Wednesday, June 15, 2011

How the Samaritans emend the beginning of Shlach

Summary: Is the Samaritan Targum's harmonization of the beginning of Shlach with sefer Devarim an example of Ziyuf?

Post: The sidra of Shelach begins (pesukim with Rashi):

1. The Lord spoke to Moses saying,א. וַיְדַבֵּר יְ־הֹוָ־ה אֶל מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר:
2. "Send out for yourself men who will scout the Land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel. You shall send one man each for his father's tribe; each one shall be a chieftain in their midst."ב. שְׁלַח לְךָ אֲנָשִׁים וְיָתֻרוּ אֶת אֶרֶץ כְּנַעַן אֲשֶׁר אֲנִי נֹתֵן לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אִישׁ אֶחָד אִישׁ אֶחָד לְמַטֵּה אֲבֹתָיו תִּשְׁלָחוּ כֹּל נָשִׂיא בָהֶם:
שלח לך אנשים: למה נסמכה פרשת מרגלים לפרשת מרים, לפי שלקתה על עסקי דבה שדברה באחיה, ורשעים הללו ראו ולא לקחו מוסר:
שלח לך: לדעתך, אני איני מצוה לך, אם תרצה שלח, לפי שבאו ישראל ואמרו (דברים א, כב) נשלחה אנשים לפנינו, כמה שנאמר (שם) ותקרבון אלי כלכם וגו', ומשה נמלך בשכינה. אמר אני אמרתי להם שהיא טובה, שנאמר (שמות ג, יז) אעלה אתכם מעני מצרים וגו', חייהם שאני נותן להם מקום לטעות בדברי המרגלים למען לא יירשוה:

Clearly, there is an issue in that here, Hashem seems to be the initiator of the command, and says to do it for their benefit, while in Devarim, Moshe criticizes the Israelites for making this request. There may be various ways of resolving this, but Rashi, based on Sifrei, explains that they first asked, Moshe consulted with Hashem, and Hashem allowed it, to give them room to err with the spies, so that they would not inherit it.

The relevant pesukim in Devarim (1:20f):

20. And I said to you, "You have come to the mountain of the Amorites, which the Lord, our God, is giving us.כ. וָאֹמַר אֲלֵכֶם בָּאתֶם עַד הַר הָאֱמֹרִי אֲשֶׁר יְ־הֹוָ־ה אֱלֹהֵינוּ נֹתֵן לָנוּ:
21. Behold, the Lord, your God, has set the land before you; go up and possess it, as the Lord, God of your fathers has spoken to you; you shall neither fear nor be dismayed."כא. רְאֵה נָתַן יְ־הֹוָ־ה אֱלֹהֶיךָ לְפָנֶיךָ אֶת הָאָרֶץ עֲלֵה רֵשׁ כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר יְ־הֹוָ־ה אֱלֹהֵי אֲבֹתֶיךָ לָךְ אַל תִּירָא וְאַל תֵּחָת:
22. And all of you approached me and said, "Let us send men ahead of us so that they will search out the land for us and bring us back word by which route we shall go up, and to which cities we shall come."כב. וַתִּקְרְבוּן אֵלַי כֻּלְּכֶם וַתֹּאמְרוּ נִשְׁלְחָה אֲנָשִׁים לְפָנֵינוּ וְיַחְפְּרוּ לָנוּ אֶת הָאָרֶץ וְיָשִׁבוּ אֹתָנוּ דָּבָר אֶת הַדֶּרֶךְ אֲשֶׁר נַעֲלֶה בָּהּ וְאֵת הֶעָרִים אֲשֶׁר נָבֹא אֲלֵיהֶן:
23. And the matter pleased me; so I took twelve men from you, one man for each tribe.כג. וַיִּיטַב בְּעֵינַי הַדָּבָר וָאֶקַּח מִכֶּם שְׁנֵים עָשָׂר אֲנָשִׁים אִישׁ אֶחָד לַשָּׁבֶט:

and so on.

The Samaritan Pentateuch just merges the two accounts here:

Thus, they change the first person וָאֹמַר אֲלֵכֶם in pasuk 20 into ויאמר משה לבני ישראל, but then follow the script from Devarim until pasuk 22, and finally, change the first person וַיִּיטַב בְּעֵינַי הַדָּבָר into וייטב הדבר בעיני משה. Then, they pick up the beginning of parashat Shelach just as we have it.

Naturally, the Samaritan Targum follows the same pattern:

It is, after all, simply a translation of the Samaritan Hebrew into Aramaic.

Targumana (Dr. David Golomb) takes note of this,

relating it to the forging and additions of the Samaritans, even as its 'source' is in the Sifrei which is brought in Rashi. I would agree that this is part of the general Samaritan trend of making clarifying insertions and harmonizations in their texts, thus corrupting the textual integrity. Though I would note that the Sifrei need not be the 'source' for this harmonization, since it is a fairly straightforward, obvious, and indeed almost necessary harmonization. (Though I don't know whether Dr. Golomb was really suggesting this, in saying אף כי מקורו...)

It is these obvious instances of tampering to make the text more 'solid' that should caution us to be wary in less obvious instances. Even their Hebrew text is a Targum of sorts, and variations which seem to solve all our 'problems' in the masoretic text may have been the result of a deliberate hand.

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