Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Psalm 68 Criticism

While learning Shabbat 88b this past Shabbos, my hhevrutha & I came across something puzzling: two different texts for Psalm 68:13. The Gemara reads and explicates the verse as if it referred to "מלאכי צבאות", angels in charge of hosts, while the text in the printed Bibles uniformly reads "מלכי צבאות", kings in charge of hosts. The early translations (Targum, LXX) agree with our text, reading "מלכותא" and "Βασιλεύς" respectively. The Rishonim (early medieval commentators) on the page (Rashi, Ibn Ezra, Metzudot) don't see anything to explain. But the BHS notes, while printing מלכי, that multiple manuscripts read מלאכי.

Why this discrepancy? We don't see language in the Talmud reflecting a conscious choice to misread the word, as we often see (do not read banayich, your sons, but bonayich, your builders) for hermeneutic effect.

Do later commentators deal with this discrepancy?


Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

I've never heard of this example, but as you point out the Gm' doesn't seem to be misreading it for homiletical purposes. If different mss indeed read מלאכי then we can assume that this is a real variant.

So either our MT version (and the LXX) is a haplography or the Gm' and other mss with the א was the mistake. Given the agreement between the LXX and our MT I would guess מלכי to be more likely. On the other hand, it seem like מלאכי fits better with the peshat in the kapitel.

joshwaxman said...

in the masoret haShas, it states beKra ketiv malchei veAyein ma shekatav haPaneiach Raza parashat Yitro.

interesting also that there is an al tikra on that pasuk, though on the next word. perhaps the al tikra extends past the quoted text?

very interesting stuff.