“Start out and make your way” (Dt.1:7)—
this is by way of Arad and Hormah.
“To the Amorite hills and to all their neighbors” (Dt.1:7)—
to Amon, Moab and Mt. Seir.
“In the steppes” (Dt.1:7)—
to the plain of Tzoar.
“to the hill country” (Dt.1:7)—
to the king’s mountain.
“to the lowlands” (Dt.1:7)—
to the lowlands of Lud and the south.2
“and the Negeb, and the seacoast” (Dt.1:7)—
to Gaza, Ashkelon, and Caesaria.
“the land of the Canaanite” (Dt.1:7)—
to the Canaanite border,
for it is said:
“And the Canaanite border was from Sidon.” (Gn.10:19). 3
“And the Lebanon” (Dt.1:7)—
Moses said to them:
when you enter the Land
you must appoint for yourselves a king,
and build for yourselves the Chosen Abode.4
How do we know that “Lebanon” must refer to a king?
For it is said:
“He came upon the Lebanon
and seized the heads of the cedars” (Ezek.17:3).
And He says:
“The thorn that is in Lebanon sent this message to the cedar in Lebanon” (2 Ki.14:9).
But “Lebanon” actually refers to the Holy Abode,
for it is said:
“You are as Gilead to me, the summit of Lebanon” (Jer.22:6).
And He says:
“The Lebanon will fall to a mighty one” (Is.10:34).5
Why do they call [the Holy Abode] “Lebanon (levanon)?”
Because it whitens (malbyn)6 Israel’s transgressions,
as it says:
“If your sins are like scarlet, they shall be whitened like snow” (Is.1:18).7
“Until the great river, the river Prat”8 (Dt.1:7).
This teaches that
most of its waters surge toward the Land of Israel.
As a common adage has it:
the slave of the king is like the king—
get close to a boil and it boils you!
[Why is the river called the Prat?]9
For it branches off continuously
until its waters dwindle into a pail. 10
“The great river, the river Prat” (Dt.1:7)—
because it expands and grows11
until they must cross it in ships.
Look at what all the rivers say to the Prat:
Why doesn’t your voice travel a distance, like ours?
My deeds prove my value!
A person sows seed in earth flooded by me,
and reaps in three days.
A person plants a tree in earth flooded by me,
and reaps in thirty days!
See how Scripture praises me:
“Until the great river, the river Prat!” (Dt.1:7)
- H:32; JN1:32-33
- According to M. Shev.9:2, Sabbatical Year produce from these regions is due to be removed from storage at the same time, since the produce is gone from the fields at a specific season prior to the festival of Passover. The Mishnah’s list is more detailed, but SD’s transmits the Mishnah in a midrashic framework.
- For discussion of toponyms, see H:393,n.2
- //T.San.4:5. “Chosen Abode” renders the Heb: beit habekhirah, one of the many epithets of the Jerusalem Temple. See below: beit hamiqdash; “the Holy Abode”.
- Cf. Sifre Nu. 134, Mechilta Ishmael, amaleq 2, ARNA:4
- The common root is l-b-n.
- See Pisqa’ 28.3
- Namely, the Euphrates.
- I have supplied the parenthetical question on the basis of context.
- The exegesis is based on the assonance of the name, prat, the verb, mafrid, and the noun, magrefah..
- The exegesis is based on the assonance of prat and poreh (“grows”).