Thursday, June 19, 2008

Shelach: Did Kalev Go By Himself to Chevron?

There is a textual irregularity in describing the path of the spies, with a sudden shift from plural to singular:
כב וַיַּעֲלוּ בַנֶּגֶב, וַיָּבֹא עַד-חֶבְרוֹן, וְשָׁם אֲחִימַן שֵׁשַׁי וְתַלְמַי, יְלִידֵי הָעֲנָק; וְחֶבְרוֹן, שֶׁבַע שָׁנִים נִבְנְתָה, לִפְנֵי, צֹעַן מִצְרָיִם. 22 And they went up into the South, and came unto Hebron; and Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, the children of Anak, were there.--Now Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.--
This verse begins with the plural -- וַיַּעֲלוּ -- and progresses to the singular -- וַיָּבֹא. Such irregularities often spark midrash, and this is no exception. Did only one person go to Chevron? Rashi cites Chazal that only Calev did:
and he came to Hebron Caleb went there alone [hence the singular “he came”] to prostrate himself on the graves of the patriarchs [in prayer] that he not be enticed by his colleagues to be part of their counsel. Thus, it says, “I will give him [Caleb] the land on which he has walked” (Deut. 1:36), and it is written, “They gave Hebron to Caleb” (Jud. 1:20). - [Sotah 34b]
Except this midrash belongs to a class of midrashim which works out extremely well with the text. Not only does it explain the shift in number of the verb, but it also works out well with pesukim in parshat Devarim and sefer Shoftim which suggests that Calev specifically went to Chevron, and got rewarded for this.

Of course, one can counter that of course Calev went to Chevron -- for all the spies went to Chevron. They, of course, did not make it into the land, and shouldn't be rewarded for their evil behavior anyway, and Yehoshua, the other good spy, was not about to go about rewarding himself. So those other pesukim need not convey that it was only Calev. Still, this does not account for the shift in number of the verb.

On the other hand, there is evidence that all the spies went to Chevron. After all, in their report, the spies say that they saw the children of Anak there:
כח אֶפֶס כִּי-עַז הָעָם, הַיֹּשֵׁב בָּאָרֶץ; וְהֶעָרִים, בְּצֻרוֹת גְּדֹלֹת מְאֹד, וְגַם-יְלִדֵי הָעֲנָק, רָאִינוּ שָׁם. 28 Howbeit the people that dwell in the land are fierce, and the cities are fortified, and very great; and moreover we saw the children of Anak there.
One can dismiss this and say that they meant that one of the things the spies in general saw as a group, even if only one individual witnessed it. Or else one can say that וְשָׁם where they saw the children of Anak does not refer to Chevron specifically, but the Negev in general.

Aharon ben Yosef, the Karaite scholar, claims that it was all the spies who went to Chevron. He claims that וַיָּבֹא can function as plural, citing Yechezkel 14:
א וַיָּבוֹא אֵלַי אֲנָשִׁים, מִזִּקְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל; וַיֵּשְׁבוּ, לְפָנָי. {פ} 1 Then came certain of the elders of Israel unto me, and sat before me. {P}
Rashi, of course, knows of this pasuk as well, and even comments there:
Now there came to me some men Heb. וַיָבוֹא. All of them with one accord for evil. Therefore, it is said: וַיָבוֹא, and came [the singular form]. The Midrash Aggadah says that [the word is in the singular] because the Holy One, blessed be He, revealed to the ear of the prophet beforehand, “Behold so-and-so and so-and-so will come to you.”
Still, even if it can function as such in this form, this does not totally account for the irregularity, or the fact that the vav is there for the same word in the next pasuk in Shelach:
כג וַיָּבֹאוּ עַד-נַחַל אֶשְׁכֹּל, וַיִּכְרְתוּ מִשָּׁם זְמוֹרָה וְאֶשְׁכּוֹל עֲנָבִים אֶחָד, וַיִּשָּׂאֻהוּ בַמּוֹט, בִּשְׁנָיִם; וּמִן-הָרִמֹּנִים, וּמִן-הַתְּאֵנִים. 23 And they came unto the valley of Eshcol, and cut down from thence a branch with one cluster of grapes, and they bore it upon a pole between two; they took also of the pomegranates, and of the figs.--
It is interesting to see how the various mefarshim deal with this irregularity / difficulty, and how seriously they take the midrash which is compelling because of several peshat-oriented features.

First, we have Rashbam. He initially endorses the midrash as appearing to be peshat, because of the tie-ins to sefer Devarim and sefer Shofetim, together with the choice of singular verb. But still, he says in the end, the basic peshat is that the singular וַיָּבֹא is distributed across each individual of the spies. And as proof he notes that they say that "we" saw the children of Anak, and that "we" were in their eyes as grasshoppers.

Ibn Ezra hides behind Chazal, attributing their explanation to them. He says that it refers to Kalev, but gives a practical reason why only he went to Chevron. Namely, the 12 meraglim split up, and each one went in a different direction to explore and scout out the land. This as opposed to mentioning going to Chevron to pray by the kever avos to Hashem to save him from the counsel of the other scouts.

Shadal also endorses the Calev theory. Indeed, in the next perek (14), on
כד וְעַבְדִּי כָלֵב, עֵקֶב הָיְתָה רוּחַ אַחֶרֶת עִמּוֹ, וַיְמַלֵּא, אַחֲרָי--וַהֲבִיאֹתִיו, אֶל-הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר-בָּא שָׁמָּה, וְזַרְעוֹ, יוֹרִשֶׁנָּה. 24 But My servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed Me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it.
says that this refers to Chevron specifically, rather than Eretz Yisrael in general. And on the pasuk in the present perek (13) he writes:
המרגלים יראו מבוא בעיר בצורה וכלב בטח בה' ובא בתוכה; ומה שכתוב (פסוק ל"ג) ושם ראינו את הנפילים ונהי בעינינו כחגבים, אומר מוהר"ר יצחק פארדו שאינו ראיה שהיו בחברון, כי לא בחברון לבדו היו ענקים אלא בכל הפלך ההוא וכמ"ש ביהושע ( י"ד י"ב ) ועתה תנה לי את ההר וכו' כי ענקים שם וערים גדולות ובצורות, א"כ "ושם" האמור כאן הכוונה שם בנגב, לא שם בחברון
That is, Shadal endorses that it was Calev only, but gives a grounded explanation of why it was Calev only -- that perhaps the city was fortified, and Calev trusted in Hashem and entered into it. To my mind, this is within the realm of midrash, though as midrash it fits in well with the theme of Calev later saying to trust in Hashem despite the fortifications of the cities, and thus with Calev's attitude in general.

In terms of the scouts in general saying that "we" saw the children of Anak, he cites Rabbi Yitzchak Pardo that it was not specifically Chevron but rather the general province. As further evidence of this, he notes a pasuk in sefer Yehoshua {14:12}, from Calev's request for an inheritance:
יב וְעַתָּה, תְּנָה-לִּי אֶת-הָהָר הַזֶּה, אֲשֶׁר-דִּבֶּר ה, בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא: כִּי אַתָּה-שָׁמַעְתָּ בַיּוֹם הַהוּא כִּי-עֲנָקִים שָׁם, וְעָרִים גְּדֹלוֹת בְּצֻרוֹת--אוּלַי ה אוֹתִי וְהוֹרַשְׁתִּים, כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר ה. 12 Now therefore give me this mountain, whereof the LORD spoke in that day; for thou heardest in that day how the Anakim were there, and cities great and fortified; it may be that the LORD will be with me, and I shall drive them out, as the LORD spoke.'
This, he says, shows that שָׁם refers to the general area.

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