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Corrections in Ancient Translations of the Bible Concerning Jacob and his Family / תיקוני לשון במקרא ובתרגומיו הקדומים

א. י. ברור and A. J. Brawer
Beit Mikra: Journal for the Study of the Bible and Its World / בית מקרא: כתב-עת לחקר המקרא ועולמו
כרך כ‎, חוברת א (ס‎) (תשרי-כסלו תשל"ה), pp. 129-141
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23503318
Page Count: 13
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Corrections in Ancient Translations of the Bible Concerning Jacob and his Family / תיקוני לשון במקרא ובתרגומיו הקדומים
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Abstract

Jacob, the favorite among the patriarchs, appears without imperfections in rabbinic thought, and accordingly, the Aramaic translators try to remove any blemish that might be attached to him or to his children. The word מרמה is usually translated falsehood — שקרא — but when the word appears in the story of Jacob (Genesis 27 : 35 and 34 : 13) it is translated as subtlety — חכמתא, as in Joshua 9 : 4 with reference to the Gibeonites — בערמה. In all the translations, Leah's "weak eyes" ("tearful") is translated nice eyes (Genesis 29 : 17). The word שנואה in 29 : 31 is softened by the Targum Yonatan to read unloved — רחימתא באנפי יעקב. The nuance of "exploitation" is removed in the translation of the verse: כי כל העושר אשר הציל אלהים מאבינו (Genesis 31 : 16). Targum Yonatan: drained — דריהן, like in the translation of the verse וינצלו את מצרים; Targum Onkelos: set aside — אפריש. In Rachel's theft of her father's idols (Genesis 31 : 19), Onkelos translates ותגנוב : hid — וכסיאת. On the verse: וילך ראובן וישכב את בלהה פלגש אביו (Genesis 35 : 22), Targum Yonatan: ואזל ראובן ובלבל את מצעא פלקתיה דאבוי... ואתחשיב עליו כאלו שמש עמה, in line with the Agadic statement on Genesis 49 : 4 that Reuben strove for the honor of his mother Leah in bringing her closer to Jacob. On the verse ויהי היום ויבא (יוסף) הביתה לעשות מלאכתו (Genesis 39 : 11), both Yonatan and Onkelos set aside any implication of evil thought on the part of Joseph; Onkelos: למבדק בכתבי חשבנה; Yonatan: למיבחוש בפנקסי חושבניה. In prison Joseph rose to the position of overseer of the inmates (Genesis 39 : 22), but both translations make the point that Joseph had no physical labor to perform in supervising them. On the verse: "When he (Issacher) saw how good was security and how pleasent was the country, he bent his shoulder to the burden and became a toiling serf" (Genesis 49 : 15), Onkelos turns the literal sense around and states: Issacher was rich in possessions (יששכר חמור גרם)... and when he conquered the territories of the nations, he forced some dwellers to leave while the remainder became his toiling serfs. Yonatan glorifies Issacher more excessively by interpreting the verse to mean that he dedicated himself completely to the study of Torah while his brother Zevulun, the merchant, supported him. The Agada emphasizes this interpretation, leaning on the verse: "And of the children of Issachar, men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do... and all their brethen were at their commandment" (I Chronicles 12 : 33).

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