In the listing of the gifts presented by the leaders of each tribe on the day of the consecration of the Tabernacle, the gift of Netan-el ben Zuar of the tribe of Issakhar stands out from all the others. What makes this gift exceptional is not its content, for all the chieftans’ gifts were identical. The uniqueness of the gift is in the wording the narrative uses in describing what Netan-el did.
Unlike the description of the offerings brought by all the leaders who followed him, and unlike the description of the one who preceded him, Scripture uses the word “hikriv” twice (Numbers 7:18, 19). This distinguishes Netan-el from the leader of Judah with whom in connection the word “hikriv” appears once (Numbers 7:12) and distinguishes Netan-el from all the leaders who brought their offerings from days three through twelve with whom in connection the word “hikriv” does not appear at all.
According to one Midrash (Numbers Rabbah 13:15), the extra word was purposely added to signal that it was Netan-el who thought up the idea of identical offerings. Thus, he was given credit for giving his advice to the others. The additional word is a kind of award. According to a second Midrash (Sifre 52), the use of “hikriv” twice comes to teach a further lesson. It is one thing to give advice and tell others what to do. It is another thing to act on your own advice and do it yourself. Netan-el first brought his own offering. He made the commitment himself. Then he convinced others to go along and follow his example.
It is the second Midrash that best explains why the word “hikriv” was chosen to distinguish Netan-el. The word “hikriv” in Hebrew means “to bring closer” as well as “to offer.” By setting an example by way of personal commitment, Netan-el brought others closer to God and to each other. It is a paradigm worthy of every Jew to follow.