Serah, Daughter Of Asher

Q. As I was reading Numbers I wondered why in chapter 26 verse 46 it mentions Asher’s daughter when Moses and Aaron were taking a census of all the males 20 years old and up for the purpose of going to war. When I Googled her I went to a website that says in Rabbinical literature that Serah was the daughter of Ashers second wife and not of his blood. She is the only female mentioned in this chapter and I was wondering if you knew anything about her and what the significance of her being mentioned here is.

A. There are several legends surrounding Serah the daughter of Asher (Serach bat Asher). She is first mentioned in Genesis 46:17 as one of the 70 who went down to Egypt with Jacob. She pops up again in Numbers 26:46, in 1 Chron 7:30 (confirming the accuracy of Numbers 26:46) during the time of Moses, and finally, according to Rabbinical writings, as the wise woman in 2 Samuel 20:16-22, an event that took place during the lifetime of David. Obviously several hundred years are contained within these mentions of Serah. Here’s why.

According to Hebrew tradition it was Serah who first informed Jacob that Joseph was alive and the ruler of Egypt. It’s believed that out of gratitude for this Jacob asked God to make her immortal and his prayer was granted. Following the legend to the time of Moses, it was Serah who informed Moses where to find the bones of Joseph, so he could carry them back to the promised land as Joseph desired. (Genesis 50:25-26) And in 2 Samuel 20 it was Serah who convinced Joab to spare the city of Avel Beth Maach. She is mentioned in the Samuel passage only as a “wise woman”. The conclusion of Hebrew legend has Serah being taken alive into Heaven sometime later.

The Bible doesn’t confirm any of this. But being mentioned several times, at least once as the only woman, over a period of six centuries, and being given considerable attention by Rabbis writing about that time period indicates that she was a woman of great importance to the ancient Israelites.

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