Monday, February 28, 2011

Lo Tevaaru vs. Lo Taviru Esh

Summary: I'm almost certain the Samaritans changed it. The question is, why?

Post: Here is how our parasha, of Vayakhel, leads off:

3. You shall not kindle fire in any of your dwelling places on the Sabbath day."ג. לֹא תְבַעֲרוּ אֵשׁ בְּכֹל מֹשְׁבֹתֵיכֶם בְּיוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת:

We correctly understand this to mean to start a fire, that is to kindle one. The Tzedukim, Samaritans and Karaites took this to mean burn, with the sense that there may not be any flame in one's house. This leads to dark rooms and cold food.

I was somewhat surprised to see the following emendation in the Samaritan Pentateuch:


Note that they replace the word תבערו in our Masoretic text with the word תבעירו. What is the difference? Perhaps there is no difference, and they are just replacing it with the more common current word. But the grammatical different would appear to be that teva'aru is the kal, while tav'iru is the hiphil. (I think.) This is then the difference between בָּעַר, to burn, and הִבְעִיר, to light or to kindle. While I would assert that the plain old kal can also mean to kindle, once one makes a conscious effort to emend, one is making a statement.

And if so, wouldn't this go against the point they are trying to make? By saying that kindling is forbidden, isn't the implication that keeping burning is not? I think that one could answer that they are saying the opposite. Tav'iru is the causative. Thus, you should not cause fire to be burning in all your dwelling places on the Shabbat day. How would one cause them to be burning? By kindling, even before the Shabbat day arrives.

(The reason they would emend is to make explicit any interpretation they have, so that it is in the Torah Shebichsav rather than the Torah SheBaal Peh.)

4 comments:

Tamir said...

Maybe they see Teva'aru as destruction by livestock( like in Shemot 22:4), and Tav'iru a more correct word for using fire( Shemot 22:5).

Tamir said...

But the grammatical different would appear to be that teva'aru is the kal, while tav'iru is the hiphil. (I think.)

Actually, if I'm not mistaken, Teva'aru is in Binyan Pi'el. In Binyan Qal it would be Tiv'aru( and in Nif'al: Tiba'aru)

joshwaxman said...

oops! i think you are correct in that. thanks!

still, one would be the intensive and the other the causative, right?

Tamir said...

joshwaxman: still, one would be the intensive and the other the causative, right?

Maybe, if you say both forms refer to the same action( burning by fire).

Although the hif'il form is used for burning by fire exclusively(?), the Pi'el form is also used for other forms of destruction( like, leHalakhah, in Bi'ur Chames).

In( non-religious) school, I remember* being taught, that in Biblical Hebrew( as opposed to common usage today) the Pi'el form referred exclusively to destruction by livestock( like, as I mentioned in my first comment, in Shemot 22:4).

If so, it could be that the Samaritan redactor saw what looked like a grammatical error of using the incorrect form for 'burning by fire', and corrected it to "Lo Tav'iru Esh".

Even if we take a wider understanding of the Pi'el form( like used with regards to Bi'ur Chames), the Samaritan redactor could have feared people could read "Lo Teva'aru Esh" as "do not destroy( i.e. extinguish) fire", which would allow kindling fire and letting it burn, and set out to correct it with a more restricted form( Tav'iru), which refers only to burning by fire.

* This was more than 15 years ago, and my memory of what exactly was taught may be faulty.

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