Monday, August 05, 2013

Ibn Caspi on the where of Aharon's death

In my previous post, I mentioned the yada yada yada theory of Aharon's death, that a seeming discrepancy between the location of Aharon's death in Masei (Hor Hahar) and Ekev (Mosera) could be explained as a difference in purpose. In the mussar shmuess in Ekev, Moshe's concern is not detailed history, but that Aharon died at a later encampment, and not at Har Sinai. As such, the shortened list of masaot are meant as a quick stand-in, and the reader can be expected to fill in the rest, and know that שָׁם מֵת אַהֲרֹן וַיִּקָּבֵר שָׁם means not at that very next encampment, Mosera, but somewhere along the lines.

I mentioned that Ibn Caspi said likewise, that it was a yada yada yada. Here I present Ibn Caspi's words.

The pasuk in Ekev, in Devarim 10:6:
ו  וּבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, נָסְעוּ מִבְּאֵרֹת בְּנֵי-יַעֲקָן--מוֹסֵרָה; שָׁם מֵת אַהֲרֹן וַיִּקָּבֵר שָׁם, וַיְכַהֵן אֶלְעָזָר בְּנוֹ תַּחְתָּיו.6 And the children of Israel journeyed from Beeroth-benejaakan to Moserah; there Aaron died, and there he was buried; and Eleazar his son ministered in the priest's office in his stead.

Ibn Caspi writes:

וּבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, נָסְעוּ מִבְּאֵרֹת...: it is known that the matter of the first and second Tablets [mentioned in the preceding section] were at Har Sinai. And behold, at the beginning of the second year they traveled from there, for then, Hashem said to him לֵךְ עֲלֵה מִזֶּה (Shemot 33:1). And so too [in parallel], קוּם לֵךְ לְמַסַּע לִפְנֵי הָעָם (in Devarim 10:11).

And the separation of the Levites was then, for to this is that בָּעֵת הַהִוא, הִבְדִּיל ה אֶת-שֵׁבֶט הַלֵּוִי is alluding to (in Devarim 10:8).

And further it said (Devarim 10:10) וְאָנֹכִי עָמַדְתִּי בָהָר, relating what was involved in his standing for the second set of Tablets.

If so, it is a great wonder that, inserted into this story [between the second Tablets in Devarim 10:1 and the standing for those Tablets in 10:10], is [verse 10:6] וּבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, נָסְעוּ מִבְּאֵרֹת בְּנֵי-יַעֲקָן. And certainly that it states שָׁם מֵת אַהֲרֹן, whereas Aharon only died on Har HaHar [see Bemidbar 33 for example].

Therefore I say that Moshe intended in this to shorten and skip over all the matters who occurred from their traveling from the wilderness of Sinai until the death of Aharon, which was in the 40th year, for at that point he began to chastise him, as he said [Devarim 10:12]:
יב  וְעַתָּה, יִשְׂרָאֵל--מָה ה אֱלֹהֶיךָ, שֹׁאֵל מֵעִמָּךְ:  כִּי אִם-לְיִרְאָה אֶת-ה אֱלֹהֶיךָ לָלֶכֶת בְּכָל-דְּרָכָיו, וּלְאַהֲבָה אֹתוֹ, וְלַעֲבֹד אֶת-ה אֱלֹהֶיךָ, בְּכָל-לְבָבְךָ וּבְכָל-נַפְשֶׁךָ.12 And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all His ways, and to love Him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul;
This is as if saying: behold, your fathers committed many sins in the wilderness of Sinai, and from there we traveled and arrived here. And no leader is left for you except me, for Aharon has died, and so will I do in this year. 

Howbeit, that which Ibn Ezra wrote [in resolution of the order discrepancy / Aharon death discrepancy] that the place names mentioned here are not like the named mentioned in parashat Masei, it indeed is true according to my opinion, for [in Devarim 10:7] גֻּדְגֹּדָה and יָטְבָתָה are general names for the later travelings, for it is very correct that a Big Name [? perhaps a Proper Noun ?] or an individual place can describe both the general and the specific, and all the more so by virtue of the fact that there is a great length to that border."

End quote Ibn Caspi.

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