Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Vayigash I: Philology

אל תרגזו - אל תיראו כלום בדרך מפני ליסטים, כי שלום לי מכל צד. וכן רגזו [ו]אל תחטאו, היו יראים מן הק' ולא תחטאו. וכן ונתן י"י לך לב רגז, דחיל כתרג'. וכן ירגזון יריעות, לשון ניענוע כאדם המתיירא. וכן רגזה בוטחות, המרגיז ארץ ממקומה. אבל רגזה של תרגום של דניאל ושל עזרא לשון כעס. טרנבלר לעז של רוגז של כ"ד ספרים:

Here in Bereishit 45:24 we have a fascinating sensitivity to different kinds of Semitic roots: Hebrew and Aramaic. Rashbam notes that the root רגז in the “24 books”—which refers to Torah and Nevi’im (5 books of the Torah, Yehoshua, Shofetim, Shmuel, Melakhim, Yeshayahu, Yirmiyahu, Yehezkel and the 12 smaller prophetic books)—is different from the same root used in the Aramaic portions of Daniel and Ezra in Ketuvim. The Hebrew root used in the first 24 books of the Bible means “fear and trembling”, whereas the same root used in Daniel 3:13 and Ezra 5:12 means anger. Rashbam is here shadowboxing with R. Elazar on Bavli Ta’anit 10b, who explains that Yosef was warning his brothers not to engage in halakhic discussions on their way back from Egypt, lest they fight with one another. In keeping with his goal of not losing sight of the plain sense of the text, Rashbam reminds us that as a matter of peshat, such a reading is philologically unsound. The best way to read the text in context is as an assurance from Yosef that Egypt controls all the travel routes back to C’na’an and thus they should not fear that any harm will come to them during the journey.


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