Thursday, November 25, 2004

Vayishlach #5: Come and Hear, or Come, then Hear?

In midrash rabba, someone suggests that a pasuk from Vayishlach should be added to a list of four pesukim with ambiguous parsing.

In Bereishit 34:7 we read:

ז וּבְנֵי יַעֲקֹב בָּאוּ מִן-הַשָּׂדֶה, כְּשָׁמְעָם, וַיִּתְעַצְּבוּ הָאֲנָשִׁים, וַיִּחַר לָהֶם מְאֹד: כִּי-נְבָלָה עָשָׂה בְיִשְׂרָאֵל, לִשְׁכַּב אֶת-בַּת-יַעֲקֹב, וְכֵן, לֹא יֵעָשֶׂה.
7 And the sons of Jacob came in from the field when they heard it; and the men were grieved, and they were very wroth, because he had wrought a vile deed in Israel in lying with Jacob's daughter; which thing ought not to be done.

At issue is whether the word כְּשָׁמְעָם, "when they heard it" associates with the pasuk up to this point - they came as soon as they heard - or if is associates with the next part of the pasuk - so that they came, and when they heard, they were grieved and very wroth. The English translation above already disambiguates the parsing issue in favor of the former parsing of the pasuk. It also accords with the trup on the pasuk:

Bereishit 34:7:
ז וּבְנֵ֨י יַֽעֲקֹ֜ב בָּ֤אוּ מִן־הַשָּׂדֶה֙ כְּשָׁמְעָ֔ם וַיִּֽתְעַצְּבוּ֙ הָֽאֲנָשִׁ֔ים וַיִּ֥חַר לָהֶ֖ם מְאֹ֑ד כִּֽי־נְבָלָ֞ה עָשָׂ֣ה בְיִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל לִשְׁכַּב֙ אֶת־בַּֽת־יַעֲקֹ֔ב וְכֵ֖ן לֹ֥א יֵֽעָשֶֽׂה׃

Here, the disjunctive accent, in the form of a zaqef katon on the word כְּשָׁמְעָם, separates the pasuk such that the word belongs to the first half.

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