Thursday, December 13, 2007

Vayigash: The Trup and Nikkud Of "Bivechi"

A great example of how Shadal is willing to revocalize the nikkud or reassign the trup, and to make sense of different traditions of the same, in Bereishit 45:2:
ב וַיִּתֵּן אֶת-קֹלוֹ, בִּבְכִי; וַיִּשְׁמְעוּ מִצְרַיִם, וַיִּשְׁמַע בֵּית פַּרְעֹה. 2 And he wept aloud; and the Egyptians heard, and the house of Pharaoh heard.
Shadal writes:

ויתן את קולו בבכי: היה ראוי להנקד בבכי מפני האתנח, והנה לפי האמת אם היה האתנח תחת וישמעו מצרים היה ג"כ נכון, כי שמיעת המצרים היתה מיד ושמיעת בית פרעה היתה אח"כ. ואולי בעלי ניקוד היו מסופקים בזה וניקדו בבכי לפי השיטה האחת, ונתנו טעמים לפי השיטה האחרת.

That is, there is an etnachta on the word בִּבְכִי, and as such, it should be in pausal form -- probably בִּבֶכִי, with a segol under the second bet (the version of Shadal I got this from does not have nikkud.) But it makes sense -- like in Yirmiyahu 9:9, we find reference to בְכִי וָנֶהִי, and bechi would follow the same pattern as nehi. And in Yirmeyahu 48:5:
ד נִשְׁבְּרָה, מוֹאָב; הִשְׁמִיעוּ זְּעָקָה, צעוריה (צְעִירֶיהָ). 4 Moab is destroyed; her little ones have caused a cry to be heard.
ה כִּי מַעֲלֵה הלחות (הַלֻּחִית), בִּבְכִי יַעֲלֶה-בֶּכִי: כִּי בְּמוֹרַד חוֹרֹנַיִם, צָרֵי צַעֲקַת-שֶׁבֶר שָׁמֵעוּ. 5 For by the ascent of Luhith with continual weeping shall they go up; for in the going down of Horonaim they have heard the distressing cry of destruction.
such that we have bchi vs. bechi one next to the other, the distinction being pausal form or not.

Shadal's suggestion is that in truth the verse can be divided on logical grounds by trup at two distinct points -- at bchi or at mitzrayim. Because first the Egyptians heard his crying, and then Pharaoh's house knew of it. As such, two possible trups, and placing of the etnachta, were possible. And so, those who gave this particular nikkud were basing themselves on the other, just as valid, logical division, and wrote bchi with a sheva. So the trup and nikkud is inconsistent, but both are plausible in alternate configurations.

I would say that while pausal form is often used, it is by no means imposed across the board. There are exceptions, noted in masoretic notes by mention of things as patach despite the etnachta. Perhaps Shadal would emend those as well -- he does indeed in other places -- but language and how it is used is not always so systematic.

I would also note a problem with Shadal's resolution. If he wants to put the etnachta on Mitzrayim for the trup of the nakdanim, then the word Mitzrayim should be pausal, and we should expect a kametz there. But we don't. We have a patach. Obviously, the nakdan did not have the etnachta there.


Lion of Zion said...

you should cross-post posts like this on the yahoo leining group.

shabbat shalom

joshwaxman said...

thanks. good idea. I'll give it a shot.

Kol Tuv,

Lion of Zion said...

i just saw the post on yahoo. the hebrew does not work there for me.

shavua tov


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