Sunday, January 20, 2008

Yitro: The Trup On El HaMidbar

Shadal writes on Shemot 18:5:
ה וַיָּבֹא יִתְרוֹ חֹתֵן מֹשֶׁה, וּבָנָיו וְאִשְׁתּוֹ--אֶל-מֹשֶׁה: אֶל-הַמִּדְבָּר, אֲשֶׁר-הוּא חֹנֶה שָׁם--הַר הָאֱלֹהִים. 5 And Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, came with his sons and his wife unto Moses into the wilderness where he was encamped, at the mount of God;
as follows:

אל המדבר : אם היה בטעם זקף היה דינו בפשטא זקף (אל-המדבר), וכן הוא בחומש כ"י על קלף שבידי, לא בזקף גדול ; אמנם אין ספק שאין זה אלא טעות סופר, וצ"ל בטעם רביע שהוא מפסיק פחות מן הטפחא שתחת שם, אל המדבר אשר הוא חונה שם, כלומר אל הר האלהים ; וכן בתנ"ך כ"י על קלף משנת רמ"ט שהיה ביד רמבמ"ן אל המדבר בטעם רביע, וכתוב בגליון "כ"ה רביע", כלומר כן הוא דווקא, וכן צריך להיות ברביע (עיין תקון סופרים לר"ש דובנא ), וכן בתנ"ך מפואר כ"י ביד ר"י ספיר בירושלם

The trup we have on that pasuk is, over at Mechon-mamre, is:
ה וַיָּבֹ֞א יִתְר֨וֹ חֹתֵ֥ן מֹשֶׁ֛ה וּבָנָ֥יו וְאִשְׁתּ֖וֹ אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֑ה אֶל־הַמִּדְבָּ֗ר אֲשֶׁר־ה֛וּא חֹנֶ֥ה שָׁ֖ם הַ֥ר הָֽאֱלֹהִֽים׃

such that we indeed have a revii on אֶל־הַמִּדְבָּ֗ר. And so the trup matching the insisted-upon trup, rather than a zakef.

But indeed in other Chumashim we have the zakef gadol Shadal mentions. For example, in my Pentateuch and Commentary: A Linear Translation into English, by Rabbi Abraham ben Isaiah and Rabbi Benjamin Sharfman, 1950 (and 1977), from the Press of the Jewish Publication Society, they have a zakef gadol.

Meanwhile, my Mikraos Gedolos, from Mishor, printed in Benei Berak in 1990, has the "pashta-zakef" combination (really the pashta is a mark of the foretone rather than a real pashta), which Shadal asserts is the version of zakef gadol which would be expected here (presumably on grounds of factors such as place of stress, number of syllables, and the makef) if a zakef gadol were truly demanded.

Yet he asserts it is a taus sofer. It is hard for me to see how one can mix up one for the other. Unless it started as a confusion of one dot for two (since revii was not square but just a single dot), making it a zakef katon, with the subsequent "correction" to either pashta-zakef or zakef gadol. Perhaps it is not a taus sofer but rather a genuine dispute.

What are the differences in meaning between the two, which would cause Shadal to write what he writes?

Well, Shadal notes that the revii is less of a disjunctive accent than the tipcha. Indeed, both the tevir and the revii would break up a clause ending in tipcha. But in contrast, the tipcha and zakef are disjunctive accents on the same level, and so the zakef would divide first.

Shadal writes that the meaning, with the trup he states is correct, is אל המדבר אשר הוא חונה שם, כלומר אל הר האלהים -- to the desert were he was encamped, that is to say, to the Mountain of God.

The breakdown with the revii would be as follows:
אֶל־הַמִּדְבָּ֗ר אֲשֶׁר־ה֛וּא חֹנֶ֥ה שָׁ֖ם הַ֥ר הָֽאֱלֹהִֽים׃
אֶל־הַמִּדְבָּ֗ר אֲשֶׁר־ה֛וּא חֹנֶ֥ה שָׁ֖ם
הַ֥ר הָֽאֱלֹהִֽים׃
since the biggest break is the tipcha. Thus, as Shadal explained it to be.
This would then be further subdivided as:
אֲשֶׁר־ה֛וּא חֹנֶ֥ה שָׁ֖ם
and finally the last break would be as follows:
חֹנֶ֥ה שָׁ֖ם

In contrast, had the trup been with either zakef gadol or pashta-zakef, we would have as follows (note the zakef gadol on "el-hamidbar"):

אֶל־הַמִּדְבָּ֕ר אֲשֶׁר־ה֛וּא חֹנֶ֥ה שָׁ֖ם הַ֥ר הָֽאֱלֹהִֽים׃
אֲשֶׁר־ה֛וּא חֹנֶ֥ה שָׁ֖ם הַ֥ר הָֽאֱלֹהִֽים׃
which becomes split as follows:
אֲשֶׁר־ה֛וּא חֹנֶ֥ה שָׁ֖ם
הַ֥ר הָֽאֱלֹהִֽים׃

The major difference here is that he comes to the midbar. Which midbar? The place where he was encamped by the mountain.

The obvious distinction to me, which jumps out at me but may nevertheless be wrong, is whether these events with Yitro happened before the giving of the Torah, or afterwards, and what specific report or miracles Yitro heard.

וכבר נחלקו בזה בני ר' חייא ור ' יהושע בן לוי (זבחים קט"ז ע"א) חד אמר יתרו קודם מתן תורה היה, וחד אמר אחר מתן תורה היה, ולפניהם גם חכמי המשנה אמרו (שם שם ) מה שמועה שמע יתרו ?

Shadal earlier explain har HaElohim (in Shemot 3:1) as:
הר האלהים : על שם העתיד ( אנקלוס ורש"י ) או כך כתב משה אחר מתן תורה (תלמידי אלישע זאמאטו ) ויש אומרים ע"ש גובהו, כמו הררי אל ( תהלים ל"ו ז' ) והראשון נכון.

The trup variant with the zakef has him encamped specifically at har-Haelokim. The trup variant with the revii has him encamped in the wilderness, which happens to be nearby the Har HaElokim. The stress is different.

Just perhaps, the two trup traditions are taking sides in this dispute between the sons of Rabbi Chiyya and Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi. One trup tradition (zakef) is in accordance with the view that this is after Matan Torah. And the other trup tradition (revii) is in accordance with the view that this is before Matan Torah. (Or perhaps one could argue for the reverse.)


MP said...

Josh, you seem to be assuming that "asher hu" refers to Yisro; IMHO, it refers to Moshe [Rabbeinu], and the last word of the 1st part of the pasuq (its object) becomes the subject of the 2nd half of the pasuq.

joshwaxman said...

no, my assumption was actually as yours -- that it refers to Moshe Rabbenu. I agree it would be rather difficult to read it as referring to Yisro.

Kol Tuv,


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