Sharona Margolin Halickman

Some things never change

Photo Courtesy Sharona Halickman

In Parshat Ki Tisa, the nations already residing in the Land of Israel are mentioned twice, but in each case, only six out of the seven nations are listed:

First, in Shmot 33:2:

I will send an angel before you, and I will drive out the C’anaani, The Emori, the Chiti, the Prizi, the Chivi and the Yevusi.

They are mentioned again in Shmot 34:11-12::

Preserve for your own sake that which I command you today. I am driving out from before you the Emori, the C’naani, the Chiti, the Perizi, the Chivi and the Yevusi. For your own sake, be careful not to make a covenant with the people who live in the land to which you are coming, lest it be a trap in your midst.

If there were seven nations in the Land, then why are only six mentioned? What happened to the Girgashi?

While the seven nations are listed 23 times in the Tanach, all seven are only actually mentioned three times.

The one time in the Torah that all seven are mentioned is in Dvarim 7:1:

When HaShem, your God brings you into the Land that you are about to enter and possess, and He dislodges many nations before you- The Chiti, Girgashi, Emori, C’naani, Prizi, Chivi and Yevusi, seven nations, much larger than you.

The other two times where all seven nations are mentioned are both in the Book of Yehoshua.

In Yehoshua 3:9-10, Right before B’nai Yisrael cross the Jordan River we read:

Yehoshua said to B’nai Yisrael, “Come here and hear the words of HaShem, your God.” Yehoshua said, “Through this you will know that the Living God is in your midst and He will surely drive away from before you the C’naani and the Chiti and the Chivi and the Prizi and the Girgashi and the Emori and the Yevusi…”

At the end of the book of Yehoshua (Yehoshua 24:11), Yehoshua reminds B’nai Yisael of their history up to that point:

“Then you crossed the Jordan and came to Jericho. The inhabitants of Jericho battled against you- the Emori, the Prizi and the C’naani and the Chiti and the Girgashi, the Chivi and the Yevusi- and I delivered them into your hand.

Why are the Girgashim omitted from most of the lists?

Rashi quoting Vayikra Raba 17:6 states (Shmot 32:2):

There are only six nations. This is because the Girgashi rose and left of their own accord.

The full Midrash, Vayikra Raba states:

Rabbi Shmuel bar Nachman said: Yehoshua had sent them three proclamations: “Whoever wishes to leave, let them leave; whoever wishes to make peace, let them make peace; whoever wishes to fight a battle, let them fight a battle.” The Girgashi rose and left of their own accord. As a reward they were given a good land, namely some place in Africa. The Givonim (part of the C’naanim) made peace with Yehoshua and B’nai Yisrael and therefore they were able to stay as we see in Yehoshua 10:1 “And the inhabitants of Givon had made peace with Israel and were in their midst.” However, the 31 Cananite kings from the other six nations chose to fight a war against Yehoshua and B’nai Yisrael and were overthrown.

The fact that the Girgashi is omitted from most lists shows us that some things never change. Today as well, the nations who are living in the modern State of Israel have a choice. If they don’t want to live in a Jewish country they are free to go. If they want to live in peace they are welcome to stay. However, if they want to wage war against us, we will fight back.

About the Author
Sharona holds a BA in Judaic Studies from Stern College and an MS in Jewish Education from Azrieli Graduate School, Yeshiva University. Sharona was the first Congregational Intern and Madricha Ruchanit at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, NY. After making aliya in 2004, Sharona founded Torat Reva Yerushalayim, a non profit organization based in Jerusalem which provides Torah study groups for students of all ages and backgrounds.
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