An Excerpt from Jewish Literature – Midrash on Sifrei Devarim (Third Century CE)
…If Israel had been meritorious, then in eleven days they would have entered Eretz Yisrael, but because they corrupted their ways, the L-rd stretched it into forty years, as it is written (Bamidbar 14:34) “According to the number of days that you spied out the land, forty days — a day for a year, a day for a year — shall you bear your sins.” R. Yehudah says: Now did it take them eleven days? Did it not take them only three days? As it is written (Ibid. 10:33) “And they traveled from the mountain of the L-rd a journey of three days.” (The intent is that) in three days Israel traveled an eleven-day distance. If Israel had been meritorious, they would have entered Eretz Yisrael in three days. As it is written (Ibid.) “And the ark of the covenant of the L-rd preceded them, a distance of three days to look out a resting place for them,” “a resting place” being Eretz Yisrael, as it is written (Devarim 12:9) “For you will not yet have come to the rest and to the inheritance that the L-rd your G-d gives you.”
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They said to him: Was it an eleven-day distance? Was it not a forty-day distance, as it is written of Eliyahu (I Kings 19:8) “And he arose and ate and drank, and he walked on the strength of that meal for forty days and forty nights (until the mountain of G-d, Chorev”)? … R. B’na’ah says: If Israel had been meritorious, they would have entered Eretz Yisrael in one day, as it is written (Shemoth 13:4-5) “This day you go out, in the month of spring,” immediately (followed by) “And it shall be, when the L-rd brings you to the land of Canaan.” Abba Yossi b. Chanan says in the name of Cohein Bardela: If Israel had been meritorious, as soon as their horses’ hooves ascended from the sea, they would have entered Eretz Yisrael, as it is written (Devarim 1:21) “Go up (from the sea) and possess (the land) as the L-rd, the G-d of your fathers has spoken to you.” (Sifrei Devarim 2)
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