Thursday, July 01, 2004

Parshat Balak: the land of the children of his people

A map of Israel from the time of King David Posted by Hello

The above map, taken from this web site, should be useful in this dvar torah.

Sometimes things seem obvious to me but I haven't seen mentioned by anyone.

In the beginning of parshat Balak, we are told that Balak sends messengers to Bilam:
Bamidbar 22:5
וַיִּשְׁלַח מַלְאָכִים אֶל-בִּלְעָם בֶּן-בְּעֹר, פְּתוֹרָה אֲשֶׁר עַל-הַנָּהָר אֶרֶץ בְּנֵי-עַמּוֹ--לִקְרֹא-לוֹ: לֵאמֹר, הִנֵּה עַם יָצָא מִמִּצְרַיִם הִנֵּה כִסָּה אֶת-עֵין הָאָרֶץ, וְהוּא יֹשֵׁב, מִמֻּלִי.
"And he sent messengers unto Balaam the son of Beor, to Pethor, which is by the River, [to] the land of the children of his people, to call him, saying: 'Behold, there is a people come out from Egypt; behold, they cover the face of the earth, and they abide over against me."

What does this mean, "[to] the land of the children of his people." Some suggest that Balak was originally from that land (Aram?) and thus is sending home for help.

[to] is in brackets because is is added in the translation, and can be misleading.

I would suggest that there is a nun sofit missing or which is not needed. We are talking of things which are happening in Moab. Next to it is the land of Ammon. Look at the map above and see the various rivers in the vicinity. The Arnon river lies between the words (not necessarily the lands of?) Ammon and Moab. Yabbok river is by Rabat Benei Ammon, higher up. Even higher up is the Yarmuk river. And the Jordan river connects the sea of Kineret to the Dead Sea.

{Update July 2005: It would seem that the Arnon river formed the northern border of Moav, and the Yabbok river the southern border of Ammon, and between was the territory the Emorites had/had captured for themselves, now conquered by the Israelites.}

So the pasuk might be saying that this is Petor by the River in the land of Ammon. So Moav sent to their close neighbors for advice.

Why call is Eretz Benei Ammo?

If we look at the origin of these two nations, the two daughters of Lot bore to their father children. One boy was named Moav since he came "from father" and the other was called Ben-Ami, "son of my nation."

These gave rise to two nations, Moav, and Benei Ammon. (The Benei Ammon not to mean children of Ammon, but rather the plural of Ben Ami.)

{Update, July 2005: Meanwhile, consider Devarim 23:4-5:

ד לֹא-יָבֹא עַמּוֹנִי וּמוֹאָבִי, בִּקְהַל ה: גַּם דּוֹר עֲשִׂירִי, לֹא-יָבֹא לָהֶם בִּקְהַל ה עַד-עוֹלָם. 4 An Ammonite or a Moabite shall not enter into the assembly of the LORD; even to the tenth generation shall none of them enter into the assembly of the LORD for ever;
ה עַל-דְּבַר אֲשֶׁר לֹא-קִדְּמוּ אֶתְכֶם, בַּלֶּחֶם וּבַמַּיִם, בַּדֶּרֶךְ, בְּצֵאתְכֶם מִמִּצְרָיִם; וַאֲשֶׁר שָׂכַר עָלֶיךָ אֶת-בִּלְעָם בֶּן-בְּעוֹר, מִפְּתוֹר אֲרַם נַהֲרַיִם--לְקַלְלֶךָּ. 5 because they met you not with bread and with water in the way, when ye came forth out of Egypt; and because they hired against thee Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor of Aram-naharaim, to curse thee.
Aram Naharim = Mesopotamia
perhaps to be continued.

No comments:


Blog Widget by LinkWithin