Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Aramaic translation of the bad word

Summary: Shadal on the correct girsa in Onkelos; I think perhaps a good example of lectio difficilior. The proper Aramaic translation of dibatam -- is it dibbehon or tibbehon. But nothing exceptionally innovative here.

Post: In Okelos, from mechon-mamre, on the second pasuk of Vayeishev:

לז,ב אֵלֶּה תֹּלְדוֹת יַעֲקֹב, יוֹסֵף בֶּן-שְׁבַע-עֶשְׂרֵה שָׁנָה הָיָה רֹעֶה אֶת-אֶחָיו בַּצֹּאן, וְהוּא נַעַר אֶת-בְּנֵי בִלְהָה וְאֶת-בְּנֵי זִלְפָּה, נְשֵׁי אָבִיו; וַיָּבֵא יוֹסֵף אֶת-דִּבָּתָם רָעָה, אֶל-אֲבִיהֶם.אִלֵּין תּוֹלְדָת יַעֲקוֹב, יוֹסֵף בַּר שְׁבַע עַסְרֵי שְׁנִין הֲוָה רָעֵי עִם אֲחוֹהִי בְּעָנָא, וְהוּא רָבֵי עִם בְּנֵי בִּלְהָה וְעִם בְּנֵי זִלְפָּה, נְשֵׁי אֲבוּהִי; וְאַיְתִי יוֹסֵף יָת טִבְּהוֹן בִּישָׁא, לַאֲבוּהוֹן.

But in my Mikraos Gedolos, the translation given is  ית דיבהון בישא, where the first letter is a daled instead of a bet. Meanwhile, in Targum Pseudo-Yonatan, we indeed have tibbehon, or tiveihon: ואייתי יוסף ית טיביהון

Shadal's take on this, from Ohev Ger:

את דבתם רעה ית טיבהון [! (יא"ר וסביוניטה ) וכן בתרגום
המכונה ליונתן, וכן ומוציא דבה הוא כסיל ומפיק טיבא , וכן ודבתך
לא תשוב וטיבך לא הפיך ; וברוב הספרים ית דבהון , ואינו אלא שבוש.

That is, he points out that in the Chumash from Sevonto (published in 1557) {correction, via Italitan Guy in the comments: Sabbioneta} and in Patshegen (a supercommentary on Onkelos called יא"ר after its year of publication, 1451), it has טיבהון. And so too in Targum Pseudo-Yonatan. Then he gives some other examples of the Targum of דיבה being טיבא. And notes that while most sefarim have yat dibbehon, it is only an error.

I would only add that this makes a lot of sense. We have a choice between two variant texts. Tibbehon has two early attestations; I don't know about dibbehon. But tibbehon also makes its way into an entirely separate Targum. And it makes sense, as it is the Targum of the same word elsewhere. At the same time, this well-grounded translation is not necessarily so apparent to every single copyist of Targum. Meanwhile, dibbehon with a daled seems to be just the same word as the Hebrew, dibbatam, given an Aramaic flavor. Then, it is a matter of estimating likelihood. What is the likelihood that it started as this Aramaic flavored near-transliteration of the Hebrew, but was then transformed into this somewhat arcane and standard translation, which is even used by another Targum? What is the likelihood that it began as the somewhat arcane word, and that a scribe misheard the tet as a daled and corrected it to match the pasuk? Other possibilities exist / could be constructed (e.g. "correction" by a scribe from the weird Aramaic flavor to match Targum Yonatan, just as Shadal emended it), but the second just seems more likely.


Aramaic Scholar said...

This is a very interesting post about the Aramaic Targums. Thanks for this and your thoughtful insights. Often Hebrew and Aramaic in the holy texts have influenced each other.

Italian guy said...

Are you sure the name of the town is "Savionto". In my opinion it is simply the city of Sabbioneta, a town near Mantova where once a very important Jewish community lived

joshwaxman said...

certainly could be. identifying the town was not my primary goal here, so i just awkwardly transliterated the Hebrew. thanks. i'll update, giving you credit.

kol tuv,


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