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Dimensions of Israel


On Bemidbar 13:25, Oznayim Latorah says that Israel measures 400 parsahs by 400 parsahs. Does this mean that it’s a square? It doesn’t look that way on a map.


This idea is not from the Oznayim L’torah, rather it is mentioned in the gemorah and midrashim in numerous places. The Maharal (Chidushei Agados Rosh Hashana 23a, pg. 125-6) addresses your question, and he even adds to it. He asks that the gemora in Baba Metzia 28a seems to say that Eretz Yisroel was only wide 15 days worth of walking, and 400 parsa is 40 days? He answers that what is meant by 400 parsa by 4—parsa is only a figurative term, because 4 represents physical completeness, and so does 100, therefore 400x 400 is meant to say that Eretz Yisroel is complete in all ways. Physically though it was smaller than that.

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  1. Could it be that the original land promised to Avraham was much bigger than the land conquered by Yehoshua? Perhaps the gap was due to sins.
    For example, could the original promise to Avraham have included Moav, Ammon and Edom?

    1. I haven’t seen anyone that suggests something like that.
      There are those who say from the Arizal that E. Yisroel shrunk after the churban habayis. The Maharal that I quoted wants to entertain a similar idea, but he falls off the idea due to his question from the gemora in Baba Metzia.

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