“You shall dwell securely in your land.
And I will grand peace in the land and you shall lie down untroubled;
And I will give you respite from vicious beasts and no sword shall cross your land.
You shall pursue your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword.
Five of you shall give chase to a hundred and a hundred of you shall give chase to ten thousand;
Your enemies shall fall before you by the sword.” (Leviticus 26:6-8)
The promise of peace and security in the land is the second in a set of blessings in Leviticus, and it comes right after the blessing for agricultural abundance—timely rain and rich crops. The opening of the blessing for peace comes right after the blessing for abundance —“you shall dwell securely in your land,” which is followed by the promise “I will grant peace in the land.” This in turn, is followed by an overall security, that is, a blessing for security against natural disasters (vicious beasts) and against invading armies (“and no sword shall cross your land) and then the blessing for victory over enemies, and the idea that few shall prevail against the many (five of your shall give chase to a hundred]. Thia idea of few against many has been transmitted and woven into the history of the people of Israel for centuries and throughout the generations.
The text places the blessing for peace and security before the blessing for victory over enemies to signify that peace is the utmost desired goal, and victory over enemies is an outcome of necessity. According to Ramban, “peace is written first and victory second to underscore that peace is higher than victory.”
Don Isaac Abarbanel sees significance in both the order and the frequency of certain blessings and suggests that there are four versions of the promise of peace and security, three in an positive/affirmative way, “You shall dwell securely in you land” “I will grant peace in the land” and “you shall lie down untroubled” –and only one negative phrase, “no sword shall cross you land”. Abarbanel explains that what seems at first glance as a needless repetition: the first blessing “and you shall dwell securely in your land” is in fact linked to the first blessing of economic and food security, of rich crops. The blessing for peace—“and I will grant peace in the land” refers to this aspect of an overall sense of agricultural security, since the yields of crops are not the same in all parts of the country, the differences can lead to internal envy and enmity.
The blessing of peace thus refers to internal social peace among the people. The two following blessings “and you shall lie down untroubled” and “no sword shall cross your land” are about relations with outsiders, with neighboring enemies: a blessing that “their enemies shall not invade the land.”
Similarly, Rabbi Hirsch sees the blessing, “I will grant peace in the land” as referring to social well-being, an internal peace. That kind of peace “emanates from a sense of satisfaction, joy that people give one another and happiness among human beings. That social peace will flourish only on the ground of Torah and in the light of God’s blessing.”
Rashi, who preceded both Abarbanel and Hirsch, draws on a Midrash (Sifrah, Behukotai, 1) “without peace, there is nothing…peace trumps everything, as he used to say: The One who makes peace and creates all, to indicate that peace outdoes the rest.” The Malbim who supports this understanding of the power of peace, writes that peace “encompasses all that is good in life” and goes on to say that just as light is the opposite of dark, so is peace the opposite of all that is bad, that is, divisiveness and confrontation,” thus peace overrides all other things.
“And You shall grant peace in the land and everlasting joy to all who dwell there” (from the prayer for the state of Israel)
Translated from the Hebrew by Ayala Emmett