Hermon’s Hermits: D’varim 2022

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: Have you ever had to share a bedroom or office with someone else? Did you always feel comfortable? If not, did you do anything to try to “mark your territory”?

As Moses begins to recall the Israelites’ journey through the wilderness, he notes areas they conquer along the way – even some areas that might raise some eyebrows:

The Pitch: “Thus we seized, at that time, from the two Amorite kings, the country beyond the Jordan, from the wadi Arnon to Mount Hermon …” – Deuteronomy 3:8

Swing #1: “The issue [with the phrase ‘beyond the Jordan’], presumably, was that the land in question is across the Jordan only from the point of view of someone writing in Israel. Moses, who never set foot in Israel, would not be expected to refer to the place where he was standing as across the Jordan. Of course we might say that Moses says this phrase with a future audience in mind, a people settled in Israel.” – Richard Elliott Friedman, Commentary on the Torah

Swing #2: “The territory extending from Baal Gad to Lebo-Hamath was counted among ‘the remains,’ that is to say, the residual territories that, while belonging to the ideal promised land, were not conquered by Joshua. Hermon was thus considered the northern border of the real land of Israel on both sides of the Jordan.” – Moshe Weinfeld, Deuteronomy 1-11

Swing #3: “This expression need not assume an original perspective of author and reader from the western side of the Jordan, as verses 20 and 25 testify.” – Edward J. Woods, Deuteronomy: An Introduction and Commentary

Late-Inning Questions: How do our commentators try to explain what might seem like an inaccurate geographic description? Is Moses trying to make a theological point, or is he simply misremembering an important detail? How important is it to remember where our cherished moments took place?

On-Deck at TBT: We hope you’ll join us for our observance of Tisha B’Av Saturday night through Sunday evening. Click here for the service schedule.

The Big Inning at the End: Speaking of not knowing where we are, pitcher Mike Krukow, after being traded several times, was asked where he lived. “In escrow,” he replied.

Shabbat Shalom!