. It recounts the dramatic story of his mother having to put him on the river to save him from the Egyptian decree to murder all of the newborn Jewish boys. We see him taken and adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter. We have snippets of him as presumably a young man, killing an Egyptian taskmaster who was harming a Jewish slave. We see him break up a fight between two Jews. We see him flee to Midyan after Pharaoh puts out a death warrant for him. In Midyan he helps the daughters of Jethro, High Priest of Midyan, in their struggle for water with the local shepherds and he then marries one of those daughters, Tzipora.

However, the next part of his biography that we can put on a timeline is when the Torah tells us that he’s eighty years old when he returns to Egypt to confront (the new) Pharaoh and take the Jewish people out of bondage.

What happened to all the intervening decades? Where was he and what did he do between the time he fled from Egypt as a young man until he returned as an octogenarian?

The Bechor Shor on Numbers 12:3 provides an answer based on the story of siblings Miriam and Aaron discussing Moses’ “Kushite woman.” The classical interpretation is that the Kushite woman is referring to Tzipora, Moses’ wife. However, the Bechor Shor explains that there was another woman in Moses’ life. This woman was the queen of the kingdom of Kush (what is today Upper Egypt and Sudan) and that Moses served as the king of Kush for forty years, where according to the Midrash he was a revered warrior and served with great distinction.

It is interesting to note that Moses’ background as a long-serving monarch of one of the major kingdoms of the era didn’t even merit a footnote in the Torah. His later role of freeing Israel from Egypt, receiving the Torah and leading Israel, would completely overshadow even as grandiose a title as King or Emperor.

May our greatest accomplishments always lie ahead of us.

Shabbat Shalom,

Ben-Tzion

Dedication

To crowdsourcing in general and Fiverr in particular.

About the Author
Ben-Tzion Spitz is the former Chief Rabbi of Uruguay and a candidate for the Knesset for the Zehut party. He is the author of three books of Biblical Fiction and hundreds of articles and stories dealing with biblical themes. Ben-Tzion is a graduate of Yeshiva University and received his Master’s in Mechanical Engineering from Columbia University.
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