Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Are the Samaritans right about the spelling of תעשה?

Summary: Of course, it would not just be the Samaritans, but various masoretes masoretic texts as well. And it is possible that the malei spelling stems from misunderstanding a midrash.

Post: A week or so ago, I wrote a post about the Samaritan Torah and its nature, which is to "fix" problems by emending the text to be smoother. As such, I would usually and regularly discount "helpful" variants found in their Torah. In a comment there, Yosef Greenberg (of Yachdus) asked me:
Have you ever found variants in their text that sound convincing enough that you would replace it with ours?

In response, I explained why I wouldn't, and how the more convincing it was, the more suspect it would seem to me. However, it turns there is a variant in the Samaritan Torah, in this week's parasha, Terumah, which I might find convincing enough. Towards the beginning of Terumah, about the assembly of the menorah:

The Masoretic text is on the right, which the Samaritan text is on the left. Notice how the Masoretic text has תיעשה, with a malei yud, while the Samaritan text lacks that letter (thus the asterisk). The harmonizing tendency is evident in this verse. Thus,
since גביעיה etc. are all plural, they emend ירכה and קנה to the plural match, and strip the leading vav of וקנה to make it into one harmonious list. This is typical of their style, and so I would not pay it a second glance. But what of תיעשה? Look in general on the page, and you will see the general tendency in the Samaritan Torah to add imot ha-keriah, the matres lectiones. For example, היצאים becomes היוצאים, with a vav. Would we expect them to strip out an אם הקריאה? This would seem to go against the grain, and so, it seems somewhat more likely that this was original.

On the other hand, the tendency is to change the spelling to a more standard, expected spelling as it existed in their times. These "full" spellings are as we might find them as quoted in the gemara. But this is, perhaps, spelling regularization. What does the Samaritan Torah do in the general case with nifal, the passive verb? Do they add these yuds or not? If not, then a correction to a "deficient" spelling would not go against the grain.

What is given as the Masoretic text in Vetus Testamentum is indeed what we have in our Mikraos Gedolos:

Note the yud. However, the Teimanim, over at Mechon-Mamre, do not have the yud.

לא  וְעָשִׂיתָ מְנֹרַת, זָהָב טָהוֹר; מִקְשָׁה תֵּעָשֶׂה הַמְּנוֹרָה, יְרֵכָהּ וְקָנָהּ, גְּבִיעֶיהָ כַּפְתֹּרֶיהָ וּפְרָחֶיהָ, מִמֶּנָּה יִהְיוּ.31 And thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made, even its base, and its shaft; its cups, its knops, and its flowers, shall be of one piece with it.

The plot thickens! This is a variation in Masoretic texts. And so perhaps the attestation in the Samaritan text could help us choose among masorot.

Ibn Ezra discusses this variation:
[כה, לא]
ועשית -
ראיתי ספרים שבדקום חכמי טבריה ונשבעו חמישה עשר מזקניהם ששלש פעמים הסתכלו כל מלה וכל נקודה וכל מלא וכל חסר והנה כתוב יו"ד במלת תיעשה. ולא מצאתי ככה בספרי ספרד וצרפת ומעבר לים.

והקדמונים דרשו:
כי תוספת היו"ד רמז לעשרה מנורות שיעשה שלמה.
והכלל: אם יש שם יו"ד היא מלה זרה. ובדרש כי נעשית מאליה. והטעם: שכל רואיה היו תמהים איך יכול אדם לעשותה. כי הנה כתוב ויעש מנורת. כן עשה את המנורה.
והנה על מחבת בשמן תעשה מורבכת תביאנה 

Ibn Ezra writes that "I saw sefarim (Codices) which the Sages of Tiberias inspected, and fifteen of their elders swore that they perused it three times, every word and every (vowel) point, and every plene and deficient spelling. And behold, in it was written the yud in the word תיעשה. But I {=Ibn Ezra} did not find this in the sefarim of Sefarad, Tzarfat, and over the sea. And the Kadmonim darshened that the addition of the yud was a hint to the ten menorot, that Shlomo made {see I Melachim 7:49; or the haftarah}. And the general rule: If there would be yud in it, it would be a rare, strange word. And the derash is that it was made of its own accord. And the reason: that all who see it were confounded how a man could be able to construct it..."

Minchas Shai, as might be expected, discusses this:

"תיעשה - there is a great dispute in the sefarim from days of old whether this word is written plene or deficient of yud. For in heetek Hilleli it is written plene, with a yud; in sefer Mugah Yerushalmi, as deficient, without a yud. And the Scholar Ibn Ezra wrote ... {J: and then he quotes the Ibn Ezra cited above}.

Also, the Rama is in doubt in the matter, and this is his language: And the masoret given upon it -- leit malei {meaning that there is no other in Tanach like it, and it is written malei yud} relies upon that which they darshened in {midrash} Yelamdeinu, in parashat Shemini: "תיעשה is written. Hashem said to Moshe, cast the lump {of gold} into the flame, and it will be made of its own accord." And they deduced from this that it was written plene. And to us, it is not clear that this is so. For one can say that the derasha is not derived from the fact that it is written malei yud, such that it is made of its own accord, for it does not say explicitly that it is written malei. Rather, since we do not read it taaseh, with a patach, from the kal construction, but rather read it tei'aseh, from the niphal {passive}construction, which implies that it was made of its own accord. And this that we say in the derasha teiy'aseh is written, and do not say teiaseh it is read, because of the possible messing up of the nekudot, that it is dotted like that, that it uses this language. End quote.

And Ohr Torah resolves that it is malei yud, for so he found in Tosafot on the Torah, and in Meiri. He also saw a precise masorah in manuscript,

and this is its language: תעשה, there are 7 kemeitzim in Scripture -- the intent is to say, with a tzeirei -- and once of them is malei yud, and the mnemonic is תיעשה המנורה, etc. And this is in our Masores, in the printing, which says "תעשה, seven, and the mnemonic is תיעשה המנורה. There is no other, {this is} malei, etc."

And that so testifies the author of the sefer Shemen Sasson, that according to the masorah, it is malei. And in one midrash in Yelamdenu, parashat Behaalotecha, which the Rav, Mizrachi brings down in parashat Terumah, it is written explicitly, miksha teiy'aseh hamenorah, with yud malei, and it is not written תעשה. This though the first midrash was missing this word. And the Sages of Borgosh already testified regarding the Rama za"l that so he acted in practice, and wrote in his sefer as malei, end quote.

Further, I found in Midrash Rabba in the beginning of parashat Behaalotecha {J: Bamidbar Rabba is 12th century}, "therefore it is written miksha teiy'aseh hamenorah, with yud malei, and it is not written תעשה, etc." And so wrote the author of Minchat Kohen, מקשה  תיעשה, all of Torah it is written deficient, while this one is malei. And in this, there are those who argue about it. But this is what is correct on the basis of the masoret."

In terms of the midrashim, I would lean towards the version of Yelamdenu -- that is, Tanchuma -- which lacks the explicit notice. This seems to be a gloss explaining more clearly that it was written chaser; meanwhile the former is less explicit. So too the late Bemidbar Rabba -- it would have gotten it from the modified Tanchuma. I don't know whether to trust this masorah, since as was suggested by Rama, this masorah could have readily arisen from misinterpreting the derasha. (Although, as noted, in practice Rama did write that yud.) The derasha mentioned by Ibn Ezra, about the 10 menorot of Shlomo, I don't know that they specifically darshen the extra yud.

From Menachot 29a :
דא"ר יהודה אמר רב עשר מנורות עשה שלמה וכל אחת ואחת הביא לה אלף ככר זהב והכניסוהו אלף פעמים לכור והעמידוהו על ככר
it does not seem that it was based specifically on an extra yud.

In terms of Tanchuma, the word ketiv really suggests it, but that might be an irregularity is conveying the idea, or a corruption of the intended krei.

I am not about to suggest "fixing" all our sifrei Torah. But given that this is indeed a big machlokes, since masoretes themselves were somewhat unsure about it, given that the Teimanim do not have it in their texts, and (least of all, but contributing nonetheless) since the Samaritan Torah is lacking it, it seems like this may well be a credible emendation.


Yosef Greenberg said...

It *may* indeed be so, but it was already discussed by the Rishonim.

Thus, using their text as support is not so far-fetched; although it still wouldn't prove it.

My question was more focused on your innovations in this field.

LOL on your disclaimer. I was getting nervous. It would ruin the whole premise of the book I'm writing on the Bible code.

joshwaxman said...

yeah; it was intended more as a gimmick and stylistic device, to draw in the reader. the post was initially organized with the samaritan bit as an afterthought. this makes it more "exciting".

which disclaimer?



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