On our way yesterday to an exhibition at the Pergamon Museum about Uruk, the first major metropolis in the world (it's 5000 years old), aviva_m and I stopped off at a flea market where I got
A little bit of German history, mine to keep.* It cost me €2.
* In case anyone doesn't know the background: in 1923, impatient at German's slow delivery of World War I reparations, French troops occupied the Ruhr, Germany's industrial heartland, and the country's currency went into hyperinflation, until eventually a new chancellor (Stresemann) was appointed, who brought it under control. It was during this period that the Nazis gained their first surge in popularity.
I chose this banknote because it's pretty and I like blackletter, but, by the end of hyperinflation, 20,000 Marks would not have bought you a penny chew; so I also got (for slightly more) a 500,000,000 Mark note, which would not have sufficed to buy me a loaf of bread at the time:
There were also banknotes going for substantially higher values, too, measured in milliards (thousand millions), and also overstamped banknotes, from when the currency was rising so fast it was no longer worthwhile to design and issue new notes, the mint just printed new values over the top of old notes; but these cost considerably more (up to €90). Already by the time the 500M Mark note was issued, it seems they'd given up printing both sides of the paper (though the use of watermarked paper suggests to me what I've got is the real thing and not a fake).
According to Wikipedia, the highest value banknote issued during this period was what the Germans called (as the British still did when I was growing up) 100 billion Mark; nowadays this would be called 100 trillion. I can't bring myself to abuse the number system in this way; since I can't use the old British use any longer, I'll settle for 1014 Mark instead.
As an aside, did you know that a thousand years ago, the term "mark" could be used to describe English currency? It meant two thirds of a pound.
So, where is Balaam from? "The river of the land of the children of his people" doesn't really tell us anything! According to tradition, Balaam came from Mesopotamia, and indeed there is a Pitru in northern Syria, with which Pethor has been identified (TH as an allophone of ת is a phenomenon restricted to the Canaanite languages, hence lacking in Akkadian/Assyrian, and -u is a nominative ending, which had been lost by the time of Biblical Hebrew).
However, the Samaritan Torah, by adding a single letter (ן) completely changes the picture:
[Balak] sent messengers to Balaam the son of Beor to Pethor, which is by the river of the land of the Ammonites, to call him, saying, "Behold, there is a people come out from Egypt, and lo, they cover the face of the earth, and they abide over against me." וַיִּשְׁלַח מַלְאָכִים אֶל־בִּלְעָם בֶּן־בְּעֹר פְּתֹרָה אֲשֶׁר עַל־הַנָּהָר אֶרֶץ בְּנֵי־עַמוֹן לִקְרֹא־לוֹ לֵאמֹר הֵן עַם יָצָא מִמִּצְרַיִם והִנֵּה כִסָּה אֶת־עֵין הָאָרֶץ וְהוּא יֹשֵׁב מִמּוּלִי׃
This makes more sense: Balak was king of Moab; it's much more likely he'd send to Ammon, the neighbouring kingdom, to find someone to curse the Israelites, than all the way to Pitru, 350 miles away:( View map )
Into this fray, however, comes one more fascinating piece of evidence. It turns out that there's extra-Biblical evidence of Balaam: the Deir `Alla inscription, discovered in 1967 in Jordan, and dated to ca. 840–760 BCE:
Here's the translation of it on Wikipedia:
( Read more... )
Deir `Alla is in Gilead; it's about ten miles away from the Ammon border on the above map (and over three hundred from Pitru). One more piece of evidence in favour of Balaam coming from Ammon, not from northern Mesopotamia.( Other things in פַּרְשַׁת בָּלָק )
Whilst I was in Johannesburg, I hired a car and drove to the Sterkfontein Caves, which are in an area called the Cradle of Mankind, where a large number of important hominid fossils have been found. There was actually little to see in the caves; even the skeleton being excavated at the present (which may turn out to be significant—we can't tell until it's fully excavated) was inaccessible behind a locked gate with barbed wire on top to deter fossil thieves. Actually, I had rather suspected as much. But I was pleased to have been able to be there, anyway. There were a lot of fossil remains in the museum, but no indication of which were real and which replicas. I know at least one was real, which had little numbers written on it—I doubt they'd have done that for a replica—and two were fake—both replicas of the Taung child skull, the original of which I'd heard the guide say was in the Civic Museum in Pretoria—but have no idea how the rest divided between them.
I also learned a cool new interesting fact, which is that Paranthropus bosei (which I first learned about in the mid-eighties from Richard Leakey's book The Making of Mankind, which is what put me onto palaeoanthropology in the first place) had a crest along the top of its skull for its huge jaw muscles to attach onto.
Right, that's the end of my pre-composed trip reports: I'd forgotten I'd got rid of my laptop after my first three days there—sent it back to work so I didn't have to shlep it around the country. Let's see if I can motivate myself to put a little time into composing further reports.
I'm writing this offline sitting outside the SABC on my first day in Johannesburg, waiting for my work-provided driver, Gift (his car has stripes like a zebra) to come and pick me up to take me to the Apartheid Museum (if he can get there with sufficient time before it shuts!). He says he'll be twenty minutes, so I thought I'd make use of the time to write a brief report, given that this evening I'm going to want an early night.
The reason I want an early night? I sleep on my front. I can manage brief daytime naps on my back or my side, but not for a portracted period of time—and I spent last night in an aeroplane seat that didn't tilt back an appreciable amount, certainly not enough to allow me to sleep on my front.
It's nice and warm and sunny here, about 23°. Unfortunately, it's forecast to cloud over and drop to 17° after Wednesday afternoon—i.e. it'll only stay nice whilst I'm cooped up indoors [in a windowless office, to booy] working. Still, maybe it'll turn nice again afterward. [Turns out the north of the country has a dry-winter wet-summer climate, the south of the country the other way around. Since I was there at the turning of the seasons, I got rained upon, but also had good weather in both places.] I've brought my star chart with me, and am looking forward to seeing the night sights of the southern hemisphere—the Milky Way at its most impressive, the Magellanic Clouds, the "Coalsack", Alpha Centauri (the nearest bright star to Earth). I'd hoped to get good viewing when I'm on my safari, away from the city, but I might try my luck within the hotel here in case the next couple of nights are the last clear skies I get. [The skies of the southern hemisphere turned out to be a little disappointing to the naked eye, though I did get to see everything listed above apart from the Lesser Magellanic Cloud. I did try doing some star photography with my camera, but, without a tripod, I couldn't really point the camera steadily at interesting bits of sky for long enough exposures—though I was surprised to discover sixty seconds was enough to result in colourful star trails, due to the rotation of the Earth.]
I did, in the end, just about manage to make it to the Apartheid Museum, but wasn't able to see the lot: Gift didn't get my text until half an hour after I sent it; and when I called him up after fifteen minutes, he was twenty minutes' drive away. I should have cancelled and called a taxi, but someone had told me the museum only takes twenty minutes to see. [I spent an hour there, and saw half of the museum. I asked a later tour guide where else I should go in Johannesburg, and he said whatever I wanted to learn more about, I could learn more about at the Apartheid Museum, so I went back, where, I reported on the twelfth, I] spent a further three hours there. I was not surprised to see a panel in the display about my distant relative Benjamin Pogrund, but I was flabbergasted to see a photograph of Jesmond Blumenfeld, a man I've met. (He's the father of Rebecca Blumenfeld, whom I was friends with at Marom, and who is now in New York training to be a cantor.) I'd got no idea he was involved in the struggle against apartheid. The photo was of the last meeting of the Liberal Party before it was banned.
One thing I've realised was missing from my Pretoria tour yesterday was a look at the outside of the grand old building that started life as a shul but by the 1950s was the location of the courthouse where Mandela had his first trial. Ah well; it was only a half-day tour; there wasn't time for everything.
I'm also uncertain what to do about my photographs. bluepork asked me why I didn't just put them up on a photo sharing website. I replied:
Well, firstly because I've always been a bit paranoid about putting content up on services whose terms and conditions include some degreeSince then I began to think that maybe I was being excessively paranoid—nobody's going to be interested in pirating my holiday photos—and then Flickr made some changes which got everyone railing against it, and firmed up my determination not to use it. So, unless anyone makes a better suggestion, these trip reports will start off text-only, or using such images as I can already find on t'Internet.
of surrendering control (i.e. that they can reuse them without your permission). Possibly Google+ doesn't do that; Facebook certainly did when I checked it out some years ago, which is why if you look closely at my original Facebook profile photo, you'll see I've put a digital watermark on it, and I went off Flickr when it got taken over by Yahoo!* and the T&Cs changed to Yahoo!'s exploitative ones.
* The ISP named after a pejorative word for "human being" used by horses in Gulliver's Travels.
Secondly, because that would mean typing up long captions, as the photos require decent explanations: It took a couple of hours to go through my photos with aviva_m, and when my mother agreed to give me half an hour of her time, I don't think she was upset that she only got quarter of the way through.
And finally, because I've got
1.5Gb808Mb of photos from South Africa, and I've got better things to do with my bandwidth than devote all day to uploading holiday photos.
Anyhow, South Africa. Quite a country of contrasts. On the one hand there's such poverty (the unemployment rate is around one in four) that you find people standing in the middle of road junctions begging from passing cars and trying not to get run over; on the other, I initially stayed (whilst my work was paying for my accommodation) in a four-star hotel in Johannesburg with its own golf course. Such places would exist anywhere, I suppose, but here road access to the entire area is controlled, behind booms raised manually by security staff. And every middle class home was surrounded by a tall fence or wire with, more often than not, several lines of electrified wire on top of it. (I knew to expect this from South Africa expats I've known in London.)
At the SABC, where I was working, every laptop had to get signed into and out of the building, with its make and serial number being noted: Apparently two laptops had been stolen from within the office of the department where I was working. (They also had fingerprint recognition to open the doors, something which, though not new, impressed me as I hadn't seen it before.)
I was quite worried about the security situation there, until I talked to snjstar's parents a few days before I went, who were over here (in Blighty) for a visit. They said the degree of danger had been hyped up by the British media, and that I would be safe walking around the place by daylight. I said I hadn't got the impression the country was safe from expats I've known here. They replied that they were trying to justify why they've left the country. Thinking about descriptions of life in Manchester from Mancunian Jews living in London versus those who had remained in Manchester, I could believe that. And in reality, I was neither mugged nor car-jacked when I was there. (Though the advice to climb Table Mountain in groups of at least four was, it seems, more to deter muggings than in case one person ran into danger on the ascent.)
In general, my perception of the country is that it's a mess, but it's less of a mess than it's been beforehand, and at least now it's a free and democratic mess.
If I continue to post trip reports of this sort of length, would once a day be too often for people to be bothered to read them?
I'm now arrived—thanks to the gods!Tee-hee. :o)
Thro' pathways rough and muddy,
A certain sign that makin roads
Is no this people's study:
Altho' I'm not wi' Scripture cram'd,
I'm sure the Bible says
That heedless sinners shall be damn'd,
Unless they mend their ways.
For some of my readers, the picture will speak for itself. For others, here's the explanation: In many synagogues, especially Sephardi ones, you will see a plaque reading שִׁוִּיתִי ה׳ לְנֶגְדִּי תָּמִיד "I have set the Lord before me always" (Psalms 16:8). That's very nice for those who are capable of such piety. For me it would be more like the picture above, where the last word, in the insert, currently reads "sometimes".
(Note: This is a partial mock-up; I would not write the Tetragrammaton out for real for something as frivolous as this.)
Anyhow, I'm currently reading Waverley (Andrew Levy, tongue in cheek: "It's a novel about Edinburgh train station, then?"), and was astonished to encounter the phrase "infangthief and outfangthief" there; apparently these are real words:
For, as he used to observe, ‘the lands of Bradwardine, Tully-Veolan, and others, had been erected into a free barony by a charter from David the First, cum liberali potest. habendi curias et justicias, cum fossa et furca (lie, pit and gallows) et saka et soka, et thol et theam, et infang-thief et outfang-thief, sive hand-habend, sive bak-barand.’ The peculiar meaning of all these cabalistical words few or none could explain"Infangthief", it turns out, pertains to a thief caught (cf. German fangen) inside a feudal lord's lands, who then has the right of administering justice to said thief; "outfangthief" is a later (post-Old English) word for the opposite.
I think it's time I got myself a replacement copy of 1066 And All That.
* "A Memorable History of England, comprising all the parts you can remember, including 103 Good Things, 5 Bad Kings and 2 Genuine Dates." Required reading if you know British history; nowhere near so funny if you don't.
(Not all of it is on that bike: a few hundred miles are on my father's bike in Newcastle, a few hundred on my clapped out bike in Berlin, and maybe twenty on my spare bike here, but the vast majority is.)
When my old bike died after 7000 miles, and I had lots of problems with the derailleur on it and then on my new bike, I said, "My next bike will have internal gears!" But since then I've realised that, barring accidents and misuse, there's no reason for me to have a next bike: I can continue using this indefinitely, replacing components as they wear out...
Has anyone here come across anything like this before?
Here are the charities I am supporting:
- Macmillan Cancer Support have been supporting my mother, who has been living with secondary cancer for a couple of years now, and from what I hear they have been doing a sterling job.
- I am supporting Cancer Research UK because we don't just need to help care for people with cancer; we need to learn how to treat and cure it too. I have a 1 in 3 chance (as do you too) of developing cancer, and if I do go down with cancer in twenty years time, I'd like that cancer to be treatable and preferably curable before I get it!
- Finally, I am supporting Alzheimer's Research UK, because as Sir Terry Pratchett has publicised, even though 1 in 3 people over 65 will develop dementia, Alzheimer's research receives a fraction of the funding cancer does (3% at the time Pterry highlighted it).
In the Samaritan text, this is slightly different:
Wherefore it is said in the book of the wars of the LORD,Of Wahev in Suf, and in the wadis of Arnon,
And at the stream of the wadis that goes down to the dwelling of Ar, and lies upon the border of Moab.
עַל־כֵּן יֵאָמַר בְּסֵפֶר מִלְחֲמֹת ה׳ אֶת־וָהֵב בְּסוּפָה וְאֶת־הַנְּחָלִים אַרְנוֹן׃ וְאֶשֶׁד הַנְּחָלִים אֲשֶׁר נָטָה לְשֶׁבֶת עָר וְנִשְׁעַן לִגְבוּל מוֹאָב׃
Wherefore it is said in the book of the wars of the LORD, of Wahev in Suf, and in the wadis of Arnon, Which he caused them to inherit, and which goes down to the dwelling of the city, and lies upon the border of Moab. עַל־כֵּן יֵאָמַר בְּסֵפֶר מִלְחֲמֹת ה׳ אֶת־וָהֵב בְּסוּפָה וְאֶת־הַנְּחָלִים אַרְנֹן׃ אֲשֶׁר הִנְחִילָם וְאֲשֶׁר נָטָה לְשֶׁבֶת עִיר וְנִשְׁעַן לִגְבוּל מוֹאָב׃
I have typeset this as prose, not verse, because it lacks the parallelism of the MT. I suspect the MT is in the right here, though, for that reason, and because of the verb number disagreement ("goes" rather than "go"). Take note of the word אֶשֶׁד, though: we'll encounter that again in Deut. 33.Numbers 21:17-19:
In the Samaritan text:
Then Israel sang this song,Spring up, O well; sing you unto it.And from the wilderness they went to Mattanah. And from Mattanah to Nahaliel, and from Nahaliel to Bamoth.
The princes dug the well, the nobles of the people dug it, by the direction of the lawgiver, with their staves.
אָז יָשִׁיר יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת־הַשִּׁירָה הַזֹּאת עֲלִי בְאֵר עֱנוּ־לָהּ׃ בְּאֵר חֲפָרוּהָ שָׂרִים כָּרוּהָ נְדִיבֵי הָעָם בִּמְחֹקֵק בְּמִשְׁעֲנֹתָם וּמִמִּדְבָּר מַתָּנָה׃ וּמִמַּתָּנָה נַחֲלִיאֵל וּמִנַּחֲלִיאֵל בָּמוֹת׃
Then Israel sang this song,Spring up, O well; sing you unto it.And from Mattanah to Nahaliel: and from Nahaliel to Bamoth.
The princes dug the well, the nobles of the people dug it, by the direction of the lawgiver, with their staves, a gift from the wilderness.
אָז יָשִׁיר יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת־הַשִּׁירָה הַזֹּאת עֲלִי בְאֵר עֱנוּ־לָהּ׃ בְּאֵר חֲפָרוּהָ שָׂרִים כרואה נְדִיבֵי הָעָם בִּמְחֹקֵק וּבְּמִשְׁעֲנֹתָם מִמִּדְבָּר מַתָּנָה׃ וּמִמַּתָּנָה נַחֲלִיאֵל וּמִנַּחֲלִיאֵל בָּמוֹת׃
I'm uncertain whether the extra א is significant; in Jewish Hebrew כרואה looks like it might mean "like the seer". I've translated מַתָּנָה here as "gift", which seems to make more sense in the middle verse; but it's still a place-name in the last.The report of the conflict with Siḥon King of Ḥeshbon in Num. 21:21 onwards includes many inserts from the parallel passage in Deut. 2:24 onwards, some of which reconcile diverges between the passages. One of these verses contains the following peculiarity:
I have no idea what the extraneous ש is doing there—or, indeed, whether it's really there and not a typesetting error.
[Deut. 2:31] The LORD said to Moses, Behold, I have begun to give Sihon and his land before you: begin to possess, that you may inherit his land. [Num. 21:23] ש But Sihon would not suffer Israel to pass through his border: but Sihon gathered all his people together, and went out against Israel into the wilderness: and he came to Jahaz, and fought against Israel. [במד׳ כא כג] וְלֹא־נָתַן סִיחוֹן אֶת־יִשְׂרָאֵל עֲבֹר בִּגְבֻלוֹ [דבר׳ ב לא] וַיֹּאמֶר ה׳ אֶל מֹשֶׁה רְאֵה הַחִלֹּתִי תֵּת לְפָנֶיךָ אֶת־סִיחֹן וְאֶת־אַרְצוֹ הָחֵל רָשׁ לָרֶשֶׁת אֶת־אַרְצוֹ׃ ש [במד׳ כא כג] וַיֶּאֱסֹף סִיחוֹן אֶת־כָּל־עַמּוֹ וַיֵּצֵא לִקְרַאת יִשְׂרָאֵל הַמִּדְבָּרָה וַיָּבֹא יָחְצָה וַיִּלָּחֶם בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל׃
Num. 13:16-17, coming immediately after the list of names of the spies, contains the passage in which Hoshea bin Nun is renamed Yehoshua (Joshua), despite already having been referred to as Joshua earlier in the Torah:
( Read more... )In the Samaritan text here, there's no renaming, rather Moses is calling Joshua (who's so-named, not as Hoshea, a few verses beforehand) to give him orders:
( Read more... )Num 13:19:( Read more... ) The KJV translates Num. 13:22 as, "They ascended by the south, and came unto Hebron". However, the Hebrew literally reads:
The Midrash picks up on this and says it was just Joshua who went to Hebron, to pay his respects at the Tomb of the Patriarchs. The Samaritan text, however, unromantically corrects the grammar:
They ascended by the south, and he came to Hebron. וַיַּעֲלוּ בַנֶּגֶב וַיָּבֹא עַד־חֶבְרוֹן
When the people quail following the report of the spies, and try and stone Joshua and Caleb, God threatens to disinherit them, and Moses tries to talk God out of it, saying, inter alia (Num. 14:17-18):
They ascended by the south, and they came to Hebron. וַיַּעֲלוּ בַנֶּגֶב וַיָּבֹאוּ עַד־חֶבְרוֹן
( Read more... )The reference is of course to the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy in Exodus 34:6-7, but there are words missing from this version. The Samaritan text restores some of them, and makes the same change as before:
( Read more... )Num. 16:3 reads:
The word for "holy" here is קְדֹשִׁים. In the Samaritan text this reads קדישים; influence of Aramaic, perhaps? (If so, that's definitely a later corruption; the only Aramaic words in the Torah are the two spoken by Laban in Gen. 31:47.)
They gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said to them, "You take too much upon yourselves, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. Why then do you raise yourselves up over the congregation of the Lord?" וַיִּקָּהֲלוּ עַל־מֹשֶׁה וְעַל־אַהֲרֹן וַיֹּאמְרוּ אֲלֵהֶם רַב־לָכֶם כִּי כָל־הָעֵדָה כֻּלָּם קְדֹשִׁים וּבְתוֹכָם ה׳ וּמַדּוּעַ תִּתְנַשְּׂאוּ עַל־קְהַל ה׳׃
I would far prefer to engage in imaginative thought around the prayers, than arbitrarily alter a centuries old and ultimately relatively harmless mishnaic quote because I don't like it. I have always thought that one of the strengths of the jewish people is that the liturgy is same wherever you go.
I already answered there how actually there used to be quite a bit of variation in the liturgy; I'd like to instead talk here about examples of how Jews have traditionally tweaked the wording in their prayers in the way that bluepork decries.
Example 1: In the first בְּרָכָה before the שְׁמַע in the morning, we say יוֹצֵר אוֹר וּבוֹרֵא חֹשֶׁךְ עֹשֶׂה שָׁלוֹם וּבוֹרֵא אֶת־הַכֹּל "[God] Who forms light and creates darkness; Who makes peace and creates everything." In the verse from which this is taken, however, Isaiah 45:7, it reads יוֹצֵר אוֹר וּבוֹרֵא חֹשֶׁךְ עֹשֶׂה שָׁלוֹם וּבוֹרֵא רָע "[I] form light and create darkness: I make peace and create evil." Possibly the prophet here was protesting here against the dualism of Zoroastrianism; however, this was felt too edgy for Jewish prayer, so the wording was changed in the liturgy. This was, however, done in ancient times (as are several of the following examples, but not them all).
Example 2: When we read the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy (Ex. 34:6–7), we read them as:
This is a really sneaky thing we do with the verse, because we're actually stopping halfway through an emphatic negative; the quotation reads in full:
The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in goodness and truth; keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and clearing the guilty. ה׳ ה׳ אֵל רַחוּם וְחַנּוּן אֶרֶךְ אַפַּיִם וְרַב־חֶסֶד וֶאֱמֶת׃ נֹצֵר חֶסֶד לָאֲלָפִים נֹשֵׂא עָוֹן וָפֶשַׁע וְחַטָּאָה וְנַקֵּה
The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in goodness and truth; keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and by no means clearing the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation. ה׳ ה׳ אֵל רַחוּם וְחַנּוּן אֶרֶךְ אַפַּיִם וְרַב־חֶסֶד וֶאֱמֶת׃ נֹצֵר חֶסֶד לָאֲלָפִים נֹשֵׂא עָוֹן וָפֶשַׁע וְחַטָּאָה וְנַקֵּה [end of quoted text] לֹא יְנַקֶּה פֹּקֵד עֲוֹן אָבוֹת עַל־בָּנִים וְעַל־בְּנֵי בָנִים עַל־שִׁלֵּשִׁים וְעַל־רִבֵּעִים׃
Example 3: During Hagbahah we recite וְזֹאת הַתּוֹרָה אֲשֶׁר־שָׂם מֹשֶׁה לִפְנֵי בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל עַל־פִּי ה׳ בְּיַד־מֹשֶׁה׃ "And this is the Torah which Moses set before the Israelites at God's dictation, set down by the hand of Moses." However, this is actually a combination of two half-verses: Deuteronomy 4:44 (up to יִשְׂרָאֵל) and Numbers 9:23. Some authorities dislike meddling with Scriptural quotations in this way, and leave this out altogether. (I believe it's missing from נוּסַח אַרִי, for instance.)
Example 4: The first יְקוּם פֻרְקָן prayer opens, "My deliverance arise from heaven [...] to our masters and teachers of the holy communities in the land of Israel [and] in Babylonia." This was intended as a prayer for Diaspora Jewry, who mostly lived in Babylonia at the time; as this is fairly evidently no longer the case, the ArtScroll siddur goes down the route of creative translation, interpreting בָּבֶל as referring to the whole of the Diaspora. The Singer's Prayer Book, however, solves the difficulty by adding the completely new words וְדִי בְּכָל אַרְעָה גַלְוָתָנָא "and in all the lands of our exile" (based on a suggestion by Seligman Baer). This prayer, whilst not recorded in the Talmud, is of an age with it: it must have originated in Babylonia, and no later than when Aramaic was displaced by Arabic as the vernacular following the Islamic conquest.
Example 5: The Prayer for the Royal Family has been extensively tinkered with and shortened by successive Chief Rabbis. The prayer is not originally British; it's goes back to the Sephardim of the sixteenth century. The commentary volume on the first edition Singer's Prayer Book admits: "It corresponds to an autocratic form of monarchy, and some changes have therefore been introduced into our Prayer Book to bring the sentiments expressed more into harmony with the actual constitution of the country."
Not-quite-example 6: The Shulchan Aruch says one should not say הַנוֹתֵן לַיָעֵף כֹּחַ because this בְּרָכָה is not in the Talmud. The fact that we do say it indicates a willingness to include post-Talmudic innovation in our liturgy and a willingness not to let sticklers for tradition, be they never so highly regarded, hold back the tide of such innovation.
Example 7: Comparing the different rites, there is quite a bit of variation between them. Of course, such variation did not as a rule arise deliberately; and in ancient times the various communities were probably unaware of each others' rulings, but there is at least one place where the oldest, Gaonic siddurim have our wording, but Machzor Vitry, the grand-daddy of all Ashkenazi siddurim and machzorim, does not; which means that at some point the Ashkenazi tradition chose to turn its back on its received tradition (from Machzor Vitry) and adopt that of the Gaonic siddurim. (One could also cite Isaac Luria inventing the nusach that takes his epiphet by combining elements of Ashkenazi and Sephardi nusachim.)
[ETA:] Example 8: In Mar Rabina's meditation at the end of the Amida, he takes the words of Psalm 34, נְצֹר לְשׁוֹנְךָ מֵרָע וּשְׂפָתֶיךָ מִדַּבֵּר מִרְמָה "Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking guile," and puts them into the first person, making it a prayer to God. mike_koplow points out that this effects a considerable change in the theology implied (though see also my comment to his post).
I will admit that many of these are not precise matches for the situation I described at the outset, but I think they serve to show that meddling with quotations and liturgical texts is something that has a long and accepted, if not particularly well-known, history in Judaism.
I still use the same system, albeit that it's now two 4.7Gb DVDs and a memory stick rather than a CD-ROM and floppy; but I've had a couple of people asking me why I don't just use an external hard drive. My answer is because my system works, because it allows me to easily consult old versions of differing ages, and because when taking my weekly backup in to work, a memory stick is a lot less weight to cycle with than an external hard drive. But I have no idea what other people are doing nowadays.
So, how do you back up? (And if the answer is "I don't", then start right now before something happens to your computer and you lose all your files, as has happened to several people I know.)