Monday, October 25, 2010

More on achar / echad, in the Peshitta and Onkelos

Update: This is wrong, at least as it applies to the Peshitta. I accidentally did not use the Peshitta. The site I used,, 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 Onkelos, I think the observations still hold true.

Summary: The threefold girsological variant in Onkelos on Vayera, paralleling precisely the Peshitta.

Post: So, in shul this past Shabbos, I tried to tell over my dvar Torah about echad / achar from 'I Spy... A Ram!', showing how Onkelos developed, and how the word chada appeared. To lead into this, I asked someone to check out the Targum on the pasuk of Avraham lifting up his eyes and seeing the ram, and that person looked at it but saw nothing remarkable. Then I checked it out in the chumashim there as well and saw that the word batar was present, in place, as a translation of Achar! This variant was not even mentioned by Shadal. But it parallels what happened in the Peshitta, and bolster's Shadal's argument in Ohev Ger even further.

I will present all the variants within Onkelos before proceeding. In the Teimani manuscript of Onkelos, we have:
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.

There is no word after dichra as translation of achar, but Onkelos does add batar ilein earlier in the pasuk. Onkelos is a fairly literal translation of the Torah text, so he would not randomly insert batar ilein. And since batar ilein is a good translation of achar, this is indeed how Onkelos is translating it. This is what Shadal labels as the best, correct text, and I agree with him. Here is a text of Onkelos from 1557 that has the same:

However, most texts insert the word chada after dichra. Shadal attributes this to a lack of realization, by the scribe, that Onkelos indeed translated the word achar. The scribe erroneously believes that Onkelos was working off a text that had echad in the Hebrew, just as the Samaritans have it and the Septuagint had it, and so put in the word chada. But this is in error, because if so, what is the phrase batar ilein doing earlier in the verse?

Here is an example of Onkelos text with chada in place, from 1490:

Finally, a couple of texts resolve the difficulty in a different fashion, inserting the word batar again after the word dichra. Thus, from a Chumash with HaTorah veHamitzvah of the Malbim:

Note on the first line both batar ilein, early in the pasuk,and batar alone, immediately after dichra. Note also the asterisk above the word batar, and the note on the bottom of a variant of chada.

Thus, we have three versions within the text. All three have batar ilein, but some have bare dichra, some have dichra chada, and some have dichra batar. To illustrate this with a nice tree diagram:

See Shadal on this point, though he didn't even know of the variant of batar appearing afterwards. With the variants with batar afterwards, his point becomes even stronger.

Meanwhile, the Peshitta is identical to Onkelos in this development. From an online version of the Peshitta:

In general, it seems that they place nikkud in the words they believe should be there and do not in words from variants versions (of Peshitta) which should not be there. Note that the words batar and chada follow dichra, and no not receive nikkud. And note the phrase batar ilein appears regardless. My guess from this is that the same tree diagram holds true for Peshitta as it did for Onkelos:

Thus, Peshitta, like Onkelos, is evidence in favor of the Masoretic text, rather than evidence in favor of the Septuagint and Samaritan text.

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