Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Charging Yehoshua

The Samaritans have a curious insertion towards the end of parashat Pinchas:

That is, after Bemidbar 27:23, they insert the command portion of Devarim 3:21-22:

כא  וְאֶת-יְהוֹשׁוּעַ צִוֵּיתִי, בָּעֵת הַהִוא לֵאמֹר:  עֵינֶיךָ הָרֹאֹת, אֵת כָּל-אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם לִשְׁנֵי הַמְּלָכִים הָאֵלֶּה--כֵּן-יַעֲשֶׂה יְהוָה לְכָל-הַמַּמְלָכוֹת, אֲשֶׁר אַתָּה עֹבֵר שָׁמָּה.21 And I commanded Joshua at that time, saying: 'Thine eyes have seen all that the LORD your God hath done unto these two kings; so shall the LORD do unto all the kingdoms whither thou goest over.
כב  לֹא, תִּירָאוּם:  כִּי ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם, הוּא הַנִּלְחָם לָכֶם.  {ס}22 Ye shall not fear them; for the LORD your God, He it is that fighteth for you.' {S}

(Except they left off the Elokeichem from pasuk 22.)

This is a typical Samaritan modification and harmonization. Since Devarim asserts that Yehoshua was commanded this 'at that time', the command to Yehoshua should ideally also appear in that earlier text. (Meanwhile, it is obviously an insertion and tampering with the text. Indeed, the very point of mentioning this Devarim is to add information, to let them know what they otherwise would not have known from the earlier text.)

I don't know that this charging of Yehoshua regarding Sichon and Og is best inserted here of all places. There might well be better guesses. But I suspect the decision to insert it here is the link (gezeira shava) formed by וְאֶת-יְהוֹשׁוּעַ צִוֵּיתִי in Devarim 3 and ויצוהו in Bemidbar 27:23.


madaral said...

We would never do that, tampering with the text? See this.

joshwaxman said...

No, we would not. To explain:

1) While the Samaritans worked to harmonize and smooth out texts, Chazal and the Masoretes worked to preserve the text, with the difficulties intact. That there are these apparent discrepancies between these three versions of the charging of Yehoshua -- rather than having Eleazar inserted in each place, and having the public there in account -- goes to show that they didn't tamper with the text.

2) But it depends what you mean "we". If you mean Chazal and the Masoretes who worked to preserve every irregular spelling and discrepancy and make meaning out of it, no. If by "we" you mean MUCH further back than Chazal, when the Biblical text was first written (as Rabbi Zev Farber is describing, then that is another story entirely.)

3) Just because the Biblical critics claim that these are three versions of the same story -- rather than three distinct stories, or two stories with a divergence in the telling due to different concerns of the storyteller -- doesn't automatically make it so. We don't NEED to see a redactor adding in Eleazar and the public. This is just the "model" they constructed. See this parshablog post where I critique the Rabbi Farber's approach (and High Biblical Criticism) in general, with specific examples.

kol tuv,


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