Dvarim 9:28 reads:

פֶּן־יֹֽאמְר֗וּ הָאָרֶץ֮ אֲשֶׁ֣ר הֽוֹצֵאתָ֣נוּ מִשָּׁם֒ מִבְּלִי֙ יְכֹ֣לֶת יְהוָ֔ה לַֽהֲבִיאָ֕ם אֶל־הָאָ֖רֶץ אֲשֶׁר־דִּבֶּ֣ר לָהֶ֑ם וּמִשִּׂנְאָת֣וֹ אוֹתָ֔ם הֽוֹצִיאָ֖ם לַֽהֲמִתָ֥ם בַּמִּדְבָּֽר׃

Lest the land whence Thou broughtest us out say: Because Hashem was not able to bring them into the land which He promised unto them, and because He hated them, He hath brought them out to slay them in the wilderness.

The Torah doesn't waste words, or even letters for that matter.

If the Torah adds a seemingly extra letter (or omits one) – that's because the Torah wants to teach us something.

Why does the Torah use this round-about way when referring to Egypt here and not just say pen yomru mitzrayim... similar to Bamidbar 14:13:

וַיֹּ֥אמֶר מֹשֶׁ֖ה אֶל־יְהוָ֑ה וְשָֽׁמְע֣וּ מִצְרַ֔יִם כִּֽי־הֶעֱלִ֧יתָ בְכֹֽחֲךָ֛ אֶת־הָעָ֥ם הַזֶּ֖ה מִקִּרְבּֽוֹ׃

And Moses said unto Hashem: 'When the Egyptians shall hear – for Thou broughtest up this people in Thy might from among them.

  • 1
    Can you cite a reference for your assertion that the Torah does not "waste words, or even letters for that matter"?
    – Seth J
    Nov 5, 2012 at 20:44
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    For reference: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/18799/5
    – Seth J
    Nov 5, 2012 at 20:46
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    not to draw a parallel between הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר הוֹצֵאתָנוּ מִשָּׁם and הוֹצִיאָם לַהֲמִתָם בַּמִּדְבָּר? Nov 5, 2012 at 22:10
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    Starting with, "Hey, this wording is funny, especially compared to that wording over there," does not obligate a person to make the leap to say, "the Torahdoes not waste words or even letters for that matter," But, again, I'm not saying its not true, I'm just saying you should cite a source.
    – Seth J
    Nov 6, 2012 at 0:11
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    I might also be saying it's an unnecessary assertion for this question.
    – Seth J
    Nov 6, 2012 at 0:14

2 Answers 2


The Ramban explains that Moshe's concern was since the incident of the golden calf took place close to their going out of Egypt whilst they were still far from Eretz Yisrael, if Hashem destroyed Yisrael because of their sins the Egyptians would say that Hashem already hated them whilst they were still in Egypt, and only took them out so that He could kill them far away from the public's gaze.

According to this, saying "lest the land from which You brought us out will say" is emphasizing this point, and thus is not unnecessarily lengthy.


The first point to note is that this is part of a prayer, while most of the rest of Deuteronomy is made up of speeches and laws. As such, this particular wording allows its reuse in other analogous circumstances to those finding themselves in the wilderness hoping to go to the Promised Land.

The historical view is that Deuteronomy, though largely written earlier, achieved roughly its modern form around the end of the Babylonian captivity. So a reasonable interpretation could be that the words here, though referring to Egypt in the context of the end of the Exodus, also apply at the later date to the prospect of the return from Babylon.

Even if you reject the historical view, and instead regard Deuteronomy as an accurate record of the words spoken by Moses, essentially the same interpretation is possible: this prayer, like the Deuteronomic Code, was designed to be used in future, and the highlighted words were chosen to make its use particularly meaningful in similar circumstances.

  • 1
    An interesting suggestion. In fact we see similar ideas in the traditional understanding of parts of Isaiah and other prophecies of redemption being written for their context (exile after destruction of First Temple) and applied to further instances as well (current exile).
    – Double AA
    Nov 8, 2012 at 23:18

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