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KALEV BEN YEFUNNE HAKENIZZI / כלב בן-יפנה הקנזי

ישראל בן-שם and Yisrael Ben-Shem
Beit Mikra: Journal for the Study of the Bible and Its World / בית מקרא: כתב-עת לחקר המקרא ועולמו
כרך יז‎, חוברת ד (נא‎) (תמוז-אלול תשל"ב), pp. 498-500
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23502958
Page Count: 3
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KALEV BEN YEFUNNE HAKENIZZI / כלב בן-יפנה הקנזי
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Abstract

For the word Hakenizzi in the verse Numbers 32 : 12, "Kalev ben Yefunne Hakenizzi", the Septuagint substitutes a different word altogether, δ σıακεχωςıδηένος the meaning of which is: "who was different". (In the spirit of the account, we might reasonably consider the intent to be positive). The word kenaz appears 15 times in Scriptures. In 14 of them there is no change κενεςτϊος, κένδς, κενές, κενεςέος; only in our verse here is there a change. It is logical to assume that it came about as a result of the event that is related in this chapter. For reasons of their own the tribes of Gad and Reuven appear before Moses and request permission not to be brought over into Canaan but to settle in Trans-Jordan. Moses regards their request as a disguised withdrawal from participation in the conquest of Cis-Jordan and expresses his fear that this would have a bad influence upon the entire people. As proof he adduces the incident of the spies who "turned away the heart of the children of Israel that they should not go into the land" (ibid., 9), and concludes that the worthy ones, the exceptions among them were "Kalev, the son of Yefunne the Kenizzite and Joshua, the son of Nun" (our verse). In other words, in that shameful situation when the entire people of Israel refrained from going up to battle and beginning the conquest of the land, only those two men of stature were different. They were Kalev ben Yefunne and Yehoshua bin-Nun, and of the two, the first stands out, while the image of Joshua in this chapter is quite pale. That good Jew in Egypt, the translator of the Bible into Greek, could not present a picture like this to the world at large. The difficulty in this instance inhered in the fact that Kalev was apparently of proselyte origin, "the Kenizzite", and his exemplary fortitude not only did not diminish the image of cowardice and faint-heartedness of Klal Yisrael but even made it more conspicuous. Therefore, in order to save the honour of his people, he took the liberty of changing one word in the text, by overlooking the origin of Kalev, but instead giving him a mark of distinction by making him out as a man who swims against the current in his unique way. In this way everything settles into its proper place. There is, thus, no instance here of a different version, an error or the like, but an apologetic application of the translator, deliberately exercised for the sake of Israel's honour.

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