Synopsis of the Exodus

33:1 The Torah continues to chronicle the preparations for the people’s entry into the Land of Israel. Now that the people have reached their final stop on their trek through the desert and are poised to enter the Promised Land, the narrative summarizes this chapter of their history by briefly reviewing the 42 stations on the journey. These are the journeys of the Israelites who left Egypt, organized by tribal troops,1 under the leadership of Moses and Aaron.

2 Moses recorded their starting points for their journeys according to the word of God, and these were their journeys with their starting points.2

3 They journeyed from Raamses3 in Nisan, the first month, specifically, on the 15th day of the first month; on the day following the Passover sacrifice, the Israelites left triumphantly4 in full view of all the Egyptians.

4 And the Egyptians were busy burying their dead, because God had struck down their firstborn,5 and He also destroyed their deities.6

5 The Israelites journeyed from Raamses and camped at Sukot.7

6 They journeyed from Sukot and camped at Eitam, at the edge of the desert.8

7 They journeyed from Eitam and returned to Pi Hachirot, which faces Ba’al Tzefon, and camped before Migdol.9

8 They journeyed from Penei Hachirot (an alternative name for Pi Hachirot) and crossed in the midst of the sea to the desert.10 They walked for three days in the desert of Eitam and camped at Marah.11

9 They journeyed from Marah and arrived at Elim, and at Elim there were 12 springs of water and 70 palm trees, and they camped there.12

10 They journeyed from Elim and camped by the Sea of Reeds.13

Second Reading 11 They journeyed from the Sea of Reeds and camped in the Sin desert.14

12 They journeyed from the Sin desert and camped at Dafkah.15

13 They journeyed from Dafkah and camped at Alush.16

14 They journeyed from Alush and camped at Refidim, but there was no water for the people to drink there.17

15 They journeyed from Refidim and camped in the Sinai desert.18

16 They journeyed from the Sinai desert19 and camped at Kivrot Hata’avah.20

17 They journeyed from Kivrot Hata’avah and camped at Chatzerot.21

18 They journeyed from Chatzerot and camped at Ritmah.22 The word ritmah means “slander”; this place was so named because it was here that the spies slandered the Land of Israel.

19 They journeyed from Ritmah and camped at Rimon Peretz.23

20 They journeyed from Rimon Peretz and camped at Livnah.

21 They journeyed from Livnah and camped at Risah.

22 They journeyed from Risah and camped at Kehelatah.

23 They journeyed from Kehelatah and camped at Mount Shefer.

24 They journeyed from Mount Shefer and camped at Charadah.

25 They journeyed from Charadah and camped at Makhelot.

26 They journeyed from Makhelot and camped at Tachat.

27 They journeyed from Tachat and camped at Tarach.

28 They journeyed from Tarach and camped at Mitkah.

29 They journeyed from Mitkah and camped at Chashmonah.

30 They journeyed from Chashmonah and camped at Moserot.

31 They journeyed from Moserot and camped at Benei Yaakan.

32 They journeyed from Benei Yaakan and camped at Chor Hagidgad.

33 They journeyed from Chor Hagidgad and camped at Yotvatah.

34 They journeyed from Yotvatah and camped at Avronah.

35 They journeyed from Avronah and camped at Etzion Gever.

36 They journeyed from Etzion Gever and camped in the desert of Tzin, at the city of Kadesh.24

37 They journeyed from Kadesh and camped at Mount Hor,25 at the edge of Edom.

38 Aaron the priest ascended Mount Hor at God’s bidding and died there “by God’s kiss,26 on the first day of Av, the fifth month, in the 40th year of the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt.27

39 Aaron was 123 years old when he died at Mount Hor.

40 After Aaron died, the Amalekite king of Arad, disguised as a Canaanite, who dwelt in the south of Canaan, heard that Aaron died when the Israelites came to Mount Hor, and therefore attacked them.28

41 They journeyed from Mount Hor and camped at Tzalmonah.29

42 They journeyed from Tzalmonah and camped at Punon.30

43 They journeyed from Punon and camped at Ovot.31

44 They journeyed from Ovot and camped by the ruins of the passes,32 on the Moabite boundary.

45 They journeyed from the ruins of the passes and camped at Divon Gad.33

46 They journeyed from Divon Gad and camped at Almon Divlataimah.34

47 They journeyed from Almon Divlataimah and camped at The Mountains of the Passes, in front of Nebo.35

48 They journeyed from The Mountains of the Passes and camped in the plains of Moab by the Jordan opposite Jericho.36

49 They camped along the Jordan; their encampment extended from Beit Yeshimot to Avel, the plain of Shitim,37 in the plains of Moab, a distance of 24,000 cubits. From this chronicle, it is clear that God did not exhaust the people by making them wander continuously during the 38 years between the sin of the spies and the entry into the land. Of the 42 stations, 14 occurred between the Exodus (Nisan 15, 2448) and the decree (9 Av, 2449), and 8 between Kadesh (Nisan 1, 2487) and the plains of Moab (after Tishrei, 2488). The people spent 19 years at Ritmah (from 2449 to 2468),38 so, in the remaining 19 years (between 2469 and 2487), they camped at only 20 stations. They thus spent an average of a year at each of these stations.

Occupying the Land

Third Reading (Fifth when combined) 50 God spoke to Moses in the plains of Moab by the Jordan opposite Jericho, saying:

51 Although you have already told the people that they will have to expel the present population from Canaan,39 speak to the Israelites now and say to them: ‘When you cross the Jordan into Canaan,

52 you shall do so with the express intention to drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, or else the waters of the Jordan will engulf you and kill you. You must destroy all their marble-floored temples, destroy their molten idols, and demolish their altars.

53 If you indeed clear out the land of its present inhabitants, you will successfully settle it, for I have given you the land to occupy it.

54 You shall be privileged to give the land as an inheritance to your families by lot, as I have told you:40 you shall give a larger inheritance to the large tribe and you shall give a smaller inheritance to the small tribe; wherever the lot falls for a person, that shall be his inheritance; you shall inherit according to the tribes of your fathers who came out of Egypt, and furthermore, you shall inherit the land in 12 districts, according to the tribes of your fathers.

55 But if you do not completely drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then those whom you leave over will become as vexing as spikes in your eyes and will cage you in like a hedge of thorns on all your sides, and they will harass you in those areas of the land in which you settle.

56 And it will be that what I had intended to do to them, I will do to you.’ ”

The Boundaries of the Land

34:1 God spoke to Moses, saying:

2 “Command the Israelites and say to them, ‘When you arrive in Canaan, this is the land which shall fall to you by lot as an inheritance, Canaan according to its borders. As you know, there are certain commandments that you are obligated to fulfill only within your land but not outside of it. It is specifically within the following borders that you are obligated to fulfill those commandments. It will fall easily to you, for I have incapacitated the guardian angels of the seven nations that occupy it.

3 Your land’s southernmost side shall be from the desert of Tzin, which is alongside Edom, westward, as follows: The southern border shall begin from the southernmost edge of the Salt Sea, i.e., the Dead Sea, to the east, i.e., on the southeast shore of the Dead Sea.

4 The border will then turn southward and pass to the south of Ma’aleh Akrabim and pass toward Tzin. Its southernmost extension shall be to the south of Kadesh Barnea, because it shall extend to Chatzar Adar and from there pass toward Atzmon.

5 The border will then turn northwest from Atzmon and continue to the stream of Egypt, i.e., the Nile,41 following it, and its end shall be where the stream of Egypt flows into the Mediterranean Sea.

6 Your land’s western border shall be the Great Sea—the Mediterranean—and the islands close to the shore will also be within this border. This shall be your western border.

7 This shall be your northern border: From the Mediterranean Sea draw a slanting line from the seaward extension of Mount Hor42—where the northwest border begins—to Mount Hor itself.

8 From Mount Hor draw a slanting line eastward until the entrance of Chamat, which is Antioch, and the end of this leg of the northern border shall extend to Tzedad.

9 From there, an additional leg of the northern border shall extend to Zifron, and its end shall be Chatzar Einan; this shall be your northern border.

10 You shall then draw a slanting line for the eastern border, from Chatzar Einan to Shefam.

11 The border will descend southward from Shefam toward Rivlah, passing to the east of Ayin. Then the border will descend further southward and hit the eastern shore of Lake Kineret.

12 The border will descend further southward along the Jordan River, and its end will be the Salt Sea, i.e., the Dead Sea; this shall be your land according to its borders all around.’ ”

13 Moses commanded the Israelites saying, “This is the land which you are to apportion for inheritance through lot, which God has commanded to give to nine and a half of the 12 tribes.

14 For the tribe of Reuben’s descendants, according to their fathers’ house, and the tribe of Gad’s descendants, according to their fathers’ house, and half the tribe of Manasseh have already received their inheritance.

15 These two and a half tribes have received their inheritance on the east side of the Jordan, opposite Jericho.”

Fourth Reading (Sixth when combined) 16 God spoke to Moses, telling him to say to the people:

17 “These are the names of the men who shall inherit the land on your behalf and then divide it among you,under the leadership of Eleazar the priest and Joshua the son of Nun:

18 You shall take one prince from each tribe to acquire the land and then divide it among you.

19 These are the names of the men: for the tribe of Judah: Caleb the son of Yefuneh.

20 For the tribe of the descendants of Simeon: Shmuel the son of Amihud.

21 For the tribe of Benjamin: Elidad the son of Kislon.

22 The prince for the tribe of the descendants of Dan: Buki the son of Yogli.

23 For the descendants of Joseph: the prince for the tribe of the descendants of Manasseh, Chaniel the son of Eifod

24 and the prince for the tribe of the descendants of Ephraim, Kemuel the son of Shiftan.

25 The prince for the tribe of the descendants of Zebulun: Elitzafan the son of Parnach.

26 The prince for the tribe of the descendants of Issachar: Paltiel the son of Azan.

27 The prince for the tribe of the descendants of Asher: Achihud the son of Shelomi.

28 The prince of the tribe of the descendants of Naphtali, Pedahel the son of Amihud.

29 These are the ones whom God commanded to apportion the inheritance to the Israelites in Canaan.”

Levite Cities

Fifth Reading 35:1 God spoke to Moses in the plains of Moab, by the Jordan, opposite Jericho saying,

2 Since the tribe of Levi will receive no portion of the land, command the rest of the Israelites that they shall give the Levites cities in which to dwell from their hereditary estates, and tell them also: ‘You shall give the Levites open spaces around the cities, which are not to be used for residential or agricultural purposes.

3 These cities shall be theirs for dwelling in, and their open spaces shall be for their cattle, their property, and for all their other needs.

4 The areas of open space for the cities that you shall give to the Levites shall extend from the wall of the city outward, one thousand cubits all around. In addition, you shall give them another thousand cubits in each direction for agricultural purposes.

5 Thus, you shall measure from outside the city, 2000 cubits on the eastern side, 2000 cubits on the southern side, 2000 cubits on the western side, and 2000 cubits on the northern side, with the city in the middle; this shall be their cities’ extended open spaces.

6 The cities you shall give to the Levites shall include the six cities of refuge whose function will be described presently, which you shall provide as places to which a murderer can flee. In addition to them, you shall provide the Levites with 42 other cities.

7 Thus, all the cities you shall give to the Levites shall number 48 cities; give them to them together with their open spaces.

8 And as for the cities that you shall give the Levites from the lands of the Israelites, you shall take more from a tribe with a larger land inheritance and you shall take less from a tribe with a smaller one. Each one, according to the relative size of the inheritance allotted to him, shall give of his cities to the Levites.

Intentional and Unintentional Murder

Sixth Reading (Seventh when combined) 9 God now gave Moses the laws of the cities of refuge.43 He spoke to Moses, saying:

10 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them, ‘When you cross the Jordan, into Canaan,

11 you shall designate six cities for yourselves that shall act as cities of refuge for you: a murderer who killed a person unintentionally but nonetheless is guilty of negligenceshall flee there from the close relative of the murdered person, who, in such a case, is allowed to avenge his death, as will be explained presently.

12 These cities shall serve you as a refuge for the unintentional murderer from this avenger, so that the unintentional murderer shall not die until he stands in judgment before the congregation’s judges.

13 The cities that you provide shall function as cities of refuge only when all six cities of refuge have been designated for you.’ ” Thus, even though Moses later44 designated three cities in Transjordan as cities of refuge, they did not function as refuge cities until the three in Canaan were also designated.

14 God foresaw that there would be a similar number of incidences of unintentional murder on both sides of the Jordan River, even though only two and a half of the 12 tribes settled on the east side, so He told Moses to tell the people, “You shall provide three of the cities in Transjordan and three of the cities in Canaan; they shall be cities of refuge.

15 These six cities shall be a refuge for both the Israelites and for the convert and resident among them, so that anyone who unintentionally kills a person can flee there.

16 Now, these cities do not offer asylum for an intentional murderer: If the assailant struck the victim intentionally with an iron instrument of any size and he died, he is a bona fide murderer; the murderer shall be put to death.45

17 If he struck him with a fist-sized stone, which is large enough to be deadly, and he dies, he is a murderer; the murderer shall be put to death.46

18 Or if he struck him with a fist-sized wooden instrument, which is large enough to be deadly, and he dies, he is a murderer; the murderer shall be put to death.47 (If, however, the stone or wooden instrument was not big enough to cause death normally, but the victim died of the blow anyway, the assailant is not guilty of intentional murder.)

19 Once the intentional murderer has been tried and found guilty, the blood avenger—the close relative of the victim—shall be allowed kill the murderer; he may kill him wherever he meets him, even inside a city of refuge.

20 Similarly, if, out of hatred, the assailant pushed the victim, or threw something at him in ambush, and he died,

21 or if he maliciously struck him with his hand and he died, the assailant shall be put to death; he is a murderer, and the blood avenger may kill the murderer wherever he meets him, even inside a city of refuge.

22 The law is different, however, in the case of unintentional murder. If the assailant pushed the victim down accidentally, without malice, or threw an object in a downward motion at him and not in ambush,

23 or he killed him with any stone that is large enough to be deadly, that is, without seeing his victim he threw it down at him and it killed him, but, in all these cases,he was not his enemy and bore him no malice,

24 then the congregation’s judges shall judge between the assailant and the blood avenger, on the basis of these judgments: If the murder happened as just described, the assailant is considered guilty of negligence and may be killed by the blood avenger unless the assailant has fled to a city of refuge. However, if the assailant killed the victim by throwing something up at him, or by means of any other upward movement, this is considered unnatural, so the assailant is not considered guilty of negligence, the victim’s close relatives may not avenge his blood, and the assailant does not have to flee.48

25 If the assailant must be removed from the city of refuge in order to stand trial, the congregation shall protect the murderer from the hand of the blood avenger, and—if he is judged guilty of unintentional murder by negligence—the congregation shall return him safely to the city of refuge to which he had fled. He shall remain there even after the victim’s close relatives have calmed down and no longer seek to avenge his blood. For even then, the victim’s close relatives are required to kill the assailant if he leaves the city of refuge. This obligation devolves upon them until the high priest, who was anointed with the sacred oil, dies. There are two reasons why the obligation ceases with the death of the high priest: First, the high priest, by serving in the Temple—particularly by performing the Yom Kippur rites that atone for the people’s sins—enables God’s presence to dwell among the people and lengthens their lives. In contrast, a murderer, by killing a person, banishes God’s presence from the world and shortens lives. It is therefore not fitting that the murderer should be free as long as the high priest who was in office when the crime was committed is alive. Secondly, we have seen that the death of the righteous atones for the sins of their generation.49 In this case, the death of the high priest (presumably a righteous person) will atone for the assailant’s inadvertent sin. It is specifically the high priest’s death that atones for this sin (rather than that of any other righteous person) because he had the power to pray on Yom Kippur that such a misfortune not occur; since in fact it did occur, he is held partly responsible.50 Nonetheless, if the high priest who was alive when the incident occurred died while the assailant was standing trial, and a new high priest was appointed before the trial was concluded, the murderer goes free only when the second high priest dies.

26 But if the murderer goes beyond the border of the city of refuge to which he had fled,

27 and the blood avenger finds him outside the limits of his city of refuge, the blood avenger must slay the murderer, for it is as if he is dead already and has no blood.

28 Rather, the unintentional murderer must remain in his city of refuge until the high priest dies, and only after the high priest has died may the murderer return to the land which is his estate.

29 These laws shall be a statute of justice for you, for all your generations, in all your dwelling places, even outside the Land of Israel: a minor court (of 23 judges) may try capital cases as long as the Sanhedrin (of 71 judges) is functioning in the Land of Israel.

30 Although the victim’s close relatives are allowed (and required) to kill the murderer if he leaves the city of refuge, and no further trial is necessary, this is not the case with an intentional murder: Whoever, as ablood avenger, wants to kill a person for having intentionally killed his close relative, shall be allowed to slay the murderer only on the testimony of at least two witnesses that the accused was warned and acted intentionally. A single witness may not testify against a person so that he should die.

31 You shall not accept monetary ransom for the life of a murderer who has killed inadvertently and is guilty of death if found outside the city of refuge by the blood avenger, for he must be put to death.

32 Similarly, you shall not accept ransom for one who has killed inadvertently and fled to his city of refuge, to allow him to return to live freely in the land before the high priest has died.

33 You must not, by trying to circumvent these laws, corrupt the land in which you live, for the blood of the murdered corrupts the land, and the blood that is shed in the land through murder cannot be atoned for except through the blood of the one who shed it or the death of the high priest, as stated previously.

34 You must not defile the land where you reside, in which I dwell, for this will cause Me to dwell in defilement, inasmuch as I am God, who continues to dwell among the Israelites even if they are defiled.”

The Laws of Inheritance, continued

Seventh Reading 36:1 The paternal heads of the family of the sons of Gilead the son of Machir the son of Manasseh, one of the families of the sons of Joseph, approached and spoke before Moses and before the princes, the paternal heads of the Israelites, when they were all assembled for study. They asked Moses about the law and addressed the princes as litigants.51

2 They said through one of them who spoke for them all, “God commanded my lord to give the land as an inheritance through lot to the Israelites, and my lord was commanded by God to give the inheritance of Tzelofechad our brother to his daughters.52

3 Now, if they marry a member of another tribe of the Israelites, their inheritance will be taken away from the inheritance of our fathers, and it will be added to the inheritance of the tribe into which they marry, for their sons will inherit them, and they will be part of their fathers’ tribes. Thus, their inheritance will be taken away from the lot of our inheritance.

4 Even if the Israelites will observe a Jubilee year after they die53—in which land returns to its original owner—their inheritance will still remain in their sons’ possession and be added to the inheritance of the tribe into which they marry, for only sold land returns to its original owner in the Jubilee year, not inherited land. And in any case, the Jubilee is observed only when the majority of the Jewish people are living in the Land of Israel,54 and this may not always be the case. Thus, their inheritance will be taken away from the inheritance of our fathers’ tribe.”

5 Moses commanded the Israelites according to the word of God, saying, “The tribe of Joseph’s descendants speak justly.

6 This is the word that God has commanded regarding Tzelofechad’s daughters: Let them marry whomever they please, but they shall marry only someone from the family of their father’s tribe.

7 Thus, the inheritance of the Israelites will not be transferred from tribe to tribe, for each person from the Israelites will remain attached to the inheritance of his fathers’ tribe. (The only exception to this is the fact that Joshua and Caleb’s children were given the land inheritances of the other spies’ children.55)

8 Every daughter from the tribes of the Israelites who inherits property because her father had no sons must marry a member of a family of her father’s tribe, so every Israelite shall inherit the property of his forefathers

9 and no inheritance will be transferred from one tribe to another tribe, for each person of the tribes of the Israelites shall remain attached to his own inheritance.”

10 Tzelofechad’s daughters did as God had commanded Moses.

Maftir 11 Machlah, Tirtzah, Choglah, Milkah, and Noah—in this order, the order of their birth—married their cousins.

12 They married into the families of the sons of Manasseh the son of Joseph, and their inheritance remained with the tribe of their father’s family.56

13 These are the commandments and the ordinances that God commanded the Israelites through Moses in the plains of Moab, by the Jordan, opposite Jericho.