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Q&A

What does אלוף mean in the context of Eisav's family tree?

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When the Torah lists Eisav's family tree, it calls a lot of people "aluf" (often translated champion):

טו אלה אלופי בני עשו בני אליפז בכור עשו אלוף תימן אלוף אומר אלוף צפו אלוף קנז:
טז אלוף קרח אלוף געתם אלוף עמלק אלה אלופי אליפז בארץ אדום אלה בני עדה:
יז ואלה בני רעואל בן עשו אלוף נחת אלוף זרח אלוף שמה אלוף מזה אלה אלופי רעואל בארץ אדום אלה בני בשמת אשת עשו:
יח ואלה בני אהליבמה אשת עשו אלוף יעוש אלוף יעלם אלוף קרח אלה אלופי אהליבמה בת ענה אשת עשו:

I'm having trouble understanding what exactly this me. What does it mean when it lists the "alufei b'nei Eisav"? Why does it refer to these people as alufim? Are these names? Titles? Something else?

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2 comments

I thought they're usually translated as Chief, as in Tribal Chief. robev‭ 4 months ago

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Onkelus to Genesis 36:15 says it means "great one". Rashi there says more specifically that it means "head of a family"; Sifse Chachamim clarifies that this is the leader or ruler but not necessarily the progenitor.

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