“That is why the children of Israel do not eat, until this day, the thigh muscle that is on the socket of the hip” (Genesis 32:33)
And in Deuteronomy 34:6, “He buried him in the valley of the land of Moab, near Baal-peor; and no one knows his burial place until this day.”
And in 3:14, “Yair, the son of Manasseh received the whole Argov district as far as the boundary of the Geshurites and the Maacathites, and called the Bashan after himself, Chavvot-Yair, as it is until this day.”
The meaning of the phrase “until this day” is that the situation described happened long before the matter was written. If so, these verses were written at a later period.
The verse in our parsha can be explained as done by Radak: “The children of Israel forbade it (the thigh muscle) to themselves in honor of their father who was stricken there, and they commanded their sons and grandsons until this day, etc. And Moses wrote it in the Torah as one of the prohibitions of the Torah, according to G-d’s word.”
And that explains “this day” as the time of Moshe Rabbeynu, meaning that the thigh muscle was forbidden from the time of the sons of Jacob.
But the verse in Deuteronomy which speaks of the burial of Moses, “and no one knows his burial place until this day” — it is not possible that Moses wrote these words, and therefore Ibn Ezra explains, “These are the words of Joshua, and it is possible he wrote this at the end of his life.”
See, wise student who seeks truth, how the Ibn Ezra clearly writes that Moses did not write these words of Deuteronomy! He did not fear the punishment explicitly stated in the Gemara (Sanhedrin 99a), “And these have no portion in the World to Come: one who says Torah is not from the heavens, even if he says that the whole Torah is from the heavens aside from this verse, which not the Holy One, blessed be He, said, but Moses on his own.”
And if this is said about ‘Moses on his own,’ how much more so about ‘Joshua on his own’. Nevertheless, Ibn Ezra was not afraid, for the truth was his guide. And know that the final days of Yehoshua’s life were 14 years after he entered the land, as Ibn Ezra says on Exodus 33:11, while according to the Seder Olam, brought by Rashi (Judges 11:26), “Twenty eight years did Joshua support the Israelites.” And this, to all opinions, is not a long enough period to say “until this very day.”
Come and see another proof for our claim that there are later additions to the Torah, from Deuteronomy 3:14, “Yair, the son of Manasseh, received the whole Argov district …and called it after himself, he called the Bashan Chavvot-Yair, as it is until this day.”
And in Judges 10:3, “After him arose Yair the Gileadite, and he led Israel for 22 years….those were called Chavvot-Yair, as it is until this day.”
And know that, according to a calculation, Yair judged the children of Israel some 250 years after they entered the Promised Land.
But if so, it is clear that Moses did not see him, for he was born much later, and you understand this.
However, Radak wrote (Judges 10:4), “If they are the ones mentioned in the Torah and this Yair is Yair the son of Manasseh, it is puzzling, for then Yair would have lived over 300 years. But we can say that Yair the Gileadite is not Yair the son of Manasseh, and thus, these cities are not the Chavvot-Yair written about in the Torah.” But what can we say? That there were in the Bashan district two Chavvot-Yairs? One named after “Yair the Gileadite” and one after “Yair the son of Manasseh”?
But even if we accept Radak’s opinion, we still will find no peace, for it was only in the 40th year after the Exodus from Egypt — the year in which the Torah is considered to have been finished — that Yair took the district of Argov and named it after himself: “Chavvot Yair” — so how would Radak interpret the phrase “until this day” in Deuteronomy 3:14? Therefore, it must be that this verse was written after the 40th year since the Exodus from Egypt — that is, after Moses’s death.
And from these our words you can learn that many verses of the Torah were not given at Sinai, but were written in later periods, after the time of Joshua. And do not be puzzled by our words, for one who reads the Torah attentively can see that the Torah’s author did not intend to present this book as one written by Moses (as we wrote in Vayelech), but only in later generations did the faithful Jews adopta belief in the sanctity of the Torah, as though it was as a whole written down by Moses at G-d’s dictation. This change in the opinion of the religious public is quite like the change of the notion concerning the sanctity of all the letters in the Torah text — the notion, of which Prof. Menachem Cohen wrote in his paper, “The Idea of Sanctity of the Biblical Text and the Science of Textual Criticism” (from “HaMikrah V’Anachnu,” edited by Uriel Simon, Dvir Publishing, Tel Aviv 1987), “All the evidence we possess points to textual pluralism in the Second Temple era, as opposed to the notion of a single sacred consonantal text as later conceived.”
We will close with the words of Prof. Cohen. “It therefore appears to me that the notion of a sanctified text in our era must be based on a halachic interpretation alone, i.e., it must derive its power not from a determination that people managed to preserve the text exactly as it was throughout the entire transmission, but from the faith that men were given authority to determine, using halachic methods of decision, the image of the sanctified consonantal text upon its letters.” Many signs and proofs have been given. See elsewhere in his paper, for his words are recognizable as truth.
And the same should be said of the idea of the sanctity of the Torah text which Moses wrote under Divine dictation — this idea should be based on a halachic interpretation alone, i.e., it must derive its power not from a notion that Moses indeed wrote the text under Divine dictation, but from the faith that men were given authority to determine, using halachic methods of decision, the canon of the Holy Writings, which were “dictated by G-d;” we described this issue at great length in Pamphlet 8.
Words of True Knowledge