Va’etchanan

Va’etchanan – The Ultimate Perception of the Land of Israel

In Parshat Va’etchanan God told Moshe to ascend to the top of a mountain and to “look westward, northward, southward, and eastward” (Devarim, 3:27). This was because Moshe was not granted his request to enter the land but was allowed only to see it.

A question arises when we look closer at this verse. Moshe was standing on the eastern side of the Jordan River facing west towards Israel. If so, why did God tell him to look eastward?

There are those who answer that by “eastward” the Torah means “to the eastern side of Israel”, but if this were the case then the verse should read “toward its east” which would imply the eastern side of Israel.

We can answer that when God granted Moshe permission to see the land, He allowed him to see it in its ultimate state, the land according to its final borders in messianic times. In these days the borders will stretch from the Nile River to the Euphrates as God promised Avraham (Bereishis, 15:18) and again to Moshe (Devarim, 11:24). So Moshe was in fact standing right in the middle what would become the borders of Israel in the future, and therefore he looked eastward – towards the Euphrates.

With this in mind we can answer another question: the literal translation of the word the Torah uses for “southward” by Moshe is “towards Teiman (Yemen)” whereas by Avraham the literal translation is “towards the Negev”. But now we know why. Avraham was standing in the land of Israel as it was in his day, and therefore when he faced south he was in fact facing the Negev desert. But Moshe was standing in the middle of what will become Israel in the future and therefore when he looked south he looked towards Teiman (Yemen).  
 

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