I remember reading that Moses gave one tribe of Israel the task of erasing every trace of the Israelites' journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. Is this accurate, what is the source, and what would be accomplished by such an exercise?

  • Given the supernatural experience they were living in I would be very surprised if they had any tracks to begin with
    – Schmerel
    Jan 26, 2020 at 1:14

1 Answer 1


Possibly based off of the duty of the Tribe of Dan, as stated in Bamidbar 10:25:

"Then, as the rear guard of all the divisions, the standard of the division of Dan would set out, troop by troop. In command of its troop was Ahiezer son of Ammishaddai."

And explained by Rashi:

The Talmud Yerushalmi Eruvin 5:1 has the following statement: Because the tribe of Dan consisted of numerous troops (i. e. was more numerous than each of the other tribes, except Judah which marched on the front, cf. Chapter II), it marched in the rear so that if anyone of the other tribes lost anything, he (Dan) restored it to him. (מאסף לכל המחנת therefore means “the one who gathered in everything belonging to all the camps”.) etc.

Further explained by the Natziv:

מי שנחשל ולא יכול ללכת עם מחנהו. והי׳ נשאר יחידי אחורי המחנה. נאסף למחנה בני דן. ומחנה בני דן היו הולכים לאט עם הנחשלים עד שהביאום לצבאותם:"

Translation: Whoever that was weak and couldn't walk along his camp, and remained by himself behind his camp, would be assembled into the camp of the Sons of Dan, and the camp of the Sons of Dan would walk slowly with the weak until they brought them to their troops.

  • "if anyone of the other tribes lost anything, he (Dan) restored it to him." So, no covering of tracks, no retrieval of intentionally discarded items? (We know manna did not produce bodily residue, but surely they left behind broken pottery and the like, no?) Jan 26, 2020 at 20:23
  • @MauriceMizrahi we know that their clothes and footwear didn't tear and wear out, so perhaps the same could be said about pottery? Just a guess, though. I didn't find anything about trash in the commentaries on that verse. I'll try checking other verses.
    – Harel13
    Jan 26, 2020 at 20:41
  • @Harel13 וכלי חרס אשר תבשל בו ישבר
    – Heshy
    Jan 28 at 14:01
  • @Heshy fair point, but did they actually cook anything in the wilderness (manna did not necessarily have to be cooked; edible korbanot and quail cooked on spits, etc)? On the other hand, there were/are other uses for pottery vessels, such as carrying things, water bottles, perfume bottles, etc.
    – Harel13
    Jan 28 at 17:10

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