lethargic_man: "Happy the person that finds wisdom, and the person that gets understanding."—Prov. 3:13. Icon by Tamara Rigg (limmud)
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In II.7.189, when the Egyptians have sold all their possessions to Joseph to buy corn during the famine, Josephus says:
When their money failed them, they bought corn with their cattle and their slaves; and if any of them had a small piece of land, they gave up that to purchase them food, by which means the king became the owner of all their substance; and they were removed, some to one place, and some to another, that so the possession of their country might be firmly assured to the king, excepting the lands of the priests, for their country continued still in their own possession. And indeed this sore famine made their minds, as well as their bodies, slaves; and at length compelled them to procure a sufficiency of food by such dishonourable means.
However, Josephus then adds the following, which is not in the Bible (apart from the tax of a fifth of the produce):
But when this misery ceased, and the river overflowed the ground, and the ground brought forth its fruits plentifully, Joseph came to every city, and gathered the people thereto belonging together, and gave them back entirely the land which, by their own consent, the king might have possessed alone, and alone enjoyed the fruits of it. He also exhorted them to look on it as every one's own possession, and to fall to their husbandry with cheerfulness, and to pay as a tribute to the king, the fifth part of the fruits for the land which the king, when it was his own, restored to them. These men rejoiced upon their becoming unexpectedly owners of their lands, and diligently observed what was enjoined them; and by this means Joseph procured to himself a greater authority among the Egyptians, and greater love to the king from them. Now this law, that they should pay the fifth part of their fruits as tribute, continued until their later kings.
Dispossessing the people by moving them from their original lands was a way of disempowering them later used by Sennacherib, when he exiled the kingdom of Israel, and Nebuchadrezzar, when he exiled the kingdom of Judah; however, it's interesting to note that the Samaritan Torah, which I am currently following the differences from the Masoretic text in, in the yearly reading cycle, does not have Joseph doing this. In place of:
Genesis 47:21 בראשית מז כא
And as for the people, he removed them to cities from one end of the borders of Egypt to the other. וְאֶת־הָעָם הֶעֱבִיר אֹתוֹ לֶעָרִים מִקְצֵה גְבוּל־מִצְרַיִם וְעַד־קָצֵהוּ׃
It reads:
And as for the people, he enslaved them as slaves from one end of the borders of Egypt to the other. ࠅࠀࠕ ࠄࠏࠌ ࠄࠏࠁࠉࠃ ࠀࠕࠅ ࠋࠏࠁࠃࠉࠌ ࠌࠒࠑࠄ ࠂࠁࠅࠋ ࠌࠑࠓࠉࠌ ࠏࠃ ࠒࠑࠄࠅ
Or, for those who can't view the Unicode, but are not viewing this article on a dark background:

[Samaritan text]

Or, for those of you who can't read the Samaritan alphabet:
And as for the people, he enslaved them as slaves from one end of the borders of Egypt to the other. ואת העם העביד אתו לעבדים מקצה גבול מצרים עד קצהו׃

The difference stems mostly due to confusion of ד with ר, but of course at the time the Samaritans split from the Jews, that would have been written in Palaeo-Hebrew. As it turns out the letters, though somewhat different, could have been miswritten as each other there too: 𐤃 versus 𐤓.

It wasn't until the time of Rabbi Akiva that the proto-Masoretic text became elevated to the status of textus receptus; at the time of Josephus there was a whole family tree of Biblical texts: the proto-Masoretic text, the one from which the Septuagint was translated, the Samaritan text, and a variety of others represented in the Dead Sea Scrolls. I'm not sure which text Josephus was working from, but I know at least that at least in this instance it fell on the side of the Masoretic Text rather than the Samaritan, not that this should surprise me, as the Samaritan/Jewish texts probably diverged first of the ones I've mentioned here.

In IV.4.73, Josephus refers to the Hebrew word for sacrifice, קָרְבָּן, as κορβᾶν (korban). This is interesting, as it seems to show a kamatz katan, something the existence of which in Biblical Hebrew I'm dubious of. Or at least, I don't think it existed in Tiberian Hebrew, as the Massoretes, who went to such great length to distinguish all these vowels from each other, didn't have a separate sign for it.

At any rate, many names now pronounced with a kamatz katan such as "Oholibamah" turn up in Josephus without one, e.g. "Aholibamah"—though it was pointed out to me that actually the מֶתֶג (vertical line) in this and several other Biblical names in Hebrew opens the syllable by making the reader pause, so really it shouldn't be a kamatz katan after all. So what about קָרְבָּן; does it have a מֶתֶג in it? <checks> No, it does not. So maybe kamatz katan really did exist in Biblical Hebrew, albeit not as often as today.


The copy of Antiquities of the Jews I'm reading is the Wordsworth Classics one. Unfortunately, this doesn't have any commentary. Or possibly, it's fortunately, as it would make me take even longer to get through this nine-hundred page book. (There is one online, but I'm not reading my way through this book online, nor am I online when I'm generally reading the book.) At any rate, for the portion covering the Torah, I know the text and its mediaeval commentaries and midrashim well enough that I don't need any commentary. Once I get into the rest of the Bible, that's no longer the case; indeed, for much of it, I'll not be very familiar with it (it being twenty years since the (first and) last time I read the Bible from start to end), so in some cases I'll be commenting on the story itself rather than how Josephus differs from the Biblical text, because I'll not know how he does, but will be coming new (or new-ish) to the story.

Anyhow, onwards. In V.1.34 Josephus writes:
Now the place where Joshua pitched his camp was called Gilgal, which denotes liberty; for since now they had passed over Jordan, they looked on themselves as freed from the miseries which they had undergone from the Egyptians, and in the wilderness.
This is an odd interpretation of גִּלְגָּל; it's more obviously connected with גלל, to roll, as in Joshua 5:9:
The LORD said to Joshua, This day I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you; therefore the name of the place has been called Gilgal ever since. וַיֹּאמֶר ה׳ אֶל־יְהוֹשֻׁעַ הַיּוֹם גַּלּוֹתִי אֶת־חֶרְפַּת מִצְרַיִם מֵעֲלֵיכֶם וַיִּקְרָא שֵׁם הַמָּקוֹם הַהוּא גִּלְגָּל עַד הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה׃

The site I have been cutting-and-pasting Whiston's translation of Antiquities from comments "I agree here with Dr. Bernard, and approve of Josephus's interpretation of Gilgal for liberty." Gee, thanks for telling us why.

V.2.127:
They also gave land for habitation to the posterity of Jethro, the Midianite, who was the father-in-law to Moses; for they had left their own country, and followed them, and accompanied them in the wilderness.
Not quite: The Bible has this migration happen after the death of Joshua—a long time after the Israelites' desert odyssey:
Judges 1:16 שופטים א טז
And the children of the Kenite, Moses' father in law, went up out of the city of palm trees with the children of Judah into the wilderness of Judah, which lieth in the south of Arad; and they went and dwelt among the people. וּבְנֵי קֵינִי חֹתֵן מֹשֶׁה עָלוּ מֵעִיר הַתְּמָרִים אֶת־בְּנֵי יְהוּדָה מִדְבַּר יְהוּדָה אֲשֶׁר בְּנֶגֶב עֲרָד וַיֵּלֶךְ וַיֵּשֶׁב אֶת־הָעָם׃
Indeed, the Torah says:
Exodus 18:27 שמות יח כז
Moses let his father in law depart; and he went his way into his own land. וַיְשַׁלַּח מֹשֶׁה אֶת־חֹתְנוֹ וַיֵּלֶךְ לוֹ אֶל־אַרְצוֹ׃
Though, now I stop and notice, I see Exodus is contradicted here by Numbers.
Numbers 10:29-32 במדבר י כט-לב
Moses said to Hobab, the son of Raguel the Midianite, Moses' father in law, We are journeying unto the place of which the LORD said, I will give it you: come thou with us, and we will do thee good: for the LORD hath spoken good concerning Israel. And he said unto him, I will not go; but I will depart to mine own land, and to my kindred. And he said, Leave us not, I pray thee; forasmuch as thou knowest how we are to encamp in the wilderness, and thou mayest be to us instead of eyes. And it shall be, if thou go with us, yea, it shall be, that what goodness the LORD shall do unto us, the same will we do unto thee. וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה לְחֹבָב בֶּן־רְעוּאֵל הַמִּדְיָנִי חֹתֵן מֹשֶׁה נֹסְעִים אֲנַחְנוּ אֶל־הַמָּקוֹם אֲשֶׁר אָמַר ה׳ אֹתוֹ אֶתֵּן לָכֶם לְכָה אִתָּנוּ וְהֵטַבְנוּ לָךְ כִּי־ה׳ דִּבֶּר־טוֹב עַל־יִשְׂרָאֵל׃ וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו לֹא אֵלֵךְ כִּי אִם־אֶל־אַרְצִי וְאֶל־מוֹלַדְתִּי אֵלֵךְ׃ וַיֹּאמֶר אַל־נָא תַּעֲזֹב אֹתָנוּ כִּי עַל־כֵּן יָדַעְתָּ חֲנֹתֵנוּ בַּמִּדְבָּר וְהָיִיתָ לָּנוּ לְעֵינָיִם׃ וְהָיָה כִּי־תֵלֵךְ עִמָּנוּ וְהָיָה הַטּוֹב הַהוּא אֲשֶׁר יֵיטִיב ה׳ עִמָּנוּ וְהֵטַבְנוּ לָךְ׃

Funny I'd not noticed that before. Of course, it's only a contradiction if you believe Jethro (a title, not a name, meaning "His Excellency") is the same as Ḥovav, i.e. it's "Ḥovav son of (Reuel the Midianite), Moses' father-in-law"; the problem goes away if you interpret it as "Ḥovav son of (Reuel the Midianite, Moses' father-in-law)".

In a very unpleasant episode in Judges 19, the Bible reads:
Judges 19:22-24 שופטים יט כב-כד
Now as they were making their hearts merry, behold, certain scoundrels of the men of the city, surrounded the house, and beat at the door, and said to the elderly householder, "Bring out the man that came to your house for us to 'know' him." The householder went out unto them, and said, "Don't brothers, don't act so wickedly with this man who came to my house; don't do this folly. Here's my daughter, who is a maiden, and his concubine; I'll bring them out, and you may humble them. Do with them whatever seems good to you: but to this man don't do such a vile thing." הֵמָּה מֵיטִיבִים אֶת־לִבָּם וְהִנֵּה אַנְשֵׁי הָעִיר אַנְשֵׁי בְנֵי־בְלִיַּעַל נָסַבּוּ אֶת־הַבַּיִת מִתְדַּפְּקִים עַל־הַדָּלֶת וַיֹּאמְרוּ אֶל־הָאִישׁ בַּעַל הַבַּיִת הַזָּקֵן לֵאמֹר הוֹצֵא אֶת־הָאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר־בָּא אֶל־בֵּיתְךָ וְנֵדָעֶנּוּ׃ וַיֵּצֵא אֲלֵיהֶם הָאִישׁ בַּעַל הַבַּיִת וַיֹּאמֶר אֲלֵהֶם אַל־אַחַי אַל־תָּרֵעוּ נָא אַחֲרֵי אֲשֶׁר־בָּא הָאִישׁ הַזֶּה אֶל־בֵּיתִי אַל־תַּעֲשׂוּ אֶת־הַנְּבָלָה הַזֹּאת׃ הִנֵּה בִתִּי הַבְּתוּלָה וּפִילַגְשֵׁהוּ אוֹצִיאָה־נָּא אוֹתָם וְעַנּוּ אוֹתָם וַעֲשׂוּ לָהֶם הַטּוֹב בְּעֵינֵיכֶם וְלָאִישׁ הַזֶּה לֹא תַעֲשׂוּ דְּבַר הַנְּבָלָה הַזֹּאת׃

This casts a new light on the story of Lot in Sodom; no wonder Hertz goes on in his commentary about the paramount importance of looking after guests in ancient Middle Eastern society. One mention makes Lot corrupted by the society of Sodom; two rescues Lot's reputation a little by making him no worse than others.

Right, that will have to do for now; I'm overdue for bed.

[Josephus] Josephus notes

Date: 2012-01-17 11:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] boroparkpyro.livejournal.com
The Tiberians didn't distinguish a sign for ḳamats raḥav from ḳomats ḳatan because they didn't distinguish them (at least in quality, if not in length) -- just like Ashkenazi and Yemenite pronunciations do to this day. All ḳomatses were pronounced /ɔ/ ("aw")

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