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Mass'ey (journeys of)

Numbers 33:1 to 36:13, Jeremiah 2:4-28, 3:4, and 4:1-2


Verse 34:7-8 mentions Mount Hor, "Har Ha'har", the "Mount of Mounts". This phrase could be interpreted as "Hor of the mount", in other words "the city named Hor at the base of the mountain named Hor". But it appeared in verse 20:25 in which it clearly refered only to the mountain.

Note that chapter 34 gives borders of the portion of the Promised Land to be divided by lot, inherited by ancestry, and affected by yovel years (v.2, 29). The entire Promised Land is much bigger (Exodus 23:31).

Messianic Rabbi Yaakov Farber notes that Matthew's geneology of Yeshua, focusing on Yosef's lineage, has the messianic lineage end at the cursed king King Yekhanyah (see Jeremiah 22:24-30). Luke's geneology, focusing on Miryam's lineage, allows a continued messianic lineage only because Miryam married within her tribe and thus preserved her inheritance.

Traditional Jewish Commentary

The Torah records all 42 locations of encampment during the Exodus. Where we are living matters to God. When we visit the places named, we should thank God for supporting the Israelites there.

The Ba'al ha'Turim taught that the Desert of Sin was called by that name until the giving of the Ten Commandments. Then, to commemorate that event, a letter yud (of numberical value 10) was added to the name, which thus became the Desert of Sinai. He uses verse 33:11 to support this teaching. R. Biachyei disagrees, and uses Exodus 16:1 to support his view.

Miryam, Aharon, and Moshe did not have large feunerals and eloquent eulogies. But God was with them as they died. From this we learn that it is okay to even die alone if we die in service to God—tradition says God himself buried Moshe.

The writing of these details gives us faith to believe that just as Hashem saved us from the elements of the desert, a most inhospitable and dangerous place, so too, he will take us out of our present exile. If one were to raise the concern that we are not worthy of being redeemed, verse 33:1 ends with, "b'yad Moshe v'Aharon." Just as Hashem redeemed them in the merit of the two great leaders, Moshe and Aharon, so too, Hashem will redeem us through both Moshiach ben Yosef and Moshiach ben David. (Tzror Hamor)

The sages provide three reasons that an unintentional murder must remain in a city of refuge until the High Priest dies. First, the High Priest should have prayed more that no murder would happen in Israel, and is now punished by having someone eager for his death. Second, the High Priest is responsible for bringing God's presence upon Israel, but a murder makes God desire to withdraw his presence from Israel; just as the High Priest is stuck with his job until he dies, so the accidental murderer must be stuck for the same amount of time. Third, the family of the person killed would one day think, "If God has decreed that the High Priest, who was so worthy, should die, how can we retain our anger that our relative was also fated to die?" and thus forgive the accidental murderer.