Tuesday, August 16, 2005

haftarat Devarim: Parsing Yeshaya 1:5

In the haftara:
ה עַל מֶה תֻכּוּ עוֹד, תּוֹסִיפוּ סָרָה; כָּל-רֹאשׁ לָחֳלִי, וְכָל-לֵבָב דַּוָּי. 5 On what part will ye yet be stricken, seeing ye stray away more and more? The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint;
The way the meforshim (Malbim, Ibn Ezra, and others) parse it:
עַל מֶה תֻכּוּ
עוֹד תּוֹסִיפוּ סָרָה
"For what cause will you suffer?
You will further add to your straying."

That is, the word עוֹד is part of the second phrase. Meanwhile, in the quote above, the word "yet" and the comma after the word עוֹד implies it is part of the first phrase.

The trup:

ה עַ֣ל מֶ֥ה תֻכּ֛וּ ע֖וֹד תּוֹסִ֣יפוּ סָרָ֑ה כָּל־רֹ֣אשׁ לָֽחֳלִ֔י וְכָל־לֵבָ֖ב דַּוָּֽי

There is a tevir on תֻכּ֛וּ and a tipcha on ע֖וֹד. According to Wickes' theory of continuous dichotomy, the parsing of the verse in unambiguous. A tevir divides into two parts a phrase ending in tipcha, while the tipcha subdivides into two parts a phrase ending in etnachta. Thus, the parsing must be:

עַ֣ל מֶ֥ה תֻכּ֛וּ ע֖וֹד
תּוֹסִ֣יפוּ סָרָ֑ה

which might still be translated:
"For what cause will you yet suffer
for you will continue to stray."

The meforshim do not intend to offer an explanation which goes against the trup, but rather they are operating on a different theory of trup, in which there are disjunctive accents of various strengths, and while tevir and tipcha rank up there, there is room for ambiguity in how one should then parse the pasuk.

While discussing this pasuk, I will mention Ibn Ezra's comment on the word תֻכּוּ. He explains that the ת at the start and the ו at the end are not both part of the verb pattern, such that it means "you (pl.) will be struck." Rather, the ת at the start is actually a root letter, and it is of the root תככ, which means to press, or to suffer.

Update: I should mention that the effect of Ibn Ezra's take on the word תֻכּוּ is to transform it from the imperfect {~= future tense} 3rd person plural into the perfect {~= past tense} 3rd person plural. That is, "you suffered" rather that "you will be struck." This, of course, goes hand in hand with the issue of which phrase possesses the word עוֹד. It makes little sense to have עוֹד, connoting "further," or "yet," in the first phrase, when the events happened in the past. Thus, the phrase cuts off at תֻכּוּ.

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