Why does the Torah break off the narrative here, to discuss the lineage of Reuven, Shimon and Levi?


Rashi #1, Rashbam #1 and Seforno: It is important at this juncture to present the Yichus of Levi on account of Moshe and Aharon. 1 And it would not have been befitting to begin with Levi, 2 so it begins with Reuven.


Rashi #2 (citing the Pesikta Gedolah) and Rashbam #2 (citing the Mechilta): The Torah makes a point of presenting the lineage of Reuven Shimon and Levi, to demonstrate their importance, since Ya'akov berated them before his death.


To tell us why they were chosen to lead Yisrael (Seforno [Refer to to:16:1:1*]).


Thereby conveying the impression that Levi had now become the firstborn, in honor of Moshe (Ramban).


Why does the Torah tell how long Levi lived?


Rashi: It enables us to calculate the years of slavery, for it began after the last son of Yakov died, i.e. Levi. 1


Riva: Levi lived 94 years in Egypt, so there were 116 years of slavery.

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