Sotah 34bסוטה ל״ד ב
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34bל״ד ב

כחנייתן עברו לדברי רבי אלעזר בר' שמעון בזה אחר זה עברו

the Jewish people crossed in the same formation as they camped. It was necessary for the water to stand only twelve mil high to allow for the entire encampment to pass through the Jordan. According to the statement of Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon, who said the water stood at a height of over three hundred mil, the water had to reach these heights to allow for enough time for everyone to cross the Jordan, as they crossed one after the other.

וחד אמר בין מר ובין מר כחנייתן עברו מר סבר אדם קל ומר סבר מים קלים

And one says: According to both this Sage and that Sage, they crossed in the same formation as they camped. However, one Sage, Rabbi Yehuda, holds that a person moves faster than water, and one Sage, Rabbi Elazar son of Rabbi Shimon, holds that water moves faster than a person does.

(במדבר יג, ב) שלח לך אנשים אמר ריש לקיש שלח לך מדעתך וכי אדם זה בורר חלק רע לעצמו והיינו דכתיב (דברים א, כג) וייטב בעיני הדבר אמר ריש לקיש בעיני ולא בעיניו של מקום

§ Since the Gemara mentioned the cluster of grapes that the spies brought back from Eretz Yisrael, it continues discussing the story of the spies. It is stated in the Torah that God told Moses: “Send you men” (Numbers 13:2). Reish Lakish says: “Send you” means that you should send them at your own discretion and not as a divine command. As, if it were a divine command, does a person choose a bad portion for himself? Since God knew the nature of these spies and that they would ultimately slander the land, He certainly would not have sent them Himself. And this is the meaning of that which is written in the passage where Moses retold the story of the spies: “And it was good in my eyes” (Deuteronomy 1:23), and Reish Lakish says: The implication of these words is that it seemed good “in my eyes,” but not in the eyes of the Omnipresent.

(דברים א, כב) ויחפרו לנו את הארץ אמר ר' חייא בר אבא מרגלים לא נתכוונו אלא לבושתה של ארץ ישראל כתיב הכא ויחפרו לנו את הארץ וכתיב התם (ישעיהו כד, כג) וחפרה הלבנה ובושה החמה וגו'

The Torah relates that the people asked Moses to send spies so “that they may search the land for us” (Deuteronomy 1:22). Rabbi Ḥiyya bar Abba says: When the Jewish people asked to send spies, their intention was only to shame Eretz Yisrael. It is written here: “That they may search [veyaḥperu] the land for us,” and it is written there: “Then the moon will be embarrassed [veḥafera], and the sun will be ashamed” (Isaiah 24:23).

(במדבר יג, ד) ואלה שמותם למטה ראובן שמוע בן זכור אמר רבי יצחק דבר זה מסורת בידינו מאבותינו מרגלים על שם מעשיהם נקראו ואנו לא עלתה בידינו אלא אחד (במדבר יג, יג) סתור בן מיכאל סתור שסתר מעשיו של הקב"ה מיכאל שעשה עצמו מך

The Torah states with regard to the spies: “And these were their names: Of the tribe of Reuben, Shammua the son of Zaccur” (Numbers 13:4). Rabbi Yitzḥak says: This statement that follows is a tradition of ours that was passed down to us from our ancestors: The spies were named after their actions, but we have obtained the interpretation of only one name, the name of “Sethur the son of Michael” (Numbers 13:13). He is called Sethur, as he hid [satar] the actions of the Holy One, Blessed be He. In other words, he ignored the miracles that God performed for the Jewish people in Egypt and in the wilderness. He is called Michael, as he made Him, God, appear weak [makh] by saying that there was not enough food in the land for everyone.

אמר רבי יוחנן אף אנו נאמר נחבי בן ופסי נחבי שהחביא דבריו של הקב"ה ופסי שפיסע על מדותיו של הקב"ה

Rabbi Yoḥanan says: We can also say an interpretation of the name: “Nahbi the son of Vophsi” (Numbers 13:14): He is called Nahbi, as he concealed [heḥbi] the statement of the Holy One, Blessed be He, that the land is good, by delivering a distorted description of it. He is called Vophsi, as he stomped [pisse’a] on the attributes of the Holy One, Blessed be He, i.e., he did not believe in His promise to give Eretz Yisrael to the Jewish people.

(במדבר יג, כב) ויעלו בנגב ויבא עד חברון ויבאו מבעי ליה אמר רבא מלמד שפירש כלב מעצת מרגלים והלך ונשתטח על קברי אבות אמר להן אבותי בקשו עלי רחמים שאנצל מעצת מרגלים

It is also stated with regard to the spies: “And they went up into the south, and he came to Hebron” (Numbers 13:22). Why is the phrase “and he came” written in the singular form? The verse should have said: And they came. Rava says: This teaches that Caleb separated himself from the counsel of the other spies and went and prostrated himself on the graves of the forefathers in Hebron. He said to them: My forefathers, pray for mercy for me so that I will be saved from the counsel of the spies.

יהושע כבר בקש משה עליו רחמים שנאמר (במדבר יג, טז) ויקרא משה להושע בן נון יהושע יה יושיעך מעצת מרגלים והיינו דכתיב (במדבר יד, כד) ועבדי כלב עקב היתה רוח אחרת עמו וגו'

The Gemara explains: Joshua did not go to the graves of the forefathers because Moses had already prayed for mercy for him, as it is stated: “And Moses called Hoshea son of Nun Joshua [Yehoshua]” (Numbers 13:16), meaning: God will save you [Ya yoshiakha] from the counsel of the spies. And this is the meaning of that which is written: “But My servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and has followed Me fully, him will I bring into the land where into he went” (Numbers 14:24), which implies that Caleb changed his mind over time. Joshua, however, was opposed to the intentions of the other spies from the outset.

ושם אחימן ששי ותלמי וגו' אחימן מיומן שבאחיו ששי שמשים את הארץ כשחתות תלמי שמשים את הארץ תלמים תלמים

The verse continues to state about Hebron: “And Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, the children of Anak, were there” (Numbers 13:22). Ahiman was called by this name because he was the most skilled [meyumman] among his brothers. Sheshai was called by his name because he would turn the land that he treaded upon into ditches [sheḥatot] due to his large dimensions. Talmai was called this because he would turn the land that he treaded upon into furrows upon furrows [telamim] due to his weight.

ד"א אחימן בנה ענת ששי בנה אלש תלמי בנה תלבוש ילידי הענק שמעניקין חמה בקומתן

Alternatively, their names signify another matter: Ahiman is the one who built the city of Anat. Sheshai built the city of Alush. Talmai built the city of Talbush. The verse describes them as “the children of Anak” because they were so tall and large that it appeared as if they were wearing [ma’anikin] the sun as a necklace due to their height.

(במדבר יג, כב) וחברון שבע שנים נבנתה [מאי נבנתה] אילימא נבנתה ממש אפשר אדם בונה בית לבנו קטן קודם לבנו גדול דכתיב (בראשית י, ו) ובני חם כוש ומצרים וגו'

The continuation of the verse states: “Now Hebron was built seven years [shanim] before Zoan of Egypt [Mitzrayim]” (Numbers 13:22). The Gemara asks: What is the meaning of the phrase “was built”? If we say that it was actually built seven years before Zoan, would a person build a house for his younger son before he builds one for his older son? Canaan was the youngest son of Ham, as it is written: “And the sons of Ham: Cush, and Mizraim, and Put, and Canaan” (Genesis 10:6). How then could Hebron, a city in the land of Canaan, have been built before Zoan, a city in the land of Egypt, occupied by the descendants of Mizraim?

אלא שהיתה מבונה על אחד משבעה בצוען ואין לך טרשים בכל א"י יתר מחברון (משום) דקברי בה שיכבי ואין לך מעולה בכל הארצות יתר מארץ מצרים שנאמר (בראשית יג, י) כגן ה' כארץ מצרים ואין לך מעולה בכל ארץ מצרים יתר מצוען דכתיב (ישעיהו ל, ד) כי היו בצוען שריו ואפילו הכי חברון מבונה אחד משבעה בצוען

Rather, the meaning of the verse is that Hebron was seven times more fruitful [mevunna] than Zoan. And there is no stonier land in Eretz Yisrael than Hebron. This is evident because they would bury the dead there, just as the forefathers were buried there. This was done only in land that was not suitable for agriculture. And of all the lands, there is none of a higher quality than the land of Egypt, as it is stated: “Like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt” (Genesis 13:10). And there was no higher-quality land in all of the land of Egypt than Zoan, as it is written with regard to Pharaoh’s ministers, who would certainly have lived on the finest land in the country: “For his princes are in Zoan” (Isaiah 30:4). And even so, Hebron was seven times more fruitful than Zoan.

וחברון טרשים הוי והא כתיב (שמואל ב טו, ז) ויהי מקץ ארבעים שנה ויאמר אבשלום אל המלך אלכה נא וגו' ואמר רב אויא ואיתימא רבה בר בר חנן שהלך להביא כבשים מחברון ותניא אילים ממואב כבשים מחברון מינה איידי דקלישא ארעא עבדה רעיא ושמן קניינא

The Gemara asks: But is the land in Hebron in fact stony? But isn’t it written: “And it came to pass at the end of forty years, that Absalom said to the king: I pray, let me go and pay my vow, which I have vowed to the Lord, in Hebron” (II Samuel 15:7)? And Rav Avya says, and some say that it was Rabba bar bar Ḥanan: This means that Absalom went to bring sheep specifically from Hebron. And it is taught in a baraita (Tosefta, Menaḥot 9:13): One must bring the choicest animals to the Temple as offerings. Rams are brought from Moab, and sheep are brought from Hebron. This indicates that Hebron has rich land where fat and healthy sheep are raised. The Gemara answers: From this very source it can be proven that Hebron is not suitable for agriculture. Since the earth there is thin, it produces only grass for grazing and fattens the livestock.

(במדבר יג, כה) וישובו מתור הארץ

The verse states: “And they returned from spying out the land at the end of forty days.