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by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek


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Parashas Lech Lecha (72)

Genesis 12:9

And Avram journeyed, going and journeying southward.


12:9 going and journeying: Rashi : by stages. He stayed here a month or more, then traveled on and pitched his tent in another place, and all his journeys were towards the Negev, to go to the south of Eretz Yisrael. Which is in the area where Jerusalem is

Note: The word "Negev" means South, it is also the area of southern Israel. The word is derived from the Hebrew Nagev, which means dry. The Negev is a relatively dry area.

Rashi's comment is somewhat strange. He says "to go to the south of Eretz Yisroel." What would you ask on his conclusion? Your Question:


A Question: Why does Rashi say Avram was heading for the south of Eretz Yisroel ? The word "Negbah" only means "southward". If for example a person traveled today from Haifa to Tel Aviv he would be going southward but would not be going to the South of Israel.

Compare the word Negbah here with when Hashem said to Yaakov: (Genesis 28:14) "And you will spread out westward, eastward, northward or southward (VaNegbah)."

Here it certainly only means in a southern direction.

Hint: You must look at the Hebrew in the Torah to see a possible explanation.

Your Answer:


An Answer: Our verse has the word HaNegbah; the letter "heh" at the beginning is the "Heh Hayidiya" the definite article. What difference does this make?

Your Answer:


An Answer: HaNegbah is probably Rashi's clue that Avram wasn't just going southward, but was going to "the South."

Rashi's eye is very sensitive to such nuances in the Torah text.

This analysis is based on Rabbi Moshe Greenes' A"H. sefer "Karon P'nei Moshe."

Shabbat Shalom
Avigdor Bonchek

"What's Bothering Rashi?" is produced by the Institute for the Study of Rashi and Early Commentaries. The five volume set of "What's Bothering Rashi?" is available at all Judaica bookstores.

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