Sunday, April 06, 2014

Who was the ish iti?

יַד-אִישׁ עִתִּי?
In Acharei Mot, in discussing the seir hamishtalaech, we find that the ish iti is the one who brings the goat to Azazel.

Vayikra 16:21:

כא  וְסָמַךְ אַהֲרֹן אֶת-שְׁתֵּי יָדָו, עַל רֹאשׁ הַשָּׂעִיר הַחַי, וְהִתְוַדָּה עָלָיו אֶת-כָּל-עֲו‍ֹנֹת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, וְאֶת-כָּל-פִּשְׁעֵיהֶם לְכָל-חַטֹּאתָם; וְנָתַן אֹתָם עַל-רֹאשׁ הַשָּׂעִיר, וְשִׁלַּח בְּיַד-אִישׁ עִתִּי הַמִּדְבָּרָה.
21 And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, even all their sins; and he shall put them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of an appointed man into the wilderness.

I agree that the most straightforward meaning of Ish Iti is the man appointed for this task.

Rabbi Yonah Ibn Janach (995-1050) in Sefer Hashorashim gives the following explanation, based on other pesukim in Tanach in which the word is used associated with people:
איש עתי: חכם ובקי בדינים, יודע מה שיעשה בשעה
 ההיא, מל׳ יודע בינה לעתים (דה״א י״ב, ל״ג) וכן יודעי
 העתים (אסתר א׳ י״ג). (סה״ש 361).

"איש עתי -- a scholar and expert in the laws, who knows what to do at the time, from the language of [I Divrei Hayamim 12:33]:

לג  וּמִבְּנֵי יִשָּׂשכָר, יוֹדְעֵי בִינָה לַעִתִּים, לָדַעַת, מַה-יַּעֲשֶׂה יִשְׂרָאֵל--רָאשֵׁיהֶם מָאתַיִם, וְכָל-אֲחֵיהֶם עַל-פִּיהֶם.  {ס}33 And of the children of Issachar, men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do; the heads of them were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their commandment. {S}

and [Esther 1:13]:

יג  וַיֹּאמֶר הַמֶּלֶךְ, לַחֲכָמִים יֹדְעֵי הָעִתִּים:  כִּי-כֵן, דְּבַר הַמֶּלֶךְ, לִפְנֵי, כָּל-יֹדְעֵי דָּת וָדִין.13 Then the king said to the wise men, who knew the times--for so was the king's manner toward all that knew law and judgment;


End quote.

Though to argue against this, there might be a difference between yode'ei haitim and ish iti.


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