Friday, May 22, 2015

Knowing when to speak up and when to shut up

In honor of the upcoming holiday of Shavuot, this piece by the Vilna Gaon about the difference between taam elyon and taam tachton in the Aseres HaDibros.

Let me preface this with a peshat explanation of any and all differences between the two sets of trup. In one version -- the taam elyon, each of the Ten Commandments is given its own pasuk, except for the short ones. Here is an image, though in general (without looking carefully at this), there are many corruptions in the elyon and tachton so one should get it from a better source:

As you can see, Anochi starts the first pasuk, and there is no silluq or sof pasuk until Mitzvotai, five lines down. Interestingly, though, the short Lo Tirtzach until Ed Shaker are grouped together.

Meanwhile, the taam tachton has regular pasuk divisions, without real regard towards separating the Dibros. See here in in a Mikraos Gedolos.

Here is an interesting image, which I think shows the elyon / tachton with variations alongside one another:

This image appears to have (as the elyon variant) pasuk terminations pauses at the end of Lo Tirtzach alone and Lo Tinaf alone, and the dagesh kal / refeh and patach / kametz variations to match.

A natural consequence of this difference in approach to division is a difference in both trup and nikkud. There is a mechanical (though also probabilistic) process, based on logical and syntactic division, number of words in the current phrase or subphrase, and distance from the end of the next disjunctive trup mark, which defines what trup marks go where. And this will in turn define nikkud because certain trup marks (such as etnachta and silluq, and sometimes zakef) will transform the pronunciation of the word into its pausal form (where e.g. a patach will become a kametz). The trup will also affect the presence or absence of dagesh kal in the letters bet, gimel, daled, kaf, peh and tav. Following a disjunctive trup mark, there will be a dagesh kal even if the previous word ended in aleph, heh, vav or yud. Following a conjunctive trup mark, there will not be a dagesh kal if the previous word ended in alephheh, vav or yud

In sum, this is a mechanical process set in motion by the choice in pasuk length.

The Vilna Gaon says, in Kol Eliyahu on parashat Yitro :
"Lo Tirtzach: Behold, in the taam elyon it is read with a kametz and in the tachton it is read with a patach under the tzadik.
And there is to say that this hints to that which our Sages za'l said in the gemara in Masechet Avodah Zara (daf 19b)[1] upon the pasuk [in Mishlei 7:26] כי רבים חללים הפילה - This is a student who has not reached the level of ruling yet rules [from the language of nafal indicating that he will not fill out his days], ועצומים כל הרוגיה - this is a student who has reached the level of ruling yet does not rule [from the language of otzem einav], see there in Rashi's commentary. And Chazal referred to both of them as murderers, this one by opening [petichat] his mouth to rule and this one with the closing [kemitzat] his mouth and averting his eye from the people of the generation, such that he does not give them the benefit of his ruling. And to this the kametz and patach hint, for they indicate that both the opening [petichat] of the mouth and its closing [kemitzati] are within the realm of lo tirtzach."
I don't have the kamatz in the taam elyon picture above, but he must have had it in this way -- it is one of the alternates given in the second image.

Avodah Zarah 19b
אמר רבי אבא אמר רב הונא אמר רב מאי דכתיב (משלי ז, כו) כי רבים חללים הפילה זה תלמיד שלא הגיע להוראה ומורה ועצומים כל הרוגיה זה תלמיד שהגיע להוראה ואינו מורה 

Friday, May 08, 2015

Ibn Ezra on Lower Biblical Criticism, part iv

See part one, part two, and part three.

The context for the next suggested swap is as follows, in Shofetim 14:

יב  וַיֹּאמֶר לָהֶם שִׁמְשׁוֹן, אָחוּדָה-נָּא לָכֶם חִידָה:  אִם-הַגֵּד תַּגִּידוּ אוֹתָהּ לִי שִׁבְעַת יְמֵי הַמִּשְׁתֶּה, וּמְצָאתֶם--וְנָתַתִּי לָכֶם שְׁלֹשִׁים סְדִינִים, וּשְׁלֹשִׁים חֲלִפֹת בְּגָדִים.12 And Samson said unto them: 'Let me now put forth a riddle unto you; if ye can declare it me within the seven days of the feast, and find it out, then I will give you thirty linen garments and thirty changes of raiment;
יג  וְאִם-לֹא תוּכְלוּ, לְהַגִּיד לִי--וּנְתַתֶּם אַתֶּם לִי שְׁלֹשִׁים סְדִינִים, וּשְׁלֹשִׁים חֲלִיפוֹת בְּגָדִים; וַיֹּאמְרוּ לוֹ--חוּדָה חִידָתְךָ, וְנִשְׁמָעֶנָּה.13 but if ye cannot declare it me, then shall ye give me thirty linen garments and thirty changes of raiment.' And they said unto him: 'Put forth thy riddle, that we may hear it.'
יד  וַיֹּאמֶר לָהֶם, מֵהָאֹכֵל יָצָא מַאֲכָל, וּמֵעַז, יָצָא מָתוֹק; וְלֹא יָכְלוּ לְהַגִּיד הַחִידָה, שְׁלֹשֶׁת יָמִים.14 And he said unto them: Out of the eater came forth food, and out of the strong came forth sweetness. And they could not in three days declare the riddle.
טו  וַיְהִי בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי, וַיֹּאמְרוּ לְאֵשֶׁת-שִׁמְשׁוֹן פַּתִּי אֶת-אִישֵׁךְ וְיַגֶּד-לָנוּ אֶת-הַחִידָה--פֶּן-נִשְׂרֹף אוֹתָךְ וְאֶת-בֵּית אָבִיךְ, בָּאֵשׁ; הַלְיָרְשֵׁנוּ, קְרָאתֶם לָנוּ הֲלֹא.15 And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they said unto Samson's wife: 'Entice thy husband, that he may declare unto us the riddle, lest we burn thee and thy father's house with fire; have ye called us hither to impoverish us?'
טז  וַתֵּבְךְּ אֵשֶׁת שִׁמְשׁוֹן עָלָיו, וַתֹּאמֶר רַק-שְׂנֵאתַנִי וְלֹא אֲהַבְתָּנִי--הַחִידָה חַדְתָּ לִבְנֵי עַמִּי, וְלִי לֹא הִגַּדְתָּה; וַיֹּאמֶר לָהּ, הִנֵּה לְאָבִי וּלְאִמִּי לֹא הִגַּדְתִּי--וְלָךְ אַגִּיד.16 And Samson's wife wept before him, and said: 'Thou dost but hate me, and lovest me not; thou hast put forth a riddle unto the children of my people, and wilt thou not tell it me?' And he said unto her: 'Behold, I have not told it my father nor my mother, and shall I tell thee?'
יז  וַתֵּבְךְּ עָלָיו שִׁבְעַת הַיָּמִים, אֲשֶׁר-הָיָה לָהֶם הַמִּשְׁתֶּה; וַיְהִי בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי, וַיַּגֶּד-לָהּ כִּי הֱצִיקַתְהוּ, וַתַּגֵּד הַחִידָה, לִבְנֵי עַמָּהּ.17 And she wept before him the seven days, while their feast lasted; and it came to pass on the seventh day, that he told her, because she pressed him sore; and she told the riddle to the children of her people.
יח  וַיֹּאמְרוּ לוֹ אַנְשֵׁי הָעִיר בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי, בְּטֶרֶם יָבֹא הַחַרְסָה, מַה-מָּתוֹק מִדְּבַשׁ, וּמֶה עַז מֵאֲרִי; וַיֹּאמֶר לָהֶם--לוּלֵא חֲרַשְׁתֶּם בְּעֶגְלָתִי, לֹא מְצָאתֶם חִידָתִי.18 And the men of the city said unto him on the seventh day before the sun went down: What is sweeter than honey? and what is stronger than a lion? And he said unto them: If ye had not plowed with my heifer, ye had not found out my riddle.

That is, in pasuk 12, Shimshon gives them a deadline of the seven days of the feast to solve the riddle. In pasuk 14, in three days they could not arrive at the answer. In pasuk 15, on the seventh day they spoke to Shimshon's wife. In pasuk 17, she wept before him the seven days, while their feast lasted, and finally elicits the answer from Shimson. In pasuk 18, they answer the riddle before the sun goes down on the seventh.

The difficulties are why they only approach her on the seventh day rather than the fourth. Further, how she is able to cry before Shimshon for all seven days when they only approach her after seven (or at least after the first three days).

The anonymous grammarian suggests that in pasuk 15, it should read fourth rather than seventh. This would be a simple switch of a resh for a shin. Ibn Ezra's words follow:

"[Shofetim 14:15]
וַיְהִי בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי, וַיֹּאמְרוּ לְאֵשֶׁת-שִׁמְשׁוֹן - it is appropriate to be, according to the opinion of the mahavil [speaking of vanity and striving after wind] to be הָרְבִיעִי, since he found above [in pasuk 14] וְלֹא יָכְלוּ לְהַגִּיד הַחִידָה, שְׁלֹשֶׁת יָמִים [for three days, such that this would be the fourth].
And he is not saying anything, and here is its explanation: They engaged and strove for three days to solve the riddle and were not able, and when they say this, they gave up on it. And once it was the seventh day, they said to Shimshon's wife, 'entice your husband', and because she pressed him sore on the seventh day because of the things they said, so that he would relate it to her, for so it written.
[Meanwhile], the meaning of 'and she wept to him for seven days', Scriptures is relating that she, by her own initiative, was crying all seven days in order that he relate to her the [answer to the] riddle, even though no one has asked her to do this."

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Ibn Ezra on Lower Biblical Criticism, part iii

See part one and part two.

3) Ibn Ezra continues his response to the grammarian who proposed numerous emendations to the text of Scriptures. The third proposed emendation is the word הַדָּבָר in the following pasuk, which this anonymous grammarian asserts should read הָעָם:

Yehoshua 5:4:
ד  וְזֶה הַדָּבָר, אֲשֶׁר-מָל יְהוֹשֻׁעַ:  כָּל-הָעָם הַיֹּצֵא מִמִּצְרַיִם הַזְּכָרִים כֹּל אַנְשֵׁי הַמִּלְחָמָה, מֵתוּ בַמִּדְבָּר בַּדֶּרֶךְ, בְּצֵאתָם, מִמִּצְרָיִם.4 And this is the cause why Joshua did circumcise: all the people that came forth out of Egypt, that were males, even all the men of war, died in the wilderness by the way, after they came forth out of Egypt.
ה  כִּי-מֻלִים הָיוּ, כָּל-הָעָם הַיֹּצְאִים; וְכָל-הָעָם הַיִּלֹּדִים בַּמִּדְבָּר בַּדֶּרֶךְ, בְּצֵאתָם מִמִּצְרַיִם--לֹא-מָלוּ.5 For all the people that came out were circumcised; but all the people that were born in the wilderness by the way as they came forth out of Egypt, had not been circumcised.

Ibn Ezra writes:

"וְזֶה הַדָּבָר, אֲשֶׁר-מָל יְהוֹשֻׁעַ -- he says that הַדָּבָר is in place of הָעָם. But in reality it is just as its simple implication, 'and this is the davar -- that is to say, because of this davar [matter] -- Yehoshua circumcised them'. "

And indeed, reading this in context of the next few verses, which explains how and why those born in the wilderness were not circumcised, this makes good sense.

4) The next verse this anonymous grammarian proposes emending is I Melachim 2:28, which reads:

כח  וְהַשְּׁמֻעָה, בָּאָה עַד-יוֹאָב, כִּי יוֹאָב נָטָה אַחֲרֵי אֲדֹנִיָּה, וְאַחֲרֵי אַבְשָׁלוֹם לֹא נָטָה; וַיָּנָס יוֹאָב אֶל-אֹהֶל יְהוָה, וַיַּחֲזֵק בְּקַרְנוֹת הַמִּזְבֵּחַ.
28 And the tidings came to Joab; for Joab had turned after Adonijah, though he turned not after Absalom. And Joab fled unto the Tent of the LORD, and caught hold on the horns of the altar.

Ibn Ezra writes:

"וְאַחֲרֵי אַבְשָׁלוֹם לֹא נָטָה -- he said that it is [erroneously] in place of 'after שְׁלֹמֹה'.  And there is no need for this, for once the verse stated that he [Yoav] went after Adoniyah, what need would there be to say that he did not go after Shlomo, for this would be immediately apparent to anyone who heard it. Rather, 

the verse comes to explain something else, that Yoav did not go after Avshalom, because he knew that he [Avshalom] was not fit to have the kingship, and thought so as well regarding Shlomo." 


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