Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Day of the Remembrance (Yom Terua)

The third out of five high holidays is the Day of Remembrance [of the trumpet sound]. This holiday has direct connection to the Tabernacle, and since it is coming up soon, I figured I would do a brief introduction.

The description of the most interest can be found in Numbers 10:1-10. Let's take a look:
1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

2 Make thee two trumpets of silver; of a whole piece shalt thou make them: that thou mayest use them for the calling of the assembly, and for the journeying of the camps.

‎1 ‏וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר יְהוָ֖ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֥ה לֵּאמֹֽר׃

‎2 ‏עֲשֵׂ֣ה לְךָ֗ שְׁתֵּי֙ חֲצֽוֹצְרֹ֣ת כֶּ֔סֶף מִקְשָׁ֖ה תַּעֲשֶׂ֣ה אֹתָ֑ם וְהָי֤וּ לְךָ֙ לְמִקְרָ֣א הָֽעֵדָ֔ה וּלְמַסַּ֖ע אֶת־הַֽמַּחֲנֽוֹת׃
As you can see, two special silver bugles (perhaps, horns or trumpets) were required to be made for the ceremonial purposes, as well as for practical purposes.

8 And the sons of Aaron, the priests, shall blow with the trumpets; and they shall be to you for an ordinance for ever throughout your generations.

9 And if ye go to war in your land against the enemy that oppresseth you, then ye shall blow an alarm with the trumpets; and ye shall be remembered before the LORD your God, and ye shall be saved from your enemies.

10 Also in the day of your gladness, and in your solemn days, and in the beginnings of your months, ye shall blow with the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; that they may be to you for a memorial before your God: I am the LORD your God.
‎8 ‏וּבְנֵ֤י אַהֲרֹן֙ הַכֹּ֣הֲנִ֔ים יִתְקְע֖וּ בַּֽחֲצֹצְר֑וֹת וְהָי֥וּ לָכֶ֛ם לְחֻקַּ֥ת עוֹלָ֖ם לְדֹרֹתֵיכֶֽם׃

‎9 ‏וְכִֽי־תָבֹ֨אוּ מִלְחָמָ֜ה בְּאַרְצְכֶ֗ם עַל־הַצַּר֙ הַצֹּרֵ֣ר אֶתְכֶ֔ם וַהֲרֵעֹתֶ֖ם בַּחֲצֹצְר֑וֹת וֲנִזְכַּרְתֶּ֗ם לִפְנֵי֙ יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹֽהֵיכֶ֔ם וְנוֹשַׁעְתֶּ֖ם מֵאֹיְבֵיכֶֽם׃

‎10 ‏וּבְי֨וֹם שִׂמְחַתְכֶ֥ם וּֽבְמוֹעֲדֵיכֶם֮ וּבְרָאשֵׁ֣י חָדְשֵׁיכֶם֒ וּתְקַעְתֶּ֣ם בַּחֲצֹֽצְרֹ֗ת עַ֚ל עֹלֹ֣תֵיכֶ֔ם וְעַ֖ל זִבְחֵ֣י שַׁלְמֵיכֶ֑ם וְהָי֨וּ לָכֶ֤ם לְזִכָּרוֹן֙ לִפְנֵ֣י אֱלֹֽהֵיכֶ֔ם אֲנִ֖י יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶֽם׃ פ

As you can read from the last verses of this passage, the Sons of Aaron (Eleazar and Ithamar; the other two died) were assigned the task of these trumpets.

Since I have not researched this subject in details yet, I would have to leave my commentary on this as is for now. But I hope that in the future, I would be able to cover it more thoroughly.

One thing I would like to point out though:

In Jewish tradition this (holy)day is known as "Rosh HaShana" (aka Jewish New Year). This is incorrect, as in Leviticus 23:24-25 we are clearly told that the Day of Remembrance falls on the 1st day of the 7th month, and in Exodus 34:22 the seventh month is referred to as "the turning point" (autumn equinox) of the year (not "the end" of the year). Moreover, the term "Rosh HaShana" is explicitly used to indicate the 1st month (the month of Passover) in Exodus 12:2.

Here is a YouTube video that should give you an idea of the sound (but not necessarily shape) of these trumpets:

Dead Sea Scrolls Online

The Israel Museum has finally come through and put up some of the Qumran Scrolls online for everyone to view. There are only a few scrolls available for now, and only one(!) includes the transcript and translation. But I think its better than nothing at all, so I suggest you visit the official project web site and enjoy the exibition.

There is also some information and transcripts available in wikipedia. This web site may also be of interest.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Artistic rendering of the Ark, Priestly Garments and the Tabernacle

Here are a few artistic images to illustrate details of the Tabernacle service.

This one (from this web site - click "login as guest" to access images) is of the Ark of The Covenant being carried in its normal "mode", with its Blue Covering (Numb. 4:6) on top of it. This illustration is most likely to the verse of Joshua 3:17. The downside of this illustration, in my humble opinion, is the positioning of the Ark Staves (along the length and closer to the bottom).

This image (from the same web site) is of the Priestly Garments, Aaron Garments. Nice schematic image.

And here is one of a few images from this 3d model of the Tabernacle (from this web site), that is based on the traditional interpretation of the verses.

For example, compare the image above to my rendering of one of the corners of the Tabernacle Courtyard. I hope this will allow you to see the differences and downsides of the traditional interpretation(above), as opposed to more realistic direct interpretation of the Tabernacle description (below).

1657 Walton's London Polyglot (7th century Samaritan manuscript)

Here is another manuscript of note that includes the Samaritan Pentateuch. In fact, this polyglot Bible uses 7th century Samaritan manuscript (not sure yet which one though), as well as presents the text of the Pentateuch in the original Samaritan script. Variations also included.

Here is an image of the first two pages of this book (once you click on the image, click on the small link below to open hi-res version. Please be advised that the image is very large so it may load slow.)

Also, in this edition, there are many interesting (and beautiful) illustrations. The most interesting one is that of the Tabernacle and Temple Sacred Vessels and Furniture:

You can read and download the entire work at this web site.

Monday, September 19, 2011

An Online Samaritan Pentateuch


Contrary to one of my previous posts, I was able to compile this list of places where you can find the Samaritan Pentateuch online. These resources will allow you to read and/or download the manuscripts for free. I have also included non-free versions that may be useful to those who seriously study the Bible, as they are more precise and include the latest research.   

Free resources:
  1. 1657 Walton's Polyglot (aka London Polyglot). Uses 7th century Samaritan Manuscript. Samaritan Text in the original Samaritan script.
  2. Vetus Testamentum Hebraicum cum variis lectionibus, (Parallel Samaritan Pentateuch - Hebrew Samaritan), by Benjaminus Kennicott, 1780 [main page here]
  3. Pentateuchus Hebreao-Samaritanus, Benjamin Blayney, 1790
  4. Targum Shomroni 'al hatorah, by Adolf Brüll, 1873-76.
  5. Bibliotheca Samaritana, Volumes 1-3, Moritz Heidenheim, Marqah, Otto Schulze, 1884
  6. Torah Nevi'im u-Khetuvim. Biblia hebraica adjuvantibus professoribus G. Beer [et al.] Edidit Rud. Kittel, 1906 [for reference only - Samaritan Pentateuch variants in footnotes]
  7. Der Hebraische Pentateuch der Samaritaner, (critical edition of the Samaritan Pentateuch) August Freiherrn von Gall,Verlag von Alfred Topelmann, Giessen, 1918
  8. Normalized Interlinear Pentateuch (includes Samaritan Pentateuch with basic morphology, idiomatic translation and separate English and Russian translation). Translations are FIRST IN THE WORLD.
Please note that I was the FIRST IN THE WORLD to publish Samaritan Torah translation in English and Russian. Samaritan Ben Tsedaka's translation was SECOND after mine. Not only he published his translation 1 year after mine, but he intentionally mistranslates the text and even ADDS words to the Torah. See Exodus 4:25 for example. His translation is of extremely poor quality and it does not faithfully represent Samaritan Torah text as it was WRITTEN. Not to mention that Tsedaka is not even fluent in English. So if you are looking for accurate translation of the Samaritan Torah text in English, please read my translation.

Limited resources: 
For-Purchase Only resources:
  1. Jewish and Samaritan Version of the Pentateuch with particular stress on the differences between both texts. Exodus (Hamishe Humshei Torah: Nusach Yehudi, Nusach Shomroni im me-duyakot shel ha-shinu'im bein shtei ha-nusachot. Sefer Shemot lefi ktav yad Shomroni atik min hameah ha 11)
A brief note on one of the above  resources, namely - the von Gall critical edition of the Samaritan Pentateuch:

Even though up to this day it is still the only comprehensive and complete critical editions of the Samaritan Pentateuch available, some scholars believe it to be outdated and inaccurate. Even though I personally do not agree with such opinions, I would like to present one by Emanuel Tov, from his book "Textual Criticizm of the Hebrew Bible" (this is from p.84): 
"The edition of von Gall reflects all then known; thus, it does not include the important Abisha' scroll which was published later. The Edition is detailed and accurate, but the main text is often adapted to M: i.e., from the variety of the readings of the Samaritan manuscripts the editor often chose that particular reading which was identical with M. The editor also declared that he preferred defective to plene readings. Thus in Gen 2:11 he chose the reading hsbb(=M) as against hswbb, the majority reading of the Samaritan manuscripts.
I hope you will find this information useful. I will try to updated this page with new (if any) resources of the Samaritan Pentateuch become available online.

Last, but not least, here is a nice image of the page from the Samaritan Torah (Samaritan MS dated 1211CE from Rylands Collection):

Friday, September 16, 2011

Three Spanish Pentateuchs (Full Digitized Manuscripts)

National Library of Israel also has three digitized Pentateuchs from Spain:
  1. Pentateuch with Vocalization, Accents, Masorah Magna and Masorah Parva. Manuscript. Eretz Israel, 10th century. Parchment. 270 folios. 432x385 mm. Three columns. Written in a fine, large bold, Oriental square script, fully vocalized and with accents. A very exact, beautiful manuscript, almost complete. One of a very small group of early manuscripts of the Pentateuch of very great importance for the research of the Masorah. Purchased in 1914 by David S. Sassoon from the notables of the Jewish community in Damascus and hence nicknamed as "the Damascus Keter" (the "crown" of Damascus). D.S. Sassoon, in his Ohel David catalogue, describes the manuscript as being written in a 9th century "Babylonian [i.e. Iraqi] hand"; scholars of the Hebrew University disagree with this assumption and consider it to be of Palestinian origin and written in the 10th century. The manuscript was purchased from the Sassoon collection in 1975.
  2. "Damascus Keter". Bible with Vocalization, Accents, Masorah Magna and Masorah Parva. Manuscript. Burgos, Spain, 1260. Parchment. 428 folios. 305x270 mm. Sefardi square script. Three columns per page (Proverbs, Job and Psalms in two columns) Colophon (426v): "I, Menahem, son of Abraham ibn Malek ... wrote these twenty four [books] for ... Isaac, son of ... Abraham ... Haddad, and completed them on Monday, the 17th day of the month of Adar in the year 5020 in Burgos ... . The Masorah Magna is written on each page in delicate micrographic ornamentations. The text of the Masorah at the opening and closing sections of the volume, as well as at the pages between the three divisions of the Bible (Pentateuch, Prophets and Hagiographa) are also written in micrography in the form of colored "carpet" pages, the contours of which for a combination of floral motifs and geometric forms. The books of the Pentateuch and the Prophets are arranged in the conventional order which was adopted by later printed editions. The Hagiographa deviates from the conventional order, and from that given in the Tractate Bava Bathra (14b), and its arrangement is: Chronicles, Ruth, Psalms, Job, Proverbs, The Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes, Lamentations, Esther, Daniel, Ezra and Nehemiah.
    The beginnings of sedaqrim [portions] and parashiyyot are ornamented in gold and other colors, some of them serving as illustrations of the text.
    At an unknown date the manuscript reached Damascus, which explains its appellations "The Damascus Keter" (it was customary in the East to call an ornate codex of the Bible a "Keter" [Crown]". There it was kept in the synagogue of Hushbasha Al'anabi, where it was viewed by Alexander E. Harkavy in 1886 and by Avinoam Yellin in 1919. According to Yellin's report, the manuscript contained 429 leaves. And indeed, one 'carpet' leaf originally from the end of the manuscript was auctioned in 198t at Sotheby's in London, and is now in the Museo Sefaradi of Toledo.
    The manuscript, without that single leaf, was auctioned at Sotheby's in 1962 and in that year was acquired for the Library through the generosity of the America-Israel Cultural Fund and Mr. N.Z. Williams of Jerusalem.
  3. Bible with Vocalization and Accents, Spain, 1341 Manuscript on parchment. Saragossa, Spain, 1341. 3 volumes. 204, 206, 53 fols. 215x155 mm. Sefardi square script. 2 columns per page. In the margins, the place usually assigned to the Masorah, the scribe copied David Kimchi's Sefer ha-shorashim ('The Book of Roots') letters alef to mem, in micrography which forms the contours for ornamental geometric motifs. The continuation of this work was written on full pages at the end of the Bible, now bound as a separate third volume. (In the past, all three present volumes formed one volume).  Colophon (vol. 2, 206v): "Completed ... in the month of Shevat, in the year 5101 ... in the city of Saragossa; I copied it for myself, Ezra ben Moses ... ben Eleazar... The manuscript is richly ornamented. Most of the initial words of the books are in gold and other colors on a background of ornamental filigree outlines in purple and red. There is an ornamental red frame at the end of each book, including the number of its verses. The colophon is written in red, blue and silver within a double arched gothic frame surmounted by rosettes. Order of the Latter Prophets: Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, Minor Prophets. Order of the Hagiographa: Rith, Psalms, Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Lamentations, Daniel, Esther, Ezra, Nehemiah, Chronicles (as set down in Tracta Bava Bathra 14b). From the Estate of the late Dr. Yeshua Shami, donated by his daughters Miriam Kotev, Jerusalem and Susan Rosil, San Francisco, 1946.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Dissertation upon the Sacred Cubit of the Jews

Jewish National and University Library of Israel has an interesting document from the collection of works of Isaac Newton, called "De magnitudine cubiti sacri" (aka "A Dissertation upon the Sacred Cubit of the Jews").

The work itself is pretty much useless and outdated by today's standards, but it is still interesting to check it out, as well as to see the similarities in the conclusions to which Newton had arrived (which are similar to those of modern scholars).

Here are a few excerpts and an illustration: 
"The Cubits of the Eastern Nations, with which the Jews were surrounded, being determined in this manner, we may from hence form a conjecture concerning the magnitude of the Jewish Cubit. The vulgar Jewish Cubit ought not to be greater than them all, nor the sacred Cubit less than them all. The opinion of Villalpandus and others therefore is to be rejected, who represent the vulgar Cubit as equal to two Roman Feet and an half; and I think them likewise mistaken, who make the sacred Cubit and Attic Cubit equal. That the sacred Cubit was very large, appears from the Jewish Calamus or Reed, which contained but six of these Cubits; and from the antiquity of this Cubit, since Noah measured the Ark with it. However, it is not to be magnified in such a manner, that the vulgar Cubit (which in the time of Moses was called the Cubit of a man, Deut. 3:11) should much exceed the Cubit of a tall man."

"Some compute the Cubit from Solomon's brazen sea. Lest any objection should be raised from thence, I shall briefly remark, that the bottom of that sea ought not to be represented spherical, as it generally is, but flat, in such a manner that all the water might run out for the use of the priests, and the vessel might stand commodiously upon the backs of the oxen, and the oxen not hinder the priests from coming to the cocks. However I would not represent it under a cylindrical figure. The following one will be more beautiful. Let the line AB, of ten Cubits, be bisected in C; and taking upon it AD, EB, of a Cubit each, erect the perpendiculars DF, CG, EH, each of them of five Cubits, and with the semiaxes AD, DF, and BE, EH, describe the quadrants of the ellipses AF, BH, and drawing the right line FH, the figure AFGHB convolved round the axis CG, will describe the external superficies of the vessel, whose cavity, if it be an hand-breadth thick, will contain about thousand baths, supposing that a bath was equal to twelve Roman Congii (as Agricola and others maintain) and that seven Congii and an half will fill a Cubic Roman Foot, as Mr. Greaves found by the Farnesian Congius. It is said likewise, that this sea contained three thousand baths; whence some affirm, that there were two kinds of baths. Others understand a dry measure, whose Cumulus equaled half the contents; others suspect a various reading; others imagine, that the sea contained two thousand baths for daily use, but, when full, could receive three thousand baths. I shall not attempt to determine the dispute."

"This is what I thought proper to lay down at present with regard to the magnitude of this Cubit. Hereafter perhaps those, who shall view the sacred mount, and the monuments of the Chaldeans, by taking accurately the various dimensions of the stones, bricks, foundations, and walls, and comparing them together, will discover something more certain and exact."

The JNUL main web site address for this manuscript located at this link.
The transcribed documents for the entire work located at this link.
And the full English transcription of the text of this part of Newton work is located here.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Consistency of Translation and Textual Alignment of the Tabernacle Accounts

Here are two interesting articles that go into some detail about many verses of Tabernacle description. Please note that even though not absolutely authoritative, these articles do indeed provide some interesting insights (as well as some comparative analysis) of the Masoretic and other textual sources (such as Samaritan Pentateuch, Septuagint, e.t.c.). Nothing that you have not read on this blog, but nevetherless...

The first article is called "The Textual Alignment of the Tabernacle Sections of 4Q365 (Fragments 8a-b, 9a-b i, 9b ii, 12a i, 12b iii)" by Angela Kim Harkins.

Here is a short excerpt:
"The tabernacle material is preserved in three literary versions, LXX, MT, and SP. The tabernacle fragments from 4Q365 align themselves to MT more closely than to any other version. 4Q365 has been characterized as exhibiting "frequent exegetical omissions, additions, and transpositions,"(41) and this basic assessment continues to be held in the current scholarly discussion of the texts(42).While it is true that the Tabernacle material of 4Q365 contains frequent pluses, minuses and transpositions, the analysis in Part I of this paper shows that these variants are generated by unintentional scribal errors or other intentional changes that result from the normal process of textual transmission. There are neither signs of a reworking of the text nor indications of sectarian influence, Pharisaic or Qumranic, in these intentional change to the text. The above analysis of the tabernacle sections of 4Q365 does not support the suggestion made by the editors of DJD XIII that this scroll aligns itself more closely with SP and more recent studies on 4Q365 support the conclusions found in this study. According to our analysis of the fragments of 4Q365, the scroll follows the MT more consistently than the SP. It seems possible that the Tabernacle material of 4Q365, like the Tabernacle material of MT, is a recession of the Hebrew Voltage of the LXX and should not be aligned with SP."
You can read and download full article at this link.

The second article (although it is rather a full book) is called "Consistency of Translation Techniques in the Tabernacle Accounts of Exodus in the Old Greek" by Martha Lynn Wade.

Here is a short excerpt: 
"The tabernacle accounts of "G" Exodus represent one of the most difficult text critical problems in the Pentateuch. This problem was recognized at the beginning of text critical work and in modern times a variety of solutions have been proposed that involve differing views of the development of the text and differing views of the number of translators involved in the production of the Ì translation. In this book a multifaceted approach was used to establish a clearer picture of the nature of the translation. Because of our lack of knowledge of the translator’s culture, no definitive conclusion can be reached about this text critical problem. The cumulative effect of minute differences between the two tabernacle accounts, however, points to the likelihood that the second tabernacle account was produced by a second translator using the translation of the first tabernacle account as a point of reference."
You can read and download full book at this link.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible

I wanted to direct your attention to the Prof. Emanuel Tov web site. It seems that he updated his page and now it has some of the very useful resources.

Among them is his collection of over 50 articles (available for free download) that constitute a very interesting read. And even though these articles do not relate directly to the Tabernacle, they still do provide some interesting insights on some of the verses of the books of Exodus and Numbers.

Other benefit of reading these articles, is that Prof. Tov. is working on the DSS (Dead Sea Scrolls), thus they provide some very interesting critical and comparative information.

Also, he is the author of the book called "Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible", which is not only an exceptionally well written, but also contains very extensive section on some of the verses related to the Tabernacle that are easy to understand even for an unprepared reader.

In fact, this book is almost completely available via Google Books for search and reading (click on the link above).

I hope that you will find this information interesting.

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