Thursday, July 13, 2006

parshat Pinchas: Who Was Cozbi bat Tzur?

There is an interesting parse of Bemidbar 25:15, in identifying Cozbi Bat Tzur. That pasuk reads:
יד וְשֵׁם אִישׁ יִשְׂרָאֵל הַמֻּכֶּה, אֲשֶׁר הֻכָּה אֶת-הַמִּדְיָנִית--זִמְרִי, בֶּן-סָלוּא: נְשִׂיא בֵית-אָב, לַשִּׁמְעֹנִי. 14 Now the name of the man of Israel that was slain, who was slain with the Midianitish woman, was Zimri, the son of Salu, a prince of a fathers' house among the Simeonites.
טו וְשֵׁם הָאִשָּׁה הַמֻּכָּה הַמִּדְיָנִית, כָּזְבִּי בַת-צוּר: רֹאשׁ אֻמּוֹת בֵּית-אָב בְּמִדְיָן, הוּא. {פ} 15 And the name of the Midianitish woman that was slain was Cozbi, the daughter of Zur; he was head of the people of a fathers' house in Midian.
Targum Pseudo-Yonatan identifies her as Shevilanai daughter of Balak. The Shevilanai part is explained well in Sanhedrin 82b, which I eventually intend to cover in another post, but there, it is Shevilanai daughter of Tzur. Tg Yonatan changes Tzur to Balak, king of Moav, based in part on the following interesting reparse of the verse (there are other aspects, such as the fact that it is the daughters of the Moabites who commit harlotry, the aspect of Bilaam's counsel, etc. See this post where I discuss some of it):

רֹאשׁ - the head
אֻמּוֹת - revocalize as umat, thus uma de, the nation of
בֵּית-אָב - the house of the father, code for Moav
בְּמִדְיָן הוּא - who dwelled in Midian


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