33:1ל״ג:א׳
1 א

אלה מסעי. לָמָּה נִכְתְּבוּ הַמַּסָּעוֹת הַלָּלוּ? לְהוֹדִיעַ חֲסָדָיו שֶׁל מָקוֹם, שֶׁאַעַ"פִּ שֶׁגָּזַר עֲלֵיהֶם לְטַלְטְלַם וְלַהֲנִיעָם בַּמִּדְבָּר, לֹא תֹאמַר שֶׁהָיוּ נָעִים וּמְטֻלְטָלִים מִמַּסָּע לְמַסָּע כָּל אַרְבָּעִים שָׁנָה וְלֹא הָיְתָה לָהֶם מְנוּחָה, שֶׁהֲרֵי אֵין כָּאן אֶלָּא אַרְבָּעִים וּשְׁתַּיִם מַסָּעוֹת, צֵא מֵהֶם י"ד שֶׁכֻּלָּם הָיוּ בְּשָׁנָה רִאשׁוֹנָה קֹדֶם גְּזֵרָה, מִשֶּׁנָּסְעוּ מֵרַעְמְסֵס עַד שֶׁבָּאוּ לְרִתְמָה שֶׁמִּשָּׁם נִשְׁתַּלְּחוּ מְרַגְּלִים, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר "וְאַחַר נָסְעוּ הָעָם מֵחֲצֵרוֹת" וְגוֹ' (במדבר י"ב), "שְׁלַח לְךָ אֲנָשִׁים" וְגוֹ' (שם י"ג), וְכָאן (פסוק י"ח) הוּא אוֹמֵר "וַיִּסְעוּ מֵחֲצֵרֹת וַיַּחֲנוּ בְּרִתְמָה", לָמַדְתָּ שֶׁהִיא בְמִדְבַּר פָּארָן; וְעוֹד הוֹצֵא מִשָּׁם ח' מַסָּעוֹת שֶׁהָיוּ לְאַחַר מִיתַת אַהֲרֹן — מֵהֹר הָהָר עַד עַרְבוֹת מוֹאָב — בִּשְׁנַת הָאַרְבָּעִים, נִמְצָא שֶׁכָּל שְׁמוֹנֶה וּשְׁלֹשִׁים שָׁנָה לֹא נָסְעוּ אֶלָּא עֶשְׂרִים מַסָּעוֹת, זֶה מִיסוֹדוֹ שֶׁל רַבִּי מֹשֶׁה. וְרַבִּי תַנְחוּמָא דָרַשׁ בּוֹ דְּרָשָׁה אַחֶרֶת: מָשָׁל לְמֶלֶךְ שֶׁהָיָה בְנוֹ חוֹלֶה וְהוֹלִיכוֹ לְמָקוֹם רָחוֹק לְרַפֹּאתוֹ, כֵּיוָן שֶׁהָיוּ חוֹזְרִין הִתְחִיל אָבִיו מוֹנֶה כָל הַמַּסָּעוֹת, אָמַר לוֹ, כָּאן יָשַׁנְנוּ, כָּאן הוֹקַרְנוּ, כָּאן חָשַׁשְׁתָּ אֶת רֹאשְׁךָ וְכוּ':

אלה מסעי THESE ARE THE JOURNEYS (STAGES) [OF THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL] — Why are these stations recorded here? In order to make known the loving acts of the Omnipresent: that although He had decreed against them to make them move about and wander in the wilderness, you should not think that they wandered and moved about without cessation from one station to another station all the forty years, and that they had no rest, for you see that there are here only forty-two stages. Deduct from them fourteen, all of which were their stopping places in the first year after they left Egypt, before the decree was made, viz., from the time when they journeyed from Rameses until when they came to Rithmah whence the spies were sent out — as it is said. (Numbers 12:16): “And afterwards the people journeyed from Hazeroth, [and encamped in the wilderness of Paran], whereupon the Lord said unto Moses, (Numbers 13:2) "Send thee men [who may search out the land]”; and here (v. 18) it states, “and they journeyed from Hazeroth and they encamped in Rithmah”, so you learn that it (Rithmah) is in the wilderness of Paran. — Further deduct from them the eight stages which were after Aaron’s death viz., those from Mount Hor to the plains of Moab in the fourtieth year (v. 38). It follows that during the whole of the thirty eight years they made only twenty journeys. This is excerpted from the work of R. Moses the Preacher. — R. Tanchuma gave another explanation of it (of the question why these stages are here recorded). A parable! It may be compared to the case of a king whose son was ill and whom he took to a distant place to cure him. When they returned home the father began to enumerate all the stages, saying to him, “Here we slept, here we caught cold, here you had the head-ache, etc.” (Midrash Tanchuma 4:10:3.