Torah Study Notes 6-14-14

June 14, 2014
p. 979 Sh’lach L’cha
13:1 to 34 Notables scout the land of Canaan. PG: Examination of the exegesis in the Talmud is another way of studying these passages. See:http://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/talmud.htm

See hand-out from the tractate Sotah “Promised Land or Permitted Land.” The Rabbi’s suggest that the scouts went with trepidation and low expectations. The aftermath of their observations of the land is the wandering in the dessert. Note the change of name from Hosea to Joshua. There is also a powerful notion of representation of each tribe – effectively a tribal council for decision making. PG: This is a constructed narrative which does not even attempt to be a presentation of historical facts. It is recognition that they needed to have a generation born in freedom before establishing a society. We see these problems today in Iraq and Syria. Transitions from one form of government or way of life to another are always problematic. The spies had to fail in order to give this amalgam of former slaves an opportunity to develop their own culture. The scouts had to be individuals who returned with a negative report. Compare verse 22 in the text. They traveled north through the Negev. See p. 997 for map of travels. Caleb and Joshua are distinguished from the others. Joshua has been previously mentioned as the person who started to accompany Moses up Sinai. Caleb went to Hebron – which was to become the capital of Judah.
Ahiman, Sheshai and Talmai are mentioned as influential individuals to give support to the scouts report.
“Hebron was founded seven years before Zoan.” This emphasizes the fertility of the land by comparing it to a very fertile place in Egypt. Yet Hebron is very rocky which is why the dead were buried there. The suggestion of the Rabbi’s is that each of the scouts saw what they wanted to see. Rather than a conspiracy they all saw the same thing and came to the same conclusion. It was too risky to enter the Promised Land at this time.
“Caleb calmed the people about Moses” The people begin to question the leadership of Moses. They look upon Caleb as a “yes man” and ignore him.
“He is stronger than we are.” The response to the question whether God has the power to deliver on his promise.
“It is a land that uses up its inhabitants.” See p. 981 verse 30. “Devours it settlers…” means that they will not be able to retain their own identity. RL: What was the justification for the indigenous people losing their land? PG: They were no longer worthy – which is also the argument as to why the Israelites would eventually lose their land. Martin Buber has noted that there is always a previous indigenous people. The passage of time makes the inhabitants “indigenous” but it is God’s land and He decides who will settle there.
The notes on page 977 state “The story exhibits a number of internal difficulties and contradictions. Biblical critics see two different accounts: one from the P tradition which has the scouts exploring the whole land, and another from the J/E tradition that relates a somewhat simpler expedition.”

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