Anav Mikol Adam

A quick thought on something from the parashah (Behaalosekha), based on how one translates the words in the title. Bamidbar 12:3. The context is that Miriam and Aharon just complained about Moshe’s neglected wife, noting that no other prophet saw it necessary to do this.

וְהָאִ֥ישׁ מֹשֶׁ֖ה עָנָ֣ו מְאֹ֑ד מִכֹּל֙ הָֽאָדָ֔ם אֲשֶׁ֖ר עַל־פְּנֵ֥י הָאֲדָמָֽה׃

Moshe was a very humble man, more so than any other human on earth.

Notice the translator assumes that “מכל” means “more than any”. But the “מ-” prefix is also used to me “from”. (And for more words, that the usual usage, although “מכל” as “more than any” is a common idiom. So, the pasuq could equally be read as:

Moshe was a very humble man from everyone on the face of the earth.

What would that mean? Perhaps that Moshe wasn’t an anav primarily because of knowledge of his own abilities and limitations. Rather, Moshe was an anav because of his acute awareness of everyone else’s greatness!

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