Sunday, February 02, 2014

Heavy is the head that wears the crown

Especially if the crown weighs a full kikar of gold!

The pasuk and Rashi from parshat Teruma:

He shall make it of a talent of pure gold, with all these implements.לט. כִּכַּר זָהָב טָהוֹר יַעֲשֶׂה אֹתָהּ אֵת כָּל הַכֵּלִים הָאֵלֶּה:
a talent pure gold: Heb. כִּכַּר.[This means] that its weight along with all its implements shall be nothing but a talent, no less and no more. The talent used for mundane matters was sixty maneh, and the one used for holy matters was double, thus one hundred twenty maneh (Bech. 5a). The maneh is the litra with which silver is weighed according to the weight used in Cologne, which is the equivalent of one hundred gold pieces [or] twenty-five selas, for the sela is equivalent to four gold pieces. [This is the equivalent of sixty-four pounds.]ככר זהב טהור: שלא יהיה משקלה עם כל כליה אלא ככר, לא פחות ולא יותר, והככר של חול ששים מנה ושל קדש היה כפול, מאה עשרים מנה, והמנה הוא ליטרא ששוקלין בה כסף למשקל קולוני"א והם מאה זהובים, עשרים וחמשה סלעים והסלע ארבעה זהובים:

Rabbenu Yona Ibn Janach writes:

That is, after relating a complex calculation of its weight, he writes:

"Like this I have seen, but it is astonishing to me, that this was not too heavy upon the kings to wear a crown of this weight upon their heads, as is stated (II Shmuel 12:30):

ל  וַיִּקַּח אֶת-עֲטֶרֶת-מַלְכָּם מֵעַל רֹאשׁוֹ וּמִשְׁקָלָהּ כִּכַּר זָהָב, וְאֶבֶן יְקָרָה, וַתְּהִי, עַל-רֹאשׁ דָּוִד; וּשְׁלַל הָעִיר הוֹצִיא, הַרְבֵּה מְאֹד.30 And he took the crown of their king from off his head; and the weight thereof was a talent of gold, and in it were precious stones; and it was set on David's head. And he brought forth the spoil of the city, exceeding much.

And therefore I don't think that this explanation is correct. Even though I have seen in a few of the commentaries that the kikar is 100 litras.

(The compiler [R' A.Z. Rabinowitz]: Yet there are some who explain מלכם not from the language of king but rather like Milcom, the deity of the Bnei Amon, see Yirmeyahu 49:1, but there [in the same pasuk in Shmuel] immediately afterwards it states, וַתְּהִי, עַל-רֹאשׁ דָּוִד, and it was on the head of David.)

(Sefer Hashorashim 229)"

End quote. I emended the translated pasuk in Shmuel above so as not to give away the Milcom deity answer, and to be consistent with Ibn Janach's translation.

For comparison, the Imperial State Crown weighs 0.9 kg, which is much less.


Other possibilities:
a) The phrase וַתְּהִי, עַל-רֹאשׁ דָּוִד is meant figuratively, that he took rulership.
b) It was this heavy, either of the deity or of a king, but was mounted to the throne, rather than resting on David's head.
c) divrei torah midivrei kabbalah lo yalfinan. Words as they are used in Navi are not necessarily used the same way they are used in the Torah. And so, while shekel and kikar may have a one weight unit meaning in the Torah, they might have an entirely different weight-unit meaning in sefer Shmuel.


vafsi ode said...

R josh you missed an open gemara avodah zarah 44a that asks how he was able to wear this and answers that he had a magnet system on his throne that kept it suspended above his head

vafsi ode said...

Also as to milkom being a amonite deity the gemara assumes that is what it means here and rashi says this is based on the verse in regents1 chapter 11 verse 5

joshwaxman said...

Thanks. (Indeed, my a and b roughly parallel the first two answers offered in the Gemara. And i agree malcam is no great chiddush.)
I think what this post adds to the discussion (and the reason it was noteworthy) was that ibn janach was willing to question the 'standard' calculations on the subject of kikar on the basis of practical considerations.

joshwaxman said...

But I'll I add the Gemara, as a comment. And he took the crown of Malcam from off his head, and the weight thereof was a talent of gold.16 But was that permissible since any advantage is prohibited [from an idol]? — R. Nahman explained: Ittai the Gittite came and annulled it. If the weight [of the crown] was a talent of gold, how could [David] have put it on? — Rab Judah said in the name of Rab: [The meaning is] that it was fit to rest upon David's head.17 R. Jose son of R. Hanina said: There was a lodestone in it18 which raised it up.19 R. Eleazar said: [The meaning is] that there was a precious stone in it worth a talent of gold.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin