Thursday, October 27, 2011

Is וַיִּיקֶץ נֹחַ malei or chaser, according to Radak, against the masorah (and Torah codes)?

Summary: Michlal Yofi says it is chaser here in Noach and in Vayeitzei, which happens to be against our Masoretic text. Minchas Shai explains that he is wrong, and how he is wrong. He misinterpreted Radak. But then I show (I think) that Radak indeed explicitly says this, and so Minchas Shai is incorrect. Further, the Samaritan text is (perhaps surprisingly) chaser, and there are many Jewish texts that are chaser. And perhaps R' Meir Abulafia, while at odds with Radak, is recording a krei and ketiv distinction. Naturally, this has repercussions of possibly invalidating all modern sifrei Torah, as well as many Torah codes.

Post: In the middle of parashat Noach, 9:24, we read:

24. And Noah awoke from his wine, and he knew what his small son had done to him.כד. וַיִּיקֶץ נֹחַ מִיֵּינוֹ וַיֵּדַע אֵת אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה לוֹ בְּנוֹ הַקָּטָן:

In sefer Michlal Yofi, a grammatical work on Tanach by R' Shlomo Ibn Melech (first printed in Constantinople, 1549), the author writes:
ויקץ נח •  ביו״ד
האיתן לבד ויו״ד השרש  נעלמה

That is, there is the yud indicating the actor (masculine) within the verb, and there is a yud which is part of the root. And, since there is only one yud present in ויקץ, the one showing is the one which is part of the morphology, while the yud of the root elides or is absorbed in some way.

The "problem" with this is that in our Masoretic text, there are two yuds. Minchas Shai notes this.

"וַיִּיקֶץ נֹחַ -- the Michlol Yofi wrote ... [and then the above citation] ... and these words of his are too wondrous for me, for in all the sefarim it is with two yuds, and so wrote the Rama [Rabbi Meir Abulafia] za'l:
וַיִּיקֶץ נֹחַ מִיֵּינוֹ -- is malei with both yuds written, one read and the other not read, and its kuf is with a segol. And [Bereishit 28:29] וַיִּיקַץ יַעֲקֹב מִשְּׁנָתוֹ of parashat Vayeitzei, is malei with both yuds and its kuf is with a patach, and like it is [Bereishit 41:4] וַיִּיקַץ פַּרְעֹה, and like it is [same perek, pasuk 7] וַיִּיקַץ פַּרְעֹה וְהִנֵּה חֲלוֹם, in parashat Vayhi Miketz. And [same perek, pasuk 21] the וָאִיקָץ at the end of the pasuk of וַתָּבֹאנָה אֶל-קִרְבֶּנָה is malei yud [of a single yud] written.
End quote. And see that which I write at the start of parashat Vayeitzei, with the help of Heaven, upon  וַיִּיקַץ פַּרְעֹה."

Perhaps at the end, he means upon וַיִּיקַץ יַעֲקֹב? Maybe not, as we will see from Minchas Shai's concluding words.

The Michlal Yofi on parashat Vayeitzei makes the same comment once again, on וַיִּיקַץ יַעֲקֹב. He writes:
ויקץ: בא ביו״ד האיתן  לבד

And Minchas Shai there notes this and comments:

"וַיִּיקַץ יַעֲקֹב מִשְּׁנָתוֹ -- In all the precise sefarim, it is with two yuds. And that which the author of Michlal Yofi wrote, that it comes with the morphological yud alone, is an error. And his words are taken from the Michlol [of the Radak], page 129, and so is implied from the gloss of the medakdek there, and also from his gloss in the [sefer] HaShorashim, root יקץ, and one should not rely upon them in this.

Now, come and rely upon what I have written in parashat Noach upon the verse וַיִּיקֶץ נֹחַ in the name of the Rama za'l, who was rav muvhak, and his words are precise in all places, and specifically in the work of the corrections of the Torah, for for this he came, and this was his craft, to determine the truth based upon the precise sefarim, and there is not to err in his rulings, for he was precise and found truth. And further, because all of the masorot agree that there is only in reading three which are chaser, and their mnemonic is [Shofetim 16:20] ויקץ שמשון [actually, וַתֹּאמֶר, פְּלִשְׁתִּים עָלֶיךָ שִׁמְשׁוֹן; וַיִּקַץ מִשְּׁנָתוֹ]; the second, [I Melachim 3:15] וַיִּקַץ שְׁלֹמֹה, and [Tehillim 78:65] וַיִּקַץ כְּיָשֵׁן. {Josh: There are others, but they refer not to waking but to disgust, such as וַיָּקָץ בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל of I Melachim 11:25.} All this I have seen in the printed masoret of Tehillim 78, and other masorot in manuscript sefarim in Shofetim 16 and in Melachim perek 3. Also, the Masorah Ketana at the start of parashat Vayhi Miketz upon the verse וַיִּיקַץ פַּרְעֹה, there is a masorah that the entire Torah is written likewise."

Here is what I found in Radak's sefer Shorashim:

At least as it appears in this printing -- perhaps some printer 'corrected' it -- the verses of both Yaakov and Noach are cited with two yuds. And in ויקצו מזעזעיך of Chabakuk perek 2, there is a gaaya, which he notes is compensating for the absence of the yud of the first root letter.

I would note that since vayiketz of Noach is pronounced with stress on the first letter -- mile'eil, there is no place for the gaaya as a secondary stress. But it seems that Minchas Shai is suggesting that R' Shlomo Ibn Melech misinterpreted Radak's mention of the chisaron of the first root yud as applying as well to these two examples.

Meanwhile, here is what appears in the sefer Michlol of the Radak, in the Shaar Dikduk Hapaalim:

Thus, Radak says that it is with the morphological yud alone. And he cites the verse in I Melachim. But then he cites the one of parashat Noach, in Bereshit 9. This printing has it spelled malei with two yuds, but this is plausibly the correction of the printer, to accord with our masorah. It does seem to be what Radak means, that the ויקץ of Noach is chaser.

But Minchas Shai says that this is an error on Michlal Yofi's part, and that -- I suppose -- only the first was an example of chaser, with the second example being a counterexample. Perhaps, but I find it strange.

In fact, I believe that I can prove that Minchas Shai is the one misreading the Radak. Minchas Shai did not have access to Radak's commentary on Chumash, but we do. And this is what Radak says on the pasuk in Noach:

"ויקץ -- with the morphological yud alone, and the yud of the root elides."
This is then explicitly what Michlal Yofi says, and accords quite well with its citation in sefer Michlol of the Radak. And the printer here (I assume) put in parentheses that this is at odds with our Masoret.

What about alternative texts? Specifically, what do the Samaritans have? And what about Jewish masoretic texts? Do any of them have it chaser the yud hashoresh?

This is what we find in Vetus Testamentum, regarding the Samaritan text of the Pentateuch, regarding Noach's awakening:

The Samaritan text is on the left, and it has only a single yud. A chaser spelling is perhaps more unexpected in the Samaritan text, since placing malei vavs and yuds aids in the reading. This recommends the reading. On the other hand, another Samaritan tendency is to regularize spelling across Tanach, and so perhaps this is a regularization.

Looking to the bottom of the page in Vetus Testamentum, we find a number of Jewish (meaning that they are supposed to be masoretic) texts which also have the chaser reading. Thus:

If so, perhaps this is a perfectly valid masoretic tradition, as recorded by Radak, a Rishon, and attested to in multiple sifrei Torah. What of the many masoretic notes? The masoretic notes were composed by people who looked over the various sefarim and describing what was there. And undoubtedly this was the reality in the sefarim they looked at. But had they looked at other sefarim, they might have written a masoretic note in accordance with the Radak. Indeed, we find plenty of competing masoretic notes, which are based on differing texts.

Here, by the way, is the Samaritan text on Vayeitzei. It is chaser, as pictured to the left:

And looking at the variae lectiones of Hebrew ("masoretic") sefarim listed at the bottom of the page, we see:

There is some overlap to the ones listed for parashat Noach, but not in its entirety.

At the end of the day, this appears to be a plausible reading, and we are left with a pretty big safek. And the Rama, the Rishon, was an expert, so perhaps we should heed him over the Radak, but that does not mean that we must. (If our sifrei Torah are in error, then this would naturally mess up any Torah code which passed through this word.)

There is, however, something to be medayek in within the words of Rabbi Meir Abulafia. To cite it again, from Minchas Shai's quotation:
וַיִּיקֶץ נֹחַ מִיֵּינוֹ -- is malei with both yuds written, one read and the other not read, and its kuf is with a segol.
What does the Rama mean that one is read and the other is not read, even though it is malei with both yuds written. Maybe he means that one of them is a consonant, and so it is pronounced, while the second follows the chirik, and so is encompassed within the chirik. Perhaps, but grammarians distinguish between the chirik malei and the chirik chaser, with the former being a long vowel and the latter being a short vowel. So that yud would be pronounced.

Rather, it seems to me that Rama is saying that even though that second yud is written in the ketiv, it is not pronounced at all in the kerei. And so, the chirik should be a chirik chaser.

Thus, this is a krei and ketiv. There are disputes about the origin of krei and ketiv, and the spur might be changing grammar, or differentiation between the text as written and the grammatical requirement (as described by Radak in sefer Michlol) for that first root letter to elide. But maybe this krei and ketiv was a way of encoding two competing masorot. Since some texts had the word malei and some had the word chaser, the compromise was to encode one in the krei and the other in ketiv.

If, however, we are only speaking of pronunciation, maybe we can go back and read this into even the Radak's commentary on sefer Bereishit...


Jr said...

Nice post

"precise and ???" - the Hebrew is דק ואשכח as in דוק ותשכח - he was דק and found [truth].

joshwaxman said...

thanks. i'll emend when i get the chance.

Anonymous said...

Something you might enjoy!

Shmuel said...

Although chirik malei has a yud and is pronounced differently to chirik chaser, this does not mean the yud itself is pronounced, no more than a yud after a tzeireh is pronounced, or an alef/hei after kamatz gadol.

These are all called nach nistar - that is, they are inaudible and only used as mater lectionis.

joshwaxman said...

Following through, then I would guess that that by "one read and the other not read", he means a chirik malei?

If so, then we revert back to the discrepancy between Rama and the Radak.

MG said...

"In fact, I believe that I can prove that Minchas Shai is the one misreading the Radak."

Actually, he isn't. True, the Radak on Chumash says that that the word in Noach is chaser, but the Michlol and the Shoroshim don't read that way. In fact, the text from the Michlol you've pasted into your piece is the wrong text - it's the piece on YKZ, not YZK, that the MS is referencing - turn the page in your Michlol and you'll see this clearly. The Radak says there, that these words - found at Noach, Yaakov, and Pharaoh - are all malei. He then quotes the three places where it is chaser. The "notes of the Medakdek" (Bachur) that the MS refers to can be found right here, where there is a (very obvious) printer's error in the Michlol (since he quotes the same posuk in Vayeitzei twice, once as malei and once as chaser), so Bachur amends the chaser quote to be the posuk found at Shimshon, based on the Masorah. The Michlal Yofi misread the Radak as saying that the posuk in Vayeitzei is chaser, when that was a printer's error. Bochur corrected the error. The MS uses Bachur (no slouch in these matters) to prove that the Radak had a malei reading in our text here.

Similarly in Shoroshim it's clear that the Radak had these words malei. He says the that Yud has a Gaaya to replace the missing root Yud ONLY on the last pasuk. The other two, not having gaayot, are malei. (The Vayikatz of Yaakov also would have had a gaaya, being milerah, if it were chaser.) There is no correction from any printer. Bochur's notes on Shoroshim (found in the back in most editions) also state clearly that these are malei with only the three notable exceptions, and the MS again uses this as a source.

So the MS read the Radak correctly in Michlol and in Shoroshim (both with an assist from Bachur), that the words are malei, and the Michlal Yofi is the one who misread the Radak in Michlol, with respect to the spelling in Vayeitzei, based on a printer's error. (Or he misread the Shoroshim to mean that all three are chaser when in fact the Radak only meant the last posuk with the gaaya.) This is what the MS means when he says "[the Michlal Yofi's] words were taken from Michlol" - in error. He "proves" the correct reading of Radak based on Bachur. Now perhaps the Michlal Yofi in Noach was relying on the Radak on Chumash there, which it seems the MS did not have. Either way, the Radak on Chumash seems to contradict what he says in Michlol and in Shoroshim. But the MS did not misread him. (The Radak isn't to be relied upon in Masoretic matters regardless.)

Now, the Radak in Michlol that you DO quote from, where he seems to say that the word in Noach is chaser, despite the text inside the Michlol having two Yods - sorry, but you are completely misreading this Radak. The Radak there is talking about the shoresh YZK. He is saying that the conjugation of this shoresh into future tense with prefix Aleph/Yod/Tau/Nun can (typically) take a patach under the Tzadi, but there are also examples where it takes a segol, i.e. VaYitzek Dam HaMakah (where _that posuk_ comes without the Yud of future tense - similar to Vayiketz Shlomo, where _that posuk_ also comes without the Yud of future tense), and Vayiketz Noach, which also comes with a segol - different shoresh but same nikkud. Then Radak brings examples of where the conjugation can take a cholom. So this is not about malei or chaser, but about the various nekudot that the future tense can take. There is no printers correction here, since the Radak truly holds that the word in Noach is malei! Your red brackets are in the wrong place. Please reread. In any case, this isn't the Michlol that the MS was referencing.

MG said...

"The masoretic notes were composed by people who looked over the various sefarim and describing what was there."
This is misleading. The original Masoretic notes were composed by the Masoretes, of course. The notes we find in the Aleppo Codex, for example, were composed by Ben Asher himself. The Masoretic notes we find in the original editions of Mikraot Gedolot, however, were compiled from lists of Masoretic notes found in manuscripts, and had to be sorted through and reconciled, so they are often at odds with each other because they mix and match different notes from different manuscripts and authors. So we do find competing Masoretic notes, just as we find competing manuscripts. However, we do have the Masoretic notes on the Aleppo Codex in Tehillim, Melachim, and Shoftim, and in all three of those places we have the Mesorah Ketanah which says "3 Chaser". So there really in no question that the words in the Torah that we have should be malei, and there is not even a small safek about this.

Lastly, with respect to chirik malei and chaser, this division was made by later grammarians, and the Tiberians made no such distinction. In fact, any unvoweled consonant in the middle of a word that has no nikkud or shva is not to be pronounced, such as how we do not pronounce the yod in "Alecha" or the second yod in "Einecha". The Ramah is saying that this second yod is no different, it's not "read" as VaYiyketz, but VaYiketz. It's not a kri/ketiv, just like Alecha is not a kri/ketiv. We have no evidence that the Ramah differentiated between Chirik malei and chaser.

joshwaxman said...


i'll have to go through all this slowly, so i'm not going to able to respond, but my general impression is that i'm impressed with what you wrote.

all the best,

Anonymous said...

>The notes we find in the Aleppo Codex, for example, were composed by Ben Asher himself.

Literally composed, yes. But we don't know what the process was, and what the sources were. Obviously each Masorete did not work from scratch, but were working with some kind of accumulated body of knowledge.

MG said...

> Literally composed, yes. But we don't know what the process was, and what the sources were. Obviously each Masorete did not work from scratch, but were working with some kind of accumulated body of knowledge.

Of course. Ben Asher didn't "make up" the notes. But taking your statement to it's logical conclusion, one then can't rely on any Masoretic Notes. If we are going to trust the Aleppo Codex as the most perfect record of the Bible, then we have to take its own internal Masoretic Notes along with it. One has to assume that Ben Asher sifted through all he had and wrote those Masoretic Notes to be internally consistent within his Codex (and indeed they are). He ignored the notes not consistent with his textual tradition.

This is different than what Josh had implied, which was that the Masoretic Notes were composed by someone looking over a bunch of manuscripts and then compiling what he "saw" to be consistent with the text, which is then subject to that person possibly not having seen all the possible texts. But If Ben Asher indeed "missed" a variant text, it's irrelevant.


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