Monday, May 31, 2010

The trup on kol

Summary: The trup, and nikkud, on the word kol of kol nasi bahem is evidence for Rashbam of the expression's meaning. He is right, but it is the words in the pasuk which determine this trup and nikkud.

Post: This is one of these posts which state the obvious, yet there is something to be said for speaking it out. The pasuk at the start of Shelach describes those chosen to be scouts:

ב  שְׁלַח-לְךָ אֲנָשִׁים, וְיָתֻרוּ אֶת-אֶרֶץ כְּנַעַן, אֲשֶׁר-אֲנִי נֹתֵן, לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל:  אִישׁ אֶחָד אִישׁ אֶחָד לְמַטֵּה אֲבֹתָיו, תִּשְׁלָחוּ--כֹּל, נָשִׂיא בָהֶם.2 'Send thou men, that they may spy out the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel; of every tribe of their fathers shall ye send a man, every one a prince among them.

In the phrase which ends this pasuk, there is a cholam in the word kol instead of a kametz katon.

This is appropriate, for according to the trup, which puts the disjunctive accent of tipcha, there is a pause here. If there were no pause, the nikkud would be to have the kametz under the kaf and the disjunctive accent -- probably tipcha, under the word nasi which follows.

For Rashbam, this trup is dispositive.
כל נשיא בהם - הטעם שתחת כל מוכיח פירושו. 
כל אלה הי"ב הנה יהיה נשיא באותם המתנדבים ללכת, כמו: 
כל שתה תחת רגליו. 
"Every nasi among them" - the trup {of tipcha} under the word kol proves its meaning -- all of these 12 are a nasi {elevated} from those who offered to go, just as in  Tehillim 8:7:

ז  תַּמְשִׁילֵהוּ, בְּמַעֲשֵׂי יָדֶיךָ;    כֹּל, שַׁתָּה תַחַת-רַגְלָיו.7 Thou hast made him to have dominion over the works of Thy hands; Thou hast put all things under his feet:

The bit about those who offered to go fits in to a different portion of his understanding of this pasuk. See inside Rashbam.

The nikkud and trup indicate that kol here is not a construct, but rather an absolute noun. If so, it means "all" rather than "all of". Thus, all, meaning all of them, those 12 spies, were nesiim {whatever that means}.

If instead there were different nikkud and trup, then kol would be construct. And then it would mean "every nasi among them" went. If we assume the typical meaning of nasi, and further assume that at this time, these were the princes, nesiim, of the tribes, then it is possible for it to mean that all of the nesiim were sent. (If nasi means volunteer, as I think Rashbam claims, then it is more awkward and much less likely, for then everyone who offered would constitute precisely 12 people, one from each tribe.) Even so, semantically, it makes more sense to say that each of those who were sent had a specific quality, namely being a "nasi". And the trup and nikkud are in accord with this meaning as well.

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