Thursday, November 03, 2005

parshat Bereishit: Hevel's Hark and the Skipper, Too

Shir Hashirim 5:2 reads:
ב אֲנִי יְשֵׁנָה, וְלִבִּי עֵר; קוֹל דּוֹדִי דוֹפֵק, פִּתְחִי-לִי אֲחֹתִי רַעְיָתִי יוֹנָתִי תַמָּתִי--שֶׁרֹּאשִׁי נִמְלָא-טָל, קְוֻצּוֹתַי רְסִיסֵי לָיְלָה. 2 I sleep, but my heart waketh; Hark! my beloved knocketh: 'Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled; for my head is filled with dew, my locks with the drops of the night.'
The standard assumption is that קוֹל דּוֹדִי דוֹפֵק translates to "the voice/sound of my beloved knocks." However, modern scholars (and JPS) render: "Hark! my beloved knocketh," withקוֹל rendered "Hark" and standing apart from the rest of the phrase.

As Hakham points out, the trup also appears to advance this view:

ב אֲנִ֥י יְשֵׁנָ֖ה וְלִבִּ֣י עֵ֑ר ק֣וֹל ׀ דּוֹדִ֣י דוֹפֵ֗ק פִּתְחִי־לִ֞י אֲחֹתִ֤י רַעְיָתִי֙ יֽוֹנָתִ֣י תַמָּתִ֔י שֶׁרֹּאשִׁי֙ נִמְלָא־טָ֔ל קְוֻצּוֹתַ֖י רְסִ֥יסֵי לָֽיְלָה׃

How so? The etnachta separates off the first portion of the verse. Then we have ק֣וֹל ׀ דּוֹדִ֣י דוֹפֵ֗ק. The trup on the first word is a munach legarmeih, which is a disjunctive accent which splits a clause ending in revia, which we have on the word דוֹפֵ֗ק, giving us "ק֣וֹל ׀" and then " דּוֹדִ֣י דוֹפֵ֗ק". Now, any three-word clause must be subdivided, so we would expect a disjunctive accent regardless. However, we the rules of syntactic division would have the disjunctive accent at the end of the Noun Phrase and before the Verb. If קוֹל דּוֹדִי is intended as "the voice of my beloved," with קוֹל being in construct form, then the disjunctive accent should have been on the word דּוֹדִי, to set apart "the voice of my beloved" from "knocks." That it is instead on the word קוֹל suggests that this word stands alone. Thus, we have קוֹל, Hark! There is no need to subdivide the remaining דּוֹדִ֣י דוֹפֵ֗ק since we need not subdivide clauses which are less than three words long.

As I put forth in a previous post which encompassed a short discussion of this pasuk (Shir HaShirim 5:2-6:3 And The Frustration Of Lovers Not In Harmony), while I accept this parsing of the phrase, I think that the widely followed reading is true and intended at the same time. That is, it is her beloved who is knocking on the door on the symbolic level, but at the same time, multivalently and on the interpretive level, it is the voice of her lover that "knocks on her door." אֲחֹתִי. [Knock] רַעְיָתִי. [Knock] יוֹנָתִי. [Knock] תַמָּתִי. [Knock].

Scholars (e.g. Gordis and Hakham) point to a parallel in parshat Bereishit. In Bereishit 4:10,
ט וַיֹּאמֶר ה אֶל-קַיִן, אֵי הֶבֶל אָחִיךָ; וַיֹּאמֶר לֹא יָדַעְתִּי, הֲשֹׁמֵר אָחִי אָנֹכִי. 9 And the LORD said unto Cain: 'Where is Abel thy brother?' And he said: 'I know not; am I my brother's keeper?'
י וַיֹּאמֶר, מֶה עָשִׂיתָ; קוֹל דְּמֵי אָחִיךָ, צֹעֲקִים אֵלַי מִן-הָאֲדָמָה. 10 And He said: 'What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto Me from the ground.
They claim that it is not the voice which cries out, but the blood that cries out. The word קוֹל must stand on its own, thus giving us:
"And He said: 'What hast thou done? Hark! Thy brother's blood crieth unto Me from the ground."
A good proof of this is the plural form of the verb צֹעֲקִים. This matches the plural noun דְּמֵי (which on a pshat level still means the blood of a single individual). The word דְּמֵי is certainly in construct form, and means "the blood of thy brother" (thus it is not damim), but the word קוֹל is not as obvious. The absolute and construct forms look identical. However, if the word קוֹל were in construct state, then the Noun Phrase would be "the voice of the blood of your brother." The Noun קוֹל certainly is singular, and so we would not expect it to be matched with the plural Verb צֹעֲקִים.

On the derash level, this verse is taken to underscore the great loss of life, for not just Hevel but every possible descendant that he might have had was also lost. This is based in large part on the syntactic irregularity in the verse. That is, דְּמֵי is a plural form, so that in and of itself suggests multiple bloods were spilled. Further, צֹעֲקִים is plural, which also suggests that many are crying out. Finally, there is an apparent mismatch between קוֹל and the plural צֹעֲקִים, for if קוֹל is the construct and thus crying out, the Verb should be in the singular. (Perhaps one could argue that it is the voice calling out, but that, while irregular, the Verb may occasionally match the number of any of the element in the construct chain.) The single voice cries out many cries because it carries the voice of all potential descendants.

Now, in support of taking קוֹל as "voice" rather than "Hark," we have the use of קוֹל in the previous chapter, where the object marker et, and the context, makes clear it must be voice. Bereishit 3:8:

ח וַיִּשְׁמְעוּ אֶת-קוֹל ה אֱלֹקִים, מִתְהַלֵּךְ בַּגָּן--לְרוּחַ הַיּוֹם; וַיִּתְחַבֵּא הָאָדָם וְאִשְׁתּוֹ, מִפְּנֵי ה אֱלֹקִים, בְּתוֹךְ, עֵץ הַגָּן. 8 And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden toward the cool of the day; and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.
ט וַיִּקְרָא ה אֱלֹקִים, אֶל-הָאָדָם; וַיֹּאמֶר לוֹ, אַיֶּכָּה. 9 And the LORD God called unto the man, and said unto him: 'Where art thou?'
י וַיֹּאמֶר, אֶת-קֹלְךָ שָׁמַעְתִּי בַּגָּן; וָאִירָא כִּי-עֵירֹם אָנֹכִי, וָאֵחָבֵא. 10 And he said: 'I heard Thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.'
Adam and Eve hear the sound of God's walking in the garden. We are thus set up for regarding קוֹל as referring to the sound, rather than a message of "Hark!" Of course, this idea of the קוֹל of someone walking also sets up an expectation in Shir HaShirim 2:8:
ח קוֹל דּוֹדִי, הִנֵּה-זֶה בָּא; מְדַלֵּג, עַל-הֶהָרִים--מְקַפֵּץ, עַל-הַגְּבָעוֹת. 8 Hark! my beloved! behold, he cometh, leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills.
in which the beloved is coming, leaping and skipping. Especially if one adds the traditional Jewish allegorical explanation of the (male) beloved = God, we may well expect קוֹל to be construct, and mean "voice."

(Also, God talks of Adam hearkening to Chava's voice in 3:17.)

What does the trup say about these two verses?

In terms of "the voice of the blood of your brother," the trup is:

וַיֹּ֖אמֶר מֶ֣ה עָשִׂ֑יתָ ק֚וֹל דְּמֵ֣י אָחִ֔יךָ צֹֽעֲקִ֥ים אֵלַ֖י מִן־הָֽאֲדָמָֽה

We can ignore everything before the etnachta, and focus on the second half of the verse. I would note that the word ק֚וֹל has a yetiv accent. You can distinguish this from the accent mahpach based on the position - the yetiv stands before the word, and the mahpach in the place of the word's stress. This is important because the yetiv is a disjunctive (separating) accent, whereas the mahpach is a servus, a conjunctive accent.

Thus, once again the word ק֚וֹל stands off. Or does it? In Shir HaShirim, the entire idea of knocking ended at the phrase, so it made sense that the word kol was part of the subphrase "The voice of my beloved knocks" or "Hark! My beloved knocks!" Here, however, the idea ends at the end of the verse. Thus, if קוֹל stands alone, it should be divided off first, into:



דְּמֵי אָחִיךָ צֹעֲקִים אֵלַי מִן-הָאֲדָמָה

Alas, this is not so. (I could get into the technical details, but won't do too much. Read Wickes for the theory, or if you are really curious, ask me.) The yetiv subdivides a phrase ending in zakef, which we have in the word אָחִ֔יךָ. Thus, it is part of the Noun Phrase, and means "the voice of the blood of your brother." If the trup felt it means "Hark," then it would have used a zakef gadol instead of the yetiv.

So I would say the trup is in line with the traditional, midrashic explanation. This is in fact a recurring feature of the trup, and I like to point it out when I can.

What about that other verse in Shir HaShirim, about the voice of the beloved skipping over hills? We have:

ק֣וֹל דּוֹדִ֔י הִנֵּה־זֶ֖ה בָּ֑א מְדַלֵּג֙ עַל־הֶ֣הָרִ֔ים מְקַפֵּ֖ץ עַל־הַגְּבָעֽוֹת

The munach under the word ק֣וֹל is a servus (conjunctive accent) linking the word to דּוֹדִ֔י. The first half of the verse (up to the word ba) is subdivided at the zakef in the word דּוֹדִ֔י. Thus, the trup reads "the voice/sound of my beloved." Had it understood קוֹל to mean "Hark," an accent to separate it from the remainder of the phrase up to the etnachta would have been used. That is, once again, קוֹל would have gotten a zakef gadol.

(Perhaps one might say that trup is musical as well as syntactic division, and balance and meter would cause a musical rather than syntactic division. However, I've seen examples of trup going against the meter in Shir Hashirim.)

What to make of the two apparently contradictory renderings of קוֹל, each juxtoposed with the lover? This is a matter that requires further study and investigation.

{Update Nov 13, 2005: The other instance in Shir haShirim is in fact unproblematic if you consider the principles of Biblical parallelism. That is, the verse: ק֣וֹל דּוֹדִ֔י הִנֵּה־זֶ֖ה בָּ֑א מְדַלֵּג֙ עַל־הֶ֣הָרִ֔ים מְקַפֵּ֖ץ עַל־הַגְּבָעֽוֹת

should not be rendered (and divided):
my beloved! behold, he cometh, leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills.
in which case it would need the zakef gadol, as I wrote above.

Nor should it be:
The voice of my beloved!
behold, he cometh,
leaping upon the mountains,
skipping upon the hills.
as Hakham renders it - presumably trying to be true to the trup, which here keeps the words ק֣וֹל דּוֹדִ֔י together since, as I wrote above, the munach is a servus.

Rather, it should be:
Hark! my beloved!
behold, he cometh,
leaping upon the mountains,
skipping upon the hills.
This does not go against the trup. According to the rules laid down by Wickes, a phrase must be subdivided by a disjunctive accent (which divides) only when there are three words in the phrase. Here there are two, so while a disjunctive accent (here, a pashta or a yetiv) rather than a servus like munach is allowed, it is not required, even where logically/syntactically, there is a separation. Thus, the lack of disjunctive accent does not mean that the Masoretes read this as "the voice of my beloved." They could still read "Hark! My beloved!"

Indeed, when considering the phrase ק֣וֹל דּוֹדִ֔י הִנֵּה־זֶ֖ה בָּ֑א from the perspective Biblical parallelism, we see that the word ק֣וֹל in A matches the word הִנֵּה in B; דּוֹדִ֔י in A matches זֶ֖ה in B; and בָּ֑א in B finds no exact match, though it can be thought of as an elaboration of the though "Hark! My beloved!" which is directed at the beloved's approach.

Note also that הִנֵּה־זֶ֖ה בָּ֑א matches the next verse as well, of the beloved standing behind the wall:
הִנֵּה-זֶה עוֹמֵד, אַחַר כָּתְלֵנוּ--מַשְׁגִּיחַ מִן-הַחַלֹּנוֹת, מֵצִיץ מִן-הַחֲרַכִּים.
Syntactically, in both instances we have this introduction followed by an elaboration - here, מְדַלֵּג֙ , עַל־הֶ֣הָרִ֔ים מְקַפֵּ֖ץ עַל־הַגְּבָעֽוֹת and there מַשְׁגִּיחַ מִן-הַחַלֹּנוֹת, מֵצִיץ מִן-הַחֲרַכִּים.

No comments:


Blog Widget by LinkWithin