Thursday, March 03, 2011

More about the curtain over the ark of the testimony

Summary: A followup to a 2005 post on Pekudei. There, I noticed a variant text in Targum Pseudo-Yonatan that fixed a textual difficulty, substituting kappores for paroches. Now I check out other texts, such as Samaritan, Peshita, and Septuagint.

Post: In a 2005 post on Pekudei, I noted something about the pasuk (Shemot 40:3
ג וְשַׂמְתָּ שָׁם, אֵת אֲרוֹן הָעֵדוּת; וְסַכֹּתָ עַל-הָאָרֹן, אֶת-הַפָּרֹכֶת.3 And thou shalt put therein the ark of the testimony, and thou shalt screen the ark with the veil.
I wrote:
The veil, or curtain, is a translation of הַפָּרֹכֶת. This is strange because the verb וְסַכֹּתָ usually means to cover from above, and what we would expect covering the ark of the testimony from above is the kapporet, a gold covering of the ark upon which sat the golden keruvim. So we would expect הכפרת rather than הפרכת. Note the difference between the two words is just the placement of the letter כ, kaf.

Rashi explains that וְסַכֹּתָ here means to shield, rather than to cover (thus the translation screen).

However, while Tg Onkelos translates it as ית פרוכתא, the curtain, Tg Yonatan translates instead ית כפורתא, the kapporet. Perhaps this reflects a variant text. Further, perhaps this variant text was the original, such that there is no longer a difficulty with the choice of word.
Then, I considered the respective merits. But this was fairly early into the blog, and I didn't check competing texts to the MT, namely the Samaritan text, the Septuagint, and the Peshitta. And so I will revisit this topic in this 2011 post.

It turns out that the Samaritans have an identical text to the seeming basis of Targum Yonatan:

The text on the left is the Samaritan. Note how they indeed switch this word. And on the same text of Vetus Testamentum is brought down several Jewish texts which have this alternation.

CD Ginsberg, as well, brings a few Jewish texts which have this alternation of hakapores:

However, the Septuagint seems to be based on something parallel to our Masoretic text:

3 καὶ θήσεις τὴν κιβωτὸν τοῦ μαρτυρίου καὶ σκεπάσεις τὴν κιβωτὸν τῷ καταπετάσματι
3 and thou shalt place [in it] the ark of the testimony, and shalt cover the ark with the veil,

So too the Peshitta:

Despite support from the Samaritan text, I still favor the masoretic text, under lectio difficilior. It is an easy transposition to make, and one which usually goes with that verb. One should be especially suspicious of "fixes" that make the text easier which appear in the Samaritan, since they emend the text not only accidentally, but deliberately with an agenda. That the error crept into some Jewish texts as well just goes to show that the error is an easy one to make. And finally, I would guess that one of these erroneous Jewish texts was on the table before the Targumist behind Targum Pseudo-Yonatan.


Josh fan said...

T.J. As opposed to T.O.translates paroches as pargud so it could not have been a typo as it is not just a switch of letters

joshwaxman said...

indeed, this would help fix the Torah text which stood before Targum Yerushalmi, so IF there was a letter switch, it must have been first in the Torah text. BTW, interestingly pargud is of Semitic origin, and is etymologically related to parochet. (as Jastrow writes...)


Josh fan said...

Also see the Yerushalmi Sukka perek 1 halacha vav

joshwaxman said...

nice. here it is:
רבי יסא בשם רבי חמא בר חנינה (שמות מ) וסכת על הארן את הכפורת. מיכן שהדופן קרוי סכך מיכן שעושין דפנות בדבר שהוא מקבל טומאה:

Just thinking out loud here, but my guess is that THIS is an error introduced by a sloppy scribe in our Yerushalmi. After all, the derasha is about defanot, walls, which would fit the *parochet*, on the side, rather than the kaporet, which was above. So this would go to reinforce the strength of the lectio difficilior.

kol tuv,


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