Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I Spy ... A Ram!

Update: This is wrong, at least as it applies to the Peshitta. I accidentally did not use the Peshitta. The site I used, peshitta.org, has a tri-linear Targum, which I took to be a presentation of the Peshita. But actually, their Tri-linear Targum, on Tanach, is not the Peshitta. My rather serious bad. כשם שקיבלתי שכר על הדרישה כך אקבל שכר על הפרישה. In terms of everything else, I think the observations still hold true.

Summary: But is it one ram, or a ram behind, or afterwards?

Post: Towards the end of parashat Vayera, in Bereishit 22:13:

יג  וַיִּשָּׂא אַבְרָהָם אֶת-עֵינָיו, וַיַּרְא וְהִנֵּה-אַיִל, אַחַר, נֶאֱחַז בַּסְּבַךְ בְּקַרְנָיו; וַיֵּלֶךְ אַבְרָהָם וַיִּקַּח אֶת-הָאַיִל, וַיַּעֲלֵהוּ לְעֹלָה תַּחַת בְּנוֹ.13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt-offering in the stead of his son.

In Onkelos, according to the manuscript of the Teimanim:

כב,יג וַיִּשָּׂא אַבְרָהָם אֶת-עֵינָיו, וַיַּרְא וְהִנֵּה-אַיִל, אַחַר, נֶאֱחַז בַּסְּבַךְ בְּקַרְנָיו; וַיֵּלֶךְ אַבְרָהָם וַיִּקַּח אֶת-הָאַיִל, וַיַּעֲלֵהוּ לְעֹלָה תַּחַת בְּנוֹ.וּזְקַף אַבְרָהָם יָת עֵינוֹהִי, בָּתַר אִלֵּין, וַחֲזָא וְהָא דִּכְרָא, אֲחִיד בְּאִילָנָא בְּקַרְנוֹהִי; וַאֲזַל אַבְרָהָם וּנְסֵיב יָת דִּכְרָא, וְאַסְּקֵיהּ לַעֲלָתָא חֲלָף בְּרֵיהּ.

The word אַחַר is translated, but for clarity's sake, moved from its initial place after אַיִל and moved earlier. It appears as בָּתַר in בָּתַר אִלֵּין. Meanwhile, the phrase נֶאֱחַז בַּסְּבַךְ is translated as אֲחִיד בְּאִילָנָא. This אחד is the Aramaic cognate of the Hebrew אחז, due to the typical zayin / daled switchoff.

In most Onkelos manuscripts, as well as in our Mikraos Gedolos, while it does have בָּתַר אִלֵּין in that same place, and the phrase נֶאֱחַז בַּסְּבַךְ is still translated as אֲחִיד בְּאִילָנָא,  the word אַיִל is dichra chada, "one ram". Or rather, I would say, "a ram". While we don't see this AFIAK in Hebrew, we do see this in Aramaic, where chada follows the word and indicates the indefinite article, "a". Compare with Ezra 4:8, where the proper translation is "a letter" rather than "one letter":

ח  רְחוּם בְּעֵל-טְעֵם, וְשִׁמְשַׁי סָפְרָא, כְּתַבוּ אִגְּרָה חֲדָה, עַל-יְרוּשְׁלֶם--לְאַרְתַּחְשַׁשְׂתְּא מַלְכָּא, כְּנֵמָא.8 Rehum the commander and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king in this sort--

Either that or it is an accidental reduplication and mangling of אֲחִיד, which appears immediately after  דִּכְרָא in the Aramaic original but which means neechaz, "caught", rather than "one" or "a". I prefer the former. Or, as Shadal suggests, since Onkelos moved the translation, of בָּתַר אִלֵּין, earlier in the pasuk, people interpreted the bare dichra later in the pasuk as one with an indefinite article, took it as a translation of a Hebrew text of echad, and so inserted the word chada in place.

Meanwhile, in Targum Pseudo-Yonatan (here), we read:

וזקף אברהם ית עינוי וחזא
והא דיכרא חד דאיתברי ביני שימשתא דשיכלול עלמא אחיד
ברחישותא דאילנא בקרנוי ואזל אברהם ונסיב ית דיכרא ואסיקהי
לעלתא חלף בריה

This would certainly appear to reflect a Hebrew text of echad or achad, with a daled rather than a resh.

The insertion which follows, that it was created bein hashmashot, is mentioned e.g. in Midrash Tanchuma:
וישא אברהם את עיניו וירא והנה איל אחר נאחז בסבך בקרניו 
זה אחד מעשרה דברים שנבראו בין השמשות, נאחז בסבך בקרניו.
א"ל הקדוש ברוך הוא: יהיו תוקעין לפני בקרן איל, ואושיעם ואפדם מעונותיהם.
והוא שדוד משבח וקרן ישעי משגבי ומנוסי (תהלים יח), ואשבור עול גליות מעליהן ואנחם אותם בתוך ציון שנאמר: כי נחם ה' וגו' אמן: 

I don't know if we could somehow interpret this as being the "ram which was after" the rest of Creation, and thus bein haShemashot of the Shabbat of Creation. If we can, then we can take this as a translation of achar. So perhaps this would be evidence of achar even in Targum Pseudo-Jonathan.

But chad does not only appear in Targum Yonatan. We find parallels to this chad in both the LXX and the Samaritan text.

First, in the Septuagint:

13 καὶ ἀναβλέψας Αβρααμ τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς αὐτοῦ εἶδεν, καὶ ἰδοὺ κριὸς εἷς κατεχόμενος ἐν φυτῷ σαβεκ τῶν κεράτων· καὶ ἐπορεύθη Αβρααμ καὶ ἔλαβεν τὸν κριὸν καὶ ἀνήνεγκεν αὐτὸν εἰς ὁλοκάρπωσιν ἀντὶ Ισαακ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ.

13 And Abraam lifted up his eyes and beheld, and lo! a ram caught by his horns in a plant of Sabec; and Abraam went and took the ram, and offered him up for a whole-burnt-offering in the place of Isaac his son.

The word κριὸς means ayil and the word εἷς  means echad. So too in the Samaritan Torah, via Vetus Testamentum:

See on the top line. This is reflected as well in the Samaritan Targum. Also from Vetus Testamentum, which gives us this Samaritan alternation, also a lot that a group of Hebrew texts (that is, Jewish Torot which are supposed to follow the Masoretic text) also have this. I would not take this as reflective of a masoretic strain of echad, but rather indicative of the ease in which a scribe can make this error:

There is also the Peshitta. Now, the Peshitta is quite interesting:

Note that it has בָּתַר אִלֵּין, just as Onkelos has. Yet later, where the word echad / achar appears, it has both batar and chada. Presumably there is no nikkud in the version above because of this reduplication. It would appear that the word achar is doubly indicated, while the word echad is perhaps singly indicated. Note also the proximity of chada to achid. If we take the approach of Shadal in Ohev Ger, it seems straightforward what happened. Just like Onkelos, in order to translate the verse in a straightforward manner, they moved the translation of achar as בָּתַר אִלֵּין earlier in the verse. As a result, ayil / dichra was bare. In two parallel (I would guess) edits, scribes inserted a word in the "proper" place. One Christian scribe figured that the bareness reflected the indefinite article, and so there must have been a text before the earlier scribes which said achad, and so that scribe inserted the Syriac chada. Another assumed that the word achar was accidentally left out of the translation and fixed it by putting it back in, as batar. Other scenarios are possible, of course. Perhaps some of the scenarios I suggested above. Or perhaps before these scribes were manuscripts containing both texts, and so they saw fit to encode both. But from my perspective, I would say that Peshitta indicates achar at least as much as achad, if not more so. And is more or less the equivalent of Onkelos.

This is an important point to make. See when DovBear discussed this a year ago (and comment thread), and believed it to be a slam-dunk in favor of the Septuagint:
Now, I know many of the early and late commentators deal with this perceived anomaly, and provide all sorts of interesting explanations, but none are perfectly satisfactory. This suggested emendation makes the problem disapear, and is supported by three ancient version of the text --LXX, Peshita, and Samarian -- all of which have "one" rather than "behind" or "after".
But in fact the Peshitta has both, and supports MT just as much as it supports the LXX. Perhaps a bit more on this later.

Shadal's take on this, in Ohev Ger, is as follows:

Thus, a bunch of manuscripts and chumashim have dichra chada. However, this is only the result of an error. Onkelos wisely moved the phrase batar ilein earlier in the verse, but as the translation of the word achar, in order to place a space between the angel and the ram (as he wrote earlier in the first chelek), and so some people thought that Onkelos read in the Torah vehinei ayil echad (for they did not find the translation of achar in its place) and so they added they word chada. And meanwhile, had Onkelos read the word echad he would not have said batar ilein.

This sounds convincing to me. And I think it is even more convincing one we see the Peshitta. And perhaps it is even more convincing when we realize that those other people would have been motivated in thinking this by the text of the Samaritan Torah, or by the Septuagint.

How does Shadal himself render this word achar? As follows:
והנה איל אחר נאחז בסבך בקרניו:  ראה איל, והאיל ההוא, אחר שראהו אברהם, נאחז בסבך בקרניו (תלמידי מוהר"ר משה הלוי עהרענרייך וקרובין לזה דברי רשב"ם ורמבמ"ן) ומילת אחר ענינה ואח"כ, כמו למעלה י"ח ה' , ולמטה כ"ד נ"ה וכן במדבר ל"א ב' , הושע ג' ה' , משלי כ"ד כ"ז .

Thus, it means "afterwards", and he gives a couple of Biblical precedents for this.

I would note that while ayil achar does not occur as a phrase elsewhere, ayil echad as two words juxtaposed occurs 17 times in Tanach. Most of these are straightforward and I believe mean "one" rather than "a". For example,
במדבר פרק ז
  • פסוק ט"ו: פַּר אֶחָד בֶּן-בָּקָר, אַיִל אֶחָד כֶּבֶשׂ-אֶחָד בֶּן-שְׁנָתוֹ--לְעֹלָה. 

So that we know how many bulls, how many rams, and how many sheep.

But there is one extremely salient one in the eight perek of Daniel:
דנייאל פרק ח
  • פסוק ג: וָאֶשָּׂא עֵינַי, וָאֶרְאֶה, וְהִנֵּה אַיִל אֶחָד עֹמֵד לִפְנֵי הָאֻבָל, וְלוֹ קְרָנָיִם; וְהַקְּרָנַיִם גְּבֹהוֹת, וְהָאַחַת גְּבֹהָה מִן-הַשֵּׁנִית, וְהַגְּבֹהָה, עֹלָה בָּאַחֲרֹנָה. 

This is also quite likely "one ram" rather than "a ram", given the significance of numbers in this vision. If not, maybe it is a feature of Hebrew, or Aramaic influence within this heavily Aramaic work. But note that he "lifts up his eyes and sees, and behold, there is a/one ram." This appears to echo what happens to Avraham upon the mountain. If a deliberate echoing, then this might just indicate the version of the text which was before the author of Sefer Daniel.

One more important early source is from the Amoraim of Eretz Yisrael. In Yerushalmi Taanis daf 10b, they explicitly interpret the word achar, as after all the generations. This Amora, Rabbi Yehuda beRabbi Simon, clearly had our Masoretic text before him.

מה כתיב בתריה (בראשית כב) וישא אברהם את עיניו וירא והנה איל אחר וגו'.  מהו אחר א"ר יודה בי ר' סימון אחר כל הדורות עתידין בניך ליאחז בעונות ולהסתבך בצרות וסופן להגאל בקרניו של איל הזה שנאמר (זכריה ט) וה' אלהים בשופר יתקע והלך בסערות תימן.

So too in Bereishit Rabba, which is from the Amoraim of Eretz Yisrael:

ישא אברהם את עיניו וירא והנה איל אחר מהו אחר? אמר רבי יודן:אחר כל המעשים, ישראל נאחזים בעבירות ומסתבכין בצרות וסופן ליגאל בקרנו של איל, שנאמר: (זכריה ט) וה' אלהים בשופר יתקע וגו'. 

אמר רבי יהודה בר סימון:אחר כל הדורות, ישראל נאחזים בעבירות ומסתבכין בצרות, וסופן ליגאל בקרנו של איל, הה"ד: וה' אלהים בשופר יתקע. 

אמר רבי חנינא ב"ר יצחק:כל ימות השנה ישראל נאחזים בעבירות ומסתבכין בצרות, ובראש השנה, הן נוטלין שופר ותוקעין בו, ונזכרים לפני הקב"ה והוא מוחל להם, וסופן ליגאל בקרנו של איל, שנאמר:וה' אלהים בשופר יתקע. 
רבי לוי אמר:לפי שהיה אברהם אבינו רואה את האיל ניתוש מן החורש הזה, והולך ומסתבך בחורש אחר, אמר לו הקדוש ברוך הוא: כך, עתידין בניך להסתבך למלכיות מבבל למדי, מן מדי ליון, ומיון לאדום, וסופן ליגאל בקרנו של איל, 

Looking now at Josephus (much earlier), I would guess that he also had the word achar in the text he was familiar with:
"When God had said this, he produced to them a ram, which did not appear before, for the sacrifice."

Given how achar is being rendered as achar kach, one could readily view this as translation of the Biblical word.

What does achar mean? We can take it as Onkelos and the Peshitta, as meaning "afterward". Similarly, Rashi following Onkelos:

after: After the angel said to him, “ Do not stretch forth your hand,” he saw it as it [the ram] was caught. And that is why the Targum translates it: “ And Abraham lifted his eyes after these [words], i.e., after the angel said, ” Do not stretch forth your hand.“ (Other editions: and according to the Aggadah,” after all the words of the angel and the Shechinah and after Abraham’s arguments").אחר: אחרי שאמר לו המלאך (לעיל פסוק יב) אל תשלח ידך, ראהו כשהוא נאחז, והוא שמתרגמינן וזקף אברהם עינוהי בתר אלין:

We can take it as "afterwards" but like Ibn Ezra, who says it refers to after the ram was caught, rather than after Avraham lifted his eyes:
כב, יג]
אחר נאחז -
אחר שנאחז בסבך בקרניו, ואם הוא חי"ת נאחז קמוץ, אז תחסר מלת היה, וכן טעמו אחר היותו נאחז. ורבים כמוהו.

ויש מפרש:
כי אחר דבק עם וישא אברהם את עיניו. ואילו היה כן, היה אחרי אחר כן או אחרי זאת. כמשפט הלשון בכל התורה.

We can take it like Shadal, above, that it is after all these happenings. And along with him, Ibn Caspi:

And so, while there seems to be a bit of awkwardness here, the Masoretic text does give a plausible reading.

At this point, I believe I have arrived at the following tentative conclusions:
(1) The Masoretic text has an awkwardness to it, from our eyes, but it is a plausible reading.

(2) There certainly existed some text(s) that had echad rather than achar. This would be the Hebrew text of the Samaritan Torah and the Septuagint. Almost certainly the Targum Pseudo-Yonatan as well was working from such a Hebrew text (though see my note above). The Peshitta is not so convincing, however, and likely had parallel to the Masoretic text but was subject to later editings; or else it had both text before it.

(3) In favor of the Masoretic text we have the Leningrad Codex and all our Sifrei Torah; we have the Peshitta; we have the Talmud Yerushalmi and Midrash Rabba; we might have Midrash Tanchuma. And I am leaning towards thinking that we might well have Josephus.

(4) We should note that in the vast majority of cases, we are dealing with translations of a text, rather than a text itself. This makes derivations possibly shaky. (E.g. how do we know that since achar did not map to nullity, while chada was inserted as an indefinite article or as a subsequent assumption on the basis of the absence coupled with knowledge of other texts?) See how Onkelos and Peshitta developed, and see how the close words in proximity might have influenced it.

I would therefore say that while it is fairly clear that this alternate girsa exists, I don't think it is a "slam-dunk" or a "home-run", or even close to a "home-run", in favor of the Septuagint. It is possible, and even plausible, that the Septuagint's text it correct. But it is also quite possible, and plausible, that the Masoretic text is correct.

I don't just stack up texts and favor the most popular one. Rather, I consider the nature of the texts. Thus, I don't really consider the fact that echad appears in the Samaritan text to be persuasive. In fact, given the nature of the Samaritan text, I would say that it weighs against that reading. There is lectio difficilior in the general case -- the principle that the more difficult reading, which nevertheless is a valid reading, is more likely to be correct and original. And then there is lectio difficilior when the opposing text is the Samaritan text, in which case I would say that it is even more likely that the apparent difficult reading is correct and original. As I have discussed in the past, quite a number of times on this blog using practical examples, if one studies the Samaritan Torah one discovers a systematic agenda of smoothing and fixing the text. Even in this parasha of Vayera, at the very start, we have the "awkward" phrasing of:

ב  וַיִּשָּׂא עֵינָיו, וַיַּרְא, וְהִנֵּה שְׁלֹשָׁה אֲנָשִׁים, נִצָּבִים עָלָיו; וַיַּרְא, וַיָּרָץ לִקְרָאתָם מִפֶּתַח הָאֹהֶל, וַיִּשְׁתַּחוּ, אָרְצָה.2 and he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood over against him; and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed down to the earth,
ג  וַיֹּאמַר:  אֲדֹנָי, אִם-נָא מָצָאתִי חֵן בְּעֵינֶיךָ--אַל-נָא תַעֲבֹר, מֵעַל עַבְדֶּךָ.3 and said: 'My lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant.

where in pasuk 3, Avraham addresses one individual. Midrash takes this as Hashem in the singular being addressed and asked to wait, while he attends to these guests. Pashtanim take this as referring to the prominent one among them. Or perhaps the singular is appropriate here, speaking to the collective. It is indeed fine. But the Samaritans "fix" this by changing the endings to plural. Check out Vetus Testamentum to see how. You might argue that this in fact might be the correct text! But one can spot this trend from the numerous examples, and what I am saying here is not my own chiddush, but seems to be the scholarly consensus about the nature of the Samaritan text.

If so, it is not surprising that the Samaritans would select ayil echad. Firstly, that phrase occurs a total of 17 other times in Tanach, and they like cross-textual consistency. Furthermore, they might have looked to Daniel 8, which I discussed above. Or, it might even have been a scribal error, without motivation. Meanwhile, ayil echad in this context is not without it own irregularities, for I don't believe Hebrew regularly designates the indefinite article "a" with an explicit word echad. So it makes more surface sense than achar, but is itself irregular and not necessarily to be preferred over achar. And meanwhile, the pashtanim in considering how achar works elsewhere across Tanach come up with a rather good way in which it in fact works. And where text seems wrong (to us, to scribes) but in reality works out if one knows enough dikduk and Tanach, then that is where it is ripe to apply lectio difficilior.

That could explain the genesis of a Hebrew text of echad, which would be the basis of other foreign-language translation texts. Such a text could have come before whoever translated the Septuagint and whoever produced Targum Yonatan. (Yes, talk to me about textual rescensions, but I don't really firmly believe in them, and can well imagine cross-infections, or an early split-off which then came before the authors of different versions.)

Meanwhile, IMHO, we do have the Peshitta quite in favor of the MT, not as was suggested elsewhere, that the Peshitta reinforces the Samaritan reading. And we might well have Josephus. And we have the midrashim from Amoraim of Eretz Yisrael.

So, in the discussion that ensued on that DovBear post, I would support S. over DovBear. See there. In terms of textual emendations, I am pretty conservative, and believe that sometimes people get overexcited and overeager in favor of variants that appear in non-Masoretic texts.


E-Man said...

Very nicely done. I was wondering why we can't translate achar as another ram. Meaning, Yitzchak was the first ram. This would, in my mind, answer all awkward problems. No?

DovBear said...

You may not have seen the end of the conversation but S concedes this is a legitimate issue; he does not choose one reading over the other.

Our argument was over how much weight to give lecto.

joshwaxman said...

thanks. i think there might be problems with the nikkud, as achar rather than acher. but maybe.

indeed, i saw that. i agree it is a legitimate issue as well, though i think i favor the Masoretic reading even more than he did; and would give even more weight to lectio difficilior, especially in this instance. what changed since that discussion, as well, is the shifting of the evidence of the Peshitta from LXX towards the MT.

kol tuv,

joshwaxman said...

where i think i echo S. is where I said:

"I would therefore say that while it is fairly clear that this alternate girsa exists, I don't think it is a "slam-dunk" or a "home-run", or even close to a "home-run", in favor of the Septuagint. It is possible, and even plausible, that the Septuagint's text it [sic] correct. But it is also quite possible, and plausible, that the Masoretic text is correct."

but i do take it further from there.

E-Man said...

I looked up the Ralbag, he seems to use the words echad AND Achar to explain this verse. Interesting...


Blog Widget by LinkWithin