…And they prophesied in the camp. (Num. 11:27)

In the Torah portion Behaalotecha, there is an interesting narrative:

And the Lord said unto Moses: ‘Gather unto Me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be the elders of the people, and officers over them; and bring them unto the tent of meeting, that they may stand there with thee. And I will come down and speak with thee there; and I will take of the spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them… And the LORD came down in the cloud, and spoke unto him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and put it upon the seventy elders; and it came to pass, that, when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, but they did so no more. But there remained two men in the camp, the name of the one was Eldad, and the name of the other Medad; and the spirit rested upon them; and they were of them that were recorded, but had not gone out unto the Tent; and they prophesied in the camp. And there ran a young man, and told Moses, and said: ‘Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.’ Num. 11:17-27

To sum it up, seventy elders were chosen by lottery to assist Moses in leading Jewish people in the desert. When commanded by Moses to appear at the Tent, two of them felt unworthy of the honor and did not go – they stayed in the camp. However, when G‑d took some of the ruach ha-kodesh (the holy spirit) from Moses and bestowed it on the elders, the two that remained in the camp, received it as well, although they were not present. How does this make sense? Entanglement, of course!

Moses elects the Council of Seventy Elders

Jacob de Wit – Moses elects the Council of Seventy Elders

Remember two goats designated for the sacrifice on Yom Kippur? If one of them died or became unfit, both had to be replaced. Why? Because, once designated for the task, the two goats became entangled – they became one unit (see my earlier post, Tale of Entangled Goats). Similarly, in this story, once seventy elders became designated for the task, they became entangled – they became one group, one unit. As in the case of entangle subatomic particles, we can write a single wavefunction that describes the state of these seventy people – the state of being designated to be the leaders of the Jewish people. Consequently, when G‑d bestowed some of Moses’ spirit on the group, the two members who were not there, received it as well. This is not dissimilar to a pair of entangled particles separated by a distance – once we collapse the wavefunction of one, the other collapses automatically. Hence Eldad and Medad became prophets by entanglement.

Eldad and Medad

Nicolas Poussin: Eldad and Medad