The Promised Land — When?

“On that day Hashem made a covenant with Avram saying, ‘To your children I will give this land from the Egyptian River until the great Euphrates River. The land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites and Kadmonites. The Hittites, the Perizzites and the Refaim. The Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites’” (Bereishis 15:18-21).

Rashi says that 10 nations are listed here, yet only seven nations were given to the Jewish people. The first three were given to Edom, Moav and Ammon. In the far future they will be an inheritance of the Jewish people as is indicated in Yeshaya 10.

Rashi expresses the same idea later (Devarim 4:5): Esav inherited from Avraham. Ten nations were given to Avraham, seven to the Jewish people and three to Ammon, Moav and Seir, who are sons of Esav and Lot. This is Lot’s reward for remaining silent on the way to Egypt when Avraham claimed that Sarah was his sister. The reward was that he was considered like a son of Avraham.

It seems that those three nations were given to Avraham expressly to pass on to the sons of Lot and Esav (Mizrachi on Devarim).

However, Midrash Rabbah (44:23) states: “Rabi Chalbo in the name of Rabi Abba in the name of Rabi Yochanan said, ‘The Divine plan was to give to the Jewish people 10 nations, but because they did not have sufficient merit, they received only seven. In the days of Moshiach, however, Edom, Moav and Ammon will be given to the Jewish people in order to fulfill the Divine promise to Avraham (see Parashas Drachim, Drush #7, which is based on this Midrash rather than on the Mizrachi).

The Gra explains (Aderes Eliyahu, Divrei Hayamim 1:13): “The sons of Esav took Kenizzi from the sons of Canaan and Ammon, and Moav took the land of the Kenites and the Kadmonites. This explains a contradiction in the verses. The Jewish people are told (Devarim 1:7) to go to Har Emori and its neighbors. The Sifri explains that this verse refers to Ammon, Moav and Edom, implying that these lands were meant for the Jewish people. Yet Hashem says explicitly (Ibid., 2:9, 19) that these lands will not be given to the Jewish people. This is because they have sinned with the incident of the spies in the interim. This is reflected later in Devarim when it is stated that only seven nations were given to the Jewishpeople.

Thus the Gra agrees with the Midrash about the original Divine promise of 10 nations being reduced to seven due to their sin.

As we have learned from Rashi, Lot’s silence earned the reward for his sons, but what was the merit of Esav? According to the Baal HaTurim and the Targum Yonasan (Devarim 2:5), Esav merited the land of Seir because he honored his father.

The Ramban points out (beginning of Parashas Shelach) that the spies not only spoke out against the Land, but also against the kindnesses Hashem had done in the desert after they left Egypt.

What is amazing is that the first sin of the Jews as a nation, improper speech against the Land, resulted in a reward to one who had the merit of not speaking, Lot. Their second sin, not acknowledging Hashem’s goodness,resulted in a reward to one who honored his father. Sefer Hachinuch (Mitzvah #33) states in regard to honoring one’s parents, “It is appropriate for one who receives good to recognize and return the favor, and not deny the help he has received from others.”

Yeshaya (11) foresees that Moav, Ammon and Seir will be conquered by Efrayim and Yehuda in the Days of Moshiach. The Gra comments that although all of the Jewish nation will have a share in these lands, these two tribes will lead the conquest.

A deeper insight in this matter is revealed in Bereishis Rabbah (71:5): Leah is known for her trait of showing gratitude, which was inherited by her son Yehuda and her descendants Dovid and Daniel. Rochel is known for her trait of silence, found later in her son Binyamin, and later Shaul and Esther.

These two traits are to be found previously in Yehoshua and Calev, the two spies who did not sin. Rashi explains that Calev rebuked the nation for not showing gratitude to Moshe for leading them out of Egypt and through the wilderness, whereas Yehoshua was silent; he did not speak out against the Land nor did he rebuke the others.

According to what we have learned above, the pieces fit together. Yehoshua is from the tribe of Efrayim, a grandson of Rochel: thus Yehoshua is silent. Calev is from the tribe of Yehuda, descended from Leah: thus he focuses on recognizing the good received from others. That is why, as the Ramban explained, only these two spies are permitted to enter the Land.

Furthermore, the rectification at the End of Days will be wrought by the two tribes who represent the sterling qualities of silence and showing gratitude.