Israel is Strong!

In Parshat Chukat, Bamidbar, 21:1-3 we read: “And the Cnaanite King of Arad who lived in the Negev (South) heard that B’nai Yisrael had come by the route of Atarim, he fought against Yisrael and took some of them as prisoners. Yisrael made a vow to God and said: ‘If you will deliver this people into my hand, I shall consecrate their cities.’ God heard Yisrael’s voice and he delivered the Cnaanim into their hand and he (Yisrael) destroyed them and consecrated their cities; the region was called Chorma.”


I have two questions about these verses:

Why did the Cnaanim specifically go to attack B’ani Yisrael even before they reached the land of Cnaan?

Why weren’t the Cnaanim afraid to attack B’nai Yisrael, knowing that God rescued them from Egypt and split the Red Sea for them?


According to Ibn Ezra, the word Atarim is a variation on the word tarim (the spies) with an extra alef, meaning that Atarim was not a literal place but rather the route of the spies.


Ramban states that the Cnaanim followed the spies back to the camp of Israel.


According to Nehama Leibowitz, B’nai Yisrael showed their lack of confidence and fear of the future by sending the spies. The Cnaanim fortified themselves with the knowledge of Israel’s sense of weakness and inferiority. The lowering of Israel’s morale was followed automatically by the rising morale of their enemies.


The spies said (Bamidbar 13:33) “And we were in our own sight as grasshoppers and so we were in their sight.”


Nehama Leibowitz continues, B’nai Yisrael showed a lack of trust in God by sending the spies. The result was that the Cnaanim lost their dread of the Chosen People and attacked them at the first opportunity.


Today, we must keep up our morale and continue to give the world the impression that the State of Israel is strong. If we don’t show that we are tough and self reliant, then others will not be afraid to attack us. With our powerful army and God on our side we must remain confident that we will triumph over our enemies.


Shabbat Shalom and Chodesh Tov from Yerushalayim!

May we hear good news from the State of Israel!