To his credit, right after getting a pink slip from God, Moshe continues to lead the Israelites. If he can’t get into the Promised Land, he can at least bring them closer. His first action after being told his fate is to send messengers to the King of Edom. After reminding him of what Israel has endured over the last couple hundred years (“You know all the hardships that have befallen us),” Moshe cuts to the chase:
“Now we are in Kadesh, the town on the border of your country. All us, then, to cross your country. We will not pass through fields or vineyards, and we will not drink water from wells. We will follow the king’s highway, turning off neither to the right nor to the left until we have crossed your territory” (Numbers 20:16b-17).
The King of Edom has a reaction similar to this one (click here).
Why is Edom so inhospitable? Is there a history between Israel and Edom that might have inspired such a rejection, and threatening gestures as described in 20:20–“Edom went out against them in heavy force, strongly armed”?
On Shabbat morning, we’ll look at the roots of the conflict between Israel and Edom, and what we can learn from this episode.
Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi David Wise