As written in Bamidbar 33, we read of the 42 places in which the people were encamped. I know that some have attributed the 42 encampments to the 42 letter name of Hashem. But I wanted to know the literal meaning of each of the 42 places and what was the lesson the people learned while they were there.

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    What is unclear about the literal meaning of... places?
    – Double AA
    Jul 11, 2018 at 22:20
  • e.g. I know one of the places is Hazeroth and it means "courtyard" and the people learned that this world is but a "courtyard" compared to world to come. But I don't know the meaning of the other locations and the principle the people learned. Jul 11, 2018 at 22:31
  • 1 The meaning of Hatzeroth on that context is "Hatzeroth" the place, not the common noun "courtyards". 2 why does the existence of an allegedly meaningful homonym for one place's name imply there are analogous homonyms for the 41 others? 3 how was anyone supposed to understand that from your question as written? Please edit to clarify
    – Double AA
    Jul 11, 2018 at 22:33
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    Hello! I don't give curious people the 3rd degree, unless they really are asking for it. Aside from possibly sourcing the "I know some have" part of your question, it seems ok to me. A quick Google of "meaning of Jews 42 desert stops" brought up this from Chabad: chabad.org/kabbalah/article_cdo/aid/688407/jewish/… and myjewishlearning has this: myjewishlearning.com/article/spiritual-lessons-of-the-desert Neither has the places' name meaning lists, but they might help you some.
    – Gary
    Jul 11, 2018 at 23:26
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    the title here asks for translations, but the question is clearly asking for the deeper meaning behind them, which is basically asking why they were listed, i.e. what do they teach us.
    – simyou
    Aug 2, 2019 at 6:25

1 Answer 1


Here is a rough draft I wrote which suggests both the roots of each place name, and a personal life-journey interpretation (it is too long to post here as an answer): I believe that most life-patterns are universal and applicable on many levels, so the same basic pattern would be true on a personal level and on a national level.

One source I found which interprets the place names is Maor V'Shemesh here, but he does not go through the complete list.

  • 1
    Welcome to MiYodeya Simyou and thanks very much for this first answer. Can I recommend you take the tour to get a sense of how the site works? Great to have you learn with us!
    – mbloch
    Jul 13, 2018 at 7:32

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