Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Late parshat Shelach: the names of the spies in the parsha; theophoric, but which deity?

Yes, I know it is parshat Korach, but I did not get a chance to post this last week.

I was looking through the list of the spies and I noticed something interesting. Bemidbar 13:4-6:
ד וְאֵלֶּה, שְׁמוֹתָם: לְמַטֵּה רְאוּבֵן, שַׁמּוּעַ בֶּן-זַכּוּר. 4 And these were their names: of the tribe of Reuben, Shammua the son of Zaccur.
ה לְמַטֵּה שִׁמְעוֹן, שָׁפָט בֶּן-חוֹרִי. 5 Of the tribe of Simeon, Shaphat the son of Hori.
ו לְמַטֵּה יְהוּדָה, כָּלֵב בֶּן-יְפֻנֶּה. 6 Of the tribe of Judah, Caleb the son of Jephunneh.
ז לְמַטֵּה יִשָּׂשכָר, יִגְאָל בֶּן-יוֹסֵף. 7 Of the tribe of Issachar, Igal the son of Joseph.
ח לְמַטֵּה אֶפְרָיִם, הוֹשֵׁעַ בִּן-נוּן. 8 Of the tribe of Ephraim, Hoshea the son of Nun.
ט לְמַטֵּה בִנְיָמִן, פַּלְטִי בֶּן-רָפוּא. 9 Of the tribe of Benjamin, Palti the son of Raphu.
י לְמַטֵּה זְבוּלֻן, גַּדִּיאֵל בֶּן-סוֹדִי. 10 Of the tribe of Zebulun, Gaddiel the son of Sodi.
יא לְמַטֵּה יוֹסֵף, לְמַטֵּה מְנַשֶּׁה--גַּדִּי, בֶּן-סוּסִי. 11 Of the tribe of Joseph, namely, of the tribe of Manasseh, Gaddi the son of Susi.
יב לְמַטֵּה דָן, עַמִּיאֵל בֶּן-גְּמַלִּי. 12 Of the tribe of Dan, Ammiel the son of Gemalli.
יג לְמַטֵּה אָשֵׁר, סְתוּר בֶּן-מִיכָאֵל. 13 Of the tribe of Asher, Sethur the son of Michael.
יד לְמַטֵּה נַפְתָּלִי, נַחְבִּי בֶּן-וָפְסִי. 14 Of the tribe of Naphtali, Nahbi the son of Vophsi.
טו לְמַטֵּה גָד, גְּאוּאֵל בֶּן-מָכִי. 15 Of the tribe of Gad, Geuel the son of Machi.
טז אֵלֶּה שְׁמוֹת הָאֲנָשִׁים, אֲשֶׁר-שָׁלַח מֹשֶׁה לָתוּר אֶת-הָאָרֶץ; וַיִּקְרָא מֹשֶׁה לְהוֹשֵׁעַ בִּן-נוּן, יְהוֹשֻׁעַ. 16 These are the names of the men that Moses sent to spy out the land. And Moses called Hoshea the son of Nun Joshua.
First off, we have שַׁמּוּעַ בֶּן-זַכּוּר. Zakkur is the shorthand of a theophoric name. Just as Shallum is short for Shelemyahu, 'Azzur is short for Azaryahu and Baruch is short for Berechyahu, Zakkur is short for Zecharyahu, or Zecharya.

This of course assumes the deity in question is Hashem. Other theophoric names are possible, simply inserting another deity's name in its place. As I noted in the past, shemi hashem lo nodati lahem is something that we see in these lists of names. Until Yehoshua, we do not see a theophoric name with yahu or yeho. Only el or shaddai in the names. And indeed we see in verse 16 that Moshe calls Hoshea Yehoshua. He seems to be the first with such a name. (Thus: ushmi Hashem lo nadati lahem - see my blogpost here.)

Indeed, some suggest that Moshe's name was Egyptian diety plus MSS, like Ra-MSeS, though see my posts addressing this.

I also pointed out (here) that Achi-Ra ben Einan seems to bear the Egyptian deity's name, and suggested lightly that this might be the basis for the Deuel/Reuel variance in the next of the nesiim's names - after witnessing the Exodus, he changed his name from Ra+El (Ra is Mighty/God) to Da+El (knowing God).

Zaccur is theophoric name, and perhaps the omission of the deity is deliberate. Similarly, perhaps Hoshea was also a theophoric name and Moshe changed it to include Hashem.

What about other theophoric names in the list? Are there any? Two look somewhat suspicious.
The first:
י לְמַטֵּה זְבוּלֻן, גַּדִּיאֵל בֶּן-סוֹדִי. 10 Of the tribe of Zebulun, Gaddiel the son of Sodi. יא לְמַטֵּה יוֹסֵף, לְמַטֵּה מְנַשֶּׁה--גַּדִּי, בֶּן-סוּסִי. 11 Of the tribe of Joseph, namely, of the tribe of Manasseh, Gaddi the son of Susi.
Thus, we have Gadi + El is pasuk 10, but just Gadi in pasuk 11.

The second:
יג לְמַטֵּה אָשֵׁר, סְתוּר בֶּן-מִיכָאֵל. 13 Of the tribe of Asher, Sethur the son of Michael.

טו לְמַטֵּה גָד, גְּאוּאֵל בֶּן-מָכִי. 15 Of the tribe of Gad, Geuel the son of Machi.
Thus, in 13 we have Micha + El, but just Machi in pasuk 15. And his son is Geu + El, as we would expect.

Perhaps once again we have deliberate omission of the theophoric element of the theophoric name where the deity was not Hashem.

Are there other names that fit this pattern in the list?

How about pasuk 12:
למַטֵּה דָן, עַמִּיאֵל בֶּן-גְּמַלִּי
Ami + El is the son of Gamli, instead of the name we all know and love, Gamli + El.

There are a few which end in "i," and just perhaps might do with a deity appended.

If so, my light suggestion about Reuel vs. Deuel might have more basis than I initially thought.

3 comments:

Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

>Until Yehoshua, we do not see a theophoric name with yahu or yeho.

Yochebed might be such a name.

josh waxman said...

good point. yosef also, perhaps if we take Tehillim (edut beyehosef...). though ambiguity exists there -- subject of another post, perhaps.

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Wow, i was thinking about this... all those names that look like theophoric names with the deity chopped off. I think it definitely makes sense that there could have been an Egyptian deity there who was then removed.

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