|א אֵלֶּה הַדְּבָרִים, אֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר מֹשֶׁה אֶל-כָּל-יִשְׂרָאֵל, בְּעֵבֶר, הַיַּרְדֵּן: בַּמִּדְבָּר בָּעֲרָבָה מוֹל סוּף בֵּין-פָּארָן וּבֵין-תֹּפֶל, וְלָבָן וַחֲצֵרֹת--וְדִי זָהָב.||1 These are the words which Moses spoke unto all Israel beyond the Jordan; in the wilderness, in the Arabah, over against Suph, between Paran and Tophel, and Laban, and Hazeroth, and Di-zahab.|
What is the purpose of mentioning all of these place names? Some meforshim take them as coded references to incidents of misbehavior, thus being in line with Devarim as a mussar shmooze. Others say that he spoke to them in each of these different places.
I would say that sefer Devarim is mishneh Torah. It stands apart from the rest of the Torah, and therefore needs bolstering. Someone might suggest that it was of separate authorship, say, by Chilkiyahu (II Melachim 22:8):
|ח וַיֹּאמֶר חִלְקִיָּהוּ הַכֹּהֵן הַגָּדוֹל, עַל-שָׁפָן הַסֹּפֵר, סֵפֶר הַתּוֹרָה מָצָאתִי, בְּבֵית ה; וַיִּתֵּן חִלְקִיָּה אֶת-הַסֵּפֶר אֶל-שָׁפָן, וַיִּקְרָאֵהוּ.||8 And Hilkiah the high priest said unto Shaphan the scribe: 'I have found the book of the Law in the house of the LORD.' And Hilkiah delivered the book to Shaphan, and he read it.|
Elsewhere, appeals to authenticity are made as in halo hem ketuvim, על כן יאמרו המושלים, and so on. Fixing the precise place of this address by Moshe might similarly be a way of establishing its authorship. Here precisely is where Moshe delivered this address.
בְּעֵבֶר הַיַּרְדֵּן -- See Ibn Ezra:
וכן פירוש: ככל אשר צוה ה' אותו אליהם בעבר הירדן במדבר בערבה ואם תבין סוד (השרים) [צ"ל השנים] עשר, גם ויכתוב משה,
והכנעני אז בארץ,
בהר ה' יראה,
גם והנה ערשו ערש ברזל תכיר האמת.
The secret of the 12 is that Moshe did not write the last 12 pesukim of the Torah; rather Yehoshua wrote it. As Ibn Ezra writes on Devarim perek 34:1, twelve pesukim from the end:
ויעל משה -לפי דעתי: כי מזה הפסוק כתב יהושע, כי אחר שעלה משה לא כתב ובדרך נבואה כתבו.These pesukim are explanatory ones, and ones which make reference to fact not yet known at the time it was written. For instance, 'and the Canaanites were then in the land.' How could one say 'then' when at the time of the conquest the Canaanites were still in the land.
והעד ויראהו ה' גם: ויאמר ה' אליו גם ויקבור.
What bothers Ibn Ezra is that Ever HaYarden in clearly Eretz-Yisrael-centric. It means 'across the Jordan', but it is only across the Jordan river for a speaker who is standing in Eretz Yisrael proper. While Ibn Ezra believes this to be true, it might be too heretical for many readers, and so he disguises it under the category of sod. That he is willing to be more open about it at the end of sefer Devarim is because, for these specific pesukim at the end of Devarim, there is a maamar Chazal which is accord with it (one side of a machlokes), even though he extends it from 8 pesukim to 12. But to say this for multiple pesukim scattered across the Torah, that is another matter. Plus, some of these might need to be post-Yehoshua. For example, 'and the Canaanites were then in the land' is true throughout Yehoshua's life.
I've seen some people kvetch this in various ways. They point to Ibn Ezra's condemnation of Yitzchaki, for suggesting late authorship of the list of 8 kings of Edom. But they don't fully appreciate the extent of Yitzchaki's kefira. Read my extensive post on the subject. An excerpt:
It is no longer so astonishing to me that Ibn Ezra would criticize Yitzchaki, even as Ibn Ezra lived in a glass house. Yitzchaki was not just suggesting, in this one place, a way of understanding peshat in the pesukim. He was not simply persuaded to suggest that a few running pesukim were authored at a later date.I should note that Ibn Ezra, by labeling these pesukim as later editorial insertions, is actually being quite conservative. After all, the alternative would be to declare these to be from the same author as the rest of Torah, and thus date the Torah past Moshe. Yet, these do look / feel like editorial parenthetical insertions.
Rather, it seems that Yitzchaki was arguing against the integrity of the text of the Chumash. He was engaging in Lower Biblical Criticism, by asserting that the text was riddled with typographical errors. (Indeed, Hadar / Hadad now makes sense.) He suggested that Moshe misspoke. I am not certain that Yitzchaki was engaging in Higher Biblical Criticism, by suggesting a late editor / author only for this one section. Quite possibly, Yitzchaki was suggesting late authorship, in the days of Yehoshafat, for the entirety of sefer Bereshit, or all of Torah.
Here is Spinoza on the subject. I got it from this excellent post on the subject by Curious Jew.
Shadal disagrees with Spinoza's read of Ibn Ezra on this. He writes (here):
Thus, Ibn Ezra only was speaking about select pesukim, and not about the entirety of Torah. And, according to Shadal, Ibn Ezra's issue is not with בעבר הירדן, but rather, that is the close of the preceding section of his commentary.
In terms of בעבר הירדן, I don't see it as particularly problematic (, even if it was what was bothering Ibn Ezra). Nowadays we have a place called Transjordan. Official place names can be appointed by people living in specific areas and used by others even when not appropriate.
Still, the goal of these first two pesukim, to fix the location of Moshe's address in their minds in contemporary terms, strikes me as being from a post-Mosaic editor.
וְדִי זָהָב -- I don't have enough knowledge of Biblical geology to know where this is, and therefore the full import of the statement on either a peshat of derash level. In this context I'll cite myself:
Rashi cites R Yochanan, who said (Rashi dibur hamatchil "Bein Paran UVein Tofel VeLavan") "We reviewed all of Scriptures and we found not a place whose name was Tofel and Lavan; rather, he (Moshe) rebuked them on the fact that they complained (tiflu) about the Manna that was white (lavan), as they said..." and then brings the source pasuk where complained about the Manna.Even if these are actual places, perhaps one can make a derasha over their inclusion despite being wholly unnecessary. Though I explained a plausible purpose above; and it seems that even Rabbi Yochanan would not make the derasha if these were actual locations.
In fact, Rashi explains all the place names in this way - Chatzeiros, Di Zahav, etc.
The Sifrei has the same explanations of place names, without (at least as far as I read) R Yochanan's justification that these place names never occur elsewhere in Scriptures. However, it does record an objection:
"R Yosi ben Dormaskit said to him, 'Yehuda BeRabbi, why do you pervert to us the Scriptures? I call Heaven and Earth upon me as my witnesses that I reviewed all the placesand all of them are (actual) places, but rather they are called that because of actual happenstance (they recieved their place names because of some occurance there).
The next pasuk:
|ב אַחַד עָשָׂר יוֹם מֵחֹרֵב, דֶּרֶךְ הַר-שֵׂעִיר, עַד, קָדֵשׁ בַּרְנֵעַ.||2 It is eleven days journey from Horeb unto Kadesh-barnea by the way of mount Seir.|
This is another way of fixing the position at which Moshe gave his address, rather than a criticism / reference to their missing out on entering Eretz Yisrael because of the chet hameraglim.
The next pesukim:
This forms a secondary introduction to the sefer. Would Ibn Ezra say that the editorial insertion ended at pasuk 2? If indeed בְּעֵבֶר הַיַּרְדֵּן was bothering him, then it is repeated in pasuk 5.
Relevant here is that he had starting the conquest. What follows in pasuk 6 is a repetition of Hashem's initial command at Chorev to inherit the land. And this is now (again) relevant to them, so review of the command is appropriate.
בְּעַשְׁתֵּי-עָשָׂר -- this word עשתי has no relation to "two" or "ten". Ibn Ezra on Bemidbar 7:72 writes:
I've already written in Moznayim why this numeral is different: eshte is like eshtonosav, "the offspring of his thoughts", as if ten had sired: it's a big secret. Rabbi Yona, the Spaniard, explains it as al shte asar, the number it precedes, but he erred doubly: first, because twelve is al eleven (as we see from miben esrim shana vama'la), whereas he said the opposite, and, second, if it were al twelve, it should say ashne asar rather than ashte asar, as the latter is feminine. Rather, it's one word.However,
אַחֲרֵי הַכֹּתוֹ, אֵת סִיחֹן מֶלֶךְ הָאֱמֹרִי -- it seems plausible that this is not only to fix the time, which we already have from it being the fortieth year, but that it signifies a demonstration that the Israelite's fears were shown to be groundless. Under Moshe's direction, they had now already defeated these great kings and took partial possession of what was to be Eretz Yisrael.
The next pasuk:
|ו ה' אֱלֹהֵינוּ דִּבֶּר אֵלֵינוּ, בְּחֹרֵב לֵאמֹר: רַב-לָכֶם שֶׁבֶת, בָּהָר הַזֶּה.||6 The LORD our God spoke unto us in Horeb, saying: 'Ye have dwelt long enough in this mountain;|
"You have dwelt long enough" -- yet they ended up dwelling for forty years in the wilderness!
בְּחֹרֵב -- this is Sinai, says Ibn Ezra. Ramban disagrees and says it is a place near Sinai.
בָּהָר הַזֶּה -- would then refer to Har Sinai or else close to Har Sinai.
The next pasuk:
|ז פְּנוּ וּסְעוּ לָכֶם, וּבֹאוּ הַר הָאֱמֹרִי וְאֶל-כָּל-שְׁכֵנָיו, בָּעֲרָבָה בָהָר וּבַשְּׁפֵלָה וּבַנֶּגֶב, וּבְחוֹף הַיָּם--אֶרֶץ הַכְּנַעֲנִי וְהַלְּבָנוֹן, עַד-הַנָּהָר הַגָּדֹל נְהַר-פְּרָת.||7 turn you, and take your journey, and go to the hill-country of the Amorites and unto all the places nigh thereunto, in the Arabah, in the hill-country, and in the Lowland, and in the South, and by the sea-shore; the land of the Canaanites, and Lebanon, as far as the great river, the river Euphrates.|
|until the great river [the Euphrates]: Since it [the Euphrates] is mentioned [in association] with the Land of Israel it is referred to as “great.” A popular parable says: A king’s servant is a king. Associate yourself with the ruler, and [people] will bow down to you; attach yourself to an person anointed [with oil] and you will become anointed [with oil yourself] (Shevuoth 47b).||עד הנהר הגדול: מפני שנזכר עם ארץ ישראל, קראו גדול. משל הדיוט אומר עבד מלך מלך, הדבק לשחוור וישתחוו לך, קרב לגבי דהינא ואידהן:|
But we might also say that since the Euphrates is the longest river in Western Asia, it merits this name.
|ח רְאֵה נָתַתִּי לִפְנֵיכֶם, אֶת-הָאָרֶץ; בֹּאוּ, וּרְשׁוּ אֶת-הָאָרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר נִשְׁבַּע ה לַאֲבֹתֵיכֶם לְאַבְרָהָם לְיִצְחָק וּלְיַעֲקֹב לָתֵת לָהֶם, וּלְזַרְעָם אַחֲרֵיהֶם.||8 Behold, I have set the land before you: go in and possess the land which the LORD swore unto your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give unto them and to their seed after them.'|
This is to be the fulfillment of the Divine plan and promise all the way from sefer Bereshit. And they are to take the entirety of it, with Divine assistance. Thus, רְאֵה נָתַתִּי לִפְנֵיכֶם, אֶת-הָאָרֶץ is a promise of assistance, rather than leaving it entirely in their hands.
To be continued, perhaps...