Post: As we progress through each parsha, I am taking pains to point out the way the Samaritans have "fixed" up their text. This, with the goal of making the forged nature of the Samaritan text clearer to those who mistakenly believe that the Samaritan variant is more likely original, because it is 'better'. Of course it seems 'better'! That it their agenda in corrupting their Torah!
Thus, to pick on DovBear, though certainly others try to say similar things:
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".In the purported example, it was not true that the Peshitta supported it -- see here -- but this represents a rejection of lectio difficilior, a principle which should apply a thousandfold when considering the Samaritan text. That it makes a "problem disappear" is precisely the continuous motivation of the Samaritan scribes.
Here are three examples, selected from this parasha. My first choice is the first pasuk of Vayeitzei. The pasuk:
|10. And Jacob left Beer sheba, and he went to Haran.||י. וַיֵּצֵא יַעֲקֹב מִבְּאֵר שָׁבַע וַיֵּלֶךְ חָרָנָה:|
|and he went to Haran: He left in order to go to Haran. — [From Gen. Rabbah 68:8,]||וילך חרנה: יצא ללכת לחרן:|
Thus, something like 'and set out towards Charan'. This is an attempt at peshat, rather than at derash. See other meforshim grappling with this. To lay out two others, that he arrived at Charan, realized he hadn't prayed at the location of the akeida, and so turned back and arrived there via kefitzat haderech; alternatively, that he indeed arrived at Charan, but the events which follow happened along the way.
There are good explanations of this phrase in a way that doesn't do violence to the rules of Biblical Hebrew. And it is a natural language, and so certain expressions may seem strange if we consider them most literally. And these most literal evaluations often lead to derash, but before we arrive at the derash, we can evaluate them as peshat as a normal way of expressing the idea.
The Samaritans don't like such awkward expressions, and not surprisingly, they don't have them in their Biblical text:
See above, how they emend vayelech to lalechet.
In the next pasuk, they also consider that Yaakov is just one person, with one head, and emend the strange plural form merashotav to merashoto. They emend it as well in pasuk 18. But consider that the plural form is correct, and we see, for example, in sefer Rut, the word margelotav:
|ד וִיהִי בְשָׁכְבוֹ, וְיָדַעַתְּ אֶת-הַמָּקוֹם אֲשֶׁר יִשְׁכַּב-שָׁם, וּבָאת וְגִלִּית מַרְגְּלֹתָיו, ושכבתי (וְשָׁכָבְתְּ); וְהוּא יַגִּיד לָךְ, אֵת אֲשֶׁר תַּעֲשִׂין.||4 And it shall be, when he lieth down, that thou shalt mark the place where he shall lie, and thou shalt go in, and uncover his feet, and lay th|
Some words, like baalav, are plural, for whatever reason. And we can analyze why, but regardless, this is the pattern. Even though overeager scribes who think they know better will 'correct' it.
The third example I selected was in Yaakov's dream, in which the angel tells him that he is helping him with the spotted, etc., sheep:
The text on the left is the Samaritan. See how they insert all of these pesukim. Now, do they invent these yesh me'ayin? Absolutely not. Rather, later on, Yaakov convinces Rachel and Leah to leave with him for home. I am providing some surrounding context, but look in particular from pasuk 10 and on:
Also, from what was cited above, pasuk 3, for the slightly modified ending.
Now, from our Masoretic perspective, is there a real problem? Absolutely not. Sometimes details are rich in one location and poor in the other. And sometimes later pesukim reveal earlier information. An exemplar of the latter is in sefer Yonah:
|י וַיִּירְאוּ הָאֲנָשִׁים יִרְאָה גְדוֹלָה, וַיֹּאמְרוּ אֵלָיו מַה-זֹּאת עָשִׂיתָ: כִּי-יָדְעוּ הָאֲנָשִׁים, כִּי-מִלִּפְנֵי יְהוָה הוּא בֹרֵחַ--כִּי הִגִּיד, לָהֶם.||10 Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him: 'What is this that thou hast done?' For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them.|
No earlier pasuk has Yonah tell him, and so the Biblical text itself feeds us this information where it is first relevant. But, since we are not assuming that Yaakov Avinu is lying to his wives, and since he did have this success in producing appropriate speckled sheep, when he explicitly informs his wives about his dream, we can trust him and mentally retroject these details as well.
The Samaritans, who dislike Oral Law and like a smooth text with all necessarily details, explicitly retroject the dream into the place it would have occurred. This does not mean that there text is better, in the sense of reflecting an original Biblical Ur-text. Instead, the precise opposite! What it does mean is that there text is a sort of Hebrew Targum, with edits to make what is happening clearer to the reader.
But, given this, that the Samaritan variant 'fixes' a textual problem is not a reason to believe that it is better, and that we should emend our Masoretic text.