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Tuesday, September 09, 2014

From Tifsah until Aza

As the verse tells us, Shelomo Hamelech had full control from Tifsah until Aza.

It is not 100% clear where these places are.  Let's start with "Aza".  It is most likely what we call Gaza.  However, the Rada"k says that it, along with Tifsah, are cities on the other side of the Euphrates.  Tifsah itself can be one of many places, as we'll see below.

The gemara in Megilla (11a) cites an argument between Rav and Shemuel about these 2 cities.  One says that Tifsah is on one end of the earth while Aza is on the other.  The other says that Tisfah and Aza are right next to each other, and just as Shelomo Hamelech ruled over these 2 cities, he ruled over the entire world.  (Interestingly, the Rif in Ein Yaakov quotes the Rishonim who say that both opinions are not arguing in geography - both agree that they are right next to each other - but according to the first opinion, since the world is round, he ruled from Tifsah - going all the way around the world - to Aza.)

All that is according to Derush.  According to Peshat, however, it is telling us the exact borders of Shelomo Hamelech's reign as we know it.  And when it says twice in the verse "בכל עבר הנהר" and "בכל מלכי עבר הנהר", Mechon Mamre translates that as "over all the region on this side the River" and "over all the kings on this side the River".  This refers to only south and west of the Euphrates.

Source: Wikipedia
Click to Enlarge

Wikipedia gives us a few possibilities where Tifsah is (I'm not going to critique these identifications.  Let's assume all are a possibility):
  1. Deir ez-Zor (on Euphrates, about 2 hours east of Raqqah, Syria - the capital of ISIS)
  2. Khirbat Tafsah (a village 6 miles west of Shechem, Israel)
  3. Carchemish (on Euphrates, on the Syrian-Turkish border, near Jarabulus, about 2.5 hours northwest of Raqqah, Syria, mentioned in Yirmiyahu 46:2 and Divrei Hayamim Bet 35:20)
  4. Dibsi Faraj (on Euphrates, about 1.5 hours west of Raqqah, Syria)
  5. Balis, or Barbalisos (on Euphrates, about 1.5 hours west of Raqqah, Syria)

Let's take a look at what's going on now at these locations:

2) As the Sesame Street song goes, "One of these things is not like the others" - namely #2 above.  This village is currently under control of the PA.  And it is near Shechem, the Shomron city that has given Israel the most trouble (as Rashi on Bereishit 37:14 points out, it's a city that was made to give  trouble to the Jewish people).

3) Carchemish is within Turkey proper, but its close southern neighbor - Jarabulus, Syria - is controlled by ISIS.  One source mentioned by Wikipedia says that Tifsah is "near Jarâblos".

4 and 5) Dibsi and Balis are both in on the Lake Assad/Euphrates coast, which seems to squarely be under ISIS control.

Aza, assuming it means "Gaza", as we are most-recently painfully aware, is under Hamas control.

So, all these cities that could comprise Tifsah along with the city of Aza are all cities that are not only not under Israeli control, but they are under an authority that is openly hostile to Jews and Israel.  Futhermore, the final status of all these cities is up in the air right now, as wars and conflicts inflict each and every one of them.

During the time of Shelomo Hamelech, on the other hand, he ruled over these lands peacefully, as the same verse states explicitly: וְשָׁלוֹם, הָיָה לוֹ מִכָּל-עֲבָרָיו--מִסָּבִיב [and he had peace on all sides round about him].

Why is this happening?  Perhaps, Hashem wants us to see the contrast between what Tifsah and Aza are today and what Tifsah and Aza will be when Mashiah comes.  At that time, Israel's borders will reach until the Euphrates River and will encompass each of these cities, just like in the time of Shelomo Hamelech.  In addition, we will be given the land of Keini, Kenizi and Kadmoni.  And, in due time, peace will return when we beat our swords into plowshares

May that day come speedily in our days, Amen.


At Sat Sep 13, 01:05:00 PM 2014, Blogger Neshama said...

Yaakov, I enjoyed reading this so much. But I'm not done yet. It deserves another reading.


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