The Ceremony of the Stones

  • Rav Chanoch Waxman
The Israel Koschitzky Virtual Beit Midrash

Parshat HaShavua
Yeshivat Har Etzion


This parasha series is dedicated
in memory of Michael Jotkowitz, z"l.

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PARASHAT KI TAVO

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Please include in your tefillot:

Zecharia Shlomo ben Miriam Baumel

Kidnapped: June 11, 1982

Tzvi ben Penina Feldman

Kidnapped: June 11, 1982

Yekutiel Yehuda Nachman ben Sarah Katz

Kidnapped: June 11, 1982

Ron (Roon) ben Batya Arad

Kidnapped: October 16, 1986

Guy ben Rina Chever

Missing In Action - After leaving his army base in the Golan: August 17, 1997

Gilad ben Aviva Shalit

Kidnapped: June 25, 2006

Eldad ben Tova Regev

Kidnapped: July 12, 2006

Ehud Ben Malka Goldvasser

Kidnapped: July 12, 2006

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The Ceremony of the Stones

Rav Chanoch Waxman

 

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Mazal tov to Rabbi Yehuda and Louisa Susman upon the birth of their daughter –
may they be zocheh to raise her le-Torah, le-chuppa, u-le-ma'asim tovim!

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I

            Shortly after the opening of Parashat Ki Tavo, Moshe informs the Children of Israel what they should do on the day they finally cross the Jordan and enter the Promised Land. 

 

And it shall be on the day when you shall pass over the Jordan to the land which the Lord your God gives you, and you shall set up large stones and cover them with plaster.  And you shall write upon them all the words of this Torah when you pass over, so that you may come into the land which the Lord your God gives you… (27:2-3)

 

Immediately following these instructions, Moshe adds the fact that the large stones are to be to set up at a place known as Har Eival (27:4), and that in addition to the monumental stones covered in plaster, upon which "this Torah" is inscribed, the Children of Israel should construct an altar (27:4).  Upon the altar the Children of Israel should "offer burnt offerings" (27:4) and "sacrifice peace offerings" (27:5).  They should "eat" and "rejoice before the Lord."  In sum, the Children of Israel are commanded to engage in a complex ceremony, what we may tentatively term the "Ceremony of the Stones."  The instructions for the ceremony seem to consist of three distinct elements.  First and foremost, the ceremony is meant to take place in a particular setting, in a particular time and place: the day the people cross the Jordan River/at Har Eival (27:1,4).  Second, the ceremony involves the erecting of "large stones" covered in plaster upon which the Torah is written down.  Finally, the ceremony involves an altar and sacrifices to God.

 

            At first glance, this formulation raises an obvious difficulty.  Throughout Sefer Devarim, Har Eival is paired with its regular partner, Har Gerizim.  In fact, almost immediately after the segment delineating the instructions for the Ceremony of the Stones (27:1-8), the Torah elaborates the details of the "blessing and curse" ceremony first mentioned in Devarim 26:19 and meant to take place at Har Gerizim and Har Eival (27:11-26).  According to Devarim 11:30, these mountains are located "near Eilonei Moreh."  But this seems to be a different locale altogether than what could be reached within one day of crossing the Jordan.  Bereishit 12:6 identifies Eilon Moreh as Shekhem, a city and location found on the Samarian mountain ridge.  In other words, the setting of the Ceremony of the Stones seems to contain an internal contradiction.  On the one hand, the ceremony is meant to take place immediately, on the very day the Israelites cross the Jordan.  On the other hand, it is meant to take place at Har Eival/Har Gerizim/Shekhem, a location found in the mountains, far more than one day's march for the large camp of the Children of Israel. 

 

            Apparently, Moshe's reference to "the day you cross the Jordan" with which he opens his instructions for the ceremony (27:2) is not meant to be taken literally.  It is intended as no more than a metaphor, as another way of saying "when."  In point of fact, the ceremony is meant to take place upon reaching Har Eival, somewhere in the mountains of the Shomron.  But this still seems difficult.  If the ceremony is meant to take place at Eival/Gerizim/Shekhem, why twice stress the crossing of the Jordan (27:2,4)? If the ceremony is only meant to take place after a certain gap of time, upon reaching Har Eival, why stress the "the day" (27:2), why make it sound as if the ceremony must take place immediately upon entering the Land? On the other hand, what is so special about Har Eival? Why indeed is the ceremony delayed until reaching Har Eival?

 

            In addition to the problem of setting sketched here, we may also justly wonder regarding the meaning and symbolism of the ceremony.  While the Torah is quite specific in its instructions, it gives little hint as to the purpose of the ceremony.  While we understand the what of the stones, the plaster, the writing, the altar and the sacrifices, we do not understand the why.  In other words, what is the point of setting up large stones, covering them with plaster and writing the Torah upon them? What is the point of conjoining this with an altar and sacrifices on "the day," whether understood literally or as metaphor, that the Children of Israel enter the Promised Land?

 

II

            Turning our attention back to the opening of Moshe's instructions for the Ceremony of the Stones may provide a clue to deciphering the nature and purpose of the ceremony.  Just after commanding the Children of Israel to set up the stones, cover them with plaster and write the Torah upon them (27:2-3), Moshe provides what seems to be a rationale for the prescribed actions.  The full sentence, partially cited above reads as follows:

 

…So that you may go into the land which the Lord your God gives you, a land flowing with milk and honey, as the Lord, God of your fathers has spoken to you.    (27:3)

 

Apparently, fulfilling the command of the stones seems to be the key to entering and possessing the Promised Land.  The phrase "so that" establishes an if-then relationship between the Ceremony of the Stones and the successful possession of the land.  But this seems strange.  How does the erection of a monument, or even the writing down of the Torah, guarantee possession of the land? As Moshe emphasizes numerous times throughout Sefer Devarim, it is the keeping of the commandments, the hearkening to God's word, not the mere writing of them upon stones, that guarantees success in the land (see 7:12-16, 8:1, 11:8-9, 28:1-2). 

 

            The answer may be provided by an interesting parallel between the Ceremony of the Stones (27:1-8) and the segment of the Torah normally termed "parashat ha-melekh," the instructions for the appointing and conduct of the king (17:14-20).  Like the Children of Israel upon crossing the Jordan, the king is commanded to write "this Torah" (17:18).  In the case of the King, the purpose of the "writing command" is clear.  He is to keep the Torah with him and thereby learn to fear God and keep the commandments (17:19).  His heart will not become haughty, he will not turn away neither "right nor left" from the commandments, and his days of kingship and kingdom for himself and his children will be prolonged (17:20).  But these of course constitute religious virtues, aims, goals and issues not just for the king, but also for the entire nation. 

 

            Throughout the Book of Devarim, Moshe reiterates the need to fear God and keep the commandments (see 6:24-25, 10:12-13).  Similarly, once again in parallel to parashat ha-melekh, Devarim 8:13-14 warns the Children of Israel of the danger of material accumulation and the risk of an elevated, haughty heart.  Finally, Moshe twice warns the people to turn neither "right nor left" from the commands (5:29, 17:11), and often conjoins the keeping of the commandments with the prolonging of life in the land for the Children of Israel and/or their children (4:40, 5:28-30). 

 

            The point seems to be something like the following.  Just as in the case of the king, where the writing of "this Torah" constitutes the key to fearing God, veering neither right nor left, a humble heart and longevity in the land, so too in the case of the communal writing of "this Torah," the inscribing somehow constitutes the key to the religious virtues of fearing God, neither veering right nor left, a humble heart and the desired goal of success and longevity in the land. 

 

            While the writing down of the Torah upon great stones upon crossing the Jordan may be thought of as something like a national mission statement (Abarbanel 27:1-8), the parallel to parashat ha-melekh indicates that it most probably should be viewed a kind of national memory device.  Just as the personal Torah carried by the King serves as a constant reminder, so too the monumental Torah of the people serves as a reminder.  As noted by the Ramban (27:3), the writing down of the Torah upon a great monument serves as an everlasting means of emphasizing the centrality of the Torah and its commandments.  It serves to vouchsafe the Children of Israel's remembering, and thereby keeping, the commandments.  This, in turn, guarantees their successful possession of the land in the short term and prospering in the long term. 

 

III

            While the memory interpretation presented here goes quite away to unmasking the meaning of the Ceremony of the Stones, it fails to deal with all of the details present in the ceremony.  For example, it really has nothing to say about the altar and sacrifices that seem to comprise an integral part of the ceremony.  Moreover, it has little to say about the context of the ceremony, the need to accomplish the ceremony upon entering the land, or the Har Eival setting. 

 

            In order to develop an alternative to the memory theory, or more accurately, in order to develop an additional and complementary element, we must turn our attention not so much to another example of Torah writing found in Sefer Devarim but to a third case of Torah writing, one found in Sefer Shemot. 

 

            Towards the end of Parashat Mishpatim, the Torah relates that upon descending from Mount Sinai, Moshe told the people of "all of the Lord's words" and "laws" (24:3).  In a precursor of the famed response of "na'aseh ve-nishma – we will do and we will listen" found later in the segment, the people respond that "all the words which the Lord has spoken we will do" (24:3).  At this point, the Torah reports the following sequence of events:

 

And Moshe wrote all the words of the Lord and rose up early in the morning; and he built an altar at the foot of the mountain and twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel.  And he sent the young men of Israel and they offered burnt offerings, and they sacrificed peace offerings… (Shemot 24:4-5)

 

Moshe then places half of the blood from the sacrifices in flagons and sprinkles the other half of the blood upon the altar.  At this point, the symbol of the just-written "laws" and "words," i.e. the Torah, returns to the narrative.  To resume the story…

 

And he took the Book of the Covenant and read it aloud in the ears of the people; and they said: All that God has spoken we will do and we will listen.  And Moshe took the blood and sprinkled it upon the people and said: Behold the blood of the covenant which the Lord has contracted with you upon all these words.            (Shemot 24:7-8)

 

As the narrative progresses, the spoken "laws" and "words" of God become concretized.  They are written down and transformed into what the Torah terms "Sefer Ha-brit," the Book of the Covenant.  It is this now-written Torah that Moshe reads out to the people, and it is this now-written Torah that the people commit to absolutely in their famed profession of "na'aseh ve-nishma – we will do and listen."  As the name of the now written Torah and Moshe's explicit proclamation to the people indicates, the entire process is a process of covenant, and constitutes the contracting of a covenant between God and Israel upon the just-written Torah. 

 

            Similarly, as the narrative clearly indicates, the altar at the foot of the mountain and the sacrifices, in the language of the original text, the mizbe'ach, the har, the olot and the shelamim all constitute central motifs of the Covenant of Sinai.  It is at the foot of Mount Sinai that the sacrifices are brought, and it is the blood of the sacrifices that is sprinkled upon the people to seal the covenant.  Finally, as befitting a covenant ceremony between God and Israel, all twelve tribes are represented, in this case by twelve stone pillars, or monuments (24:4), and the covenant ceremony contains the element of duality, symbolizing the two sides of the covenant.  Half of the blood is sprinkled upon the altar (24:6), and half of the blood is sprinkled upon the people (24:8). 

 

            To put this slightly differently, we may identify the following seven linguistic and thematic elements in the Brit Sinai story: i) the writing of the Torah/written Torah ii) a mountain iii) an altar iv) sacrifices v) stone pillars/monuments vi) commemoration of each of the twelve tribes vii) duality/covenantal two sidedness. 

 

            Needless to say, this schematic should make us realize that the story of Brit Sinai found in Sefer Shemot (24:3-8) and the story of the Ceremony of the Stones found in Sefer Devarim (27:1-8) stand in a particular relation.  Like the story of the Covenant of Sinai, the story of the Ceremony of the Stones involves writing of the Torah/written Torah (27:3,8).  Similarly, in a second and third parallel between the two stories, like the Covenant of Sinai the story of the stones involves an altar and sacrifices, in the original language of the text, a mizbe'ach, olot and shelamim (27:5-7).  Similarly, in a fourth and now obvious parallel, just as the Covenant of Sinai took place in the shadow of a mountain, Mount Sinai, so too the "covenant of the stones" takes place in the shadow of a mountain, in this case the Mountain of Eival, located in the Land of Israel.  Finally, in a fifth point of thematic parallel, both stories involve stones, pillars and monuments.  The story of Brit Sinai mandates a stone pillar, a kind of monument to symbolize and commemorate the participation of each tribe (Shemot 24:4).  But what is the story of the Ceremony of the Stones (27:1-8), if not a story of monuments.  The very act of "setting up of stones" (27:2,4) constitutes an act of setting up a monument. 

 

            To put this together, the story of the Ceremony of the Stones is foreshadowed by the story of Brit Sinai found in Sefer Shemot.  Or more accurately, the story of the Ceremony of the Stones constitutes a conscious echo of the covenant contracted at Sinai.  Just as the story of Brit Sinai comprises a covenant story, a story of commitment by the Children of Israel to the words of God, so too the story of the Ceremony of the Stones constitutes a covenant story, a means by which the Covenant of Sinai is echoed, extended and renewed upon the entrance of the Children of Israel to the Land of Israel. 

 

            This point is further strengthened by the larger context of the narrative we have been analyzing.  In point of fact, reading the Ceremony of the Stones as a story of covenant may be explicitly suggested by the text. 

 

Following up the flow of the narrative following the Ceremony of the Stones (27:1-8) should make this readily apparent. 

 

            As mentioned earlier, Har Eival is almost always accompanied by its partner Har Gerizim, and the text of Sefer Devarim indeed refers to them together shortly after the Ceremony of the Stones (27:1-8).  At this point in time, the Torah gives us the details of the "blessing and curse" ceremony to be conducted at Har Gerizim and Har Eival upon "crossing the Jordan" (27:11-26).  Six tribes stand upon, or on the side of, Har Gerizim – upon the blessing so to speak – and six tribes stand upon, or on the side of, Har Eival – "upon the curse" (27:13).

 

            This textual proximity to the story of the stones (27:1-8), the parallel mentions of Har Eival in the two stories (27:4, 27:13), and the deliberate echo at the outset of the latter story of the crucial phrase "when you cross the Jordan" (27:12) found twice in the story of the Ceremony of the Stones (27:2,4), all indicate that the Ceremony of the Stones, the narrative found in Devarim 27:1-8, is neither an independent text or an independent ceremony.  Rather, it is part and parcel of a larger Gerizim/Eival ceremony. 

 

            On one level, this point helps us to complete the parallel between the Ceremony of the Stones, what may now be thought of the first part of the Gerizim/Eival ceremony, and the story of Brit Sinai.  Just as all twelve tribes are marked and represented in the Covenant of Sinai (Shemot 24:4), so too each of the twelve tribes is mentioned in detailing the Gerizim/Eival ceremony (27:12-13).  Moreover, just as the narrative of the Covenant of Sinai contains the element of duality, of division and two sidedness in accord with the standard Biblical marker of covenantal duality and mutuality, so too the continuation of the story of the stones, the larger ceremony of Gerizim/Eival, contains the element of duality.  In accord with the covenantal nature of the ceremony, there are two mountains, the tribes split into two groups of six and the dual possibility of blessing and its opposite are readily present (27:12-13).  But this is only part of the story. 

 

            Most probably, the text's detailing of the larger ceremony at Har Gerizim and Har Eival does not end with the material found in chapter 27.  As the Ibn Ezra maintains (27:14), the long parasha of blessing and curse found in chapter 28 (28:1-68) most probably constitutes an integral part of that ceremony, and is in fact the text read aloud at Gerizim and Eival upon entering the land (see Yehoshua 8:34-35). 

 

            This brings us to our destination and completes the Brit Sinai-Ceremony of the Stones/Gerizim-Eival circle.  At the very end of chapter 28, the Torah sums up what the chapter, and by implication the entire Gerizim/Eival ceremony, is all about.  It states the following:

 

These are the words of the covenant, which the Lord commanded Moshe to contract with the Children of Israel. (28:69)

 

Like the story found in Sefer Shemot, the story of the stones, of Gerizim and Eival constitutes a story of covenant.  It comprises a means of extending, renewing and remembering the Covenant of Sinai.  Upon entering the land, the Children of Israel are required to renew, re-commit and re-engage with the Covenant of Sinai.  By virtue of writing the Torah, engaging in a covenant commitment ceremony and, perhaps most crucially, by creating and leaving behind a monumental edifice of a mountain, an altar and Torah written in stone, the Children of Israel create an everlasting echo and reminder of the Covenant of Sinai and their commitment to the Torah.  It is by this virtue that they will inherit the land. 

 

IV

            Reading the ceremony of the stones as a story of covenant renewal and extension, as a story of covenantal echo and concretization should resolve most of the difficulties raised above.  We no longer need wonder about the meaning of the setting up of the stones, the writing of the Torah, the altar, the sacrifices and the like. 

 

            Likewise, this reading should help dissolve much of the tension implicit in the setting designated for the ceremony.  On the one hand, the ceremony should indeed be carried out "upon crossing the Jordan," perhaps even on the very day the Children of Israel enter the land.  After all, it is by virtue of their commitment to the Covenant of Sinai, to the Torah, that they enter.  At this crucial juncture, at the very start, matters must be set straight, and the Children of Israel's covenantal commitment must be commemorated and renewed. 

 

            Yet on the other hand, no re-creation of the experience of Sinai and no permanent monument to the Covenant of Sinai can take place without a suitable mountain.  Writing the Torah, building the altar, and the sacrifices are meant to recreate the Covenant of Sinai.  As such, they must take place in the shadow of a mountain, a Sinai substitute.  Similarly, the permanent stone Torah and stone altar (27:5-6) left behind are meant to serve as reminders of the Sinai experience.  Again, as such, they must stand in the shadow of a mountain, a Sinai substitute.  To no surprise, the ceremony is delayed and takes place at Har Eival. 

 

            Yet all is not fully resolved.  We may still justly wonder regarding the specific choice of Har Eival.  Theoretically, any mountain should have been sufficient.  The ceremony could be carried out at a mountain close to the Jordan, even on the very day the Children of Israel cross into the land.  Waiting until the Children of Israel reach the mountains of Samaria seems wholly unnecessary and undermines the central symbolism of covenant renewal and commemoration upon entering the land.  Once again, why Har Eival?

 

            We may be tempted to argue that Har Eival's central location at Shekhem in the Shomron region and its consequent ability to serve as a central and ongoing reminder to the Covenant of Sinai, a kind of "shrine of Sinai," constitute the cause of the choice of Har Eival.  While this claim cannot be supported directly from the text, Shekhem does constitute a central location, and the claim cannot be refuted.  Yet as an alternative, I would like to look at the past role, rather than the future role, of Har Eival and Shekhem in the history of the Children of Israel. 

 

V

            As worked out earlier, the identity of Har Eival with the Shekhem region depends on a bit of textual comparison.  At no point does Sefer Devarim explicitly locate Har Eival at Shekhem.  Rather, it refers to the mountain pair of Gerizim and Eival as being located near "Eilonei Moreh" (11:30).  But as mentioned above, Eilonei Moreh should be identified with Eilon Moreh, a location found earlier on in Sefer Bereishit and clearly connected to the Shekhem region (Bereishit 12:6, see Rashi, Ibn Ezra 11:30).  At this point, it is worth taking a look at the textual context in which this identification occurs - the beginnings of the Avraham narrative and the story of Avraham's arrival in the land of Canaan.

 

            Upon being commanded by God to leave his land and birthplace (Bereishit 12:1-4), Avraham promptly gathers up his wife, household and possessions, sets out for the land of Canaan (12:5), and with almost miraculous alacrity, within the time span of less than a verse, arrives in the Land of Canaan (12:5).  At this point, the pace of the action slows down and the Torah informs us of Avraham's actions upon arriving in Canaan.

 

And Avram passed through the land to the place of Shekhem, to Eilon Moreh, and the Canaanites were then in the land.  And the Lord appeared to Avram and said, To your seed I will give this land, and he built an altar there to the Lord who had appeared to him.  (Bereishit 12:7)

 

For some reason or another, Avraham proceeds directly to Shekhem and Eilon Moreh.  Then and only then does God reveal himself to Avraham and promise the land to Avraham's descendants, thereby informing him that he has reached the right place, the place previously identified as "the land I will show you" (12:1).  Following God's revelation, in an apparent act of thanksgiving, Avraham builds an altar.  He has arrived, and the land has been promised to his descendants. 

 

            In this reading, the text forges a conceptual connection between divine promises, the end of a journey and entering the land of Canaan on the one hand, and the building of an altar in Shekhem on the other.  Interestingly enough, this is not the only time Sefer Bereishit details such a link.  The next time Avraham or one of his descendants enters the land we find the very same link.  Upon returning from his long exile in Charan, Yaakov, recently renamed Yisrael, proceeds to Shekhem (Bereishit 33:18).  He builds an altar and names it with a divine name; he calls it "God of Israel" (33:20).  Again, in response to a divine promise and command (see 28:13-15, 31:11-13), Avraham or one of his descendants, this time in the person of Yaakov/Yisrael, embarks upon a journey to, and terminates a journey in, the Land of Canaan.  Once again the journey reaches its end in Shekhem with the building of an altar.

 

            By now we should no longer be surprised by the choice of Har Eival as the sight for the Ceremony of the Stones and its altar.  In accord with the typological patterning often found in the Torah, in which the actions of the forefathers seem to foreshadow later actions of their descendants, the third arrival of Avraham/Israel in the Land of Canaan, this time in the form of the of the nation of Israel, takes the very same form.  Like both Avraham and Yaakov, the Children of Israel arrive at the end of their journey, undertaken in response to divine promises and commands, in the Land of Canaan.  By no surprise, they will arrive at Shekhem and build an altar to God (27:4-6, Yehoshua 8:30).  Just like their forefather Yaakov/Yisrael and just like their forefather Avraham.  The "day" that the Israelites "pass over the Jordan" into the "land that the Lord your God gives you" (27:2) constitutes their long anticipated arrival in the Land of Canaan.  As such, it can only culminate in an altar at Shekhem. 

 

            This should be understood as more than literary formalism.  As the text points out upon the first arrival of Avraham/Israel in the land, "And the Canaanites were then in the land" (12:6).  Immediately upon the heels of this phrase, God appears to Avraham and promises the land to his descendants (12:7).  The time is not yet ripe; Avraham's arrival in the land is yet tentative.  He can pass through, he can wander, but he cannot dwell.  The land still belongs to the Canaanites.  Such is still the case at the time of the second arrival, that of Yaakov.  While Yaakov does partially possess land, and the text depicts him as purchasing the field he dwells upon (33:19), his possession is dependant upon the good will of the inhabitants and is yet tentative (see 34:30).  But God's promise to Avraham means that this state will change.  One day, the children of Avraham will fully possess the land.  The occurrence of the third arrival, the Children of Israel's arrival in the Land of Israel, at the very same place and in the very same form as the arrivals of their forefathers, emphasizes that they arrive by virtue of the promises to the forefathers and as an actualization of the potential inherent in their forefathers' arrivals.  God's promise has now been fulfilled. 

 

            But there is more to it than this.  The parallel between the arrival of Avraham and the arrival of the Children of Israel does more than mark the fact that the latter arrival constitutes the fulfillment of the former arrival, a realization of the promise and potential inherent in the forefather's path.  It also informs us regarding the contents and meaning of the entire ceremony conducted upon entering the land.  Just as Avraham builds an altar in thanksgiving to God upon arriving at Shekhem in the Land of Canaan, so too the Children of Israel are to build an altar at the very same place in thanksgiving to God upon the fulfillment of the divine promise and their arrival in the land.  The Ceremony of the Stones is about more than memory, or even covenant recreation.  It is also about celebration and thanksgiving to God for arriving in the land (see 27:7 and Ibn Ezra 27:3). 

 

VI

            To close, let us formulate this last point in a slightly variant fashion.  While the story of Avraham, the founding forefather of the Children of Israel, is complex and multilayered, certain key themes such as the promise of descendants and the promise of the land clearly stand out.  Similarly, while the story of Moshe, the redeemer, and other "founder" of the Children of Israel is complex and multilayered, a certain key theme, that of Torah and commandments, the Covenant of Sinai, certainly stands out.  In the Ceremony of the Stones, in the arrival of the descendants of Avraham in the land at the very same place as Avraham and in their recreation of the Covenant of Sinai, these two heritages merge into a harmonious whole.  It is about both the heritage of Avraham and the heritage of Moshe. 

 

 

Further Study

 

1.         Reread 27:1-8.  a) Compare 27:1-3 to 27:4-8.  Is there a problem of repetition? Make a careful list of the various elements present or missing in each "half" of the story.  Try to explain the structural problem in light of the shiur above.  b) Now see Ibn Ezra 27:1-3 and Ramban 27:3.  Analyze the difference in their opinions in light of the structural issue.  c) See Emek Davar 27:2.  Relate his comments to the structural problem.  Now see Bereishit 12:8.  Try to merge Netziv's comments with some of the ideas in the shiur above.

 

2.         Read Yehoshua 8:30-35.  a) Can Ibn Ezra's reading of 27:1-8 be supported by this passage? b) See Yehoshua 7:2-9.  Now see Bereishit 12:6-8.  Also see Bereishit 33:18 and 35:6-7.  Formulate the problem.  Rav Yaakov Medan has claimed that the defeat at Ai resulted from the unnecessary delay in proceeding to Har Eival.  Review Yehoshua 8:30 and Bereishit 12:6.  Try to formulate an alternative in light of the shiur above. 

 

3.         See Rashi 27:2.  Now scan Yehoshua 4:2-24.  Review 27:2-4.  Attempt to explain the textual basis of the opinion cited by Rashi.  Try to formulate the conceptual significance of stones at Har Eival being taken from the Jordan.

 

4.         See Devarim 26:16-19.  Now see Shemot 19:5-6 and Ramban 26:16-17.  a) Explain the usage and meaning of the term "ha-yom" b) What is the relationship between 26:16-19 and 27:1-8? c) See Ramban 29:1 and 29:9.  Formulate the overriding theme of Devarim 26:16-30:20 in light of the comments of the Ramban and the shiur above.