Devarim (Pisqa'ot 1-25)

Pisqa’ 6

Pisqa’ 61


“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

Another word:

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!

Another word:

[Why is the river called the Prat?]9

For it branches off continuously

until its waters dwindle into a pail. 10

Another word:

“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?

It replies:

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)

  1. H:32; JN1:32-33
  2. 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.
  3. For discussion of toponyms, see H:393,n.2
  4. //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”.
  5. Cf. Sifre Nu. 134, Mechilta Ishmael, amaleq 2, ARNA:4
  6. The common root is l-b-n.
  7. See Pisqa’ 28.3
  8. Namely, the Euphrates.
  9. I have supplied the parenthetical question on the basis of context.
  10. The exegesis is based on the assonance of the name, prat, the verb, mafrid, and the noun, magrefah..
  11. The exegesis is based on the assonance of prat and poreh (“grows”).