Who Was Chushim Ben Dan? by Moshe Kollmar


In Parashat VaYigash, the Pasuk mentions the sons of the Shevatim who went down to Mitzrayim, “UBnei Dan Chushim,” “and the sons of Dan are Chushim” (BeReishit 46:23). Who is Chushim, who is listed as more than one son? Furthermore, in Parashat BeMidbar, Dan, with one son, manages to have the second largest Shevet with 62,700 people, despite other original Shevatim having more sons. For example, Binyamin, who had ten sons, had a count of 35,000 people. Who is Chushim who merited so many descendants, and what did he do to merit such reward?

According to a well-known answer in the Gemara (Sotah 13a), Chushim was deaf. When Yaakov’s coffin was brought to Ma’arat HaMachpela for burial, Esav attempted to prevent Yaakov from being buried there. Being deaf, Chushim could not hear why Yaakov’s burial was delayed, but saw that someone was struggling to stop the burial. Taking his staff, he and dealt a mortal blow to Esav, knocking his eyes out of his head. In the merit of his zealotry to not disgrace Yaakov by delaying his burial, Chushim merited many descendants.

According to a different answer in BeReishit Rabbah (93:7), Chushim possessed supernatural hearing. Under the guise of Tzafnat Paneiach, when Yosef tried to detain Binyamin in Egypt, Yehudah screamed in protest; however, Yosef ignored him. Hearing this scream in Eretz Canaan, Chushim rushed to Mitzrayim, and joined Yehudah’s shouts. When the two screams combined, the sound overwhelmed Yosef, and he yielded. According to this explanation, Chushim merited myriads of descendants because he helped Yehudah stop the Egyptian viceroy from kidnapping Yaakov’s final son from his favorite wife, Rachel.

Regardless of Chushim’s true identity, it is clear that he was no typical human being. Like no other man, he possessed the power to kill Esav in one blow, a strength endowed upon one other individual in Tanach—Chushim’s descendant Shimshon, who is famed for his extraordinary strength. Additionally, Chushim sprinted from one country to the next, just to defend his uncle. If Yehudah himself, who was as strong as a lion (BeReishit Rabbah 98:7), could not scare the Egyptian viceroy, Chushim must have boasted superhuman abilities to persuade Yosef. Moreover, in the same section of BeReishit Rabbah describing Chushim’s role in Yaakov’s burial, it details how Yehuda’s screams knocked the teeth out of every Egyptian soldier’s mouth. If Chushim needed to supplement Yehudah in order to frighten Yosef, Yosef must have been fearless, proving the necessity for extraordinary strength in order to alarm him. Undoubtedly, Chushim must have been quite holy in order to instill fear in Yosef, a feat definitely worthy of being rewarded with 62,700 descendants born in 198 years from Bnei Yisrael’s entrance into Mitzrayim.

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