Monday, July 05, 2010

Tossing Korach -- out of the pit and into the fire

This is just a quick post to toss out. There is a troublesome pasuk, in terms of its parse, in Parashat Pinchas. Did Korach die with Datan and Aviram, or within the congregation consumed by the fire. Different reads of parashat Korach yield different results. And then, in parshat Pinchas, Korach's fate seems a bit ambiguous.


ט  וּבְנֵי אֱלִיאָב, נְמוּאֵל וְדָתָן וַאֲבִירָם:  הוּא-דָתָן וַאֲבִירָם קרואי (קְרִיאֵי) הָעֵדָה, אֲשֶׁר הִצּוּ עַל-מֹשֶׁה וְעַל-אַהֲרֹן בַּעֲדַת-קֹרַח, בְּהַצֹּתָם, עַל-יְהוָה.9 And the sons of Eliab: Nemuel, and Dathan, and Abiram. These are that Dathan and Abiram, the elect of the congregation, who strove against Moses and against Aaron in the company of Korah, when they strove against the LORD;
י  וַתִּפְתַּח הָאָרֶץ אֶת-פִּיהָ, וַתִּבְלַע אֹתָם וְאֶת-קֹרַח--בְּמוֹת הָעֵדָה:  בַּאֲכֹל הָאֵשׁ, אֵת חֲמִשִּׁים וּמָאתַיִם אִישׁ, וַיִּהְיוּ, לְנֵס.10 and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up together with Korah, when that company died; what time the fire devoured two hundred and fifty men, and they became a sign.
יא  וּבְנֵי-קֹרַח, לֹא-מֵתוּ.  {ס}11 Notwithstanding the sons of Korah died not. {S}
In pasuk 10, a straightforward reading might be "it swallowed them up together with Korach." A less straightforward reading would be to join "and Korach when the company died..." See various meforshim, including pashtanim such as Ibn Caspi, who explain it that way. They are being guided, at the least, by the simplest peshat local to parshat Korach.

So then I spotted what the Samaritans did to "fix" the text. They simply moved Korach to a place where it is clearer. Heh.

1 comment:

Hillel said...


Of course, based on parshat Korach, it's unclear if Korach died at all, or if he died with neither Datan & Avriam nor the 250 makribei k'toret. (See the machloket in Sanhedrin 110) The reason for this leads to some fascinating discussions (do you have a personal take on this issue?) - and the ambiguity in Pinchas shows the merit in the various opinions. By 'clarifying' the verse, the Samaritans actually undermine the carefully preserved ambiguity that permeates all of parshat Korach!


PS: I owe you a response on 'eleph' - will try and get to that in the next couple of days. Apologies for the delay.


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