Thursday, March 11, 2010

Did they donate four, or five, types of jewelry to the Mishkan? Did the midrashist have a non-masoretic text?

Summary: A pasuk in Vayakhel lists four types of jewelry donated to the Mishkan. But a Midrash Rabba appears to indicate five types of jewelry. And LXX and the Samaritan Torah back up this reading. What shall we make of this? Could an entire word have fallen out of our Torah?!

Post: A pasuk in Vayakhel {Shemot 35:22} lists the four types of jewelry donated to the Mishkan:

כב  וַיָּבֹאוּ הָאֲנָשִׁים, עַל-הַנָּשִׁים; כֹּל נְדִיב לֵב, הֵבִיאוּ חָח וָנֶזֶם וְטַבַּעַת וְכוּמָז כָּל-כְּלִי זָהָב, וְכָל-אִישׁ, אֲשֶׁר הֵנִיף תְּנוּפַת זָהָב לַיהוָה.22 And they came, both men and women, as many as were willing-hearted, and brought nose-rings, and ear-rings, and signet-rings, and girdles, all jewels of gold; even every man that brought an offering of gold unto the LORD.

But when we look at Shemot Rabba 48:6 (dated to about 900 - 1000 CE), we read:
ו [נדבותם של ישראל למשכן כתרופה למעשה העגל]ש

דבר אחר:

ראו קרא ה' בשם בצלאל

הה"ד: (הושע יד) ארפא משובתם אוהבם נדבה.

מה כתיב למעלה? הביאו בני ישראל נדבה לה'. ואח"כ, ראו קרא ה' בשם בצלאל. אלא כשעשו העגל, אמר הקב"ה למשה:ועתה הניחה לי וגו'. 

אמר לו: בדוק אותן שיעשו את המשכן.

מה כתיב באותו קלקלה? פרקו נזמי הזהב.

ומה הביאו? נזמים. וכשעשו המשכן עשו אותו נדבה.

ומה כתיב? כל נדיב לב הביאו חח ונזם טבעת וכומז. בנזמים חטאו ובנזמים נתרצה להם, ורוח הקדש צווחת על ידי הושע: (שם ב)והיה במקום אשר יאמר להם לא עמי אתם יאמר להם בני אל חי. אמר משה לפני הקב"ה: כתבת: (שמות כא) כי יגנוב איש שור או שה וטבחו או מכרו חמשה בקר ישלם תחת השור, הרי הביאו חמישה: חח ונזם טבעת עגיל וכומז. 

While the pasuk quoted in umah ketiv only lists the four we see in the pasuk, the contrast at the very endis entirely dependent upon there being five -- אמר משה לפני הקב"ה: כתבת: (שמות כא) כי יגנוב איש שור או שה וטבחו או מכרו חמשה בקר ישלם תחת השור, הרי הביאו חמישה: חח ונזם טבעת עגיל וכומז -- Moshe said before Hashem: "You have written (Shemot 21), "When a man steals an ox or sheep and slaughters it or sells it, he shall pay back five times for the ox. Behold, they brought five -- the nose-rings, and ear-rings, and signet-rings, agiland girdles.

Thus, in number and particular items, the midrash differs with our pasuk! The only place עגיל occurs is by the spoils of the war with Midian. In Bemidbar 31:50:

נ  וַנַּקְרֵב אֶת-קָרְבַּן יְהוָה, אִישׁ אֲשֶׁר מָצָא כְלִי-זָהָב אֶצְעָדָה וְצָמִיד, טַבַּעַת, עָגִיל וְכוּמָז--לְכַפֵּר עַל-נַפְשֹׁתֵינוּ, לִפְנֵי יְהוָה.50 And we have brought the LORD'S offering, what every man hath gotten, of jewels of gold, armlets, and bracelets, signet-rings, ear-rings, and girdles, to make atonement for our souls before the LORD.'

Many of the meforshei ha-Midrash (e.g. Etz Yosef, Maharzu, Radal, Rashash) are bothered by this issue. The two answers given are that כָּל-כְּלִי זָהָב is to include this agil (everyone including Etz Yosef); or that there are two types of נֶזֶם, one of which is agil, and the pasuk implies both (Etz Yosef). This is still a bit forced.

Minchas Shai notes this difficulty, and does not provide any answer.

While an implicit derasha of this sort is a possibility, there other things we should responsibly consider. Are there other textual traditions in play?

We can look to the Samaritan Torah:

Now, as I've discussed in the past, the Samaritan Torah excels at harmonization
and smoothing of the text, and so any textual variant it offers is suspect. Here, perhaps it pulled agil from the lists of items from the spoils of Midian, which were also donated. But on the other hand, it is a different topic; and not all the items in the two lists are the same, at least in terms of the words used. So perhaps this is not a harmonization. Back to the first hand, there is now a run of three words, tabaat, agil, kumaz in both locations, so agil in the middle might well be a harmonization.

We also have the Septuagint, a Greek translation of a Hebrew original. That text is:
22 καὶ ἤνεγκαν οἱ ἄνδρες παρὰ τῶν γυναικῶν πᾶς ᾧ ἔδοξεν τῇ διανοίᾳ ἤνεγκαν σφραγῖδας καὶ ἐνώτια καὶ δακτυλίους καὶ ἐμπλόκια καὶ περιδέξια πᾶν σκεῦος χρυσοῦν καὶ πάντες ὅσοι ἤνεγκαν ἀφαιρέματα χρυσίου κυρίῳ

Or, in English:
22 And the men, even every one to whom it seemed good in his heart, brought from the women, [even] brought seals and ear-rings, and finger-rings, and necklaces, and bracelets, every article of gold.

We can count five distinct items. Now, perhaps this translation is also commentary and elaboration. However, while each of these three alone is not compelling evidence of an alternate text of the Torah, when put all together it is fairly convincing that they were working off a variant text of the Torah.

And this is not just some offshoot text that LXX had and the Samaritans had. It seems fairly likely that the author of Midrash Rabba also had this text. (And the earlier citation of the pasuk in that midrash was emended to match our pasuk.) It is a lot less likely that the midrashist happened upon a text which independently became corrupted in the same way. And given the existence of this text, it is an extremely remote possibility that all the meforshei ha-midrash are correct, and that the five items in the midrash were arrived at by derasha.

That they had a variant text does not necessarily make our Masoretic text wrong. We should weight the probabilities in each direction. Indeed, it is usually easier for a scribe to accidentally omit a word than to add a word out of nowhere. However, here, the insertion of the word makes a run of words, and a trigram, found elsewhere in the Torah, where that trigram is pretty rare. So a scribe might have accidentally substituted this run of words. I don't think we can come to a solid conclusion in this instance.


Unknown said...

any thing in the dead sea scrolls

joshwaxman said...

i conducted a few clumsy searches when writing this post, but wasn't able to find anything. as far as i could tell, there is no fragment for this particular section. if you or anyone else can find me something, it would be even "better".


Unknown said...

If the medrash used a "non mesorah" text why would he quote the pasuk one line earlier the way we have it ?
ומה כתיב? כל נדיב לב הביאו חח ונזם טבעת וכומז. בנזמים חטאו ובנזמים נתרצה להם,
so it seems the text is the same but the the" 5 " he mentions at the end is like the meforshim say etc.

joshwaxman said...

not at all! indeed, i hinted at this when i wrote in the post "While the pasuk quoted in umah ketiv only lists the four we see in the pasuk, the contrast at the very endis entirely dependent upon there being five." But I should have made my thought process more explicit, and somehow I forgot to do so.

What I strongly suspect happened is that in copying the midrash, a scribe "corrected" the citation of the pasuk to match our own version of the pasuk, thus obscuring the true derivation. and did so by stripping out the word agil, thinking it was just a rehashing of the list from below, by accident.

in fact, i think i can prove it. the proof is the missing vav of "vetabaat" in the citation of the pasuk.

"our" masoretic text has:
כֹּל נְדִיב לֵב, הֵבִיאוּ חָח וָנֶזֶם וְטַבַּעַת וְכוּמָז
Note the vav in וְטַבַּעַת.

the "samaritan" text has:
כֹּל נְדִיב לֵב, הֵבִיא חָח וָנֶזֶם טַבַּעַת עגיל וְכוּמָז
Note the lack of the vav in טַבַּעַת. this makes a lot of sense stylistically, if we have a parallel set of two lists, with a final conjoining vav in each, instead of one long list.

the pasuk, even as in Midrash Rabba in the first instance, is:
כל נדיב לב הביאו חח ונזם טבעת וכומז.
Note the lack of the vav in טבעת.

then, at the end of the citation in Midrash Rabba, we have:
חח ונזם טבעת עגיל וכומז
Note the vav pattern there, and how it is identical to the vav pattern in the list in the Samaritan pasuk.

So my extremely strong suspicion is that at the top and the bottom of the midrash, a citation of the pasuk was made. At the end, it seemed like a mere list, so no scribe "corrected" it. But at the top, it was introduced with ומה כתיב, and then went on to what was clearly a citation of a pasuk, beginning with כל נדיב לב הביאו. and so a "correction" was made from the scribe. such erroneous "corrections" by scribes are par for the course.

and this seems to me 1000X more likely than a rather forced and entirely unstated derasha, where agil is inserted not at the end (if it were additional, derived from "kol") and not after nezem (if that is how we derive it, from the ambiguity of nezem), but right in the precise point it appears in the Samaritan verse. And not only that, but the pasuk as cited independently accidentally lost a vav in טבעת such that it now matches the vav pattern of the Samaritan verse. And not only that, but the same vav pattern appears at the end, where it would make sense that it is citation of the verse.

To summarize: one side is a forced implicit derash, which does not account for the miscited pasuk and placement of agil; the other side not only accounts for agil but explains other textual features of the "miscited" pasuk and the order of the listed items.

And I suspect that I might even have been able to persuade one or two of the meforshim of this. Alas, they did not have the Samaritan text or the LXX text before them...

This extra point is so important I am tempted to make it into a separate post. Perhaps next week.

shabbat shalom,

Unknown said...

nu nu
but I liked the post thanks

Unknown said...

I dont think that saying the torah wanted to save our Kavod by leaving out Agul and instead saying hinting to it with "col kli"
is in any way forced could be the Samaritans did not have that sensitivity
this could be a proof that in the Midbar there was more than one variant of the torah that was finally
edited by Moshe rabbanu Al pi hashem (who took out the word agul) but the original or other version made it to the samaritans
I wonder what J Kugel has to say

joshwaxman said...

"but I liked the post thanks"

"I wonder what J Kugel has to say"
not sure if he does; but regardless, i am likely a greater expert at this stuff than he is.

"I dont think that saying the torah wanted to save our Kavod by leaving out Agul"
what kavod or lack is involved in leaving out "agul".

"is in any way forced"
what is forced is that there is no indication that an extra derasha (over the 5-5) is going on, except for the sudden realization that they are miscounting. i read a lot of midrash, and this is not a normal pattern. as is the miscitation of the pasuk.

"it could be the Samaritans did not have that sensitivity"
but the Samaritans (and the Greeks, in the Septuagint) were not in the midbar! they got it from us, and made modifications to make the text smoother and to promote Shechem and Har Gerizim as the proper place to worship. and they rejected Torah shebaal peh. Suddenly, they will accept a variant from elsewhere? and decide to be non-sensitive. I don't buy it.

have a great shabbos,


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