Sunday, June 06, 2010

How should we parse וּפִגְרֵיכֶם, אַתֶּם--יִפְּלוּ, בַּמִּדְבָּר הַזֶּה?

Summary: Rashi says ketargumo? What is bothering Rashi? Also, how we might differ.

Post: After the failure in reaction of the Bnei Yisrael to the report of the spies, Hashem declares:

32. But as for you, your corpses shall fall in this desert.לב. וּפִגְרֵיכֶם אַתֶּם יִפְּלוּ בַּמִּדְבָּר הַזֶּה:
But as for you, your corpses: As the Targum renders: וּפִגְרֵיכוֹן דִילְכוֹן, and your corpses of yours. Since [in the previous verse] He spoke about bringing the children into the Land, and now He wants to say, But as for you, you shall die, it is appropriate to use the term אַתֶּם [literally “you”].ופגריכם אתם: כתרגומו לפי שדבר על הבנים להכניסם לארץ ובקש לומר ואתם תמותו, נופל לשון זה כאן לומר אתם:

The commentary above was Rashi. He explains the atem as a clarifying transition, such that it now clarifies pigreichem of yours  yiplu. He refers us to Targum Onkelos for this:

יד,לב וּפִגְרֵיכֶם, אַתֶּם--יִפְּלוּ, בַּמִּדְבָּר הַזֶּה.וּפִגְרֵיכוֹן, דִּילְכוֹן--יִפְּלוּן, בְּמַדְבְּרָא הָדֵין.

According to Onkelos, atem is translated as dilechon, "of yours". This is what Rashi says is for emphasis.

The "problem" with this is that atem does not really carry this meaning well. It is not shelachem. It is not a possessive pronoun. It is a nominative pronoun.

Ibn Ezra takes it slightly differently, as a parenthetical remark:

[יד, לב]
ופגריכם -
שהם אתם.

That is: pigreichem, which is atem, yiplu.

I {=Josh} would take it in a slightly different manner. I would note that there is an etnachta on atem, which splits the pasuk in twain. I would take it as two separate but complementary statements.

First: וּפִגְרֵיכֶם אַתֶּם -- You, now, are reckoned to be your corpses.
Second: Why, because: יִפְּלוּ בַּמִּדְבָּר הַזֶּה -- you shall fall in this desert.

To make this work, there needs to be some verb in the first statement. But there is one, an implicit "are". Consider the words reversed.

The difficulty with this is the khem ending of וּפִגְרֵיכֶם , but I think this is a surmountable difficulty.

Aside from this suggestion, I would lean towards Ibn Ezra's explanation, on grammatical grounds.

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