Thursday, May 21, 2009

The krei of keru'ei

In Bamidbar 1:16, the word keru`ei is spelled funny, with a yud instead of a vav. I've got nothing. Perhaps it reflects a grammatic form which fell out of favor, with a chirik in that place, but meaning the same thing. Or the matres lectiones were not originally in the words, either in the beginning and end, and this could have been placed in like this before standardization, as we see in other instances (e.g. lo with an aleph, as we encountered recently, or with a heh).

Baal Haturim naturally picks up on it, calling the yud a vav ketiah, a cut-off vav. Thus, the implication may be, it is no yud. All agree it a vav, but it is deficient for some cause. The cause is Shelumiel ben Tzurishaddai, who is the same as Zimri. Compare with the same word קראי by Korach, again a krei / ketiv, but without even a cut-off vav. (Or rather, the word there is with a chirik, but even that is not present.) The reason is that there they were all wicked, whereas here it is just Zimri. Was he a sinner even at this point, though, or is this preemptive?

I have no list of those who treat this form. But we do have Avi Ezer (also pictured above). On the above pasuk, Rashi writes:
טז) אלה קרואי העדה -
הנקראים לכל דבר חשיבות שבעדה:
That is, it is the passive, that they are called (constantly) for every important matter of the congregation.

Ibn Ezra wrote:
[א, טז
קרואי העדה -
הטעם שהעדה לא יעשו דבר עד שיקראום.
Avi Ezer cites this and suggests that according to this, it is correct to explain both the krei and the ketiv in their respective manners. Namely, that the congregation is called by these Nesiim (the yud?), and further, that the Nesiim are called by the congregation (the vav).

Meanwhile, we should compare with Bemidbar 26, in parshas Pinchas.
ט וּבְנֵי אֱלִיאָב, נְמוּאֵל וְדָתָן וַאֲבִירָם: הוּא-דָתָן וַאֲבִירָם קרואי (קְרִיאֵי) הָעֵדָה, אֲשֶׁר הִצּוּ עַל-מֹשֶׁה וְעַל-אַהֲרֹן בַּעֲדַת-קֹרַח, בְּהַצֹּתָם, עַל-ה. 9 And the sons of Eliab: Nemuel, and Dathan, and Abiram. These are that Dathan and Abiram, the elect of the congregation, who strove against Moses and against Aaron in the company of Korah, when they strove against the LORD;
I did not see this one mentioned in Baal Haturim. Here we have the precise reverse of the former, with a kesiv with the vav and the keri otherwise. Will we now say that the vav was specifically put in because Dasan and Aviram were so holy? Was that not the reverse of what he said on the previous pasuk, in parshas Korach?

Perhaps I can innovate a derash here (for the yud), that they were the ones who called out to, and stirred up, others, in their fight against Moshe and Aharon.

It would seem that it means elect in all cases, but the word takes different forms. But why alternate the krei and ketiv in each of these cases?

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