Monday, February 28, 2011

Lo Tevaaru vs. Lo Taviru Esh

Summary: I'm almost certain the Samaritans changed it. The question is, why?

Post: Here is how our parasha, of Vayakhel, leads off:

3. You shall not kindle fire in any of your dwelling places on the Sabbath day."ג. לֹא תְבַעֲרוּ אֵשׁ בְּכֹל מֹשְׁבֹתֵיכֶם בְּיוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת:

We correctly understand this to mean to start a fire, that is to kindle one. The Tzedukim, Samaritans and Karaites took this to mean burn, with the sense that there may not be any flame in one's house. This leads to dark rooms and cold food.

I was somewhat surprised to see the following emendation in the Samaritan Pentateuch:

Note that they replace the word תבערו in our Masoretic text with the word תבעירו. What is the difference? Perhaps there is no difference, and they are just replacing it with the more common current word. But the grammatical different would appear to be that teva'aru is the kal, while tav'iru is the hiphil. (I think.) This is then the difference between בָּעַר, to burn, and הִבְעִיר, to light or to kindle. While I would assert that the plain old kal can also mean to kindle, once one makes a conscious effort to emend, one is making a statement.

And if so, wouldn't this go against the point they are trying to make? By saying that kindling is forbidden, isn't the implication that keeping burning is not? I think that one could answer that they are saying the opposite. Tav'iru is the causative. Thus, you should not cause fire to be burning in all your dwelling places on the Shabbat day. How would one cause them to be burning? By kindling, even before the Shabbat day arrives.

(The reason they would emend is to make explicit any interpretation they have, so that it is in the Torah Shebichsav rather than the Torah SheBaal Peh.)


Tamir said...

Maybe they see Teva'aru as destruction by livestock( like in Shemot 22:4), and Tav'iru a more correct word for using fire( Shemot 22:5).

Tamir said...

But the grammatical different would appear to be that teva'aru is the kal, while tav'iru is the hiphil. (I think.)

Actually, if I'm not mistaken, Teva'aru is in Binyan Pi'el. In Binyan Qal it would be Tiv'aru( and in Nif'al: Tiba'aru)

joshwaxman said...

oops! i think you are correct in that. thanks!

still, one would be the intensive and the other the causative, right?

Tamir said...

joshwaxman: still, one would be the intensive and the other the causative, right?

Maybe, if you say both forms refer to the same action( burning by fire).

Although the hif'il form is used for burning by fire exclusively(?), the Pi'el form is also used for other forms of destruction( like, leHalakhah, in Bi'ur Chames).

In( non-religious) school, I remember* being taught, that in Biblical Hebrew( as opposed to common usage today) the Pi'el form referred exclusively to destruction by livestock( like, as I mentioned in my first comment, in Shemot 22:4).

If so, it could be that the Samaritan redactor saw what looked like a grammatical error of using the incorrect form for 'burning by fire', and corrected it to "Lo Tav'iru Esh".

Even if we take a wider understanding of the Pi'el form( like used with regards to Bi'ur Chames), the Samaritan redactor could have feared people could read "Lo Teva'aru Esh" as "do not destroy( i.e. extinguish) fire", which would allow kindling fire and letting it burn, and set out to correct it with a more restricted form( Tav'iru), which refers only to burning by fire.

* This was more than 15 years ago, and my memory of what exactly was taught may be faulty.

Aleksandr Sigalov said...

Hi Josh,

Like your blog. Thanks.

I wanted to share with you my article on Shabbat where I talk extensively about Shemot 35:3.

Also, as far as I understand the trick is in the form of the verb "baer". I checked and the only place where it is used in INTENSIVE form (piel) is Shemot 35:3. I did not find any Pual either anywhere in Tanakh.

So it means that in Shemot 35:3 we should read "baer" as eradicate - an intensive form of "burn"

What do you think?

Aleksandr Sigalov said...

So here is the analysis of the verb "baer" in the Torah...

1 Exodus 3:2 בֹּעֵר burn qal
2 Exodus 3:3 יִבְעַר He is being burned qal
3 Exodus 22:5(4) יַבְעֶר he is causing to graze down hiphil
4 Exodus 22:5(4) וּבִעֵר And he eradicates piel
5 Exodus 22:6(5) הַמַּבְעִר the one causing to graze down hiphil
6 Exodus 22:6(5) הַבְּעֵרָה the burning noun
7 Exodus 35:3 תְבַעֲרוּ you shall eradicate piel
8 Leviticus 6:12(5) וּבִעֵר And he eradicates piel
9 Numbers 11:1 וַתִּבְעַר and she is burning qal
10 Numbers 11:3 בָעֲרָה she burned qal
11 Numbers 24:22 לְבָעֵר to to be eradicated piel
12 Deuteronomy 4:1 בֹּעֵר burning qal
13 Deuteronomy 5:23 בֹּעֵר burning qal
14 Deuteronomy 9:15 בֹּעֵר burning qal
15 Deuteronomy 13:5(6) וּבִעַרְתָּ and you eradicate piel
16 Deuteronomy 17:7 וּבִעַרְתָּ and you eradicate piel
17 Deuteronomy 17:12 וּבִעַרְתָּ and you eradicate piel
18 Deuteronomy 19:13 וּבִעַרְתָּ and you eradicate piel
19 Deuteronomy 19:19 וּבִעַרְתָּ and you eradicate piel
20 Deuteronomy 21:9 תְּבַעֵר you shall eradicate piel
21 Deuteronomy 21:21 וּבִעַרְתָּ and you eradicate piel
22 Deuteronomy 22:21 וּבִעַרְתָּ and you eradicate piel
23 Deuteronomy 22:22 וּבִעַרְתָּ and you eradicate piel
24 Deuteronomy 22:24 וּבִעַרְתָּ and you eradicate piel
25 Deuteronomy 24:7 וּבִעַרְתָּ and you eradicate piel
26 Deuteronomy 26:13 בִּעַרְתִּי I eradicated piel
27 Deuteronomy 26:14 בִעַרְתִּי I eradicated piel

As you can see, it seems that "qal" is the least intensive form and it means "burn". Hiphil (causative) would be more "intensive" (since we are causing something) so it would mean "consume"/"graze"/"eat". And the most intensive form of the verb - piel- would be "eradicate"/"destroy".

I checked the NaKh as well and it seem that my assumption is correct in 2/3 of the cases. It seems that only in the Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel there are inconsistencies...

But once again, NaKh was not written by God. It is not Torah. So do not think that we can use NaKh as a reference point for understanding the Torah.

Btw, here is the link to my article about Shabbat:


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