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David Frankel





How and Why Sukkot Was Linked to the Exodus





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David Frankel





How and Why Sukkot Was Linked to the Exodus








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How and Why Sukkot Was Linked to the Exodus

The scribes who wrote the addendum to the laws of Sukkot (Leviticus 23:42-43) used inner-biblical exegesis to explain the requirement to dwell in booths as a commemoration for the miraculous booths (not clouds) that God created for the Israelites at their first stop on the way to freedom.


How and Why Sukkot Was Linked to the Exodus

Sukka in the Desert, Zachi Dvira via the PikiWiki

The practice of sitting in booths on the Sukkot festival is commanded and explicated in only one passage, Leviticus 23:42-43:

כג:מב בַּסֻּכֹּ֥ת תֵּשְׁב֖וּ שִׁבְעַ֣ת יָמִ֑ים כָּל־הָֽאֶזְרָח֙ בְּיִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל יֵשְׁב֖וּ בַּסֻּכֹּֽת: כג:מגלְמַעַן֘ יֵדְע֣וּ דֹרֹֽתֵיכֶם֒ כִּ֣י בַסֻּכּ֗וֹת הוֹשַׁ֙בְתִּי֙ אֶת־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל בְּהוֹצִיאִ֥י אוֹתָ֖ם מֵאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרָ֑יִם אֲנִ֖י יְ-הֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶֽם:
23:42 You shall live in booths seven days; all citizens in Israel shall live in booths, 23:43 in order that future generations may know that I settled the Israelite people in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, I Yhwh your God.

Even though the language of this passage is clear, its meaning is not. Commentators, ancient and modern, have disagreed about the “booths” in which God settled the Israelites when they left Egypt. To what does this refer?

Shelter in the Wilderness

One common interpretation understands the verse as referring to booths that the Israelites made for themselves for shelter in the wilderness. Ibn Ezra (1089-1167), for example, states that it is “the way of camps” to construct booths for shelter. He further states:

ומימות תשרי החלו לעשות סוכות בעבור הקור.
From the time of the month of Tishrei they began to set up booths for protection from the cold.

In other words, the booths were constructed by the Israelites for shelter throughout the long winter months.[1] Ibn Ezra assumes that the Israelites took down their booths and reassembled them each time they moved from one station to the next. The yearly reenactment of this situation by Israel is limited to the beginning of the rainy season, when the booths of the wilderness period were first set up.

A similar position is advocated by Rashbam (c. 1085-1158), who explains that the practice of sitting in booths recalls the difficult conditions in which the Israelites lived during the forty years of wilderness wandering, so that the later day Israelites may appreciate the houses and estates that God provided for them in the land.[2]

Modern commentators also follow this approach. For example, Martin Noth writes that the booths “were to be a reminder of the tents improvised with staves and tent-cloth by the nomadic shepherds.”[3]

Problems with the Shelter Explanation

This popular interpretation entails several difficulties.

Tents are not Booths

First, the Israelites of the wilderness period were not said to have lived in “booths” but in “tents.” For example, in Numbers 11:10 we read that Moses heard the Israelite families weeping איש לפתח אהלו, each one at the door of his tent. A tent is not the same thing as a booth. Genesis 33:17 narrates that Jacob made booths for his cattle (וּלְמִקְנֵ֙הוּ֙ עָשָׂ֣ה סֻכֹּ֔ת); he certainly wouldn’t have put them in tents! Had the goal of the law been reliving the difficult living conditions of the wilderness period, it would have commanded that the Israelites live in tents for seven days.

God Built the Booths

Another difficulty with this approach is that it fits poorly with the language of הושבתי את בני ישראל, “I settled the Israelites.” This sounds like it is referring to a divine act that was carried out on behalf of the Israelites. Particularly instructive is the parallel between our passage, and the command in Exodus 16:32 to preserve a flask of manna in the sanctuary.

Command to Build Booths (Leviticus)

כג:מג לְמַעַן֘ יֵדְע֣וּ דֹרֹֽתֵיכֶם֒ כִּ֣י בַסֻּכּ֗וֹת הוֹשַׁ֙בְתִּי֙ אֶת־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל בְּהוֹצִיאִ֥י אוֹתָ֖ם מֵאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרָ֑יִם אֲנִ֖י יְ-הֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶֽם:
23:43 in order that future generations may know that I settledthe Israelite people in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, I Yhwh your God.

Command to Preserve a Jar of Manna (Exodus)

טז:לב …מְלֹ֤א הָעֹ֙מֶר֙ מִמֶּ֔נּוּ לְמִשְׁמֶ֖רֶת לְדֹרֹתֵיכֶ֑ם לְמַ֣עַן׀ יִרְא֣וּ אֶת־הַלֶּ֗חֶם אֲשֶׁ֨ר הֶאֱכַ֤לְתִּי אֶתְכֶם֙ בַּמִּדְבָּ֔ר בְּהוֹצִיאִ֥י אֶתְכֶ֖ם מֵאֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרָֽיִם:
16:32 Let one omer of it be kept for future generations, in order that they may see the bread that I fed you in the wildernesswhen I brought you out from the land of Egypt.”

Just as האכלתי (“I fed”) refers to a miraculous divine act of benevolence, so הושבתי (I caused you to dwell) should refer to a miraculous divine act of benevolence. The generations must forever recall God’s graciousness in the wilderness; the image of Israelites being forced to construct booths for themselves for protection from the cold does not fit with this concept.

The Clouds of Glory

The problem just noted explains why many traditional commentators understand the verse as referring to the cloud(s) that accompanied the Israelites throughout the wilderness journey, offering them protection.[4] This interpretation is suggested by Rabbi Akiva (Sifra, “Emor”17:11; Mekhilta, “Bo”, 14) and is adopted by Onkelos, Rashi, Ramban, and others. Ramban cites Isaiah 4:5-6 in support of the identification between the word סוכה (usually rendered “booth”) and ענן, cloud:

ד:ה וּבָרָ֣א יְ-הֹוָ֡ה עַל֩ כָּל מְכ֨וֹן הַר צִיּ֜וֹן וְעַל מִקְרָאֶ֗הָ עָנָ֤ן׀ יוֹמָם֙ וְעָשָׁ֔ן וְנֹ֛גַהּ אֵ֥שׁ לֶהָבָ֖ה לָ֑יְלָה כִּ֥י עַל כָּל כָּב֖וֹד חֻפָּֽה: ד:ו וְסֻכָּ֛ה תִּהְיֶ֥ה לְצֵל יוֹמָ֖ם מֵחֹ֑רֶב וּלְמַחְסֶה֙ וּלְמִסְתּ֔וֹר מִזֶּ֖רֶם וּמִמָּטָֽר:
4:5 Yhwh will create over the whole shrine and meeting place of Mount Zion a cloud by day and smoke with a glow of flaming fire by night. 4:6 Indeed over all (his?) shrine shall hang a canopy, which shall serve as a סוכה for shade from heat by day and for shelter and protection against drenching rain.

Isaiah seems to envision a time when the cloud and fire pillars of the wilderness period will function again for the Israelites, but in the city of Zion rather than the wilderness. This text thus suggests that the word סוכה can be applied to a protective cloud.

Problems with the Cloud Explanation

In spite of the suggestive passage cited by Ramban, the interpretation is strained.

Cloud Not Described as Protective

The protective function of the wilderness cloud is hardly mentioned in the Torah texts. Usually, the cloud is said to have gone before the Israelites, leading them on their journey (Exodus 13:21—22; Numbers 14:14; Deuteronomy 1:33), or to have hovered above thetabernacle (Exodus 40:34-38; Numbers 9:15-23), not the people. Though such texts as Numbers 10:34, “and Yhwh’s cloud kept above them by day, as they moved on from camp” (וענן י-הוה עליהם יומם בנסעם מן המחנה; cf. also Numbers 14:14) might suggest that the cloud hovered over Israel, it may instead simply indicate that the cloud was “with” them rather than “above” them.[5] In any event, no narrative elaborates how the Israelites were shielded from sun and rain by a hovering cloud.

Booths Are not Clouds

And while the passage cited by Ramban shows that a cloud can serve as a protective covering, this does not indicate that the word סוכה may be used as a synonym for ענן. Booths are not terribly evocative of clouds. It makes much more sense to assume that dwelling in booths is meant to recall dwelling in booths, not under clouds.

Dwelling in Booths that God Built

In my opinion, the commentator who came closest to the “peshat” of our passage was Rabbi Naphtali Herz (Hartwig) Wessely (1725-1805) in his commentary on Leviticus (which appeared as part of Moses Mendelssohn’s famous “Biur,” which consisted of a German translation plus a Hebrew commentary). Wessely correctly recognizes that our passage must refer to a miraculous divine act, as indicated by the language of הושבתי. He also recognizes that word סכות must refer to actual booths, not the wilderness cloud. Thus, the passage states that we must dwell in booths in commemoration of the gracious and miraculous divine provision of booths at the time of the exodus. When did this occur? Rabbi Wessely suggests that this is the meaning of the verses which reference the first stop on the way from Egypt during the exodus as Sukkot.

יב:לז וַיִּסְע֧וּ בְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֛ל מֵרַעְמְסֵ֖ס סֻכֹּ֑תָה כְּשֵׁשׁ־מֵא֨וֹת אֶ֧לֶף רַגְלִ֛י הַגְּבָרִ֖ים לְבַ֥ד מִטָּֽף:
The Israelites set out from Raamses to Sukkot, about six hundred thousand men on foot, aside from children. (Exodus 12:37)
יג:כ וַיִּסְע֖וּ מִסֻּכֹּ֑ת וַיַּחֲנ֣וּ בְאֵתָ֔ם בִּקְצֵ֖ה הַמִּדְבָּֽר:
They set out from Sukkot/sukkot and encamped in Eitam at the edge of the wilderness. (Exodus 13:20)
לג:ה וַיִּסְע֥וּ בְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מֵרַעְמְסֵ֑ס וַֽיַּחֲנ֖וּ בְּסֻכֹּֽת:
The Israelites set out from Rameses and encamped at Sukkot/in sukkot. (Numbers 33:5)

Rabbi Wessely suggests that the place was called Sukkot because God miraculously covered the Israelites with booths on their way out of Egypt, before the clouds of glory took over the job of protecting Israel from the elements. (See appendix for the full text)

I believe that Rabbi Wessely was on the right track, but since he was still working with the idea of a unified text, he could not make what I think is the final interpretive move. In my view, it isn’t that the texts in Exodus and Numbers were speaking about booths but that the author of Leviticus 23:43 interpreted the verses this way.

To explain this point better, I must say a few words about a literary phenomenon of which Rabbi Wessely was almost certainly unaware, “inner biblical exegesis.”[6]

Inner-Biblical Exegesis: An Excursus

We all know that commentators interpret the biblical text. What scholars today have increasingly come to recognize is that the process of interpretation can be found within the biblical text itself. In other words, a scribe or author within the biblical text can attempt to explicate or clarify an earlier biblical text. One famous example of this phenomenon is how Chronicles creatively interwove two contradictory versions of the Korban Pesach laws, those of Deuteronomy and Exodus, and through some creative readings, made them cohere.[7]

Sometimes there can be a textual distance between the interpreted text and the interpreting text while at other times they may be found in close juxtaposition. The full significance of a biblical text can often be missed if we do not realize that it actually interprets another text.

Reinterpreting the Name of a City: Inner-Biblical Exegesis Approach

In light of this phenomenon, I would suggest that our passage in Leviticus about how God settled the Israelites in booths when he took them out of Egypt is a midrash-like exegesis of the texts in Exodus and Numbers.

The Midrashic Technique of Name Derivation

In reality, Sukkot is probably a Hebraisation of the Egyptian name Tjeku(t), the term the Egyptians used to refer to the area in the Nile Delta in which the city of Pitom was found.[8] The author of Leviticus, however, related to the term as a Hebrew name with a Hebrew meaning. Although the simple interpretation of the verse is that they encamped in a place called Sukkot, in Hebrew there is no capital letter to mark the term as a geographical name. The author of the Leviticus passage understood this text to mean, “the Israelites journeyed from Ramses and encamped in booths (sukkot).”

But that is not all. I don’t mean to suggest that the author of Leviticus thought Sukkot was not a place name at all and merely a reference to booths. Rather, the author of the Leviticus passage employed the kind of exegesis that is found throughout the Bible and post-biblical literature, that of “name-derivation.”[9] The place was called Sukkot, he surmised, by the Israelites after the fact, because God provided them with booths in which to take shelter when they were fleeing Egypt.

Name Derivations in the Bible

Most name-derivations are explicit. Pharaoh’s daughter called Moses משה because she said מן המים משיתיהו, “I drew him out of the water” (Exodus 2:10), and Moses called his son גרשם because he said גר הייתי בארץ נכריה, “I was a stranger in a foreign land” (Exodus 2:22). Often, however, the name-derivations are only hinted at. For example, the continued emphasis on the fact that Lot “escapes” from Sodom (להמלט; Genesis 19:17, 19, 20, 22) reflects an implicit interpretation of לוט as the escapee.

In the case of our passage in Leviticus, the name-derivation is similarly implicit. The interpreting passage in Leviticus is not linked directly to the interpreted text in Numbers 33 (and Exodus 12), and there is no explicit statement such as על כן קרא שמה סוכות, “that is why the place is called Sukkot,” a formula that is often, but not always, supplied (cf., e.g., Genesis 21:31; 25:30).

Jacob Builds a Sukkah and Names the Place Sukkot in Transjordan

In spite of this, the exegetical character of the Leviticus passage is plausible. In all likelihood, the decision to interpret the Numbers passage in this manner was influenced by Genesis 33:17 (and R. Wessely called attention to this passage as well),

וְיַעֲקֹב֙ נָסַ֣ע סֻכֹּ֔תָה וַיִּ֥בֶן ל֖וֹ בָּ֑יִת וּלְמִקְנֵ֙הוּ֙ עָשָׂ֣ה סֻכֹּ֔ת עַל־כֵּ֛ן קָרָ֥א שֵׁם־הַמָּק֖וֹם סֻכּֽוֹת:
Jacob travelled to Sukkot and built himself a house; and for his cattle he made booths (sukkot). That’s why he called the name of the place Sukkot.

If the Sukkot of the Transjordan was called by its name because of the building of booths – reasoned the author of the Leviticus passage – a similar circumstance probably accounts for the name of the Sukkot in the area of Egypt.

Of course, the passage in Leviticus not only offers a subtle interpretation of the text in Numbers concerning Israelite encampment at Sukkot. It also offers an interpretation of the practice of dwelling in booths on the festival of Sukkot. This is done, says our passage, in order to remember Israel’s dwelling in boths when they left Rameses.

The Historical Impetus for the New Biblical Midrash: Expanding the Role of the Exodus

The question is, why did the author of Leviticus offer such a strange interpretation for the practice of dwelling in booths on Sukkot? No text explicitly states that God provided the Israelites with booths at Sukkot. Furthermore, the timing is off: The journey from Rameses to Sukkot occurred at the time of the exodus, in Nissan, and not in Tishrei, when we actually sit in booths. Nor can we assume that the Israelites stayed at Sukkot for seven days. Why didn’t the Leviticus passage offer a better explanation for the practice?

In a different TABS essay, “Exodus: Not the Only Tradition about Israel’s Past,” I argue that the exodus tradition was not always the central story or “myth” of ancient Israel concerning the formation of the nation that it eventually became.[10] This centrality was achieved gradually, as some traditions were silenced or marginalized and others became interpreted in relation to the exodus.

One place where we see clear evidence of the encroachment of the exodus tradition is in the Torah’s treatment of the festivals, as I argue in yet another TABS essay, “Integrating the Exodus Story into the Festivals.” The exiles of Israel and Judah certainly contributed to this development.

Narratives about the foundation of the nation that focused on the centrality of the land or kingship or the temple would have lost much credibility and relevance at this time. The exodus from Egypt, however, was not undermined by the calamities of destruction and could serve Israel’s new needs well.

Going back to the Torah to Find Meaning: Inner-Biblical Exegesis on Sukkot

Originally, the dwelling in booths during the harvest festival was likely rooted in early agricultural practices, where these booths allowed the farmers to guard their produce at night, and to begin working in the fields first thing in the morning, so that the crop could be gathered before the rainy season began (see e.g. Isa 1:8). With destruction and exile, this reason for dwelling in booths was lost. Since the exodus was becoming the major theme of the developing religion, some connection was sought between the practice of sitting in booths on Sukkot and the exodus from Egypt.

Scripture was scanned and scrutinized in search of this connection, and this led to the ingenious interpretation offered by our Leviticus passage. We must sit in booths, it was argued, in order to recall the shelter and care that God provided us with when we left Egypt, as related in Numbers 33!

In essence, this development is similar to that which is found with regard to other practices, such as the Sabbath. Only at a late stage was the Sabbath interpreted as a reminder of the divine grace of the exodus from slavery (Deuteronomy 5:15). Here, too, the new exegesis was based on an earlier biblical text that already emphasized that workers are to rest on the Sabbath (cf. Exodus 23:12).

A Late Passage: Limited Changes

Scholars have long noted that the passage about building a sukkah is particularly late. It is the second in a series of two addenda to the holiday list in Lev 23 (the first has to do with the four species).[11] Its lateness is clear both from textual clues, as well as from a story in Nehemiah in which Ezra reads this passage of the Torah to the people and they react with shock.[12]Afterwards, when they build sukkot, the text relates that nothing like this had ever been done since the time of Joshua. In other words, the people had never heard of this practice before.

The lateness of the passage helps explain why Scripture offers no hint of this miracle elsewhere. The scribes who came up with the midrashic miracle came too late to make multiple major changes in the text. Just as Second Temple and rabbinic authors did with the miracles they discovered through midrash in the text, such as Miriam’s wandering well, or the hundreds of plagues that were said to have taken place at the sea (cf. the famous passage in the Passover Haggada), these scribes needed to rely purely on the midrashic process and the verses upon which they hooked their new understandings.[13]

Do Midrashic Miraculous Booths Need an Explanation?

How did the author of the Leviticus passage conceive the miracle of the divine provision of booths at Sukkot? Rabbi Wessely raises the possibility that the verse indicates that God miraculously provided a wealth of vegetation in the area with which to shade the Israelites; similar to Jonah and the kikayon plant but on a massive scale.

This may be what Leviticus envisions, but I don’t think we were meant to ponder just how God manufactured the booths. If God could make houses for the midwives in Egypt (ויעש להם בתים; Exodus 1:21), or greet the twelve tribes and seventy elders of Israel with twelve springs and seventy palm trees at Elim (Exodus 15:27), he could surely manage to prepare huts for the Israelites at Sukkot. In any event, utilizing a midrashic approach, the scribes who appended this law to the end of the holiday rules in Leviticus 23 produced a new significance for the practice of dwelling in booths on Sukkot: commemoration for God’s miraculous provision of booths at Israel’s first stop in their exodus from Egypt, the Egyptian city of Sukkot.”


Rabbi Wessely Commentary in the Biur

ואגיד לך דעתי, ידענו שדרך התורה בספורים לקצר במקום אחד ולפרש במקום אחר. וחשבתי שבליל צאת צבאות ה’ בשעה אחת ממצרים והיו [מ]פוזרים במקומות רבות בגשן ובמצרים יחד להם משה מקום על פי ה’ יתאספו שמה כלם אלה מפה ואלה מפה, והמקום ההוא היה סכות.
I will tell you my opinion. We know that the Torah’s way is to be terse in one place and detailed in another. I think that on the night when God came out for one hour, and [the Israelites] were spread out in many places throughout Goshen and Egypt, Moses, in God’s name, gathered them all in one place that they could all be together, some from here and some from there, and that place was Sukkot.
על זה כתוב “ויסעו מרעמסס סכתה כשש מאות אלף רגלי הגברים לבד מטף” (שמות יב:לז), ושב על סכתה כי לשם נסעו כלם, וביום שלאחריו כתוב “ויסעו מסכות ויחנו באיתם וכו'” ואז נאמר “וה’ הולך לפניהם” (יב:כח, כב)
This is the meaning of the verse (Exod 12:37): “And the set out from Rameses towards Sukkot, around six hundred thousand male foot soldiers not including minors.” And it references Sukkot because that is where they all went, and on the next day it says “and they set out from Sukkot and encamped in Etam…” And then it says “and God walked before them.”
אבל במסע הראשון בלילה ישבו בצל סכות, וכאן פירש הדבר “כי בסכות הושבתי את בני ישראל” ומבאר אימתי היתה זאת, ואמר בהוציאי אותם מארץ מצרים בליל טו כשיצאו, לא במדבר כי שם היה הענן עליהם, ואין סכתה שם מקום או כבר במדינת מצרים אבל חנו על פני השדה ומשה קוראו סכות על שם הסכות שנהיו שם,
In their first trip, however, they sat in the shade of booths (sukkot). This is the meaning of the phrase “for I placed Israel in booths,” and it explains when this happened, for it says ‘when I took them out of Egypt,’ on the night of the fifteenth when they left, not in the wilderness, for there they had the cloud upon them. Thus, Sukkot is not the name of a place or a district in the land of Egypt, rather they encamped on the fields, and Moses called it Sukkot because of the booths they built there.
ודומה לו “ויעקב נסע סכתה ויבן לו בית ולמקנהו עשה סכות (בראשית לג:יז) חנה על פני השדה והכתוב קראו סכות על שם הסכות שעשה שם יעקב, וראיה “על כן קרא שם המקום סכות.”…
Similar to this we have, “Jacob set out for Sukkot and he built himself a house and for his cattle he built booths” (Gen 33:17). He encamped upon the field but scripture called the place Sukkot because of the booths he built there, and the proof for this is in the verse itself, “for this reason he called the name of the place Sukkot.”…[14]
אלא שיש לשאול מאין היו סכות בליל זה לת”ר אלף בני אדם מלבד נשים והטף? ואין הדעת סובלת שעשו להם סכות בלילה אחת ולמחר נסעו משם לאיתם! ההוא סכות לאיזו צורך? ועוד מאין להם במקום ההוא כל כך צמחים לכסות בהן סוכות הרבה כאלו?
But we must ask: where did these booths come from that night, that there were enough to cover six hundred thousand men, not including women and children? It makes no sense that they would have built these booths for one night only and the next day continue on to Etam! For what purpose were these booths made? Moreover, where would they get enough vegetation in that place to make so many booths?
אולי נעשו במקום ההוא סכות לאיזו צורך, אפשר לחיילותיו של מלך שהסתופפו תחתיהן קודם לכן, או אלו אפשר שהצמיחם השם בדרך פלא באותו הלילה שינוחו גאולים תחתיהן, והיו מכל מיני צמחים הנותנים ריח שדרכן להמצא בעת האסיף.
Perhaps the booths were there already for some purpose, maybe the kings soldiers would sit underneath them for shade. Or, perhaps, God grew them from the ground in some marvelous way that night so that the redeemed could rest beneath them. And they were made of all different kinds of good-smelling plants,[15] which generally grow during harvest season.
ולזכר נס זה מצות סוכה בעת האסיף שנמצאים בעת ההיא כל מיני צמחים ופסולת גרן ויקב, מסכים ללשון הושבתי את בני ישראל שנופל על נס שעשה השם עמהם, ונקל בעיני ה’ לעשות כן, וקיקיון של יונה יוכיח, ובגאולה האחרונה מפורש, “אתן במדבר ארז שטה וכו” (ישעיה מא:יט).
In memory of this miracle, the commandment to build the sukkah falls in during the harvest season, for it is then that all different types of plants are available, and the waste of grain and wineries. This fits well with the language “and I caused them to dwell in booths,” which implies something miraculous that God did for them, and it would be easy in God’s eyes to do this, and the story of Jonah and the kikayon plant amply demonstrates this point, and in reference to the final redemption scripture states (Isa 41:19), “I will plant cedars in the wilderness, acacias, etc.”
ואם לא נזכר נס זה בתורה עם יציאת מצרים, נזכר כאן מפורש “כי בסכות הושבתי וגו’,” המלמדני פרוש “סכתה” האמור להלן. וכן דרכה של תורה, שהרי זכרה בספור דברים “שמלתך לא בלתה מעליך ורגלך לא בצקה זה ארבעים שנה” (דברים ח:ד). ולא נזכר קודם לכן.
And even though this miracle is not mentioned in the Torah (explicitly) as part of the exodus from Egypt story, it is referenced here (in Leviticus) explicitly, “for I caused them to dwell in booths, etc.,” which explains to me the meaning of the term “to sukkot” that appears later. And this is the way of the Torah, for as [Moses] tells the story [of the wilderness, he says (Deut 8:4)]: “The clothes upon you did not wear out, neither did your feet swell these forty years.” But this was not referenced previously.


September 27, 2015


Last Updated

January 21, 2024


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Prof. Rabbi David Frankel is Associate Professor of Bible at the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem, where he teaches M.A. and rabbinical students. He did his Ph.D. at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem under the direction of Prof. Moshe Weinfeld, and is the author or The Murmuring Stories of the Priestly School (VTSupp 89) and The Land of Canaan and the Destiny of Israel (Eisenbrauns).