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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Gen. 23:8:
[Abraham] spoke with [the Ḥittites of Ḥebron]: "If it be your mind that I should bury my dead out of my sight; hear me, and intreat for me to `Ephron the son of Ṣoḥar." וַיְדַבֵּר אִתָּם לֵאמֹר אִם־יֵשׁ אֶת־נַפְשְׁכֶם לִקְבֹּר אֶת־מֵתִי מִלְּפָנַי שְׁמָעוּנִי וּפִגְעוּ־לִי בְּעֶפְרוֹן בֶּן־צֹחַר׃
The Samaritan text has here:
He spoke with them: "If it be your mind that I should bury my dead out of my sight; hear me, and intreat for me to `Ephron the son of Zohar." וַיְדַבֵּר אִתָּם לֵאמֹר אִם־ישת־נַפְשְׁכֶם לִקְבֹּר אֶת־מֵיתִי מִלְּפָנַי שְׁמָעוּנִי וּפִגְעוּ־לִי בְּעֶפְרוֹן בֶּן־צֹהַר׃
I presume this is a contracted way of saying of the same thing; ישת is not in my dictionary.

Because my blog entry for פַּרְשַׁת נֹחַ was very long, and this one very short, I've moved the following, on Gen 10:4, from there to here:

And the sons of Yavan; Elishah, and Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim. וּבְנֵי יָוָן אֱלִישָׁה וְתַרְשִׁישׁ כִּתִּים וְדֹדָנִים׃
The Samaritan text has here:
And the sons of Yavan; Eliash, and Tarshish, Kittim, and Rodanim. וּבְנֵי יָוָן אֱלִיַשׁ וְתַרְשִׁישׁ כִּתִּים וְרֹדָנִים׃

Ignore the first difference; the important bit is the confusion of ר with ד in the latter. As you can see, these are two very similar letters; one can easily see how where they're in a name, which doesn't have any meaning, they could easily be confused. However, that's the case in the descendant of Imperial Aramaic which we write Hebrew in nowadays; the Samaritans, however, never having gone into exile in Babylon, never made the switch from Palaeo-Hebrew, and continued to use the old script, in which the letters look more distinct: Daleth and Resh. Does this then mean that the Samaritan version retains the original form of the name, and it was the Masoretic version in which the confusion between letters happened?

Well, possibly not, because the Samaritans don't use the ancient form of the Palaeo-Hebrew letters, any more than we Jews write today in Imperial Aramaic script (in which, FWIW, the two letters appear as Daleth and Resh).

Here's a table from Wikipedia showing the evolution of the Samaritan script; column X shows the modern forms of the letters:

Evolution of Samaritan letters

As you can see, the miniscule forms of the letters are distinct; the difference between them in majuscules is largely confined to the hook, similarly to in our script, but more pronouncedly. I have no idea when miniscules were used and when majuscules; Hebrew does not distinguish between them (for the Latin alphabet, the terms refer to lower and upper case); however, Wikipedia points out that Column X is the modern form, and that appears to fit in with the majuscules. Consequently, it's possible that the confusion between ר and ד arose in the Samaritan text after all. The slightly stronger distinctness of the letters in the Samaritan script favours the change having happened in the Jewish text; however, the greater care the Jews took over copying the Torah (there are only a few slight variations on the Masoretic Text today, against some six thousand versions of the Samaritan Torah) argues for the change having happened in the Samaritan text.

In this particular case, 1 Chronicles 4 agrees with the Samaritan text, but both forms are short for דרדנים, as given in Targum Yerushalmi; Luzzatto explains they are refer to Dardania.

FWIW, there's a similar change in Deut. 32:30 (אחר for אחד) where it seems clear to me the Masoretic Text is in the right. (There are also other changes of this form elsewhere, e.g. Gen. 41:4 (רקות for דקות, which does not change the meaning), Num. 2:15 דעואל for רעואל, Num. 16:15 חמוד for חמור, Num. 25:16-17, Deut. 13:13. In some cases this leads to words not in my dictionary, e.g. Deut. 1:22 ודפחיו for ויחפרו, Deut. 26:12 מעשד for מעשר. I'll comment on more noteworthy examples in their rightful place.)

[Samaritan Torah] Samaritan Torah notes         Jewish learning notes index


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