Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Suggested Blessing for Shem (A neat emendation)

The great ParshaBlog suggests a very interesting emendation that no one religious should see or know about. His kfiradika post is here. My summary follows:

After Noach realizes what his sons did to him, he makes a pronouncement that some have interpreted as a blessing (Notably SRH reads it not as a blessing, but a a statement of fact about the individuals themselves)  The passage reads as follows:

וַיֹּאמֶר, אָרוּר כְּנָעַן עֶבֶד עֲבָדִים, יִהְיֶה לְאֶחָיו. :25 And he said: Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.
כו וַיֹּאמֶר, בָּרוּךְ ה אֱלֹהֵי שֵׁם; וִיהִי כְנַעַן, עֶבֶד לָמוֹ.26 And he said: Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem; and let Canaan be their servant.
כז יַפְתְּ אֱלֹהִים לְיֶפֶת, וְיִשְׁכֹּן בְּאָהֳלֵי-שֵׁם; וִיהִי כְנַעַן, עֶבֶד לָמוֹ.27 God enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and let Canaan be their servant.
As you can see, no curse or blessing for Shem (verse 26) is pronounced, and no statement of fact is made about him. At Shem's turn, Noach blesses God instead, and oddly enough refers to YKVK as a Shem's personal deity. It's almost as if no one else in the family recognized Him. Strange, when you consider the flood, and the miracles the family had just experienced.

ParshaBlogs suggestion is that the word אֱלֹהֵי [=God of]  in verse 26 should be אָהֳלֵי [=tent of]. Along with solving all of the problems indicated in the preceding paragraph, this suggestion introduces a very sensible parallel: In verse 26 Noach asks God to bless Shem's tent; in verse 27 the tent of Shem, which has just been blessed,  is mentioned again as a place where Japeth might dwell.

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