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Joshua 10:1
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Just as the kings of Egypt were all called “Pharaoh” and the kings of the Philistines were called “Avimelech,” the Radak informs us that the kings of Jerusalem were all called either Adoni-Tzedek (master of righteousness) or Malki-Tzedek (king of righteousness, as in Genesis 14:18). This is because Jerusalem is known as the place of […]
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This familiar verse doesn’t appear in the Torah, so it actually isn’t a verse at all! And yet we recite it in between the verses of Shema (Deut. 6:4) and v’ahavta (Deut. 6:5 – so perhaps we should consider it Deut. 6:4 ½!). The midrash in Devarim Rabbah 2:25 tells us that when Moshe visited […]
Ruth 4:20
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The last five verses of Ruth detail the generations from Peretz to David. The Ibn Ezra wants to calculate how many years it was from the Exodus to the birth of David. If we assume that Nachshon was under the age of 20 when he left Egypt, he could have entered Israel. If so, that […]
Psalms 116:11
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This verse may be familiar as part of Hallel. Rashi tells us that it refers to the incident in I Samuel chapter 23, wherein David was almost captured by Saul and his army. David was upset that the prophet Shmuel, who anointed him, said that David would eventually be king – clearly a lie! When […]
Ezekiel 40:1
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The tenth day of the month? But everyone knows that Rosh Hashana is on the first day of the month! Actually, the Talmud in Arachin (12a) explains that this was during Yoveil – the Jubilee year. Yoveil has special rules, like land reverts to its original owners and slaves go free. The special rules of […]
Joshua 5:13
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In the next verse, the man with the sword identifies himself as an angel, an officer in the Heavenly army. The Talmud in Eiruvin (63b) tells us that the angel chastised Joshua for being so preoccupied with preparing for the battle of Jericho that he neglected his Torah studies. Before the battle of Ai, Joshua […]
Exodus 34:7
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As familiar as this verse is, parts of it are obscure and even appear contradictory. In his Aramaic translation, Onkelos clarifies it with insertions to fill in the gaps. He renders this verse: “(G-d) extends mercy to the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin. He cleanses those who return to His Torah; He […]
Proverbs 6:23
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The context, as we see from the previous verse, is the protection that one receives in the Next World from the merits that he earned in this world. The Talmud in Sotah (21a) explains that the merit of a mitzvah is like a candle – it will light one’s way but only for so long. […]
Psalms 14:1
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The commentators see in this Psalm a prophecy of Nebuchadnezzar, who destroyed the Temple. The Metzudas David explains that Nebuchadnezzar acted as he did because he did not believe that G-d exists. The plural “they” in the second part refers to Nebuchadnezzar, plus the nation that followed him. The Psalm speaks in the past tense […]
Habakkuk 1:1
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The text gives us no biographical information about the prophet Habakkuk (Chavakuk). The Zohar on parshas Beshalach cites a tradition that Habakkuk is the son that the Shunamite woman gave birth to after being blessed by the prophet Elisha. Elisha told her, “Next year at this time, you will embrace a son” (2 Kings 4:16). […]