Robert Alter points out, in a note to verse 30:1, that “the term ‘turn back’ (shuv, reiterated in this chapter) is the thematic center of this passage, alternating between Israel and God in dialectic interplay.”
Many commentators remark on the injunction to remember Miriam’s tzaarat [skin condition] (Devarim/Deuteronomy 24:9). It is the only mention of her in Deuteronomy. Moses’ sister, unnamed, appears in Exodus/Shemot 2:1-10; Miriam is mentioned by name in Exodus/Shemot 15:20-21 and Numbers/Bamidbar 12:1 and 20:1.
Tzaarat and Zipporah
In Frankel’s The Five Books of Miriam, “Our Daughters” ask why Miriam is mentioned only at this point in Deuteronomy and in connection with tzaarat:
BERURIAH THE SCHOLAR ANSWERS: To understand what’s going on we need to widen our lens to take in all of chapter 24 of Deuteronomy. The first four verses discuss the case of a man who sends away his wife because he finds her “obnoxious” but then wants her back, which is forbidden by law. The fifth verse instructs a man to “GIVE HAPPINESS TO THE WOMAN HE HAS MARRIED.” Both cases might apply to Moses himself: In Exodus, we’re told that Jethro brought Zipporah and her two sons back to Moses “AFTER SHE HAD BEEN SENT HOME” (18:2); no reason is given for her having been sent away.
This portion includes some famous lines, e.g.:Continue Reading