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Deuteronomy 33:2 דברים לג ב
He said: The Lord came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir to them. He shone forth from Mount Paran, and He came with myriads of the holy; from His right hand (an) אשדת for them. וַיֹּאמַר ה׳ מִסִּינַי בָּא וְזָרַח מִשֵּׂעִיר לָמוֹ הוֹפִיעַ מֵהַר פָּארָן וְאָתָה מֵרִבְבֹת קֹדֶשׁ מִימִינוֹ אשדת לָמוֹ׃

I have left the word אשדת untranslated here. The קְרִי here is to read it as two words, אֵשׁ דָּת, traditionally translated "a fiery law" (the literal translation is "a fire of law"); however, this is definitely not the original reading, as דָּת ("law") is a Persian loanword (and, incidentally, cognate to English "do"), and anachronistic in Deuteronomy, written before there were any Persians around in Israel.

As previously pointed out by [livejournal.com profile] curious_reader, in the BBC series The Bible's Buried Secrets, Francesca Stavrakopoulou pushes the idea that this word actually originally read not אשדת but אשרה (or אשרתו) and the line "He said: The Lord came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir to them. He shone forth from Mount Paran, and He came with myriads of the holy; from His right hand [went] his Ashera" (a Canaanite goddess).

Dr Stavrakopoulou seems desperate here to find evidence of a "censored" consort of Y*hw*h here. Certainly, she's stretching the Hebrew to breaking point to do so: it requires the change or addition of two letters, and results in poor grammar: לָמוֹ means "for/to them", or "their"; "his" would be "לוֹ".

But there's no need to go so far in search of a meaning; if you ignore the anachronistic קְרִי and the vowels of the text, there's a perfectly valid meaning right there in the כְּתִיב, although it's a rare enough word that most people won't know it: It's אַשֵׁדֹּת "outpourings" (i.e. mountain streams). Whilst blogging פַּרְשַׁת חֻקַת, I noticed and pointed out the almost identical word אֶשֶׁד (differing only in gender and gender ending); this was why. When I encountered this word in an Orthodox context, I was sufficiently distracted by the kerfuffle over the אֵשׁ דָּת reading that I failed to notice this translation at all, but to my surprise, it is right there in the Hertz commmentary (though not, IIRC, the JPS 1917 translation or the KJV it's based on).

So, given all the above, what do you think the reading will be in the Samaritan Text, אשדת (streams), אש דת (a fiery law) or אשרה (Ashera)?

And the answer, you will not hopefully by now be surprised to learn, is אשדת "streams".

Deuteronomy 33:12 דברים לג יב
Of Benjamin he said, The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by him; and the Lord shall cover him all the day long, and he shall dwell between his shoulders. לְבִנְיָמִן אָמַר יְדִיד ה׳ יִשְׁכֹּן לָבֶטַח עָלָיו חֹפֵף עָלָיו כָּל־הַיּוֹם וּבֵין כְּתֵפָיו שָׁכֵן׃
In the Samaritan text, this reads:
לְבִנְיָמִן אָמַר יד יד ה׳ יִשְׁכֹּן לָבֶטַח [word missing] חֹפֵף עָלָיו כָּל־הַיּוֹם וּבֵין כְּתֵפָיו שָׁכֵן׃
This change is difficult to translate; it could be "A hand, a hand of the Lord for security", or "the power, the power of the Lord". Either way, the lack of the first עָלָיו makes it read clumsily. I don't understand what's meant.
Deuteronomy 33:25 דברים לג כה
Your shoes shall be iron and brass; and as your days, so shall your strength be. בַּרְזֶל וּנְחֹשֶׁת מִנְעָלֶךָ וּכְיָמֶיךָ דָּבְאֶךָ׃
For דָּבְאֶךָ the Samaritan text reads רביך, changing the meaning to "As your days, so shall your numbers be."
Deuteronomy 34:1-33:3 דברים לד א-לד יב
And Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho. And the Lord showed him all the land of Gilead, unto Dan, And all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim, and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah, unto the hinder, And the south, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, unto Zoar. וַיַּעַל מֹשֶׁה מֵעַרְבֹת מוֹאָב אֶל־הַר נְבוֹ רֹאשׁ הַפִּסְגָּה אֲשֶׁר עַל־פְּנֵי יְרֵחוֹ וַיַּרְאֵהוּ ה׳ אֶת־כָּל־הָאָרֶץ אֶת־הַגִּלְעָד עַד־דָּן׃ וְאֵת כָּל־נַפְתָּלִי וְאֶת־אֶרֶץ אֶפְרַיִם וּמְנַשֶּׁה וְאֵת כָּל־אֶרֶץ יְהוּדָה עַד הַיָּם הָאַחֲרוֹן׃ וְאֶת־הַנֶּגֶב וְאֶת־הַכִּכָּר בִּקְעַת יְרֵחוֹ עִיר הַתְּמָרִים עַד־צֹעַר׃
In place of everything from "of Gilead" to the end of this passage, the Samaritan text substitutes the description of the land given to Abraham (Gen. 15:18) (similar to the description in Deut. 1:7) מִנְּהַר מִצְרַיִם עַד־הַנָּהָר הַגָּדֹל נְהַר־פְּרָת "from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates", followed by three words from the MT of this verse: וְעַד הַיָּם הָאַחֲרוֹן "unto the hinder sea".

[Samaritan Torah] Samaritan Torah notes         Jewish learning notes index


Date: 2013-09-09 06:32 pm (UTC)
liv: In English: My fandom is text obsessed / In Hebrew: These are the words (words)
From: [personal profile] liv
Very nice analysis of אשדת Very nice indeed.

Is this the end of your Samaritan text blogging? I'm really impressed you've kept it up.

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