Number of words in Parshat Miketz

In this short post I want to discuss how many words there are in Parshat Miketz and why this number is printed in the standard editions of the Chumash. In most Chumash editions at the end of each Parsha, the number of verses is printed. There is one exception: in the end of Pekude this number is missing. Probably this is due to a mistake, possibly because the total number of verses of the book of Shemot is printed, the number of verses in the Parsha was forgotten. The Artscroll English Chumash usually tries to give some explanation for the numbers of verses in each Parsha and what it hints to[1].

However in case of Parshat Miketz, besides the number of verses, there is also the number of words given as 2025. The obvious question is why would this number be given only for this Parsha? The answer usually given[2] is that this Parsha usually falls on Chanukah and that the number 2025 corresponds to eight times the gematria of Ner (candle) plus 25th day of Kislev (8*250+25=2025).

There is a problem however: the number 2025 printed is incorrect and the total number of words in this Parsha is 2022[3]. In my humble opinion the reason this number is printed may be purely accidental. We find a similar precedent with regards to the Shulchan Aruch. In the early editions of this work intended by the author to be learned in 30 days, the numbers corresponding to each days learning were printed. Later on this was dropped but in one case the 21st day remained at the end of Siman 43 of Choshen Mishpat[4]:

( . ( "

Possibly the mistake was due to the 21st day somewhat fitting to the context of that paragraph since the end of Passover occurs in Israel on the 21st of Nisan. Similarly I presume that the earlier editions of the Chumash had the numbers of words printed in the other Parshiyot but at some point when it was decided to only print the number of verses per Parsha, somehow Miketz retained the number of words. It is possible that the reason had to do with Chanukah since 2025 ends on 25, and later the hint for 2000 was found as well.

 

 

 



[1] In my opinion this attempt is generally futile since the divisions into weekly readings are quite late and in Spain even in mediaeval times they used to split Mishpatim into two parshiyot.

[2] Bnei Yisaschar; Artscroll in the name of Torah Temimah, Hamaor Hagadol in the name of GRA (see there on page 99 for a second explanation of this number also in the name of the GRA).

[3] I checked both Bar Ilans text of Tanach and standard text. There are no candidates among words in our Parsha that are written as one word that could be two words, indeed the opposite is true (e.g. Poti-Phera). So clearly the printed number 2025 is a mistake. There are other mistakes of this kind: in the end of Chumash the numbers each letter occurs are printed and most of these numbers are wrong (not just vavs and yods but most other letters as well).

[4] See SMA and Beer Hagolah.