Nelly Shulman
Nelly Shulman

One Remarkable Woman

The four words of Numbers 26:46, “וְשֵׁ֥ם בַּת־אָשֵׁ֖ר שָֽׂרַח” “The name of Asher’s daughter was Serach.” have produced an extraordinary amount of commentary and Aggadah. She and the daughters of Zelophehad are the only women deemed to be worthy of mentioning in the census described in this chapter.

The commentators explain the curious turn of the phrase, giving her the name, by citing Targum, “And the name of Asher’s wife daughter was Serach. ”

Aggadah calls her a stepdaughter of Asher, who has grown in his household. She was known for her piety and virtue. Serach was the first to inform Jacob that his son Joseph was still alive by playing a harp and singing. Jacob blesses her, “May you live forever and never die.”

Serach is distinguished for her worthy deeds and extraordinary longevity, but Ramban gives a simple explanation of why this remarkable woman is mentioned so briefly in the Torah.

“Serach had a large family called by her name, but the Scripture did not want to trace their ancestry to a woman, “Of Serach, the family of the Serachites.”

About the Author
Nelly Shulman is a journalist and writer currently based in Berlin. She is an author of four popular historical novels in the Russian language. She is working on the fifth novel in this series and on her first English-language novel, a historical thriller set during the Siege of Leningrad. She a Hawthornden Fellow and an alumna of the Nachum Goldmann Fellowship.
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