Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The Meiri on Tehillim and Moshe's Sin

The Meiri (follow link, then side link) is one who sees both possible explanations of the pesukim in Tehillim 106:32-33. Those pesukim, again, are:
לב וַיַּקְצִיפוּ, עַל-מֵי מְרִיבָה; וַיֵּרַע לְמֹשֶׁה, בַּעֲבוּרָם. 32 They angered Him also at the waters of Meribah, and it went ill with Moses because of them;
לג כִּי-הִמְרוּ אֶת-רוּחוֹ; וַיְבַטֵּא, בִּשְׂפָתָיו. 33 For they embittered his spirit, and he spoke rashly with his lips.
As noted before, for various reasons I consider the JPS translation the most correct in this instance. Here is what Meiri writes:
כִּי-הִמְרוּ אֶת-רוּחוֹ -- it is possible to explain that the Israelites himru {embittered} angered the spirit of Moshe, until, from his great anger uttered with his lips {וַיְבַטֵּא בִּשְׂפָתָיו} words which were not appropriate, and this is that he was more angry than he should have been and said "hear now, you rebels." And others say that {the improper utterance was} they said "will we indeed bring forth water water indeed come out for you from this rock," such that they gave the honor to themselves, when they should have said "will He indeed bring forth for you water."

And others say that the sin was because He had said "and you should speak to the rock" and they hit it twice. And according to this, it is not possible to explain וַיְבַטֵּא בִּשְׂפָתָיו as referring to Moshe. And {then}, one can explain כִּי-הִמְרוּ אֶת-רוּחוֹ that they {it would seem he means Israel here, rather than Moshe and Aharon, based on what he says later} angered the spirit of Hashem, and God uttered with his lips to punish him, that he would not enter the land. Or we can explain that himru bears the connotation of meri {rebellion}, and refers to Moshe. That is to say that this was a cause of being morah ruach {rebelling ?} to the word of God, as it {pasuk 24} says on this עַל אֲשֶׁר-מְרִיתֶם אֶת-פִּי, because ye rebelled against My word.
It would seem that he regards embittered as the primary meaning, listing it first and trying to preserve it even in the case of the sin being hitting the rock, such that he first changes the meaning of וַיְבַטֵּא בִּשְׂפָתָיו before turning to the alternate meaning of rebellion. Unless this is just a logical progression. At any rate, he understands the implications of this, and how each alternative fits with each peshat.

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