When Moshe sent the spies to scout the Land of Canaan they were specifically instructed to “Go up there into the Negev and on into the hill country…” as recorded for us in Numbers 13:17.
Standing here amongst the ruins of the ancient city of Arad, flanked by the Negev desert to the south, we can see straight ahead of us the “hill country” and the route the spies took to scout out the Land. Reaching the top of the Judean hills they most likely travelled along the “Way of the Patriarchs”, the so-called Ridge Route in order to reach Hebron before descending down to the wadi Eshcol and on to Lebo Hamath in the north. The Ridge Route in its entirety fell within the territory of ancient Israel unlike the Via Maris and the King’s Highway – two international roads linking the territories of various nations.
Hebron, from which the Har Hevron hill country derives its name, was allocated to Calev after that devastating initial expedition into the country, because he was a man who had a “different spirit” and was therefore able to focus on the promise of Divine help and the potential of the Land and not on the obstacles.
Har Hevron wasn’t then, and still is not today a region for the faint-hearted. It’s a region bursting with opportunity and promise for those who are willing to see the gigantic grape clusters rather than the giant Anakites. Several communities with familiar Biblical names like Maon, Carmel, Yattir, Avigail have sprung up along this ancient “Ridge Route”, today’s Highway 60 which encompasses the watershed ridge of the Samarian and Judean mountains.
Avraham Avinu whose foot-prints carried the promise of inheriting every place upon which he would tread, and the words of Calev that the Land that they had traversed and scouted was an “exceedingly good land”, are the echoes from the distant past that keep beckoning those still in the galut to pull up their stakes in order to come and add their footsteps to those already embedded here on the “Ridge Route” in Har Hevron.
By Yoana Yehuda