The second of our two parashiyot includes a roll call of all the stops and starts of the Israelites through the desert (Numbers 33). This list appears to offer no new information—no unreported events or overlooked stops. Furthermore, the whole desert trek apparently was an abject failure: The purpose was for the freed slaves to settle in the Land of Canaan, but the Exodus generation could not muster enough courage and energy to conquer it. What then is the purpose of reporting all the points along this journey to futility? Looking back at the high hopes of the Exodus generation, were it not better to draw a curtain of silence and oblivion over all the stops along the way that ended with nothing?
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