Shlach, Shelach, Sh'lah, Shlach Lecha, or Sh’lah L’kha (שְׁלַח or שְׁלַח-לְךָ — Hebrew for "send”, “send to you”, or "send for yourself") is the 37th weekly Torah portion (פָּרָשָׁה, parashah) in the annual Jewish cycle of Torah reading and the fourth in the book of Numbers. Its name comes from the first distinctive words in the parashah, in Numbers 13:2. Shelach (שְׁלַח) is the sixth and lecha (לְךָ) is the seventh word in the parashah.
It constitutes Numbers 13:1–15:41. The parashah is made up of 5,820 Hebrew letters, 1,540 Hebrew words, and 119 verses, and can occupy about 198 lines in a Torah Scroll (סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה, Sefer Torah).
Jews generally read it in June.
- 1 Readings
- 2 In ancient parallels
- 3 In classical rabbinic interpretation
- 4 In medieval rabbinic interpretation
- 5 In modern interpretation
- 6 Commandments
- 7 In the liturgy
- 8 The Weekly Maqam
- 9 Haftarah
- 10 Further reading
- 11 External links
- 12 Notes
First reading — Numbers 13:1–20
In the first reading (עליה, aliyah), God told Moses to send one chieftain from each of the 12 tribes of Israel to scout the land of Canaan, and Moses sent them out from the wilderness of Paran. Among the scouts were Caleb son of Jephunneh from the Tribe of Judah and Hosea son of Nun from the Tribe of Ephraim. Moses changed Hosea’s name to Joshua.
Second reading — Numbers 13:21–14:7
In the second reading (עליה, aliyah), they scouted the land as far as Hebron. At the wadi Eshcol, they cut down a branch with a single cluster of grapes so large that it had to be borne on a carrying frame by two of them, as well as some pomegranates and figs. At the end of 40 days, they returned and reported to Moses, Aaron, and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh saying that the land did indeed flow with milk and honey, but that the people who inhabited it were powerful, the cities were fortified and very large, and that they saw the Anakites there. Caleb hushed the people and urged the people to go up and take the land. But the other scouts spread calumnies about the land, calling it “one that devours its settlers.” They reported that the land’s people were giants and stronger than the Israelites. The whole community broke into crying, railed against Moses and Aaron, and shouted: “If only we might die in this wilderness!” Moses and Aaron fell on their faces, and Joshua and Caleb rent their clothes.
Third reading — Numbers 14:8–25
In the third reading (עליה, aliyah), Joshua and Caleb exhorted the Israelites not to fear and not to rebel against God. Just as the community threatened to pelt them with stones, God’s Presence appeared in the Tabernacle. God complained to Moses: “How long will this people spurn Me,” and threatened to strike them with pestilence and make of Moses a nation more numerous than they. But Moses told God to think of what the Egyptians would think when they heard the news, and how they would think God powerless to bring the Israelites to the Promised Land. Moses asked God to forbear, quoting God’s self-description as “slow to anger and abounding in kindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression.” In response, God pardoned, but also swore that none of the men who had seen God’s signs would see the Promised Land, except Caleb and Joshua.
Fourth reading — Numbers 14:26–15:7
In the fourth reading (עליה, aliyah), God swore that all of the men 20 years old and up, except Caleb and Joshua, would die in the wilderness. God said that the Israelites’ children would enter the Promised Land after roaming the wilderness, suffering for the faithlessness of the present generation, for 40 years, corresponding to the number of days that the scouts scouted the land. The scouts other than Caleb and Joshua died of plague. Early the next morning, the Israelites set out to the Promised Land, but Moses told them that they would not succeed without God in their midst. But they marched forward anyway, and the Amalekites and the Canaanites dealt them a shattering blow at Hormah. God told Moses to tell Israelites that when they entered the Promised Land and would present an offering to God, the person presenting the offering was also to bring flour mixed with oil and wine.
Fifth reading — Numbers 15:8–16
In the fifth reading (עליה, aliyah), God told Moses to tell Israelites that when they would present a bull for a burnt offering to God, the person presenting the offering was also to bring flour mixed with oil and wine. And when a resident alien wanted to present an offering, the same law would apply.
Sixth reading — Numbers 15:17–26
In the sixth reading (עליה, aliyah), when the Israelites ate bread of the land, they were to set the first loaf aside as a gift to God. If the community unwittingly failed to observe any commandment, the community was to present one bull as a burnt offering with its proper meal offering and wine, and one he-goat as a sin offering, and the priest would make expiation for the whole community and they would be forgiven.
Seventh reading — Numbers 15:27–41
In the seventh reading (עליה, aliyah), if an individual sinned unwittingly, the individual was to offer a she-goat in its first year as a sin offering, and the priest would make expiation that the individual might be forgiven. But the person who violated a commandment defiantly was to be cut off from among his people. Once the Israelites came upon a man gathering wood on the Sabbath day, and they brought him before Moses, Aaron, and the community and placed him in custody. God told Moses that the whole community was to pelt him with stones outside the camp, so they did so. God told Moses to instruct the Israelites to make for themselves fringes (צִיצִת, tzitzit) on each of the corners of their garments. They were to look at the fringes, recall the commandments, and observe them.
In ancient parallels
The parashah has parallels in these ancient sources:
Numbers chapter 13
Numbers 13:22 and 28 refer to the “children of Anak” (יְלִדֵי הָעֲנָק, yelidei ha-anak), Numbers 13:33 refers to the “sons of Anak” (בְּנֵי עֲנָק, benei anak), and Deuteronomy 1:28, 2:10–11, 2:21, and 9:2 refer to the “Anakim” (עֲנָקִים). John A. Wilson suggested that the Anakim may be related to the Iy-‘anaq geographic region named in Middle Kingdom Egyptian (19th to 18th century BCE) pottery bowls that had been inscribed with the names of enemies and then shattered as a kind of curse.
In classical rabbinic interpretation
Numbers chapter 13
Resh Lakish interpreted the words “Send you” in Numbers 13:2 to indicate that God gave Moses discretion over whether to send the spies. Resh Lakish read Moses’ recollection of the matter in Deuteronomy 1:23 that “the thing pleased me well” to mean that agreeing to send the spies pleased Moses well but not God.
Rabbi Isaac said that the spies’ names betrayed their lack of faith, and that Sethur’s name (in Numbers 13:13) meant that he undermined (sathar) the works of God. And Rabbi Johanan said that the name of Nahbi the son of Vophsi (in Numbers 13:14) meant that he hid (hikbi) God’s words.
Rava noted that Numbers 13:22 literally reads “they went up into the South, and he came to Hebron,” and deduced from the change in the number of the pronoun that Caleb separated himself from the spies’ plan and prostrated himself in prayer on the graves of the patriarchs in Hebron.
Interpreting the names Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai in Numbers 13:22, a Baraita taught that Ahiman was the most skilful of the brothers, Sheshai turned the ground on which he stepped into pits, and Talmai turned the ground into ridges when he walked. It was also taught that Ahiman built Anath, Sheshai built Alush, and Talmai built Talbush. They were called “the children of Anak” (the giant) because they seemed so tall that they would reach the sun.
A Baraita interpreted the words “and Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt” in Numbers 13:22 to mean that Hebron was seven times as fertile as Zoan. The Baraita rejected the plain meaning of “built,” reasoning that Ham would not build a house for his younger son Canaan (in whose land was Hebron) before he built one for his elder son Mizraim (in whose land was Zoan, and Genesis 10:6 lists (presumably in order of birth) “the sons of Ham: Cush, and Mizraim, and Put, and Canaan.” The Baraita also taught that among all the nations, there was none more fertile than Egypt, for Genesis 13:10 says, “Like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt.” And there was no more fertile spot in Egypt than Zoan, where kings lived, for Isaiah 30:4 says of Pharaoh, “his princes are at Zoan.” And in all of Israel, there was no more rocky ground than that at Hebron, which is why the Patriarchs buried their dead there, as reported in Genesis 49:31. But rocky Hebron was still seven times as fertile as lush Zoan.
The Gemara interpreted the words “between two” in Numbers 13:23 to teach that the scouts carried the large cluster of grape on two staffs. Rabbi Isaac said that the scouts carried the grapes with a series of balancing poles. The Gemara explained that eight spies carried the grape-cluster, one carried a pomegranate, one carried a fig, and Joshua and Caleb did not carry anything, either because they were the most distinguished of them, or because they did not share in the plan to discourage the Israelites.
Rabbi Johanan said in the name of Rabbi Simeon ben Yohai that the words “And they went and came to Moses” in Numbers 13:26 equated the going with the coming back, indicating that just as they came back with an evil design, they had set out with an evil design.
The Gemara reported a number of Rabbis’ reports of how the Land of Israel did indeed flow with “milk and honey,” as described in Exodus 3:8 and 17, 13:5, and 33:3, Leviticus 20:24, Numbers 13:27 and 14:8, and Deuteronomy 6:3, 11:9, 26:9 and 15, 27:3, and 31:20. Once when Rami bar Ezekiel visited Bnei Brak, he saw goats grazing under fig trees while honey was flowing from the figs, and milk dripped from the goats mingling with the fig honey, causing him to remark that it was indeed a land flowing with milk and honey. Rabbi Jacob ben Dostai said that it is about three miles from Lod to Ono, and once he rose up early in the morning and waded all that way up to his ankles in fig honey. Resh Lakish said that he saw the flow of the milk and honey of Sepphoris extend over an area of sixteen miles by sixteen miles. Rabbah bar Bar Hana said that he saw the flow of the milk and honey in all the Land of Israel and the total area was equal to an area of twenty-two parasangs by six parasangs.
Rabbi Johanan said in the name of Rabbi Meir that the spies began with a true report in Numbers 13:27 and then spoke ill in Numbers 13:28, because any piece of slander needs some truth in the beginning to be heard through to the end.
Rabbah interpreted Numbers 13:30 to report that Caleb won the people over with his words, for he saw that when Joshua began to address them, they disparaged Joshua for failing to have children. So Caleb took a different tack and asked, “Is this all that Amram's son [Moses] has done to us?” And as they thought that Caleb was about to disparage Moses, they fell silent. Then Caleb said, “He brought us out of Egypt, divided the sea, and fed us manna. If he were to ask us to get ladders and climb to heaven, should we not obey? And then Caleb said the words reported in Numbers 13:30, “We should go up at once, and possess the land, for we are well able to overcome it.”
The Mishnah noted that the evil report of the scouts in Numbers 13:32 caused God to seal the decree against the Israelites in the wilderness in Numbers 14:22–23. The Mishnah thus deduced that one who speaks suffers more than one who acts.
Rav Mesharsheya said that Numbers 13:33 proved that the spies were liars, for though they might well have known that they saw themselves as grasshoppers, they had no way of knowing how the inhabitants of the land saw them.
Numbers chapter 14
The Pirke De-Rabbi Eliezer told that God had spoken the words of Numbers 14:20 to Moses before, after the incident of the Golden Calf. The Pirke De-Rabbi Eliezer told that after the incident of the Golden Calf, Moses foretold that he would behold God’s Glory and make atonement for the Israelites’ iniquities on Yom Kippur. On that day, Moses asked God to pardon the iniquities of the people in connection with the Golden Calf. God told Moses that if he had asked God then to pardon the iniquities of all Israel, even to the end of all generations, God would have done so, as it was the appropriate time. But Moses had asked for pardon with reference to the Golden Calf, so God told Moses that it would be according to his words, as Numbers 14:20 says, “And the Lord said, ‘I have pardoned according to your word.’”
A Baraita taught that when Moses ascended to receive the Torah from God, Moses found God writing “longsuffering” among the words with which Exodus 34:8 describes God. Moses asked God whether God meant longsuffering with the righteous, to which God replied that God is longsuffering even with the wicked. Moses exclaimed that God could let the wicked perish, but God cautioned Moses that Moses would come to desire God’s longsuffering for the wicked. Later, when the Israelites sinned at the incident of the spies, God reminded Moses that he had suggested that God be longsuffering only with the righteous, to which Moses recounted that God had promised to be longsuffering even with the wicked. And that is why Moses in Numbers 14:17–18 cited to God that God is “slow to anger.”
Rabbi Simeon son of Rabbi Ishmael interpreted the term “the Tabernacle of the testimony” in Exodus 38:21 to mean that the Tabernacle was God’s testimony to the whole world that God had in Numbers 14:20 forgiven Israel for having made the Golden Calf. Rabbi Isaac explained with a parable. A king took a wife whom he dearly loved. He became angry with her and left her, and her neighbors taunted her, saying that he would not return. Then the king sent her a message asking her to prepare the king’s palace and make the beds therein, for he was coming back to her on such-and-such a day. On that day, the king returned to her and became reconciled to her, entering her chamber and eating and drinking with her. Her neighbors at first did not believe it, but when they smelled the fragrant spices, they knew that the king had returned. Similarly, God loved Israel, bringing the Israelites to Mount Sinai, and giving them the Torah, but after only 40 days, they sinned with the Golden Calf. The heathen nations then said that God would not be reconciled with the Israelites. But when Moses pleaded for mercy on their behalf, God forgave them, as Numbers 14:20 reports, “And the Lord said: ‘I have pardoned according to your word.’” Moses then told God that even though he personally was quite satisfied that God had forgiven Israel, he asked that God might announce that fact to the nations. God replied that God would cause God’s Shechinah to dwell in their midst, and thus Exodus 25:8 says, “And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.” And by that sign, God intended that all nations might know that God had forgiven the Israelites. And thus Exodus 38:21 calls it “the Tabernacle of the testimony,” because the Tabernacle was a testimony that God had pardoned the Israelites’ sins.
The Mishnah deduced from Numbers 14:22 that the Israelites in the wilderness inflicted ten trials on God, one of which was the incident of the spies. And the Mishnah deduced further from Numbers 14:22 that those who speak ill suffer more than those who commit physical acts, and thus that God sealed the judgment against the Israelites in the wilderness only because of their evil words at the incident of the spies.
Because with regard to the ten spies in Numbers 14:27, God asked, “How long shall I bear with this evil congregation?” the Mishnah deduced that a “congregation” consists of no fewer than ten people. Expounding on the same word “congregation,” Rabbi Halafta of Kefar Hanania deduced from the words “God stands in the congregation of God” in Psalm 82:1 that the Shekhinah abides among ten who sit together and study Torah.
Noting that in the incident of the spies, God did not punish those below the age of 20 (see Numbers 14:29), whom Deuteronomy 1:39 described as “children that . . . have no knowledge of good or evil,” Rabbi Samuel bar Nahmani taught in Rabbi Jonathan’s name that God does not punish for the actions people take in their first 20 years.
Rav Hamnuna taught that God’s decree that the generation of the spies would die in the wilderness did not apply to the Levites, for Numbers 14:29 says, “your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness, and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from 20 years old and upward,” and this implies that those who were numbered from 20 years old and upward came under the decree, while the tribe of Levi — which Numbers 4:3, 23, 30, 35, 39, 43, and 47 say was numbered from 30 years old and upward — was excluded from the decree.
A Baraita taught that because of God’s displeasure with the Israelites, the north wind did not blow on them in any of the 40 years during which they wandered in the wilderness. The Tosafot attributed God’s displeasure to the incident of the spies, although Rashi attributed it to the Golden Calf.
Rabbi Akiba interpreted Numbers 14:35 to teach that the generation of the wilderness have no share in the world to come and will not stand at the last judgment. Rabbi Eliezer said that it was concerning them that Psalm 50:5 said, “Gather my saints together to me; those who have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.”
A Midrash noted that Numbers 14:36 says that in the incident of the spies, “the men . . . when they returned, made all the congregation to murmur against him." The Midrash explained that that is why the report of Numbers 27:1–11 about the daughters of Zelophehad follows immediately after the report of Numbers 26:65 about the death of the wilderness generation. The Midrash noted that Numbers 26:65 says, "there was not left a man of them, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh," because the men had been unwilling to enter the Land. But the Midrash taught that Numbers 27:1 says, “then drew near the daughters of Zelophehad,” to show that the women still sought an inheritance in the Land. The Midrash taught that in that generation, the women built up fences that the men broke down.
The Mishnah deduced from Numbers 14:37 that the spies have no portion in the world to come, as the words “those men . . . died” in Numbers 14:37 indicated that they died in this world, and the words “by the plague” indicated that they died in the world to come.
Rabbah in the name of Resh Lakish deduced from Numbers 14:37 that the spies who brought an evil report against the land died by the plague, and died because of the evil report that they had brought.
Numbers chapter 15
The Mishnah exempted the meal-offering that accompanied the drink-offering in Numbers 15:4–5 from the penalty associated with eating piggul, offerings invalidated for improper intent. And the Mishnah ruled that these meal-offerings required oil but not frankincense.
The School of Rabbi Ishmael taught that whenever Scripture uses the word “command (צַו, tzav)” (as Numbers 15:23 does), it denotes exhortation to obedience immediately and for all time. A Baraita deduced exhortation to immediate obedience from the use of the word “command” in Deuteronomy 3:28, which says, “charge Joshua, and encourage him, and strengthen him.” And the Baraita deduced exhortation to obedience for all time from the use of the word “command” in Numbers 15:23, which says, “even all that the Lord has commanded you by the hand of Moses, from the day that the Lord gave the commandment, and onward throughout your generations.”
A Baraita taught that Rabbi Eliezer, the son of Rabbi Jose, said that he refuted the sectarian books that maintained that resurrection is not deducible from the Torah. To support the proposition that the Torah does refer to the resurrection of the dead, Rabbi Eliezer cited Numbers 15:31, which says, “Because he has despised the word of the Lord, and has broken his commandment, that soul shall utterly be cut off (הִכָּרֵת תִּכָּרֵת, hikareit tikareit); his iniquity shall be upon him.” Rabbi Eliezer reasoned that as this person would be utterly be cut off in this world (meaning that he would die), the person’s iniquity would need to be upon him in the next world (in the life after death). Rav Papa asked Abaye whether Rabbi Eliezer could not have deduced both this world and the next from the words “he shall be utterly cut off.” The answer was that they would have replied that the Torah employed human phraseology. Similarly, the Tannaim disputed: Rabbi Akiva taught that the words, “That soul shall utterly be cut off (הִכָּרֵת, hikareit),” mean that he shall be cut off in this world and (תִּכָּרֵת, tikareit) in the next. Rabbi Ishmael noted that Numbers 15:30 previously stated, “he reproaches the Lord, and that soul shall be cut off,” and asked whether Rabbi Akiva’s reasoning thus implied the existence of three words. Rather, Rabbi Ishmael taught that the words of Numbers 15:30, “and [that soul] shall be cut off,” imply in this world, whereas the words of Numbers 15:31, “be cut off (הִכָּרֵת, hikareit),” imply in the next world. As for the repetition in Numbers 15:31 (תִּכָּרֵת, tikareit), Rabbi Ishmael attributed that to the Torah’s use of human phraseology. The Gemara taught that both Rabbi Ishmael and Rabbi Akiva utilize the concluding words of Numbers 15:31, “his iniquity shall be upon him,” for the purpose taught in a Baraita: One might think that the sinner would be cut off even if the sinner repented. Therefore Numbers 15:31 says, “his iniquity is upon him,” meaning that God decreed that the sinner shall be cut off only if the sinner’s iniquity is still in him (and the sinner dies unrepentant).
Rav Hisda taught that one walking in a dirty alleyway should not recite the Shema, and one reciting the Shema who comes upon a dirty alleyway should stop reciting. Of one who would not stop reciting, Rav Adda bar Ahavah quoted Numbers 15:31 to say: “he has despised the word of the Lord.” And of one who does stop reciting, Rabbi Abbahu taught that Deuteronomy 32:47 says: “through this word you shall prolong your days.”
Noting that the words “in the wilderness” appeared both in Numbers 15:32 (which tells the story of the Sabbath violator) and in Numbers 27:3 (where Zelophehad’s daughters noted that their father Zelophehad had not taken part in Korah’s rebellion) and Rabbi Akiva taught in a Baraita that Zelophehad was the man executed for gathering sticks on the Sabbath. Rabbi Judah ben Bathyra answered Akiva that Akiva would have to give an account for his accusation. For either Akiva was right that Zelophehad was the man executed for gathering sticks on the Sabbath, and Akiva revealed something that the Torah shielded from public view, or Akiva was wrong that Zelophehad was the man executed for gathering sticks on the Sabbath, and Akiva cast a stigma upon a righteous man. But the Gemara answered that Akiva learned a tradition from the Oral Torah (that went back to Sinai, and thus the Torah did not shield the matter from public view). The Gemara then asked, according to Rabbi Judah ben Bathyra, of what sin did Zelophehad die (as his daughters reported in Numbers 27:3 that “he died in his own sin”)? The Gemara reported that according to Rabbi Judah ben Bathyra, Zelophehad was among those who “presumed to go up to the top of the mountain” in Numbers 14:44 (to try and fail to take the Land of Israel after the incident of the spies).
Tractate Shabbat in the Mishnah, Tosefta, Jerusalem Talmud, and Babylonian Talmud interpreted the laws of the Sabbath in Exodus 16:23 and 29; 20:7–10 (20:8–11 in the NJPS); 31:13–17; 35:2–3; Leviticus 19:3; 23:3; Numbers 15:32–36; and Deuteronomy 5:11 (5:12 in the NJPS).
Already at the time of the Mishnah, Numbers 15:37–41 constituted the third part of a standard Shema prayer that the priests recited daily, following Deuteronomy 6:4–9 and Deuteronomy 11:13–21. The Mishnah instructed that there is a section break in the Shema between reciting Deuteronomy 11:13–21 and reciting Numbers 15:37–41 during which one may give and return greetings out of respect. And similarly, there is a section break between reciting Numbers 15:37–41 and reciting emet veyatziv. But Rabbi Judah said that one may not interrupt between reciting Numbers 15:37–41 and reciting emet veyatziv (“true and enduring . . .”). The Mishnah taught that the reciting of Deuteronomy 11:13–21 precedes the reciting of Numbers 15:37–41 in the Shema because the obligation of Deuteronomy 11:13–21 applies day and night, while the obligation of Numbers 15:37–41 to wear tzizit applies only during the day.
It was taught in a Baraita that Rabbi Meir used to ask why Numbers 15:38 specified blue from among all the colors for the fringes. Rabbi Meir taught that it was because blue resembles the color of the sea, and the sea resembles the color of the sky, and the sky resembles the color of the Throne of Glory, as Exodus 24:10 says, “And there was under His feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone,” and Ezekiel 1:26 says, “The likeness of a throne as the appearance of a sapphire stone.” (And thus, when one sees the blue thread of the fringe, it will help call to mind God.) And it was taught in a Baraita that Rabbi Meir used to say that the punishment for failing to observe the white threads of the fringes is greater than for failing to observe the blue threads. The Gemara illustrated this by a parable: A king gave orders to two servants. He asked one servant to bring a seal of clay, and he asked other to bring a seal of gold. And they both failed in their tasks. The Gemara argued that the servant deserving the greater punishment was the one whom the king directed to bring a seal of clay. (For clay is easier to get than gold. Thus the punishment for failing to get the simple white fringe should be greater than the penalty for failing to get the rare blue thread.)
The Tosefta taught that for the blue color to be valid, it had to come from the particular shell that was used for that purpose.
In Numbers 15:39, the heart lusts. A Midrash catalogued the wide range of additional capabilities of the heart reported in the Hebrew Bible. The heart speaks, sees, hears, walks, falls, stands, rejoices, cries, is comforted, is troubled, becomes hardened, grows faint, grieves, fears, can be broken, becomes proud, rebels, invents, cavils, overflows, devises, desires, goes astray, is refreshed, can be stolen, is humbled, is enticed, errs, trembles, is awakened, loves, hates, envies, is searched, is rent, meditates, is like a fire, is like a stone, turns in repentance, becomes hot, dies, melts, takes in words, is susceptible to fear, gives thanks, covets, becomes hard, makes merry, acts deceitfully, speaks from out of itself, loves bribes, writes words, plans, receives commandments, acts with pride, makes arrangements, and aggrandizes itself.
In medieval rabbinic interpretation
The parashah is discussed in these medieval rabbinic sources:
Numbers chapter 14
The Zohar found in God’s Attributes as expressed in Numbers 14:18 components of God’s essential Name. In the Zohar, Rabbi Simeon taught from the Book of Mystery that the Divine Name has both a revealed and a concealed form. In its revealed form, it is written as the four-letter Name of God, the Tetragrammaton, but in its undisclosed form it is written in other letters, and this undisclosed form represents the most Recondite of all. In the Zohar, Rabbi Judah taught taught that even the revealed form of the Name is hidden under other letters (as the name ADoNaY, אֲדֹנָי, is hidden within ADNY, אדני) in order to screen the most Recondite of all. In the letters of God’s Name are concealed 22 attributes of Mercy, namely, the 13 attributes of God in Exodus 34:6–7 and nine attributes of the Mikroprosopus, the lesser revealed aspect of God. They all combine in one composite Name. When people were more reverent, the priests openly enunciated the Name in the hearing of all, but after irreverence became widespread, the Name became concealed under other letters. At the time when the Name was disclosed, the priest would concentrate his mind on its deep and inner meaning, and he would utter the Name in such a way as to accord with that meaning. But when irreverence became common in the world, he would conceal all within the written letters. The Zohar taught that Moses uttered the 22 letters in two sections, first in Exodus 34:6–7 in the attributes of God, and second in Numbers 14:18, when he uttered nine attributes of Mercy that are inherent in the Mikroprosopus, and which are radiated from the light of God. All this the priest combined together when he spread forth his hands to bless the people pursuant to Numbers 6:23–26, so that all the worlds received God’s blessings. It is for this reason that Numbers 6:23 says simply “saying” (אָמוֹר, amor), instead of the imperative form “say” (אִמְרִי, imri), in a reference to the hidden letters within the words of the Priestly Blessing. The word אָמוֹר, amor has in its letters the numerical value of 248 minus one (א equals 1; מ equals 40; ו equals 6; ר equals 200; and 1 + 40 + 6 + 200 = 247), equal to the number of a man’s bodily parts, excepting the one part on which all the rest depend. All these parts thus receive the Priestly Blessing as expressed in the three verses of Numbers 6:24–26.
Maimonides taught that the Sages said that inspiration does not come to a prophet when the prophet is sad or languid. Thus Moses did not receive any revelation when he was in a state of depression that lasted from the murmurings of the Israelites upon the evil report of the spies until the death of the warriors of that generation.
Numbers chapter 15
Yehuda Halevi taught that one wears the fringes (צִיצִת, tzitzit) lest one be entrapped by worldly thoughts, as Numbers 15:39 says, “That you may not go astray after your heart and after your eyes.”
Maimonides wrote that he was at a loss why God commanded the offering of wine in Numbers 15:5–11, since idolaters brought wine as an offering. But Maimonides credited another person with suggesting the reason that meat is the best nourishment for the appetite, the source of which is the liver; wine supports best the vital faculty, whose center is the heart; and music is most agreeable to the psychic faculty, the source of which is the brain. Thus, Maimonides wrote, each of a person’s faculties approached God with that which it liked best. And thus the sacrifice consisted of meat, wine, and music.
In modern interpretation
Numbers chapter 13
The 17th century Torah commentator Rabbi Shlomo Luntschitz, also known as the Kli Yakar, reported a Midrash that taught that God told Moses that with God’s knowledge of the future, God knew that it would be better to send women who cherish the Land because they would not count its faults. But, God told Moses (in the words of Numbers 13:2), “for you (לְךָ, lecha),” with the knowledge Moses had, if he thought that these men were fit and the Land was dear to them, then Moses could send men. Therefore, God told Moses (once again, in the words of Numbers 13:2), “send for yourselves (שְׁלַח-לְךָ, shelach-lecha),” according to the level of knowledge that Moses had, men. But according to God’s level of knowledge, it would have been better, God said, to send women.
Numbers chapter 15
Baruch Spinoza wrote that because religion only acquires the force of law by means of the sovereign power, Moses was not able to punish those who, before the covenant, and consequently while still in possession of their rights, violated the Sabbath (in Exodus 16:27), but Moses was able to do so after the covenant (in Numbers 15:36), because all the Israelites had then yielded up their natural rights, and the ordinance of the Sabbath had received the force of law.
- To set aside a portion of dough for a Kohen
- To have tzitzit on four-cornered garments
- Not to stray after the whims of one's heart or temptations one sees with his eyes
In the liturgy
The rebellious generation and their Wilderness death foretold in Numbers 14:35 are reflected in Psalm 95:10–11, which is in turn the first of the six Psalms recited at the beginning of the Kabbalat Shabbat prayer service.
Numbers 15:37–41 is the third of three blocks of verses in the Shema, a central prayer in Jewish prayer services. Jews combine Deuteronomy 6:4–9, Deuteronomy 11:13–21, and Numbers 15:37–41 to form the core of K’riat Shema, recited in the evening (Ma’ariv) and morning (Shacharit) prayer services.
Observant Jewish men (and some women, although the law does not require them to do so) don a tallit daily, often at the very beginning of the day, in observance of Numbers 15:38, and say an accompanying blessing
The Weekly Maqam
In the Weekly Maqam, Sephardi Jews each week base the songs of the services on the content of that week's parashah. For parashah Shlach, Sephardi Jews apply Maqam Hijaz, the maqam that expresses mourning and sadness. This maqam is appropriate in this parashah because it is the parashah that contains the episode of the spies and the punishment on Israel.
Summary of the haftarah
Joshua secretly dispatched two spies from Shittim, instructing them to view the land and Jericho, and they went to the house of a harlot named Rahab. That night, the king of Jericho received word that Israelite men had come to search out the land, and the king sent a demand to Rahab to deliver the men who had come to her house. But Rahab hid the men among stalks of flax on her roof, saying that when it was dark the men had left, and she did not know where they went. The king’s men left the city in pursuit of the spies on the road to the Jordan River, and the people of the city shut the city gate after them.
Rahab promptly went up to the spies on the roof and told them that she knew that God had given the Israelites the land, and that the people lived in terror of the Israelites, having heard how God dried up the Red Sea before them and how the Israelites had destroyed the forces of Sihon and Og. So Rahab asked the spies to swear by God, since she had dealt kindly with them, that they would also deal kindly with her father's house and give her a token to save her family from the coming invasion. The spies told her that if she would not tell of their doings, then when God gave the Israelites the land, they would deal kindly with her. She let them down by a cord through her window, as her house was on the city wall. She told them to hide in the mountain for three days. They told her that when the Israelites came to the land, she was to bind in her window the scarlet rope by which she let the spies down and gather her family into her house for safety, as all who ventured out of the doors of her house would die. She agreed, sent them on their way, and bound the scarlet line in her window.
The spies hid in the mountain for three days, and the pursuers did not find them. The spies returned to the Israelite camp and told Joshua all that had happened, saying that surely God had delivered the land into their hands and the inhabitants would melt away before them.
Connection between the haftarah and the parashah
Both the parashah and the haftarah deal with spies sent to scout out the land of Israel, the parashah in connection with the ten scouts sent to reconnoiter the whole land, and the haftarah in connection with the two spies sent to reconnoiter Jericho. Joshua participated in both ventures, as a scout in the parashah, and as the leader who sent the spies in the haftarah. In the parashah, God complained about how the Israelites did not believe the “signs” (אֹתוֹת, ’otot) that God had sent, and in the haftarah, Rahab asked the spies for a true “sign” (אוֹת, ’ot) so that she might believe them.
Whereas in the parashah, the spies were well-known men, in the haftarah, Joshua dispatched the spies secretly. Whereas in the parashah, Moses sent a large number of 12 spies, in the haftarah, Joshua sent just 2 spies. Whereas in the parashah, many of the spies cowered before the Canaanites, in the haftarah, the spies reported that the Canaanites would melt before the Israelites. Whereas in the parashah, the spies reported their findings publicly, in the haftarah, the spies reported directly to Joshua.
The haftarah in classical Rabbinic interpretation
A Midrash taught that no other people sent to perform a religious duty and risk their lives on a mission could compare with the two spies whom Joshua sent. The Rabbis taught that the two were Phinehas and Caleb. The Midrash noted that Joshua 2:1 says, “Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two spies secretly (חֶרֶשׁ, cheresh).” The Midrash read the word חֶרֶשׁ, cheresh (“secretly”), as חָרֶשׂ, chares, “earthenware,” to teach that the two spies took with them earthenware pots and cried, “Here are pots! Whoever wishes, let him come and buy!” so that no one might detect them or say that they were spies.
The Rabbis taught that Rahab was one of the four most beautiful women who ever lived, along with Sarah, Abigail, and Esther. The Rabbis taught that Rahab inspired lust by the mere mention of her name. Rabbi Isaac taught that saying Rahab’s name twice would cause a man immediately to lose control. Rav Nachman protested that he said Rahab’s name twice and nothing happened to him. Rabbi Isaac replied that he meant that this would happen to any man who knew her.
A Midrash taught that for hiding the spies, God rewarded the convert Rahab with priestly descendants.
The Mekhilta taught that as the events of Joshua 2:15 took place, Rahab converted to Judaism, at the end of her fiftieth year. She said before God that she had sinned in three ways. And she asked to be forgiven on account of three things — on account of the red cord, the window, and the wall. “Then,” in the words of Joshua 2:15, “she let them down by a cord through the window, for her house was upon the side of the wall, and she dwelt upon the wall.”
The parashah has parallels or is discussed in these sources:
- Genesis 6:1–4 (Nephilim).
- Exodus 6:8 (God lifted up God’s hand); 13:21–22 (pillar of fire); 14:24 (pillar of fire); 20:4 (20:5 in JPS) (punishing children for fathers’ sin); 34:7 (punishing children for fathers’ sin).
- Leviticus 24:10–16 (inquiry of God on the law).
- Numbers 9:1–14 (inquiry of God on the law); 27:1–11 (inquiry of God on the law).
- Deuteronomy 1:19–45 (the scouts); 5:8 (5:9 in JPS) (punishing children for fathers’ sin); 9:23 (rebellion).
- Joshua 6:24–25. (Rahab and her descendants).
- Isaiah 56:6–7 (keeping the Sabbath); 66:23 (universally observed Sabbath).
- Jeremiah 31:28–29 (31:29–30 in NJPS) (not punishing children for fathers’ sin).
- Ezekiel 18:1–4 (not punishing children for fathers’ sin); 20:5 (God lifted up God’s hand).
- Nehemiah 9:12 (pillar of fire); 9:15 (God lifted up God’s hand); 9:19 (pillar of fire).
- Psalms 19:13 (God clears from hidden faults); 22:9 (God’s delight); 25:13 (his seed shall inherit the land); 37:11 (shall inherit the land); 44:2–4 (not by their own sword did they get the land); 72:19 (earth filled with God’s glory); 78:12, 22 (Zoan; they didn’t believe); 95:9–11 (that generation should not enter); 103:8 (God full of compassion, gracious, slow to anger, plenteous in mercy); 106:24–27, 39 (spurning the desirable land; they went astray); 107:40 (God causes princes to wander in the waste); 118:8–12 (with God’s help, victory over the nations); 145:8 (God gracious, full of compassion; slow to anger, of great mercy); 147:10–11 (God’s delight).
- Philo. Allegorical Interpretation 3:61:175; On the Birth of Abel and the Sacrifices Offered by Him and by His Brother Cain 33:107; On the Posterity of Cain and His Exile 17:60; 35:122; On the Giants 11:48; On the Migration of Abraham 12:68; 21:122; On the Change of Names 21:123; 46:265; On Dreams, That They Are God-Sent 2:25:170; On the Virtues 32:171; Questions and Answers on Genesis 1:100. Alexandria, Egypt, early 1st Century C.E. Reprinted in, e.g., The Works of Philo: Complete and Unabridged, New Updated Edition. Translated by Charles Duke Yonge, pages 70, 107, 137, 144, 155, 259, 265, 351, 360, 364, 400, 657, 813. Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Pub., 1993. ISBN 0-943575-93-1.
- Pseudo-Philo 15:1–7; 57:2. 1st Century C.E. Reprinted in, e.g., The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, Edited by James H. Charlesworth, volume 2, pages 322–23, 371. New York: Doubleday, 1985. ISBN 0-385-18813-7.
- Matthew 1:5–6. Circa 80–90 C.E. (Rahab).
- Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 1:8:3; 3:14:1–15:3; 4:1:1–3. Circa 93–94 C.E. Reprinted in, e.g., The Works of Josephus: Complete and Unabridged, New Updated Edition. Translated by William Whiston, pages 39, 99–102. Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Pub., 1987. ISBN 0-913573-86-8.
- Mishnah: Berakhot 2:2; Challah 1:1–4:11; Sanhedrin 1:6; 10:3; Eduyot 1:2; Avot 3:6; 5:4; Horayot 1:4; 2:6; Zevachim 4:3; 12:5; Menachot 3:5; 4:1; 5:3; 9:1; Arakhin 3:5; Keritot 1:1–2; Tamid 5:1. Land of Israel, circa 200 C.E. Reprinted in, e.g., The Mishnah: A New Translation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, 5, 147–58, 585, 605, 640, 679, 685, 691, 694, 705, 726, 739–40, 742, 751, 813, 836–37, 869. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988. ISBN 0-300-05022-4.
- Tosefta: Challah 1:1–2:12; Shabbat 1:1–17:29; Sotah 4:13–14; 7:18; 9:2; Sanhedrin 13:9–10; Eduyot 1:1; Horayot 1:4; Bekhorot 3:12; Arakhin 2:11. Land of Israel, circa 300 C.E. Reprinted in, e.g., The Tosefta: Translated from the Hebrew, with a New Introduction. Translated by Jacob Neusner, 1:331–40, 357–427, 848–49, 865, 873; 2:1190–91, 1245, 1296, 1479, 1500. Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Pub., 2002. ISBN 1-56563-642-2.
- Sifre to Numbers 107:1–115:5. Land of Israel, circa 250–350 C.E. Reprinted in, e.g., Sifré to Numbers: An American Translation and Explanation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, 2:133–84. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1986. ISBN 1-55540-010-8.
- Sifra 34:4. Land of Israel, 4th Century C.E. Reprinted in, e.g., Sifra: An Analytical Translation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, 1:214. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1988. ISBN 1-55540-205-4.
- Jerusalem Talmud: Berakhot 10a; 12b–13a; 20b, 24b, 75b; Peah 8a; Terumot 39a; Maaser Sheni 57b; Challah 1a–49b; Orlah 5b, 41b; Shabbat 1a–; Pesachim 18b, 58b; Megillah 15b, 37a; Sanhedrin 10b–11a, 17b, 28b, 30a. Land of Israel, circa 400 CE. Reprinted in, e.g., Talmud Yerushalmi. Edited by Chaim Malinowitz, Yisroel Simcha Schorr, and Mordechai Marcus, volumes 1–3, 7, 10–14, 18–19, 26. Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 2005–2013.
- Mekhilta of Rabbi Ishmael Pisha 1, 5; Beshallah 1–2; Vayassa 3; Amalek 1–3; Bahodesh 9. Land of Israel, late 4th Century. Reprinted in, e.g., Mekhilta According to Rabbi Ishmael. Translated by Jacob Neusner, 1:6, 30, 126, 131, 137, 247; 2:6, 16, 22, 92. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1988. ISBN 1-55540-237-2. And Mekhilta de-Rabbi Ishmael. Translated by Jacob Z. Lauterbach, 1:2–3, 26, 117–18, 124, 129, 237; 2:255, 266–67, 273, 341. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1933, reissued 2004. ISBN 0-8276-0678-8.
- Mekhilta of Rabbi Simeon 12:3; 20:1, 5; 37:1; 44:1; 45:1; 54:2. Land of Israel, 5th Century. Reprinted in, e.g., Mekhilta de-Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai. Translated by W. David Nelson, 40, 81, 85, 160, 184, 193, 248. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 2006. ISBN 0-8276-0799-7.
- Babylonian Talmud: Berakhot 11b, 12b, 24a–b, 32a; Shabbat 9b, 15a, 20b, 22a, 23b, 27b, 32a–b, 68b, 89a–b, 96b, 132a, 137a, 153b; Eruvin 83a, 92b; Pesachim 6a, 37a, 38a, 50b, 77a, 93b, 101a, 119b; Yoma 7a, 10a, 15b, 26b, 36b, 44a, 57a, 61b; Sukkah 9a, 35a–b, 41b–42a; Beitzah 12b, 21a; Taanit 22a, 24a, 29a; Megillah 7b, 31b; Moed Katan 9a, 19a; Chagigah 5b, 9b, 14b; Yevamot 4b, 5b, 9a, 46b, 72a, 90b; Ketubot 6b, 16b, 25a, 72a, 111b–12a; Nedarim 12a, 20b, 25a; Nazir 58a; Sotah 11b, 17a, 22a, 30a, 32b, 34a–35a, 46b; Gittin 46a, 61a; Kiddushin 29a, 33b, 37a–b, 46b, 53a, 73a; Bava Kamma 2a, 13a, 71a, 92b, 94a, 110b, 114b, 119b; Bava Metzia 61b; Bava Batra 4a, 15a, 73b–74a, 117b, 118b–19a, 121a–b; Sanhedrin 6b, 8a, 12a, 19b, 41a, 43a, 61b, 64b, 78b, 88b, 90b, 99a–b, 104b, 107a, 108a, 109b–10b, 111b, 112b; Makkot 13b, 17b, 18b, 23b; Shevuot 7b, 10a, 11b, 13a, 22a, 26b, 29a, 39a; Horayot 2a, 3b, 4b–5b, 7a–9a, 13a; Zevachim 8b, 18b, 39b, 41a, 45a, 47a, 78a, 90b, 91b, 111a; Menachot 5b–6a, 9b, 12b, 14a, 15b, 18b, 20a, 27a, 28a, 38a, 39b, 40b, 41b–43a, 44a–45a, 51a, 53b, 59a, 66a, 67a, 70b, 73b–74a, 77b, 79a, 90b–92a, 104a, 107a, 109a; Chullin 2b, 14a, 23a, 89a, 95b, 104a, 135b–36a; Bekhorot 12b, 30b; Arakhin 11b, 15a; Temurah 3a; Keritot 2a, 3a–b, 7b, 8b–9a, 25b; Meilah 10b, 15b; Niddah 47a. Babylonia, 6th Century. Reprinted in, e.g., Talmud Bavli. Edited by Yisroel Simcha Schorr, Chaim Malinowitz, and Mordechai Marcus, 72 vols. Brooklyn: Mesorah Pubs., 2006.
- Avot of Rabbi Natan, 9:2; 20:6; 34:1; 36:4, 7. Circa 700–900 C.E. Reprinted in, e.g., The Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan. Translated by Judah Goldin, 54, 96–97, 136, 149, 152. New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1955. ISBN 0-300-00497-4. The Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan: An Analytical Translation and Explanation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, 71, 136, 202, 217, 219. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1986. ISBN 1-55540-073-6.
- Solomon ibn Gabirol. A Crown for the King, 27:334–35. Spain, 11th Century. Translated by David R. Slavitt, 44–45. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. ISBN 0-19-511962-2.
- Rashi. Commentary. Numbers 13–15. Troyes, France, late 11th Century. Reprinted in, e.g., Rashi. The Torah: With Rashi’s Commentary Translated, Annotated, and Elucidated. Translated and annotated by Yisrael Isser Zvi Herczeg, 4:147–88. Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 1997. ISBN 0-89906-029-3.
- Judah Halevi. Kuzari. 2:50; 3:11, 38. Toledo, Spain, 1130–1140. Reprinted in, e.g., Jehuda Halevi. Kuzari: An Argument for the Faith of Israel. Introduction by Henry Slonimsky, pages 115, 147, 169. New York: Schocken, 1964. ISBN 0-8052-0075-4.
- Numbers Rabbah 1:11; 2:19; 3:7; 4:14, 20; 7:4; 8:6; 9:18; 10:2; 13:15–16; 14:1, 3–4; 15:24; 16:1–17:6; 18:3, 6, 21; 19:20–21; 20:23; 21:10. 12th Century. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Numbers. Translated by Judah J. Slotki, volume 5, pages 18, 57, 79, 112, 130, 183, 229, 275, 339, 344; volume 6, pages 534, 564, 566, 573, 584, 670, 673–707, 709, 715, 735, 738, 769–70, 820, 836. London: Soncino Press, 1939. ISBN 0-900689-38-2.
- Benjamin of Tudela. The Itinerary of Benjamin of Tudela. Spain, 1173. Reprinted in The Itinerary of Benjamin of Tudela: Travels in the Middle Ages. Introductions by Michael A. Singer, Marcus Nathan Adler, A. Asher, 91. Malibu, Calif.: Joseph Simon, 1983. ISBN 0-934710-07-4. (giants).
- Maimonides. The Guide for the Perplexed, 1:30, 39, 65; 3:29, 32, 34, 39, 41, 46. Cairo, Egypt, 1190. Reprinted in, e.g., Moses Maimonides. The Guide for the Perplexed. Translated by Michael Friedländer, 39–40, 54, 97, 320, 325, 329, 339, 348, 363, 366. New York: Dover Publications, 1956. ISBN 0-486-20351-4.
- Zohar 3:156b–176a. Spain, late 13th Century. Reprinted in, e.g., The Zohar. Translated by Harry Sperling and Maurice Simon. 5 vols. London: Soncino Press, 1934.
- Thomas Hobbes. Leviathan, 3:36. England, 1651. Reprint edited by C. B. Macpherson, 464. Harmondsworth, England: Penguin Classics, 1982. ISBN 0-14-043195-0.
- Samson Raphael Hirsch. Horeb: A Philosophy of Jewish Laws and Observances. Translated by Isidore Grunfeld, 9–12, 180–86, 196–203. London: Soncino Press, 1962. Reprinted 2002 ISBN 0-900689-40-4. Originally published as Horeb, Versuche über Jissroel’s Pflichten in der Zerstreuung. Germany, 1837.
- Thomas Mann. Joseph and His Brothers. Translated by John E. Woods, 577. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005. ISBN 1-4000-4001-9. Originally published as Joseph und seine Brüder. Stockholm: Bermann-Fischer Verlag, 1943.
- Abraham Joshua Heschel. Man's Quest for God: Studies in Prayer and Symbolism, 36. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1954.
- Raphael Loewe. “Divine Frustration Exegetically Frustrated — Numbers 14:34.” In Words and Meanings: Essays Presented to David Winton Thomas. Edited by Peter R. Ackroyd and Barnabas Lindars, pages 137–58. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1968. ISBN 0-521-07270-0.
- Jacob Milgrom. “Of Hems and Tassels: Rank, authority and holiness were expressed in antiquity by fringes on garments.” Biblical Archaeology Review. 9 (3) (May/June 1983).
- Mayer Rabinowitz. “An Advocate's Halakhic Responses on the Ordination of Women.” New York: Rabbinical Assembly, 1984. HM 7.4.1984a. Reprinted in Responsa: 1980–1990: The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Conservative Movement. Edited by David J. Fine, 722, 727, 733 n. 28. New York: Rabbinical Assembly, 2005. ISBN 0-916219-27-5. (defining a minyan based on the community who heard the spies’ evil report).
- Joel Roth. “On the Ordination of Women as Rabbis.” New York: Rabbinical Assembly, 1984. HM 7.4.1984b. Reprinted in Responsa: 1980–1990: The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Conservative Movement. Edited by David J. Fine, 736, 750, 782 n. 82. New York: Rabbinical Assembly, 2005. ISBN 0-916219-27-5. (defining a minyan based on the ten spies who brought the evil report).
- Jacob Milgrom. The JPS Torah Commentary: Numbers: The Traditional Hebrew Text with the New JPS Translation, 100–28, 387–414. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1990. ISBN 0-8276-0329-0.
- Yair Zakovitch. "Humor and Theology or the Successful Failure of Israelite Intelligence: A Literary-Folkloric Approach to Joshua 2." In Text and Tradition: The Hebrew Bible and Folklore. Edited by Susan Niditch, 75. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1990. ISBN 0891308229.
- Baruch A. Levine. Numbers 1–20, 4:345–402. New York: Anchor Bible, 1993. ISBN 0-385-15651-0.
- Mary Douglas. In the Wilderness: The Doctrine of Defilement in the Book of Numbers, xix, 54, 59, 84, 88, 103, 106–07, 110–12, 121–26, 137, 145, 147, 150–51, 164, 188–90, 194, 201, 210, 212, 232. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993. Reprinted 2004. ISBN 0-19-924541-X.
- Peter Barnes. “Was Rahab's Lie a Sin?” Reformed Theological Review. 54(1) (1995): 1–9.
- Shoshana Gelfand. “May Women Tie Tzitzit Knots?” New York: Rabbinical Assembly, 1997. OH 14:1.1997. Reprinted in Responsa: 1991–2000: The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Conservative Movement. Edited by Kassel Abelson and David J. Fine, 3–8. New York: Rabbinical Assembly, 2002. ISBN 0-916219-19-4.
- Francine Rivers. Unashamed: Rahab. Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, 2000. ISBN 0-8423-3596-X. (novel about Rahab).
- Elie Kaplan Spitz. “Mamzerut.” New York: Rabbinical Assembly, 2000. EH 4.2000a. Reprinted in Responsa: 1991–2000: The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Conservative Movement. Edited by Kassel Abelson and David J. Fine, pages 558, 562–63, 576, 580–81. New York: Rabbinical Assembly, 2002. ISBN 0-916219-19-4. (evolution of interpretation of visiting the sins of the father on the children, the punishment of Sabbath violation, and the blue thread of the tzitzit).
- Tikva Frymer-Kensky. “The Guardian at the Door: Rahab.” In Reading the Women of the Bible: A New Interpretation of Their Stories, pages 34–44. New York: Shocken Books. 2002, ISBN 0-8052-4121-3
- Ari Greenspan. “The Search for Biblical Blue.” Bible Review. Volume 19 (number 1) (February 2003): pages 32–39, 52.
- Alan Lew. This Is Real and You Are Completely Unprepared: The Days of Awe as a Journey of Transformation, pages 38–39, 41–43. Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 2003. ISBN 0-316-73908-1.
- Rose Mary Sheldon. “Spy Tales.” Bible Review. Volume 19 (number 5) (October 2003): pages 12–19, 41–42.
- John Crawford. “Caleb the Dog: How a Biblical Good Guy Got a Bad Name.” Bible Review. Volume 20 (number 2) (April 2004): pages 20–27, 45.
- Frank Anthony Spina. “Rahab and Achan: Role Reversals.” In The Faith of the Outsider: Exclusion and Inclusion in the Biblical Story, pages 52–71. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2005. ISBN 0802828647.
- Francine Rivers. The Warrior: Caleb. Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, 2005. ISBN 0-8423-8266-6. (novel about Caleb).
- Aaron Wildavsky. Moses as Political Leader, pages 129–33. Jerusalem: Shalem Press, 2005. ISBN 965-7052-31-9.
- Aaron Sherwood. "A Leader's Misleading and a Prostitute's Profession: A Re-examination of Joshua." Journal for the Study of the Old Testament. Volume 31 (number 1) (2006): pages 43–61.
- Suzanne A. Brody. “I’m still groping” and “Espionage Reports.” In Dancing in the White Spaces: The Yearly Torah Cycle and More Poems, pages 16, 96. Shelbyville, Kentucky: Wasteland Press, 2007. ISBN 1-60047-112-9.
- Esther Jungreis. Life Is a Test, page 48. Brooklyn: Shaar Press, 2007. ISBN 1-4226-0609-0.
- Tzvi Novick. “Law and Loss: Response to Catastrophe in Numbers 15.” Harvard Theological Review. Volume 101 (number 1) (January 2008): pages 1–14.
- Tessa Afshar. Pearl in the Sand. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2010. ISBN 978-0-8024-5881-0. (novel about Rahab).
- Jonah Kain. Spies in the Promised Land. Amazon Digital Services, 2011. (novel about Caleb).
- Joe Lieberman and David Klinghoffer. The Gift of Rest: Rediscovering the Beauty of the Sabbath. New York: Howard Books, 2011. ISBN 1-4516-0617-6.
- Adam Kirsch. “Ancient Laws for Modern Times: When is a tent just a tent and not like a bed or a hat? To update Jewish laws, the rabbis reasoned by analogy.” Tablet Magazine. (February 26, 2013). (Shabbat).
- Adam Kirsch. “Leave the Jewish People Alone: Rabbis left enforcement of their Talmudic decrees to communal standards and voluntary commitment.” Tablet Magazine. (March 5, 2013). (Shabbat).
- Adam Kirsch. “Written in the Stars (Or Not): To overcome fated lives, the Talmud’s rabbis argued, perform virtuous acts according to Torah.” Tablet Magazine. (March 12, 2013). (Shabbat).
- Adam Kirsch. “Navigating the Talmud’s Alleys: The range of problems and the variety of answers in the study of Oral Law lead to new pathways of reasoning.” Tablet Magazine. (March 18, 2013). (Shabbat).
- "Torah Stats — Bemidbar". Akhlah Inc. Retrieved July 7, 2013.
- See, e.g., The Schottenstein Edition Interlinear Chumash: Bamidbar/Numbers. Edited by Menachem Davis, 88–112. Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 2007. ISBN 1-4226-0208-7.
- Numbers 13:1–2.
- Numbers 13:6–8.
- Numbers 13:16.
- Numbers 13:21–22.
- Numbers 13:23.
- Numbers 13:25–28.
- Numbers 13:30.
- Numbers 13:32.
- Numbers 13:31–32.
- Numbers 14:1–2.
- Numbers 14:5–7.
- Numbers 14:8–9.
- Numbers 14:10.
- Numbers 14:11–12.
- Numbers 14:13–16.
- Numbers 14:17–18.
- Numbers 14:20–25.
- Numbers 14:26–30.
- Numbers 14:32–34.
- Numbers 14:36–38.
- Numbers 14:40–42.
- Numbers 14:44–45.
- Numbers 15:1–7.
- Numbers 15:8–13.
- Numbers 15:14–16.
- Numbers 15:17–21.
- Numbers 15:22–26.
- Numbers 15:27–29.
- Numbers 15:30–31.
- Numbers 15:32–34.
- Numbers 15:35–36.
- Numbers 15:37–38.
- Numbers 15:39–40.
- Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament. Edited by James B. Pritchard, 328. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1969. ISBN 0-691-03503-2.
- Babylonian Talmud Sotah 34b.
- Babylonian Talmud Sotah 34b.
- Babylonian Talmud Sotah 34b.
- Babylonian Talmud Yoma 10a.
- Babylonian Talmud Ketubot 112a.
- Babylonian Talmud Sotah 34a.
- Babylonian Talmud Sotah 35a.
- Babylonian Talmud Ketubot 111b–12a.
- Babylonian Talmud Sotah 35a.
- Babylonian Talmud Sotah 35a.
- Babylonian Talmud Sotah 35a, Arakhin 15a.
- Mishnah Arakhin 3:5. Land of Israel, circa 200 CE. Reprinted in, e.g., The Mishnah: A New Translation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, page 813. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988. ISBN 0-300-05022-4. Babylonian Talmud Arakhin 15a.
- Babylonian Talmud Sotah 35a.
- Pirke De-Rabbi Eliezer, chapter 46. Early 9th century. Reprinted in, e.g., Pirke de Rabbi Eliezer. Translated and annotated by Gerald Friedlander, 364–66. London, 1916. Reprinted New York: Hermon Press, 1970. ISBN 0-87203-183-7.
- Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 111a–b.
- Exodus Rabbah 51:4. 10th century. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Exodus. Translated by S.M. Lehrman, volume 3, pages 564–65. London: Soncino Press, 1939. ISBN 0-900689-38-2.
- Mishnah Avot 5:4. Reprinted in, e.g., The Mishnah: A New Translation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, page 685. See also Babylonian Talmud Arakhin 15a.
- Mishnah Arakhin 3:5. Reprinted in, e.g., The Mishnah: A New Translation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, page 813. Babylonian Talmud Arakhin 15a.
- Mishnah Sanhedrin 1:6. Reprinted in, e.g., The Mishnah: A New Translation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, pages 584–85. Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 2a.
- Mishnah Avot 3:6. Reprinted in, e.g., The Mishnah: A New Translation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, page 679.
- Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 89b.
- Babylonian Talmud Bava Batra 121b.
- Babylonian Talmud Yevamot 72a.
- Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 110b.
- Numbers Rabbah 21:10. 12th century. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Numbers. Translated by Judah J. Slotki, volume 6, page 836. London: Soncino Press, 1939. ISBN 0-900689-38-2.
- Mishnah Sanhedrin 10:3. Reprinted in, e.g., The Mishnah: A New Translation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, pages 604–06. Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 108a.
- Babylonian Talmud Arakhin 15a.
- Mishnah Zevachim 4:3. Reprinted in, e.g., The Mishnah: A New Translation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, pages 705–06. Babylonian Talmud Zevachim 43a.
- Mishnah Menachot 5:3. Reprinted in, e.g., The Mishnah: A New Translation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, page 742. Babylonian Talmud Menachot 59a.
- Mishnah Challah 1:1–4:11. Reprinted in, e.g., The Mishnah: A New Translation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, pages 147–58. Tosefta Challah 1:1–2:12. Land of Israel, circa 300 CE. Reprinted in, e.g., The Tosefta: Translated from the Hebrew, with a New Introduction. Translated by Jacob Neusner, volume 1, pages 331–40. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 2002. ISBN 1-56563-642-2. Jerusalem Talmud Challah 1a–49b.
- Babylonian Talmud Kiddushin 29a.
- Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 90b. Reprinted in, e.g., Talmud Bavli. Elucidated by Asher Dicker, Joseph Elias, and Dovid Katz; edited by Yisroel Simcha Schorr and Chaim Malinowitz, volume 49, pages 90b4–5. Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 1995. ISBN 1-57819-628-0.
- Babylonian Talmud Berakhot 24b.
- Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 96b–97a.
- Mishnah Shabbat 1:1–24:5. Reprinted in, e.g., The Mishnah: A New Translation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, pages 179–208. Tosefta Shabbat 1:1–17:29. Reprinted in, e.g., The Tosefta: Translated from the Hebrew, with a New Introduction. Translated by Jacob Neusner, volume 1, pages 357–427. Jerusalem Talmud Shabbat 1a–. Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 2a–157b.
- Mishnah Tamid 5:1. Reprinted in, e.g., The Mishnah: A New Translation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, page 869. Babylonian Talmud Tamid 32b.
- Mishnah Berakhot 2:2. Reprinted in, e.g., The Mishnah: A New Translation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, page 5. Babylonian Talmud Berakhot 13a.
- Babylonian Talmud Menachot 43b. Reprinted in, e.g., Talmud Bavli. Elucidated by Eliezer Herzka, Michoel Weiner, Avrohom Neuberger, Dovid Arye Kaufman, and Asher Septimus; edited by Yisroel Simcha Schorr and Chaim Malinowitz, volume 59, pages 43b3–4. Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 2002. ISBN 1-57819-605-1.
- Tosefta Menachot 9:16. Reprinted in, e.g., The Tosefta: Translated from the Hebrew, with a New Introduction. Translated by Jacob Neusner, volume 2, page 1448.
- Ecclesiastes Rabbah 1:36. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Ruth; Ecclesiastes. Translated by Judah J. Slotki, volume 8, pages 46–49. London: Soncino Press, 1939. ISBN 0-900689-38-2.
- Ecclesiastes 1:16.
- Ecclesiastes 1:16.
- 1 Kings 3:9.
- 2 Kings 5:26.
- 1 Samuel 17:32.
- Ezekiel 22:14.
- Psalm 16:9.
- Lamentations 2:18.
- Isaiah 40:2.
- Deuteronomy 15:10.
- Exodus 9:12.
- Deuteronomy 20:3.
- Genesis 6:6.
- Deuteronomy 28:67.
- Psalm 51:19.
- Deuteronomy 8:14.
- Jeremiah 5:23.
- 1 Kings 12:33.
- Deuteronomy 29:18.
- Psalm 45:2.
- Proverbs 19:21.
- Psalm 21:3.
- Proverbs 7:25.
- Genesis 18:5.
- Genesis 31:20.
- Leviticus 26:41.
- Genesis 34:3.
- Isaiah 21:4.
- 1 Samuel 4:13.
- Song of Songs 5:2.
- Deuteronomy 6:5.
- Leviticus 19:17.
- Proverbs 23:17.
- Jeremiah 17:10.
- Joel 2:13.
- Psalm 49:4.
- Jeremiah 20:9.
- Ezekiel 36:26.
- 2 Kings 23:25.
- Deuteronomy 19:6.
- 1 Samuel 25:37.
- Joshua 7:5.
- Deuteronomy 6:6.
- Jeremiah 32:40.
- Psalm 111:1.
- Proverbs 6:25.
- Proverbs 28:14.
- Judges 16:25.
- Proverbs 12:20.
- 1 Samuel 1:13.
- Jeremiah 22:17.
- Proverbs 3:3.
- Proverbs 6:18.
- Proverbs 10:8.
- Obadiah 1:3.
- Proverbs 16:1.
- 2 Chronicles 25:19
- Zohar, Bemidbar, section 3, pages 146b–47a. Spain, late 13th century. Reprinted in, e.g., The Zohar. Translated by Maurice Simon and Harry Sperling, volume 5, pages 195-96. London: Soncino Press, 1934.
- Maimonides. The Guide for the Perplexed, part 2, chapter 36. Cairo, Egypt, 1190. Reprinted in, e.g., Moses Maimonides. The Guide for the Perplexed. Translated by Michael Friedländer, page 227. New York: Dover Publications, 1956. ISBN 0-486-20351-4.
- Yehuda Halevi. Kitab al Khazari. part 3, ¶ 11. Toledo, Spain, 1130–1140. Reprinted in, e.g., Jehuda Halevi. The Kuzari: An Argument for the Faith of Israel. Intro. by Henry Slonimsky, page 147. New York: Schocken, 1964. ISBN 0-8052-0075-4.
- Maimonides. The Guide for the Perplexed, part 3, chapter 46. Reprinted in, e.g., Moses Maimonides. The Guide for the Perplexed. Translated by Michael Friedländer, page 366.
- Shlomo Luntschitz. Kli Yakar. Lublin, 1602. Quoted in Judith Antonelli. In the Image of God: A Feminist Commentary on the Torah, page 353. Northvale, New Jersey: Jason Aronson Inc., 1995. ISBN 1-56821-438-3.
- Baruch Spinoza. Theologico-Political Treatise. chapter 19. Amsterdam, 1670. Reprinted in, e.g., Baruch Spinoza. Theological-Political Treatise. Translated by Samuel Shirley, page 214. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, second edition, 2001. ISBN 0-87220-608-4.
- Maimonides. Mishneh Torah, Positive Commandments 14, 133, Negative Commandment 47. Cairo, Egypt, 1170–1180. Reprinted in Maimonides. The Commandments: Sefer Ha-Mitzvoth of Maimonides. Translated by Charles B. Chavel, 1:21–22, 140–41; 2:46–47. London: Soncino Press, 1967. ISBN 0-900689-71-4. Sefer HaHinnuch: The Book of [Mitzvah] Education. Translated by Charles Wengrov, 4:94–119. Jerusalem: Feldheim Pub., 1988. ISBN 0-87306-457-7.
- Numbers 15:20.
- Numbers 15:38.
- Numbers 15:39.
- Menachem Davis. The Schottenstein Edition Siddur for the Sabbath and Festivals with an Interlinear Translation, 569. Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 2002. ISBN 1-57819-697-3.
- Reuven Hammer. Or Hadash: A Commentary on Siddur Sim Shalom for Shabbat and Festivals, 15. New York: The Rabbinical Assembly, 2003. ISBN 0-916219-20-8.
- Siddur Sim Shalom for Shabbat and Festivals, 30–31, 112–13, 282–83. New York: The Rabbinical Assembly, 2007. ISBN 0-916219-13-5. Davis, Siddur for the Sabbath and Festivals, at 97–98, 333–34, 607.
- Mishnah Tamid 5:1 Reprinted in, e.g., The Mishnah: A New Translation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, page 869.
- Reuven Hammer. Entering Jewish Prayer: A Guide to Personal Devotion and the Worship Service, 76–82. New York: Schocken, 1995. ISBN 0-8052-1022-9.
- Davis, Siddur for the Sabbath and Festivals, at 188–89.
- Davis, Siddur for the Sabbath and Festivals, at 405.
- Joshua 2:1.
- Joshua 2:2–3.
- Joshua 2:4–6.
- Joshua 2:7.
- Joshua 2:8–11.
- Joshua 2:12–13.
- Joshua 2:14.
- Joshua 2:15.
- Joshua 2:16.
- Joshua 2:17–19.
- Joshua 2:21.
- Joshua 2:22.
- Joshua 2:23–24.
- Numbers 13.
- Joshua 2.
- Numbers 13:8, 16.
- Joshua 2:1.
- Numbers 14:11.
- Joshua 2:12.
- Numbers 13:2–3.
- Joshua 2:1.
- Numbers 13:2–16.
- Joshua 2:1.
- Numbers 13:31–33.
- Joshua 2:24.
- Numbers 13:26.
- Joshua 2:23–24.
- Numbers Rabbah 16:1. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Numbers. Translated by Judah J. Slotki, volume 6, pages 673–74.
- Babylonian Talmud Megillah 15a. See also Babylonian Talmud Taanit 5b.
- Numbers Rabbah 16:1. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Numbers. Translated by Judah J. Slotki, volume 6, pages 673–74.
- Ruth Rabbah 2:1. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Ruth; Ecclesiastes. Translated by Judah J. Slotki, volume 8, pages 23–25.
- Numbers Rabbah 8:9. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Numbers. Translated by Judah J. Slotki, volume 5, pages 232–35.
- Exodus Rabbah 27:4. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Exodus. Translated by S.M. Lehrman, volume 3, page 324.
- Babylonian Talmud Zevachim 116a–b.
- Deuteronomy Rabbah 2:28 [or 2:26-27]. Land of Israel, 9th century. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Deuteronomy. Translated by H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, volume 7, pages 55–56. London: Soncino Press, 1939. ISBN 0-900689-38-2.
- Pesikta de-Rav Kahana 13:5:1.
- Mekhilta 45:1:4.
- Ruth Rabbah 2:1. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Ruth; Ecclesiastes. Translated by Judah J. Slotki, volume 8, pages 23–25.