Beit Midrash

  • Sections
  • Small and Sweet Ideas
To dedicate this lesson

The Biblical Jericho


Rabbi Avraham (Abe) Abrahami

Cheshvan 5779
Why the Biblical Jericho (Heb. Yericho) is called "the City of Palm Trees" or "the City or Dates" (Devarim - Deuteronomy - chapter 34, verse 3)?

The sources below provided the answers:

Yerushalmi Aramaic interpretation of the above verse, Rabbi Yitzchak Geller’s Hebrew video on Hidabroot web page (, Daat Jewish Encyclopedia web page (;

Here is a brief summary of the answers concerning Yericho city of dates

The Hebrew name Yericho (Jericho) is thought to be derived from the Canaanite word for "moon" (Heb. Yareach), related to the name of the lunar deity (Yarikh) for whom the city was an early centre of idol worship. (Wikipedia)

The witnesses at the time of the Jerusalem Temple, before Rosh Chodesh was declared, typically saw the first sign of the moon (Yareach) from Yericho and made their way to the Temple’s Bet Din to give evidence.

The dates of Jericho were particularly sweet and delicious, suited for royalty, and the king of Babylon used to send special envoys to Jericho to bring him dates from this city.

Dates are the sweetest fruit and before honey bee was discovered, date syrup (honey) was used extensively but before dates ripen and become sweet, they are bitter as they begin to grow .
This is a hint to the bitter beginning of Yericho, which was extremely strong and fortified, but with divine miracles, G-d delivered a sweet victory to Joshua and the city fell. To commemorate the sweet victory and bitter defeat of Yericho, Joshua decreed that the city should not be rebuilt, so that passers-by could see remnants of the fallen wall as a testimony of the divine miracles of the G-d of Israel.

The Mishna (Yuma) speaks of the very strong aromatic smell (Heb. Reiach) of the Ketoret (Incense) that was brought up (burnt) in the Jerusalem Temple. The smell was so strong, that the goats in Yericho used to sneeze. Also, a woman’s perfume was ineffective as it was overcome by the strong smell of the burnt Temple Incense. The word Yericho includes in it the Hebrew letters which make the word Reiach (or smell).

After Yericho was rebuilt it became renowned for the gatherings of the Sages who met there to discuss matters of Torah and Jewish Law. The Gemara (Babylonian Talmud Sota and Sanhedrin) mentions that a heavenly voice came down (Bat Kol) during one of such debates. How does it connect with sweet dates?
Psalm 120, "A song for the Sabbath day" – mentions that the righteous grows and blossoms like a palm tree (or date – a reference to the sweet words of Torah that are spoken by the Sages.

It was foretold (Midrash Sifri, Sidra Ve’Zot Ha’Berakha) that the messiah (Mashiach) will be revealed in Yericho at the time of the final war between the kings of Gog and Magog (Heb. Gog U’Magog).
With divine intervention, he will bring about the defeat of the enemies of Israel. What is the connection to Yericho and the messiah’s chief attribute? The prophet Isaiah foretells us that Mashiach will possess a divine sense of perception, scent or smell (Heb. Reiach, derived from the word Yericho).
This divine sense will enable him to judge by Ruach Ha’Kodesh (divine spirit/perception) and not by seeing or hearing, as normal human beings do. Do not read Ruach (spirit) but Reiach (scent).

את המידע הדפסתי באמצעות אתר