Thursday, August 05, 2010

The other side of the Jordan

Summary: A pasuk which must have been written in the midbar. What about the reference to Gilgal, then?

Post: In the beginning of parashat Re'eh:

30. Are they not on the other side of the Jordan, way beyond, in the direction of the sunset, in the land of the Canaanites, who dwell in the plain, opposite Gilgal, near the plains of Moreh?ל. הֲלֹא הֵמָּה בְּעֵבֶר הַיַּרְדֵּן אַחֲרֵי דֶּרֶךְ מְבוֹא הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ בְּאֶרֶץ הַכְּנַעֲנִי הַיֹּשֵׁב בָּעֲרָבָה מוּל הַגִּלְגָּל אֵצֶל אֵלוֹנֵי מֹרֶה:
31. For you are crossing the Jordan, to come to possess the land which the Lord, your God, is giving you, and you shall possess it and dwell in it.לא. כִּי אַתֶּם עֹבְרִים אֶת הַיַּרְדֵּן לָבֹא לָרֶשֶׁת אֶת הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר יְ־הֹוָ־ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם נֹתֵן לָכֶם וִירִשְׁתֶּם אֹתָהּ וִישַׁבְתֶּם בָּהּ:

Contrast this reference to בְּעֵבֶר הַיַּרְדֵּן to the one the beginning of parashat Devarim. There, in the beginning of sefer Devarim, the pasuk stated

1. These are the words which Moses spoke to all Israel on that side of the Jordan in the desert, in the plain opposite the Red Sea, between Paran and Tofel and Lavan and Hazeroth and Di Zahav.א. אֵלֶּה הַדְּבָרִים אֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר מֹשֶׁה אֶל כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּעֵבֶר הַיַּרְדֵּן בַּמִּדְבָּר בָּעֲרָבָה מוֹל סוּף בֵּין פָּארָן וּבֵין תֹּפֶל וְלָבָן וַחֲצֵרֹת וְדִי זָהָב:

and since the 'other side of the Jordan' would be said about the midbar by someone writing within Eretz Yisrael, Ibn Ezra wrote:
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. 

Here in parshas Reeh, ever hayarden is said about Eretz Yisrael, indicating a perspective of someone in the midbar. Indeed, this is made more explicit in pasuk 31, with the words כִּי אַתֶּם עֹבְרִים אֶת הַיַּרְדֵּן לָבֹא לָרֶשֶׁת אֶת הָאָרֶץ. The landmarks are places in Eretz Yisrael, and so it is necessary to specify that you will understand these landmarks later.

See the Kli Yakar who believes that there is a difficulty here, in that these are known mountains. If so, why the need to specify landmarks? This then leads the way to derash.

One slight problem is the reference to Gilgal. Ibn Ezra writes:
 מול הגלגל, כמו: וירדוף עד דן, או דרך נבואה, או שני שמות.
The "problem" is that Gilgal gets its name from an incident involving Yehoshua. From Yehoshua 5, with Rashi:

8. And it was, when all the people were finished being circumcised, that they remained in their places in the camp, until they recovered.
and they remained in their places: in their places (Jonathan) and they did not besiege the city.
until they recovered: from the wound.
9. And the Lord said to Joshua, This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you. And he called the name of the place Gilgal to this day.
have I rolled away: I removed the reproach of the Egyptians who had said, “See that ‘Ra-ah’ is before your faces. There is a star named ‘Ra-ah’ which is a symbol of blood. We see it over you in the desert.” And that is what Moses said in the desert, “Why should the Egyptians say, With ‘Ra-ah’ He took them out.” But they did not know that that was the blood of circumcision. And when they circumcised in Joshua’s time, and that blood came, that reproach was removed, for the vast multitude which had gone up with them were still vexing them. In this manner, Rabbi Moses the preacher expounded.
have I rolled away: גלותי - I have removed, like “(גל) Remove [or roll away] from me reproach and shame.” “ (ויגל) and he rolled off [or removed] the stone.”

If so, how could the pasuk in the Torah refer to it as Gilgal. And if you say Ibn Ezra's regular answer, that this was written later, say in the time of Yehoshua, this cannot be, since the Torah takes pains to speak to the Israelites of that time, stating that in the future this would make sense, and that in the future they would find the mountains between these locations. And the Torah uses ever hayarden to refer to the land of Israel. This would then not be clarification, but intentional misrepresentation. The answer would then be, just like by Dan, that it is either written benevuah or else refers to a different Gilgal. I suppose whether it is a different Gilgal depends in part on where this Gilgal is supposed to be located, and what mul hagilgal means (close or distant -- see the machlokes amongst the meforshim).

 Indeed, there exists the possibility of several other Gilgals.

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