Updated: Aug 6
There will be an earthquake, and it will be as if the feet of God stand on the Mount of Olives, to the east of Jerusalem. * Fear is called 'the fear of God for life' because it is through fear that wisdom is preserved. Fear is like a house that protects wisdom. * On Parshas Devarim.
by ChatGPT and Bing AI
In Deuteronomy 2:5, we encounter an intriguing verse with profound implications for the Israelites. It states, “Do not provoke them, for I will not give you any of their land, not even a footprint, because I have given Mount Seir to Esau as his possession.” The significance of this instruction lies in the understanding that it is part of a larger vision of spiritual transformation in the divine plan.
BOUNDARIES AND DIVINE PROMISES
In his commentary on this verse, Rashi writes, “I gave ten nations to Abraham, seven of them for you [the seven of Canaan], and the Kenites, the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites (Gen. 16:18-21), who are Ammon, Moab, and Seir. One of them is for Esau, and the other two are for the children of Lot (Gen. Rabbah 44).”
Rashi's explanation sheds light on the division of the promised lands. As he refers to Genesis 16:18-21, we learn that God promised Abraham the inheritance of ten nations. However, only seven were ultimately given to the Israelites. The remaining three territories were distributed among Esau (Mount Seir) and the children of Lot (Moab and Ammon). This distribution reflects the fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham, demonstrating the significance of boundaries in the divine plan.
Moreover, Rashi delves into the reasons for the allocation to the children of Lot. He explains, “As a reward [for Lot] for going with him [Abraham] to Egypt and for keeping silent when Abraham said, regarding his wife, ‘She is my sister,’ He treated him [Lot] as his [Abraham’s] son [to inherit part of the land promised to Abraham] (Gen. Rabbah 44).”
Their inheritance was a reward for their loyalty and companionship during Abraham's journey to Egypt. When faced with danger, they remained silent when Abraham referred to his wife, Sarah, as his sister. Their steadfastness in supporting Abraham led to their being treated as heirs to a part of the land promised to Abraham, reinforcing the idea that divine rewards are intertwined with loyalty and adherence to God's will.
The phrase "not so much as a footstep" carries profound significance as well. Rashi elucidates, “meaning, even only for the sole of the foot to tread a single step, I do not permit you to enter their land without permission.” This restriction emphasizes the importance of respecting the boundaries set by God. The Israelites were not permitted to enter the land of Esau without explicit permission, not even for a single step. This emphasizes the idea that the divine plan includes a deliberate and precise distribution of lands, urging the Israelites to honor the designated territories and not provoke the inhabitants of Mount Seir.
In addition to his historical explanation, Rashi offers an Aggadic interpretation of the verse, connecting it to the Messianic era. He alludes to Zechariah 14:4, which states, “And His [God’s] feet will [figuratively] stand [on that day upon the Mount of Olives].” According to this interpretation, the divine intervention will reshape the land, and God's presence will be tangibly felt. The Messianic era represents a significant transformation in the divine plan, where spiritual truths will be manifested more visibly, and God's purpose for humanity will reach its culmination.
This vision of the Messianic era points to a future time when the boundaries and divine promises will be fully realized, and humanity will experience a profound spiritual transformation. The interconnectedness of these themes underscores the intricacy and significance of God's divine plan for the world. As Rashi alludes to Zechariah 14:4, we catch a glimpse of a time when "His feet will stand" on the Mount of Olives, signifying the tangible presence of the divine and a new era of spiritual awakening.
This narrative highlights the rewards of loyalty, the significance of respecting divine boundaries, and the promise of a future where God's presence will be more tangibly felt. Through these insights, we gain a deeper appreciation for the intricacies and profound meaning embedded within the scriptures.
A VISION OF DIVINE INTERVENTION
In his commentary on Zechariah 14:4, Malbim offers a vivid depiction of a vision of divine intervention. He writes, “And His feet will stand, then there will be an earthquake, and it will be as if the feet of God, meaning His surrounding forces (which is the definition of feet in spiritual terms), will stand on the Mount of Olives which is to the east of Jerusalem.” This prophecy envisions a momentous event where the divine presence, symbolized by God's feet, will manifest with great force upon the Mount of Olives, located to the east of Jerusalem.
Malbim's explanation continues, elaborating on the aftermath of this divine intervention. He describes, “And the Mount of Olives will split in its midst between its eastern side and its western side, meaning that the split will extend from east to west.” The impact of this momentous event will be the splitting of the Mount of Olives into two parts, creating a vast valley that stretches from the eastern to the western side.
Furthermore, Malbim suggests that this prophecy is interconnected with other prophetic visions, such as the one described by Ezekiel. He writes, “If the matter is understood literally, it will coincide with what was shown to Ezekiel (there chapter 48) that in the future Jerusalem will be far from the place of the Temple by 100 mil.” According to Ezekiel's vision, a future Jerusalem would be situated at a considerable distance from the Temple, approximately 100 mil away. Malbim indicates that the fulfillment of Zechariah's prophecy would align with Ezekiel's vision, signifying a profound transformation in the spiritual landscape.
The question arises of how Jerusalem would return to its original location, as promised by other prophets. Malbim clarifies, “Since other prophets have already prophesied that Jerusalem will return to its place, our prophet explains that this will be achieved by moving the Mount of Olives which is from Jerusalem along with all its surroundings in length and width.” The restoration of Jerusalem to its original position would be accomplished by relocating the Mount of Olives and its surrounding area.
The spiritual significance of the relocation of Jerusalem, as described by Malbim, lies in its representation of a transformation in the relationship between God and humanity. The fulfillment of these prophecies signifies the dawn of a new era, where the divine presence will be more tangibly felt, and God's plan for the world will be more fully realized.
In this new era, the divine presence will become more accessible to humanity, strengthening the relationship between God and His people. The relocation of Jerusalem serves as a pivotal event in this transformative process, representing a significant shift in the spiritual landscape. Through this vision, Malbim paints a picture of a future where divine intervention will reshape the world, creating a closer bond between God and humanity and unveiling a profound and meaningful spiritual reality.
FEAR AS A PROTECTIVE BOUNDARY
Meor Einayim's commentary on Zechariah 14:4 offers a profound understanding of the spiritual significance behind the portrayal of God's feet standing on the Mount of Olives. According to Meor Einayim, "His feet will stand, then there will be an earthquake, and it will be as if the feet of God, meaning His surrounding forces (which is the definition of feet in spiritual terms), will stand on the Mount of Olives which is to the east of Jerusalem."
The author associates the starting letter "Bet" in the Torah with the concept that fear (Yirah) is called a house (Bayit). He explains, "The Torah begins with the letter 'Bet' because fear is called a house. Just as a person with wealth and possessions needs a house to store their belongings, a person with Torah and wisdom needs fear to keep their wisdom from being used for external purposes. Fear acts as a boundary to prevent a person’s wisdom from being used for external purposes."
In essence, Meor Einayim's interpretation highlights the protective role of fear in preserving wisdom. Fear serves as a safeguard, preventing the knowledge derived from Torah study from being misused or exploited for selfish or harmful purposes.
Additionally, Meor Einayim delves into the concept of "the fear of God for life," emphasizing that this fear plays a vital role in preserving wisdom. As he writes, "Fear is called 'the fear of God for life' because it is through fear that wisdom is preserved. Fear is like a house that protects wisdom." This fear of God acts as a shield, ensuring that wisdom remains pure and dedicated to the divine purpose.
The vision of God's feet standing on the Mount of Olives is interconnected with the idea of fear as a protective boundary for wisdom preservation. It symbolizes a transformative era, where constant spiritual pleasure will be accessible without interruption, as the earth becomes filled with knowledge of God.
Meor Einayim's unique interpretation of Zechariah 14:4 unveils a profound connection between divine intervention, wisdom preservation through fear, and humanity's spiritual growth. This spiritual vision sheds light on the deeper significance of the verse and its role in envisioning a future where God's presence is tangibly felt, fostering a profound spiritual transformation. Through the fear of God, humanity can find profound fulfillment, transcending material pursuits and aligning with the divine plan.