The Man That Blasphemed

The following is an excerpt from Leviticus chapter 24 verses 10 to 16 (as translated by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, The Living Torah , pages 629,630)

The son of an Israelite woman and an Egyptian man went out among the Israelites and the Israelite woman's son had a quarrel with an Israelite man in the camp. The Israelite woman's son then blasphemed G-d's name with a curse. The [people] brought him to Moses. His mother's name was Shelomith daughter son of Divri, of the tribe of Dan. They kept him under custody until the penalty could be specified by G-d. G-d spoke to Moses, saying: Take the blasphemer out of the camp, and let all who heard him place their hands on his head. The entire community shall stone him to death. Speak to the Israelites as follows: Anyone who curses G-d shall bear his sin. But if one actually blasphemes the name of *YHVH, he shall be put to death. The entire community shall stone him. Whether he is a proselyte or a native born [Israelite], he shall be put to death.

{*YHVH – The Tetragrammaton, written By Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, without vowels and which may not be pronounced under normal circumstances. In his commentary to Exodus 20:21, however, Rabbi Kaplan points out that in the Holy Temple, the Tetragrammaton was used in prayers and blessings [see Sotah 38a; Rashi].}

In Rashi's commentary as translated by Rabbis Ben-Isaiah and Sharfman in The Pentateuch and Rashi's Commentary we discover what was the motivation for the crime.

In Rashi's commentary to verse 10 he states:

From where did he go out? Rabbi Levi says: He went out from his eternal life. Rabbi Berechiah says: From the previous section {listed in the Torah} he went away; he mocked and said, "Every Sabbath day he shall set it in order!"
It is the custom of a king to eat fresh (warm) bread every day. Would (he eat) cold bread nine days old?" {This was uttered } In astonishment.

The Baraitha states that יצא means : From the court of Moses he went out guilty. He had come to pitch his tent within the camp of Dan. They said to him, "What are you doing here?"

He said to them, "I am a descendant of Dan."

They said to him, "Every man with his own standard according to the ensigns by their father's houses' is it written (Numbers 2.2).

He entered the court of Moses, and went out guilty; then he arose and blasphemed.

The Son of Which Egyptian Man?

Rashi explains that this is the Egyptian whom Moses had slain.


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