Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The shaking, or shaken, earth

Summary: Considering a krei and ketiv in the haftara, according to Meshech Chochma.

Post: In the haftara for Haazinu, in II Shmuel 22, we read:

ז  בַּצַּר-לִי אֶקְרָא ה, וְאֶל-אֱלֹהַי אֶקְרָא;  {ס}  וַיִּשְׁמַע מֵהֵיכָלוֹ קוֹלִי, וְשַׁוְעָתִי בְּאָזְנָיו.  {ר}7 In my distress I called upon the LORD, yea, I called unto my God; and out of His temple He heard my voice, and my cry did enter into His ears.
ח  ותגעש (וַיִּתְגָּעַשׁ) וַתִּרְעַשׁ הָאָרֶץ,  {ס}  מוֹסְדוֹת הַשָּׁמַיִם יִרְגָּזוּ; וַיִּתְגָּעֲשׁוּ, כִּי-חָרָה לוֹ.  {ר}8 Then the earth did shake and quake, the foundations of heaven did tremble; they were shaken, because He was wroth.

Note the krei and ketiv. This is all part of a shir which David HaMelech sang, as it states in pasuk 1. There is a parallel song in Tehillim 18:8:

ז  בַּצַּר-לִי, אֶקְרָא יְהוָה--    וְאֶל-אֱלֹהַי אֲשַׁוֵּעַ:
יִשְׁמַע מֵהֵיכָלוֹ קוֹלִי;    וְשַׁוְעָתִי, לְפָנָיו תָּבוֹא בְאָזְנָיו.
7 In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried unto my God;{N}
out of His temple He heard my voice, and my cry came before Him unto His ears.
ח  וַתִּגְעַשׁ וַתִּרְעַשׁ, הָאָרֶץ--    וּמוֹסְדֵי הָרִים יִרְגָּזוּ;
וַיִּתְגָּעֲשׁוּ,    כִּי-חָרָה לוֹ.
8 Then the earth did shake and quake, the foundations also of the mountains did tremble; {N}
they were shaken, because He was wroth.

And there, there is no krei and ketiv alternation, but the krei is in line with the ketiv. The difference, it seems to me, is that one, וַתִּגְעַשׁ, is the third person feminine past, while the other, וַיִּתְגָּעַשׁ, is the third person masculine reflexive (or passive) past. The former matches the pattern of the immediately following word, וַתִּרְעַשׁ, while the latter matches the later occurrence of וַיִּתְגָּעֲשׁוּ in the pasuk, though the subject later is the masculine plural מוֹסְדֵי הָרִים. Given the possibility of corruption from the later word וַיִּתְגָּעֲשׁוּ, given that even in Shmuel it only appears as an alternative krei, and given that in Tehillim we only have one, I would side with וַתִּגְעַשׁ as the correct one. This is if we consider krei and ketiv as the competing possibilities, with only one being correct.

In terms of meaning, I don't really see any major difference between the alternatives. Either way, the earth is literally or metaphorically shaking.

Meshech Chochma discusses this alternation. After citing the pasuk, he writes:

"And the ketiv according to the peshat is וַתִּגְעַשׁ, and so too in Tehillim. And this is strange, for the krei is against the peshat. And it appears that it is going upon the heichal, that the heichal is shaken, and from this, the earth quakes, just as they darshen in Yoma 54b:

וחכמים אומרים מציון נברא שנאמר (תהלים נ, א) מזמור לאסף אל אלהים ה' ואומר מציון מכלל יופי ממנו מוכלל יפיו של עולם
that the earth was created from Tziyon, for it is stated {in Tehillim}, מציון מכלל יופי. And this is the center, and from there it is shaken, and from there the earth shakes, and it is pashut."

This is an interesting way of parsing the pesukim, and one which I would not have thought of. And I think it would account for the masculine of וַיִּתְגָּעַשׁ (though ארץ might be able to support either).

Radak does not see any substantive difference between the krei and the ketiv:
[כב, ח]
ותגעש -
כתיב כמו בתהלים וקרי ויתגעש והענין אחד, וקריאת המלה מלרע וכל הענין הזה עד ישלח ממרום רמז להשחית ולכלות אויבי ישראל, כי להם הוא רעש הארץ והשמים וחשך וערפל וגחלים ואש וחצים וברק, הכל דרך משל. 
He says vehainyan echad.

The Targum renders both וַתִּגְעַשׁ  and וַתִּרְעַשׁ as the itpael. Rashi, in saying that the head of the pasuk is mechubar to its end, might be mapping וַיִּתְגָּעַשׁ of the krei to the end.

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