Thursday, July 27, 2006

Greek in Targum Yonathan

In June someone posted the following question to the Avodah mail list:
In last week's parsha [Behaaloscho 11:26] Targum Yonoson has a lengthy
version on the Eldad uMeidad prophecies, including details of Achris
Hayomim and Milchemes Gog uMagog in EY [see also Targum Yerushalmi],
with the situation saved by Kiris.

Does anyone have any idea who Kiris is?
Either no one knew the answer or no one noticed the question, because it was only answered two days ago by Yisrael Dubitsky, who points out what I will mention after posting the relevent passage.

יונתן במדבר יא:כו הא סלוי סלקין מן ימא וחפיין כל משריתא דישראל ויהוי לעמא לתוקלא ברם תריהון כחדא מתנבין ואמרין הא מלכא סליק מן ארעא דמגוג בסופ יומיא ומכנש מלכין קטרי תגין ואפרכין לובשי שריונין וכל עממיא ישתמעון ליה ומסדרין קרבא בארעא דישראל על בני גלותא ברם קיריס איטימוס להון בשעת אניקין ומקטל כלהון ביקידת נשמתא בשלהובית אשתא מתחות כורסי יקרא ונפלין פגריהון על טווריא דארעא דישראל וייתון כל חיות ברא וציפרי שמיא וייכלון קושמיהון ומבתר כדין ייחון כל מתיא דישראל ויתפנקון מן טוורא דאצטנע להון מן שירויא ויקבלון אגר עובדיהון

The 1862 English translation of Targum Yonathan by John Wesley Etheridge renders this passage as follows:
Medad prophesied, and said: Behold, quails come up from the sea, and cover all the camp of Israel; but they will be to the people (a cause of) an offence. And both of them prophesied together, and said: Behold, a king will arise from the land of Magog, at the end of the days, and will assemble kings crowned with crowns, and captains wearing armour, and him will all nations obey. And they will set battle in array in the land of Israel against the children of the captivity; but already is it provided that in the hour of distresses all of them shall perish by the burning blast of the flame that cometh forth from beneath the Throne of Glory; and their carcases shall fall upon the mountains of the land of Israel, and the wild beasts of the field and the fowls of the sky shall come and consume their dead bodies. And afterward will all the dead of Israel live (again), and be feasted from the ox which hath been set apart for them from the beginning, and they shall receive the reward of their works.
This is in general a sufficient translation, however Etheridge missed the boat on our word kiris, kind of sort of skipping it (but not the word after it).

As Yisrael Dubitsky pointed out kiris, קיריס, is Greek. It is the word which is means lord and is used as the Greek equivalent of adonay in place of the tetragrammaton. If each letter was changed to English it would be kyrios, but it is actually spelled kurios in the Latin alphabet. Dubitsky cites five additional cases where Targum Yonathan uses קיריס (Teh. 53:1, 97:10, 114:7; Iy. 3:19, 5:2).

As for the second word etimos, איטימוס, it is obviously also Greek. Although my Greek is better than my Mandarin, its worse than my Aramaic. So while I strongly suspect that the spelling is incorrect it will have to do.

It means near or ready or present and is used in the Septuagint in place of the Hebrew נכון.

So the correct translation of קיריס איטימוס means something like "God is near" or "ready."

Of course the question why Targum Yonathan says God is near in Greek obviously follows.

I don't know. But to take a page from R. Saul Lieberman, "almost every foreign word in rabbinic literature are quotations." (S. Lieberman, Greek In Jewish Palestine, NY 1942, p.6.)

If so it is possible that the expression קיריס איטימוס was somehow meaningful in the time and place of the composition of Targum Yonathan. Your homework: tell me how and why. ;)

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts with Thumbnails