The Choosing of Jerusalem

  • Rav Shimon Klein

*********************************************************

IN LOVING MEMORY OF

 

Jeffrey Paul Friedman

August 15, 1968 – July 29, 2012

 

לע"נ

 

יהודה פנחס בן הרב שרגא פייוועל

כ"ב אב תשכ"ח – י' אב תשע"ב

 

ת.נ.צ.ב.ה

*********************************************************

 

 

Preface

 

The expression “the place which the Lord will choose” is repeated over and over again in Sefer Devarim. The words convey a riddle: there is a place, whose name is not mentioned – since it has not yet been chosen – but in the future, God will choose it. What is this choosing? What is the significance of the fact that the choice has not yet actually been made? What will it depend on?

 

We encounter similar situations in which God does not reveal something to His servants. When God calls upon Avraham and commands him to leave his place and to journey, Avraham is not told what his destination will be: “And the Lord said to Avram, Get you out of your country, and from your birthplace, and from your father’s house, to the land that I will show you” (Bereishit 12:1). When God calls upon Avraham to sacrifice his son, the destination is likewise hidden: “And it was, after these things, that God tested Avraham… and He said, Take now your son, the only one, whom you love, Yitzchak, and get you into the land of Moriah, and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell you of” (Bereishit 22:1). In both instances, Avraham sets off for the unknown, accompanied by a Divine promise that there will be greater clarity later on.[1] This setting off for the unknown is an emotional and spiritual position that combines expectation, longing, and faith in God to lead him on the right path. The postponement of the choice of the site of the Temple until some time in the future likewise demands faith, but it is different from the two instances addressed above because here it is not just the revelation of the place to God’s servants that is withheld; rather, the choice itself has not yet been made by God.

 

One corresponding to the other

 

“These are the statutes and the judgments which you shall observe to perform in the land which the Lord God of your forefathers gives to you, to possess it, all the days that you live upon the earth. You shall utterly destroy all the places in which the nations whom you are to dispossess, served their gods, upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under every leafy tree. And you shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their asherim with fire, and you shall hew down the carvings of their gods, and destroy the name of them out of that place.

This you shall not do to the Lord your God. Rather, to the place which the Lord your God shall choose out of all your tribes, to put His Name there, there shall you seek Him, at His dwelling, and there shall you come, and there you shall bring your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, and your tithes, and the offerings of your hand, and your vows, and your freewill offerings, and the firstlings of your herds and your flocks, and there you shall eat before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice in all that to which you put your hand, you and your households, wherein the Lord your God has blessed you.” (Devarim 12:1-7)

 

This unit describes the form of Divine service when the nation dwells in its land. Its central idea is the contrast between the worship of other gods, which entails and represents division and multiplicity, and the service of God, which leads to unity and connection. The nations of the land worship their gods in every place: “upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under every leafy tree….” After the conquest of the land, these places will be in your hands, and you are commanded to destroy them, and to destroy their name from those places. In contrast, “This you shall not do to the Lord your God” – this is not the way in which to serve God. “But to the place which the Lord your God shall choose out of all your tribes, to put His Name, there” – a recognized place that is representative of all the tribes, “there shall you seek Him, at His dwelling, and there shall you come.” Your seeking will be oriented to that place, you will come there, and you will perform your service there.

 

Another contrast is presented in the verses that follow:

 

“You shall not act after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatever is right in his own eyes. For you are not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance, which the Lord your God gives you. But when you cross the Jordan, and dwell in the land which the Lord your God gives you to inherit, and when He gives you rest from all your enemies round about, so that you dwell in safety, then there shall be a place which the Lord your God shall choose to cause His Name to dwell there; there shall you bring all that I command you; your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, your tithes, and the offering of your hand, and all your choice vows which you vow to the Lord…” (ibid. vv. 8-11).

 

Unlike the first contrast, which compared the Divine service to the worship of other gods, here the contrast is between the form of Divine service that exists in the wilderness, and the manner of service in the land: “You shall not act after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatever is right in his own eyes.” The words “here” and “today” embody the “here and now” of the wilderness, where you do “every man whatever is right in his own eyes.”[2] That which is “right” suggests an inward orientation, but at the same time there is a limitation – “in his own eyes.” The subject is obligated to his own perspective, but not to that of others. This form of worship is justified in the next verse: “For you are not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance….” This license for this form of service is the deficient situation in which you now exist, as people who have not yet reached their “rest” – as an emotional and spiritual position, and “inheritance” – in the context of your connection with the land. When these come about, then you will no longer be permitted to behave “after all the things that we do here this day.”

 

We shall now examine the process that bridges between these two stages.

 

The nature of the process

 

“But when you cross the Jordan” – the first step is the actual entry into the land, into the place where the process will happen. “…and dwell in the land which the Lord your God gives you to inherit” – following the crossing, the verse describes dwelling in the land, and the context which gives it significance: “which the Lord your God gives you.” “Dwelling” embodies permanence, and “inheritance” implies assimilation in space. The next stage, too, is bound up with the nature of the presence in space: “and when He gives you rest from all your enemies round about” – after dwelling and inheritance, there comes the stage of rest from the enemies that surround you, “so that you dwell in safety” – with no external threat. This addition testifies that that dwelling that preceded this period was based on fear, or perhaps a balance of fear. Now that the nation attains rest from its enemies, it is no longer surrounded by a world that is strange and threatening; hence, there is no need to be on guard. This description testifies to a profound process that Israel will undergo vis-א-vis the nations around them.

 

If we were to characterize the subject of the process under discussion, we might define it as existence or presence in space. The point of departure is the current situation of the nation in the wilderness: their consciousness is one of “here” and “today” (“here and now”), having no place, existing within themselves, and each doing whatever is right in his own eyes, with no ability to contain a perspective that is beyond his own experience.[3] With the entry into the land, there will be a gradual change: first, the crossing of the Jordan, following which they will literally have ground to stand on. With the dwelling in the land and the inheritance, the nation is rooted in space; the dimension of space is already part of its consciousness. Once a person has his own space, he is able to make room for the world that is beyond himself. This movement may relate to his fellow Israelites, or to other nations. The text skips over the inner aspect and indicates the end of the process, where even enemies are no longer a threat, and the nation is at “rest.” This rest once again defines the person’s position in the place in which he exists: “you will dwell in safety” – this is a safe, secure presence, reconciled with the world, even with those who were previously enemies.

 

These verses are a faithful expression of a process that takes place starting from the generation of the wilderness up until the generation of David. Yehoshua crosses the Jordan, settles and inherits, and introduces the next stage of the nation’s life: “And Yehoshua sent the people, every man to his inheritance” (Yehoshua 24:28).[4] The “dwelling” and the “inheritance” are the main focus during the period of the Judges, and this process gradually matures up until the period of David, where there appears, for the first time, the expression, “And it came about, when David dwelled in his house, and the Lord had given him rest round about from all his enemies…” (Shmuel II 7:1).

 

Before examining the next verse, let us consider the relationship in this verse between man’s actions and God’s actions: the first step is described as something that the nation does, with no mention of God: “But when you cross the Jordan….” The next step, too, is attributed to the people, but this time it is God Who facilitates it: “…and dwell in the land which the Lord your God gives you to inherit.” The third step entails an intensification of God’s involvement: the verse starts, “and when He gives you rest from all your enemies round about,” and only in the wake of that – “so that you dwell in safety.” What is conveyed by this structuring of the verse?

 

We might explain as follows: The point of departure is a physical action – the crossing of the Jordan – which gives no expression to the world of the spirit, and therefore it is attributed to man. The second step describes dwelling – a human action that also embodies a mental and spiritual position. This additional spiritual dimension is attributed to God, Who is perceived as facilitating the inheritance and making it possible for man to dwell in the land. In the next step, the subject is dwelling “safely,” which is essentially the embodiment of a spiritual and psychological position. Accordingly, it is attributed to God; it is He Who is at the foundation of its existence.

 

This structure, which starts off with human action, in the wake of which there is increasing Divine involvement through vessels which man has prepared, is a fundamental model in Sefer Devarim. In this Sefer, Moshe prepares the people for their entry into the land. Upon entering the land, human actions become the fixed point of departure; only in their wake will the Divine Presence come to rest within man’s domain.[5] This idea is expressed in this unit as follows: the first step is a human action – crossing the Jordan, with no mention of Divine involvement. This introduction serves as a definition of the point of departure: it is man who sets the process in motion and stands at the ready. The second stage, too, starts with human action: dwelling in the land; only in the wake of that reality is there mention of God Who “gives [the land] to you to inherit.” And Who is this God? “The Lord your God” – attached to you, and in accordance with your world.[6] In the third stage, the “Lord your God” continues to accompany the process, giving “you” rest – in relation to what is happening to you in this process. Accordingly, the enemies are “your enemies,” not “God’s enemies.” In the last section of the verse, God’s part is mentioned first: “when He gives you rest from all your enemies round about, so that you dwell in safety.” This does not imply a skipping over man’s position. It is to be understood as an expression of the maturing, developing position of the nation, in which the world of the spirit and of God are part of national consciousness, giving it direction. Accordingly, the nation will “dwell in safety.”

 

All of this combines to form a single image that places the human process at the center, with God’s involvement accompanying it.

 

In the next verse, the text adds a further dimension to this process.

 

“The place which the Lord will choose”

 

“Then there shall be a place which the Lord your God will choose to cause His name to dwell there; there shall you bring all that I command you; your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, your tithes, and the offering of your hand, and all your choice vows which you vow to the Lord.”

 

The first part of this verse focuses on God’s action: the choice of the place where He will cause His Name to dwell. The second part of the verse describes man’s obligation to bring all the various types of sacrifices to this place. What exactly is entailed in the stage that is referred to as God’s “choice”? Does this refer to the decision as to where He will dwell? Is it a later stage? What is the degree of the people’s involvement in the process of this choice? These questions join the question with which we began: what is the meaning of the fact that up until a certain point, God has “not yet chosen”?

 

A clue as to the meaning of the concept of this “choice” is to be found in its timing, which is set down explicitly in the plainest terms in the text. God will give the nation rest from all their enemies; the nation will dwell in safety, and only thereafter will God choose the place where He will cause His Name to rest. Thus, the Divine choice is postponed to a rather late stage in the development of the kingdom. In actual historical terms, the rest from the enemies came about towards the end of David’s reign, and only in the next generation, under King Shlomo, following the inauguration of the Temple, did God actually choose to cause His Name to dwell in that place.[7]

 

In light of this, we must seek to understand the historical process anew. Firstly, prior to this stage, God had not yet chosen, and this fact would support the notion that, fundamentally, there is no tradition that points to Jerusalem as the place where His Presence will rest. Thus we can understand how it is that the forefathers are attached to different places and cities – such as Chevron, Beit El, and Shekhem – while showing no special interest in Jerusalem.[8]

 

Yehoshua prepares a Mishkan in Shilo, in the inheritance of his tribe, but not in Jerusalem.[9] Likewise, the leaders throughout the period of the Judges and afterwards – Eli, who sits in Shilo; Shmuel, in Mitzpah; and Shaul in Giv’a, all three of whom ignore Jerusalem altogether.[10] It is most significant that Shaul fights for his status as king – as the monarch whose progeny will ascend the throne in the future – but this campaign does not find expression in any form in the context of the royal city – Jerusalem.

 

Secondly, David establishes Jerusalem as the capital of the kingdom. This step is not self-evident; it makes a statement, especially insofar as it is the first thing that David does upon the unification of the kingdom.[11] In the wake of this act, Jerusalem becomes the capital city, and eventually the Temple is built there.

 

Furthermore, the Divine choice that is described over and over in the Torah is in fact God’s choice of a human act. David establishes Jerusalem as the capital city, and brings the Ark there; Shlomo builds the Temple, and after all of this God chooses to come and cause His Name to rest in that House. Thus, the Divine choice is understood as affirmation of the entire process. Thus we understand why the choice is described in the future tense – “which the Lord will choose” – because it is essentially the choosing of future action of the Jewish people. God chooses to cause His Name to rest in the House prepared for him by His people.

 

A developing perspective

 

Our discussion thus far raises some questions: What leads David to choose specifically Jerusalem?[12] From the opposite direction – what causes God to choose this particular place? To put it differently, what is required of man in order for God to say, as He said to Shlomo, “I have heard your prayer and I have chosen this place for Myself” (Divrei Ha-yamim II 7:12)? It would seem that the subject at the heart of the unit in Sefer Devarim is the same subject that stands at the heart of David’s choice of this city, and likewise at the heart of God’s choice.

 

Let us start with our parasha. The unit begins with an instruction to destroy the various places of idolatry. The pagans worship “upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under every leafy tree.” For them, every aspect of nature and every form of life has its own god. Each god is perceived as an infinite power that exists and acts within a certain defined space. Am Yisrael, in contrast, is commanded, “This you shall not do to the Lord your God.” Your God is not a force that exists and acts within a defined area or within a particular sphere; He is the God of all of you and of everything. Likewise, instead of the multiplicity of places of worship, creating severance and lack of contact between one godly realm and another, you are to perform a different service, at “the place which God will choose from among all your tribes.” Your tribes are many, but the day will come when you will find your common denominator, in the form of a single place that unites you, despite the differences between you. Thus, a single, overarching reality is created, contrasting with the smaller, local picture that is expressed in the multiplicity of other gods.

 

At the same time, the text describes an inner process that the nation undergoes, over the course of which its perception of Divine service will change. The spiritual position in the wilderness is one of “here” and “today”; as yet there is no inner rest and no rootedness in space – “the place.” This is an existential position of restlessness; it is also a position that lacks any inheritance, leaving a person in a childish, basic state of existence. In the wake of the entry into the land, there develops a consciousness of society and of nation; a person sees beyond that which is “right in his own eyes,” and his perspective broadens out to the stage where even nations that started out being perceived as enemies, now have a place in his world.[13]

 

Why specifically Jerusalem?

 

Why does David choose specifically Jerusalem? At first glance, there are other cities which, owing to important historical events that happened there, might seem more appropriate for nomination as the royal city where God will cause His Name to dwell - such as Chevron, Beit El, or Shekhem.[14] There are also substantive reasons for not choosing Jerusalem: it is a pagan, Jebusite city; no significant events happened there,[15] and this fact is most conspicuously expressed in the fact that the city is ignored for hundreds of years, up until the time of David. This indicates that the fact that Jerusalem remains in foreign hands does not concern anyone – not during the time of the Judges, nor in the time of Eli, Shmuel, or Shaul.

 

Seemingly, this is not a matter of mere disinterest. Rather, this city embodies a complexity that causes it to be ignored and rejected for such a long time. Jerusalem is a border city, lying between the inheritances of the children of Rachel and the children of Leah, symbolizing the tension between the tribes. The source of this tension goes back to the sale of Yosef by his brothers, at the suggestion of Yehuda, and it reaches its climax in the tension between Shaul and David.

 

This background would appear to contribute to Jerusalem’s status as an enclave at the very heart of the country. The Jebusites are not afraid; they build an independent kingdom, with a king, from among the “seven nations,” right in the midst of the land (“All these things King Aravna gave to the king, and Aravna said to the king, May the Lord your God accept you.” (Shmuel II 24:23). There is no chance of the tribes solving the tension amongst them and uniting to carry out the task.

 

“The stone which the builders rejected has become the headstone of the corner,” declares David, and it would seem that this spiritual principle applies to the choice of Jerusalem, too. The very same characteristics of the place cause a distancing in one period, and a drawing close in a different period. So long as the prevailing consciousness amongst the nation is a tribal one, with each tribe living its life separately, the tension between Rachel and Leah will be high – as embodied and symbolized in the tension between Shaul and David. And the place where this tension reaches its greatest intensity is at the border between them – just like a fence between neighbors that embodies the full depth of the relationship between them. In order to put up a fence, there is a need for cooperation, and the ability to discuss and clarify issues together. A neglected fence speaks of distance or tension. A well-tended fence speaks of contact and love.

 

For many years, Jerusalem was completely neglected, reflecting a value system and word-view that were centered around the tribe and regarded the competition between the tribes as a value. Where the subject is the individual, and every tribe believes that it holds the truth, Jerusalem will remain a border city, embodying division, extremity, and the ongoing conflict over who is right.

 

David’s first step is to go to Jerusalem and to establish it as the capital. He thereby removes the partition between the kingdom of Yehuda and the kingdom of Israel; between the tribe of Binyamin and the tribe of Yehuda; between Rachel and Leah. Jerusalem until that point has expressed many forms and modes of severance; now a new flag flies over the city, speaking of the completion that is created through partnership, and a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. This will be the story of Jerusalem.

 

“The place which the Lord will choose” is an expression that repeats itself over and over again in Sefer Devarim; to a considerable extent it represents the pinnacle of the process that takes place in this Sefer. “Every man whatever is right in his own eyes” is the point of departure; it embodies inner integrity, but also a narrow perspective that has no room for the “eyes” or perspective of anyone else. Step by step the perspective of the nation in its land broadens, ultimately including rest from its enemies. God then chooses to come to this place, to choose its connections, and to place the heavens over it.

 

Translated by Kaeren Fish

 

 

 


[1] It is interesting to note that in relation to the Land of Israel Avraham waits to see it (“which I will show you”); in relation to Mount Moriah he waits to hear God’s word (“which I will tell you of”).

[2]  Reliance on the individual’s own perspective is similar to the idolatry described in the previous verses, but here the “rightness” of human logic and common sense is stressed.

[3]  Many commentators have grappled with the question of Moshe’s own perception of the period of the wilderness, as reflected in his words, “every man whatever is right in his own eyes.” After all, in the wilderness, sacrifices were offered in the Mishkan, and not on ‘bamot.’ Rashbam explains: “’every man whatever is right in his own eyes’ – wherever we encamp in the wilderness, there we offer sacrifices in the Mishkan, which is carried from place to place.” Thus, he draws a connection between the “right in his eyes” and the transience of the wilderness existence, such that the proximity of the Mishkan to the camp may be viewed as a similarly transient situation. During this period, a person would offer sacrifices very close to his own tent, and this proximity gives rise to a sense of “every man whatever is right in his eyes,” since he is not required to leave his place and go somewhere else.

The dimension of going to somewhere far away is sensed in the contrast that the verses present between “after all the things that we do here this day,” and the place that is to be found “there” – “to cause His Name to dwell there; there shall you bring….” Further on, this distance is emphasized even more: “When the Lord your God will enlarge your border, as He has promised you, and you will say, I will eat meat, because you long to eat meat – you may eat meat to your heart’s desire. If the place which the Lord your God has chosen to put His Name there is too far from you, then you shall kill of your herd and of your flock which the Lord has given you, as I have commanded you, and you shall eat in your gates to your heart’s desire” (12:20-21). The verse emphasizes the enlarging of the borders and the distance from the place which God chooses. Neither aspect exists during the period of the wilderness.

[4]  At the end of his life, Yehoshua sends the people off, without appointing a successor. He understands what the most pressing issue is in the mind of the people, and he directs them accordingly. National issues will now play a minor role on the personal and public agenda throughout the period of the Judges, which lasts for more than three hundred years. During this time there will be no central, structured leadership; the people will be occupied with more basic circles of life – each man with his inheritance, his family, his tribe. This stage matches the “dwelling” mentioned in our unit.

[5]  See our shiurim on Parashat Vayikra and on Parashat Bamidbar.

[6]  See our shiur on Parashat Va’etchanan.

[7]  The term “choice” in relation to the place of God’s dwelling – Jerusalem – is not mentioned during the period of David’s reign; it appears for the first time during the period of Shlomo: “And the Lord appeared to Shlomo by night, and said to him: I have heard your prayer, and I have chosen this place to Myself for a House of sacrifice. If I shut up the heaven so that there is no rain, or if I command the grasshopper to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, if My people – who are called by Name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin, and I will heal their land. Now My eyes shall be open and My ears be attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. For now I have chosen and sanctified this House, that My Name may be there forever, and My eyes and My heart shall be there perpetually.” (Divrei Ha-yamim II 7:12-18)

These verses explain the Divine choice as an acceding to Shlomo’s prayer at the inauguration of the Temple. The words “now I have chosen” indicate clearly that the choice is taking place now, rather than as a result of earlier stages.

Another source suggests the same idea: “And it came to pass, when the kohanim had come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the House of the Lord, so that the kohanim could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord had filled the House of the Lord. Then Shlomo said: The Lord said that He would dwell in the thick darkness. I have surely built You a House to dwell in, a settled place for You to abide in forever… And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, Who spoke with His mouth to David, my father, and has with His hand fulfilled it, saying, Since the day that I brought forth My people, Israel, out of Egypt, I did not choose any city out of all the tribes of Israel to build a House, that My Name might be there…” (Melakhim I 8:10-16).

[8]  Jerusalem is mentioned as the city of Malki-Tzedek, who shows his gratitude and esteem for Avraham following his victory in the war of the four kings against the five: “And Malki-Tzedek, king of Shalem, brought out bread and wine, and he was a priest of the Most High God. And he blessed him and he said, Blessed be Avram of the Most High God, Possessor of heaven and earth. And blessed be the Most High God, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand. And he gave him a tithe of everything.” (Bereishit 14:18-20).

Another context connecting Avraham to Jerusalem is the akeda, but this act of faith is recorded not in connection with the city, but rather with the region: “And He said, Take, I pray you, your son, the only one, whom you love, Yitzhak, and get you into the land of Moriah, and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell you of” (Bereishit 22:1)

[9]  The city of Jerusalem was not conquered during the time of Yehosua: “And the Yevusi, who dwelled in Jerusalem – the children of Yehuda could not drive them out, but the Yevusi dwell with the children of Yehuda in Jerusalem to this day.” (Yehoshua 15:63). The king of Jerusalem was killed in the war of the kings of the south: “And they did so, and brought out those five kings to him from the cave: the king of Jerusalem, the king of Chevron, the king of Yarmut, the king of Lakhish, the king of Eglon” (Yehoshua 10:23), and he is also mentioned in the list of the thirty-one kings who were smitten – “The king of Jerusalem – one; the king of Chevron – one” (Yehoshua 12:10), but the city itself was not conquered in that war.

[10]  One exceptional event is the conquest of Jerusalem at the beginning of the period of the Judges, but a short while later the situation changes, and the city reverts to being a pagan, Jebusite center. This can be proven from a detail in the story of the “concubine in Giv’a”: “But the man would not tarry that night, but he rose up and departed, and came over against Yevus, which is Jerusalem, and there were with him two donkeys saddled, and also his concubine was with him. And when they were by Yevus, the day was far spent, and the servant said to his master, Come, I pray you, and let us turn in into this city of the Yevusi, and we will spend the night here. But his master said to him, We will not turn aside here into the city of a stranger, that is not of the children of Israel; we will pass over to Giv’a.” (Shoftim 19:10-12)

[11]  Immediately after the description of David’s coronation by the entire nation, the text goes on to record the conquest of Jerusalem, which becomes “David’s city.” “Then all the tribes of Israel came to David, to Chevron, and spoke, saying: Behold, we are your bone and your flesh. Even in time past, when Shaul was our king, it was you who would lead Israel out and bring them in, and the Lord your God said to you, You shall be shepherd for My people Israel, and you shall be a prince over Israel. So all the elders of Israel came to the king in Chevron, and King David made a covenant with them in Chevron, before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel…  And the king and his men went to Jerusalem, to the Yevusi, the inhabitants of the land… And David took the stronghold of Tzion, which is the city of David… And David dwelled in the stronghold and called it the city of David, and David built round about from the Milo and inward.” (Shmuel II 5:1-9). A parallel account reads: “And all the elders of Israel came to the king, to Chevron, and David made a covenant with them in Chevron, before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel, according to the word of the Lord by Shmuel. And David and all Israel went to Jerusalem, which is Yevus, where the Yevusi were, the inhabitants of the land. And the inhabitants of Yevus said to David, You shall not come here. Nevertheless, David took the stronghold of Tzion, which is the city of David.” (Divrei Ha-yamim I 11:3-5)

[12]  Before David goes to Chevron, he consults with God: “Shall I go up into one of the cities of Yehuda?”, and later on, “To where shall I go up?” Here, in contrast, David does not consult the Urim ve-Tumim; he is led as though by an internal compass towards Jerusalem.

[13]  The connection among all the tribes – “of all your tribes” – is part of the fundamental contrast with the other nations, and thus it becomes a fundamental concept, denial of which is tantamount to denial of the One God. The process that comes about with rest from all the enemies, in contrast, is described as a spiritual horizon, an elevated state in the wake of which God will choose to cause His Name to dwell there.

It is also worth noting that the service of the altar, which essentially expresses man’s self-nullification before God, is portrayed here as man giving of himself or his property to God: “There you shall bring all that I command you: your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, your tithes, and the offering of your hand, and all your choice vows which you vow to the Lord” (12:11). The burnt offerings are “your burnt offerings”; the sacrifices are “your sacrifices,” “your tithes,” “the offering of your hand.” Everything is attributed and traced back to your world-view.

[14]  Chevron is a recurring theme in the lives and deaths of the forefathers, and during David’s time it was a major city in the inheritance of Yehuda. Beit El likewise occupied an important place in the lives of the forefathers. Later on, Yerav’am recognized its special qualities and importance, and treated it as an alternative to Jerusalem. Shekhem is mentioned in the period of the forefathers; Avimelekh considers it a royal city; all of Israel come to Shekhem to coronate Rechavam (Melakhim I 12), and more.

[15]  The binding of Yitzchak is recorded as taking place in the “land of Moriah… upon one of the mountains” (Bereishit 22:1), not in Jerusalem.