Parashat Matot-Masei / פרשת מטות־מסעי

1These are the journeys of the children of Israel who left the land of Egypt in their legions, under the charge of Moses and Aaron.
These are the journeys: Why were these journeys recorded? To inform us of the kind deeds of the Omnipresent, for although He issued a decree to move them around [from place to place] and make them wander in the desert, you should not say that they were moving about and wandering from station to station for all forty years, and they had no rest, because there are only forty-two stages. Deduct fourteen of them, for they all took place in the first year, before the decree, from when they journeyed from Rameses until they arrived in Rithmah, from where the spies were sent, as it says, “Then the people journeyed from Hazeroth [and camped in the desert of Paran].” (12:16); “Send out for yourself men…” (13:2), and here it says, “They journeyed from Hazeroth and camped at Rithmah,” teaching us that it [Rithmah] was in the desert of Paran. Subtract a further eight stages which took place after Aaron’s death-from Mount Hor to the plains of Moab-during the fortieth year, and you will find that throughout the thirty-eight years they made only twenty journeys. I found this in the commentary of R. Moshe (Hadarshan) [the preacher] (Mid. Aggadah). R. Tanchuma expounds it in another way. It is analogous to a king whose son became sick, so he took him to a far away place to have him healed. On the way back, the father began citing all the stages of their journey, saying to him, “This is where we sat, here we were cold, here you had a headache etc.” – [Mid. Tanchuma Massei 3, Num. Rabbah 23:3]
2Moses recorded their starting points for their journeys according to the word of the Lord, and these were their journeys with their starting points.
3They journeyed from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the day following the Passover sacrifice, the children of Israel left triumphantly before the eyes of all the Egyptians.
4And the Egyptians were busy burying because the Lord had struck down their firstborn and had wrought vengeance against their deities.
And the Egyptians were busy burying: occupied with their mourning.
5The children of Israel journeyed from Rameses and camped in Succoth.
6They journeyed from Succoth and camped in Etham, at the edge of the desert.
7They journeyed from Etham and camped in Pi hahiroth, which faces Baal zephon; and they camped in front of Migdol.
8They journeyed from Penei hahiroth and crossed in the midst of the sea to the desert. They walked for three days in the desert of Etham and camped in Marah.
9They journeyed from Marah and arrived in Elim, and in Elim there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees, and they camped there.
10They journeyed from Elim and camped by the Red Sea.
11They journeyed from the Red Sea and camped in the desert of Sin.
12They journeyed from the desert of Sin and camped in Dophkah.
13They journeyed from Dophkah and camped in Alush.
14They journeyed from Alush and camped in Rephidim, but there there was no water for the people to drink.
15They journeyed from Rephidim and camped in the Sinai desert.
16They journeyed from the Sinai desert and camped in Kivroth hataavah.
17They journeyed from Kivroth hataavah and camped in Hazeroth
18They journeyed from Hazeroth and camped in Rithmah.
Rithmah: Heb. רִתְמָה, so named because of the slander of the spies, for it says,“What can He give you, and what can He add to you, you deceitful tongue? Sharpened arrows of a mighty man, with coals of brooms רְתָמִים” (Ps. 120:3-4). – [Mid. Aggadah]
19They journeyed from Rithmah and camped in Rimmon perez.
20They journeyed from Rimmon perez and camped in Libnah.
21They journeyed from Libnah and camped in Rissah.
22They journeyed from Rissah and camped in Kehelathah.
23They journeyed from Kehelathah and camped in Mount Shepher.
24They journeyed from Mount Shepher and camped in Haradah.
25They journeyed from Haradah and camped in Makheloth.
26They journeyed from Makheloth and camped in Tahath.
27They journeyed from Tahath and camped in Tarah.
28They journeyed from Tarah and camped in Mithkah.
29They journeyed from Mithkah and camped in Hashmonah.
30They journeyed from Hashmonah and camped in Moseroth.
31They journeyed from Moseroth and camped in Benei jaakan.
32They journeyed from Benei jaakan and camped in Hor hagidgad.
33They journeyed from Hor hagidgad and camped in Jotbathah.
34They journeyed from Jotbathah and camped in Abronah.
35They journeyed from Abronah and camped in Etzion geber.
36They journeyed from Ezion geber and camped in the desert of Zin, which is Kadesh.
37They journeyed from Kadesh and camped at Mount Hor, at the edge of the land of Edom.
38Aaron the kohen ascended Mount Hor at the Lord’s bidding and died there, on the first day of the fifth month in the fortieth year of the children of Israel’s exodus from Egypt.
at the Lord’s bidding: [lit., by the mouth of the Lord.] This teaches us that he died by the [Divine] kiss. — [B.B. 17a]
39Aaron was one hundred and twenty three years old when he died at Mount Hor.
40The Canaanite king of Arad, who dwelt in the south, in the land of Canaan, heard that the children of Israel had arrived.
The Canaanite…heard: To teach you that it was the news of Aaron’s death that he heard, for the clouds of glory had withdrawn, and he thought that permission had been granted to wage war against Israel. This is why it [Scripture] repeats it [here]. — [R. H. 3a]
41They journeyed from Mount Hor and camped in Zalmonah.
42They journeyed from Zalmonah and camped in Punon.
43They journeyed from Punon and camped in Oboth.
44They journeyed from Oboth and camped at the ruins of Abarim, on the Moabite boundary.
the ruins of Abarim: Heb. עִיּי הָעֲבָרִים, an expression denoting waste and ruins, as“into a heap (לְעִי) in the field” (Micah 1:6);“they have turned Jerusalem into heaps (לְעִיִּים) ” (Ps. 79:1).
45They journeyed from the ruins and camped in Dibon gad.
46They journeyed from Dibon gad and camped in Almon diblathaimah.
47They journeyed from Almon diblathaimah and camped in the mountains of Abarim, in front of Nebo.
48They journeyed from the mountains of Abarim and camped in the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho.
49They camped along the Jordan from Beth jeshimoth to Abel shittim, in the plains of Moab.
from Beth-jeshimoth to Abel-shittim: This teaches you that the extent of Israel’s camp was twelve mil [a mil equaling approximately 3500 ft.] for Rabbah bar bar Channah said, “I myself saw that place [and it is three parasangs (12 mil) square].” – [Eruvin 55b]
Abel-shittim: The plain of Shittim was called Abel.
50The Lord spoke to Moses in the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho, saying:
51Speak to the children of Israel and say to them: When you cross the Jordan into the land of Canaan,
When you cross the Jordan…you shall drive out…: Were not they previously forewarned about this a number of times? However, Moses said to them,“When you cross over the Jordan on dry land, you shall cross on this condition, for if not, water will come and inundate you.” And so we find that Joshua said the same to them while they were still in the Jordan. — [Sotah 34a]
52you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, destroy all their temples, destroy their molten idols, and demolish their high places.
You shall drive out: Heb. וְהוֹרַשְׁתֶּם, you shall drive them out.
their temples: Heb. מַשְׂכִּיֹּתָם, as the Targum [Onkelos] renders, סִגְדַּתְהוֹן, their houses of worship, so called because they would cover (מַסְכְּכִין) the ground with a marble floor, on which they would prostrate themselves with outstretched hands and legs, as it is written,“And in your land you shall not place a pavement stone on which to prostrate yourselves (אֶבֶן מַשְׂכִּית) in your land on which to prostrate yourselves” (Lev. 26:1).
their molten [idols]: Heb. מַסֵּכֹתָם, as the Targum renders, מַתְּכַתְהוֹן, their molten [idols].
53You shall clear out the Land and settle in it, for I have given you the Land to occupy it.
And you shall clear out the Land: You shall vacate it of its inhabitants, and then you shall“settle in it.” Only then will you be able to survive there, but if you do not do this, you will be unable to survive there.
54You shall give the Land as an inheritance to your families by lot; to the large, you shall give a larger inheritance and to the small you shall give a smaller inheritance; wherever the lot falls shall be his; according to the tribes of your fathers, you shall inherit.
wherever [the lot] falls: Heb. אֶל אֲשֶׁר יֵצֵא לוֹ שָׁמָּה, to…that the lot falls. This is an elliptical verse [and its meaning is:] The place to which the lot falls for him, shall be his.
according to the tribes of your fathers: According to the number of those who left Egypt (B.B. 117a). Another interpretation: with twelve territories, like the number of tribes.
55But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the Land from before you, then those whom you leave over will be as spikes in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they will harass you in the land in which you settle.
those whom you leave over: They will be a source of misfortune for you.
as spikes in your eyes: Heb. לְשִׂכִּים, pins that will gouge out your eyes. The Targum [Onkelos renders], יְתֵדוֹת (Exod. 38:20), pins or spikes [as] סִכַּיָּא –
and thorns: Heb. וְלִצְנִינִם. The commentators interpret this in the sense of a hedge of thorns which will surround you, fencing you in and confining you so that none can leave or enter. –
and they will harass you: Heb. וְצָרְרוּ, as the Targum [Onkelos] renders [וִיעִיקוּן, and they will harass you, cause you distress].
56And it will be that what I had intended to do to them, I will do to you.