Sunday, June 21, 2009

Why the chirik in bin-Nun?

Over Shabbos I saw a cute dvar Torah in Torah Lodaas. We see that Hoshea is renamed Yehoshua:
טז אֵלֶּה שְׁמוֹת הָאֲנָשִׁים, אֲשֶׁר-שָׁלַח מֹשֶׁה לָתוּר אֶת-הָאָרֶץ; וַיִּקְרָא מֹשֶׁה לְהוֹשֵׁעַ בִּן-נוּן, יְהוֹשֻׁעַ.16 These are the names of the men that Moses sent to spy out the land. And Moses called Hoshea the son of Nun Joshua.
But why is there a chirik under the bet in bin-Nun? It should be a segol, just as by everyone else's name?! There is surely a real answer somewhere, but the cute answer, cited from Mishulchan Gavoah, is as follows. We know from a midrash that the extra yud tacked on to Yehoshua's name was taken from Sarai, who became Sarah. But there is a sheva under that yud. Where did it come from? The answer is that there were three dots in the segol in the word "ben" and two of those dots were taken to form the sheva, leaving only one dot, for the chirik.

I think (and hope) this explanation was intended as a joke, and as an exercise in creativity. Otherwise, there are obvious ways of debunking it. As one fellow at my table pointed out, Hoshea bin Nun, without the yud, still has a chirik. I could add that the orthography of the sheva did not exist at that time. Also, the tzeirei under the shin becomes a kubutz, so where does that extra dot come from? Still, very cute.


Yosef Greenberg said...

He might intend it as a remez for something else. IIRC, there is a similar pshat that takes the yud from Sorai and cuts it in half, giving one have to make Sarah and the other hafe to make Avraham. Harder to debunk. ;)

Anonymous said...

new blog

'not brisker yeshivish'

David said...

I saw this in Tosefes Bracha. I forget his exact language, but my recollection is that he basically acknowledges that it's not a very pashut pshat, but since he can't think of anything better, he's sticking to it.

On the main line has an interesting discussion on the issue, and mentions the drash in the name of the Chasam Sofer.

joshwaxman said...

i would guess that pashut peshat probably has more to do with stress, the duplication of letter nun, the shortness of the word, and the like...

ah, now i see that those are some of the suggestions in the link. thanks.



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