lethargic_man: "Happy the person that finds wisdom, and the person that gets understanding."—Prov. 3:13. Icon by Tamara Rigg (limmud)
[personal profile] lethargic_man

Lev 21:17 reads:

Leviticus 21:17 ויקרא כא יז
Speak unto Aaron, saying, Any man of your descent with any blemish, let him not approach to offer the bread [sc. food] of his God. דַּבֵּר אֶל־אַהֲרֹן לֵאמֹר אִישׁ מִזַּרְעֲךָ לְדֹרֹתָם אֲשֶׁר יִהְיֶה בוֹ מוּם לֹא יִקְרַב לְהַקְרִיב לֶחֶם אֱלֹהָיו׃

It's well-known that the Hebrew word for to sacrifice, לְהַקְרִיב, has the same root as קָרוֹב, "close". Hence, to sacrifice in Hebrew does not, as in English, have connotations of giving something up; instead its connotations are of drawing close to God.

Joel M. Hoffman disputes this in his book And God Said: How Translations Conceal the Bible's Original Meaning. I suspect he does not deny that the words are etymologically related, but he says people wouldn't be aware of the relationship, and quotes figures to say that most Israelis don't connect the two meanings. (I personally suspect, though, that if you pointed the connection out to Israelis they say "Oh, that makes sense; why didn't I realise that?")

Though I like a lot of what this book says, I think this part is rubbish, and the juxtaposition of לֹא יִקְרַב "let him not draw near" and לְהַקְרִיב "to offer" argues in my favour. This is even more so in the Samaritan text, where the word לְהַקְרִיב is replaced by לְהַגִישׁ, "to bring close".

The following verse reads in the MT:

For whatsoever man that has a blemish, he shall not approach: a blind man, or a lame, or with a flat nose, or any thing superfluous, כִּי כָל־אִישׁ אֲשֶׁר־בּוֹ מוּם לֹא יִקְרָב אִישׁ עִוֵּר אוֹ פִסֵּחַ אוֹ חָרֻם אוֹ שָׂרוּעַ׃

The Samaritan text replaces חָרֻם ("flat-nosed" or "with a pierced nose"), with ערום, which seems to mean "naked", which is odd, as it does not fit in to the rest of the verse.

Leviticus 24:1-24:4 ויקרא כד א-כד ד
The Lord spoke to Moses: "Command the children of Israel, that they bring unto you pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause to burn an eternal lamp. Outside of the curtain of the testimony, in the Tent of Meeting, Aaron shall set it from the evening unto the morning before the Lord continually: it shall be a statute for ever in your generations: He shall order the lamps upon the pure candlestick before the Lord continually." וַיְדַבֵּר ה׳ אֶל־מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר׃ צַו אֶת־בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְיִקְחוּ אֵלֶיךָ שֶׁמֶן זַיִת זָךְ כָּתִית לַמָּאוֹר לְהַעֲלֹת נֵר תָּמִיד׃ מִחוּץ לְפָרֹכֶת הָעֵדֻת בְּאֹהֶל מוֹעֵד יַעֲרֹךְ אֹתוֹ אַהֲרֹן מֵעֶרֶב עַד־בֹּקֶר לִפְנֵי ה׳ תָּמִיד חֻקַּת עוֹלָם לְדֹרֹתֵיכֶם׃ עַל הַמְּנֹרָה הַטְּהֹרָה יַעֲרֹךְ אֶת־הַנֵּרוֹת לִפְנֵי ה׳ תָּמִיד׃

This passage is the origin of the phrase נֵר תָּמִיד Eternal Lamp, describing the lamp before the Ark in synagogues today which is never allowed to go out, in memory of this light on the Menorah in the Tabernacle, and later the Temple. However, it seems from verse 3 that this light actually only burned in the Tabernacle during the night hours, and this impression is reinforced in the Samaritan text where the last word, תָּמִיד "continually", is replaced with עַד בֹּקֶר "until morning".

This was the last interesting discrepancy between the two texts in the Book of Leviticus; see you in פַּרְשַׁת בְּמִדְבַּר!

[Samaritan Torah] Samaritan Torah notes         Jewish learning notes index

Date: 2013-04-22 10:26 am (UTC)
liv: In English: My fandom is text obsessed / In Hebrew: These are the words (words)
From: [personal profile] liv
That's an interesting debate about קרב I don't think asking Israelis whether they've noticed the similarity is particularly informative, partly because I basically buy the view that modern Ivrit is a completely different language from Biblical Hebrew. And partly because lots of literature uses plays on words which aren't consciously visible to native speakers of the language but will likely colour their emotional response to how they read the text.


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