Thursday, June 14, 2012

How to translate יוֹרִשֶׁנָּה. Should we emend Onkelos? Take II

Summary: Chelek HaDikduk explains why the Teimanim will disregard Rashi and preserve their reading of Onkelos, as יוֹרְתִנַּהּ. I agree, but take slight exception. Is Rashi setting out to emend the text, or to justify what he believes is the only extant reading of the Targum?

In parshat Shlach, Bemidbar 14:

24. But as for My servant Caleb, since he was possessed by another spirit, and he followed Me, I will bring him to the land to which he came, and his descendants will drive it[s inhabitants] out.כד. וְעַבְדִּי כָלֵב עֵקֶב הָיְתָה רוּחַ אַחֶרֶת עִמּוֹ וַיְמַלֵּא אַחֲרָי וַהֲבִיאֹתִיו אֶל הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר בָּא שָׁמָּה וְזַרְעוֹ יוֹרִשֶׁנָּה:
Rashi writes:

will drive it[s inhabitants] out: Heb. יוֹרִשֶׁנָּה, as the Targum [Onkelos] renders,“They will drive out.” They will expel the giants and the people who dwell in it. But it [the word יוֹרִשֶׁנָּה] is not be rendered as“will inherit it” unless the text has יִירָשֶׁנָּה.יורשנה: כתרגומו יתרכינה, יורישו את הענקים ואת העם אשר בה, ואין לתרגמו יירתינה, אלא במקום יירשנה:

Despite this, the Teimanim have a nusach in Onkelos which is precisely this:

יד,כד וְעַבְדִּי כָלֵב, עֵקֶב הָיְתָה רוּחַ אַחֶרֶת עִמּוֹ, וַיְמַלֵּא, אַחֲרָי--וַהֲבִיאֹתִיו, אֶל-הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר-בָּא שָׁמָּה, וְזַרְעוֹ, יוֹרִשֶׁנָּה.וְעַבְדִּי כָּלֵב, חֲלָף דַּהֲוָת רוּחַ אֻחְרִי עִמֵּיהּ, וְאַשְׁלֵים, בָּתַר דַּחְלְתִי--וְאַעֵילִנֵּיהּ, לְאַרְעָא דְּעָאל לְתַמָּן, וּבְנוֹהִי, יוֹרְתִנַּהּ.
In Chelek HaDikduk, they justify this:

"In old manuscript nuschaos, the Targum is יורתינה, and so is it in the printings. And Rashi who wrote 'like its Targum ירתכינה' wrote according to the girsa which was before him. And our sefarim and printed sefarim argue on his girsa, and we should not change our girsa. For even in the variant girsaot which are found in the gemara, in matters which pertain to halacha, one does not change [הכרע] to one of the girsaot, as the Ramban writes in Masechet Yevamot, daf 419a in sefer haMilchamot, see there. So too here. And not only this, but also, there are many differences between our manuscript sefarim to the printed sefarim, even according to the girsa of the commentators of Targum. And many mefarshim have aready explained that it is a language of inheritance, as in ולזרעו יורישנה -- {and to his descendants he will inherit it}; and the intent is that it should not be removed from him to another, but rather should be as an inheritance to his descendants and to his descendants' descendants, and it is ensured. And see Radak, Chizkuni, and Abarbanel; And Rav Saadia Gaon za"l explained it in Arabic as ולנסלה יורתה {with the lamed, and as יורתה}, in agreement to the commentary of the Targum in manuscript, vedok."

That is, RaSaG writes:

My thoughts on this is that they certainly are entitled to maintain their nusach in Onkelos, and indeed, it may well be correct and thus reflect the original in Onkelos.

The only thing I am not so convinced about is the assertion that
And Rashi who wrote 'like its Targum ירתכינה' wrote according to the girsa which was before him.
There are two ways of interpreting Rashi.

  1. One is that he had only one text of Onkelos before him, and he sided with it, explained it, and explained why the text of Onkelos was not different.
  2. Another is that Rashi was well aware of the other girsa, namely the one the Teimanim have, and explained why he believed it to be incorrect. To that end, he made a grammatical argument as well as an appeal to how Onkelos translates throughout Torah.
My gut tells me that Rashi reads more like someone selecting between girsaot, or even emending the text on the basis of sevara. So, #2.

If so, then there is less basis for claiming that we should ignore Rashi's comment and side with the 'masoretic' Onkelos text. There is a difference between a text which is masiach lefi tumo and simply assumes a text, on the one hand, and a Rishon who compared the two alternatives and explicitly sided with one of the two, backing it up with argument, on the other. And likewise, there might be a greater imperative to preserve masoretic Torah text against sevara than to preserve Onkelos to such an onslaught.

Even so, I'll reiterate that they may well be right, and the discussion is not closed merely because Rashi said something.

Finally, see what I wrote about last year about this very Rashi and Onkelos.

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