Torah Portion

Vezot HaBerachah

וזאת הברכה

Deuteronomy 33:1-34:12
Joshua 1:1–18

YHWH Is Enthroned at Gad’s Temple: The Site of Moses’ Tomb

YHWH Is Enthroned at Gad’s Temple: The Site of Moses’ Tomb

YHWH comes from the south to be enthroned by the tribes of Israel in Ashdot-hapisgah (Deut 33:2), a later name for the city of Nebo. The Mesha Stele records the existence of YHWH worship site, whose hieros logos is tied to the tomb of Moses, the "plot of the lawgiver" (v. 21) located in the territory of Gad.

Prof.
Alexander Rofé
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The Two Blessings of the Twelve Tribes: Varying Perspectives, Similar Function

The Two Blessings of the Twelve Tribes: Varying Perspectives, Similar Function

The Torah frames two different poetic descriptions of the tribes as the deathbed blessings of Jacob and Moses, pivotal points in Israel's history. Nevertheless, these poems express varying perspectives on the relative importance of the tribes and were once likely independent collections.

Dr.
Shira Golani
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Did Israel Always Have Twelve Tribes?

Did Israel Always Have Twelve Tribes?

The Bible presents Israel as having twelve tribes from both northern Israel and southern Judah. In older northern lists, however, the southern tribes do not appear, and the full list seems to have developed in Judah, after the destruction of Israel. Moreover, the idea that the tribes are descended from Jacob developed even later.

Dr.
Andrew Tobolowsky
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Moses’ Blessing Through the Eyes of a Karaite Poet and Commentator

Moses’ Blessing Through the Eyes of a Karaite Poet and Commentator

Aaron ben Joseph (ca. 1250–1320), a Karaite exegete from Constantinople, wrote poetry for each Torah reading. His poem for Moses’ blessing of the tribes, in conjunction with his prose commentary, Sēfer ha-miḇḥār, offer a glimpse into the world of Byzantine Karaite biblical interpretation.

Dr.
Joachim Yeshaya
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Viewing the Promised Land, Moses Looks Even at the Transjordan

Viewing the Promised Land, Moses Looks Even at the Transjordan

Several biblical passages assume that the promised land is limited to Canaan, i.e., the Cisjordan. But this view was not universally shared. Scribes who saw the Transjordan as part and parcel of it adjusted multiple passages in Deuteronomy, including the third and final take of Moses’s death, to make this episode fit their idea about the extent of the land.

Dr.
Angela Roskop Erisman
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The Unknown Yet Known Place of Moses’ Burial

The Unknown Yet Known Place of Moses’ Burial

On a mountain, in a valley, no one knows – the three traditions about where Moses is buried in Deuteronomy 34 stem from three different sources.

Dr.
David Ben-Gad HaCohen
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Mixed Blessings

Mixed Blessings

The biblical track record suggests that blessings often come with competition, resentment and strife. What kind of blessings are, indeed, blessings?

Dr.
Adriane Leveen
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Knowing My Beloved: Rebuilding My Path to Torah with Critical Scholarship

Knowing My Beloved: Rebuilding My Path to Torah with Critical Scholarship

My relationship with Torah began with the romance of mysticism but then gave way to skepticism and disillusionment. To my surprise, it was academic scholarship of the Torah that brought back the spark and helped foster a deeper, more mature relationship.

David Bar-Cohn
TheGemara.com
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TheGemara.com
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TheGemara.com

Moses Dies at the Age of 120 — Was It Premature?

Moses Dies at the Age of 120 — Was It Premature?

The end of Deuteronomy recounts that at an age of one hundred and twenty Moses says he is no longer able/allowed to lead the people’s journey and will therefore not be carrying them on to cross the Jordan (Deut 31:2). According to other places in the Torah, however, Moses dies because of a sin – his or of the people.

Dr.
Gili Kugler
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Vezot HaBerachah

וזאת הברכה

Deuteronomy 33:1-34:12

וּמֹשֶׁה בֶּן מֵאָה וְעֶשְׂרִים שָׁנָה בְּמֹתוֹ לֹא כָהֲתָה עֵינוֹ וְלֹא נָס לֵחֹה׃

דברים לד:ז

Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died; his eyes were undimmed and his vigor unabated.

Deut 34:7

Deuteronomy

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