15.2. In Elim: Springs of Water and Palm Trees (15:27)

(27) And they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees; and they encamped there beside the water.

(27) And they came to Elim: I.e., having successfully put the crisis behind them, they journey onward.

Where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees; and they encamped there beside the water: They now have water even in great abundance, for in Elim there are “twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees” (“palm trees” with no further qualification means date palms. The Torah is saying that the people now had water to drink and sweet, nourishing food to eat).

The numbers 12 and 70 in juxtaposition connect us back to the beginning of Exodus (1:5), where these numbers are essential indicators for the Jacob family (Jacob had twelve sons, who became the twelve tribes of Israel, and Jacob’s family that descended from Canaan to Egypt numbered seventy souls). Thus, upon leaving Egypt, the structure of Jacob’s family who had come there originally is now restored.

Elim’s twelve springs correspond to the twelve tribes of Israel, and the seventy date palms can alternatively represent the seventy nations of the world[1]. Thus, the Jewish people in all their diversity, as represented by the Twelve Tribes, are a source of life for the nations of the world.

[1] See above, §3.1.

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Bible Dynamics, VOL. 2. EXODUS Copyright © by Orot Yerushalaim / P. Polonsky / English translation of the Torah by the Jewish Publication Society, New JPS Translation, 1985. With sincere gratitude for the permission to use. All Rights Reserved.

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