Tuesday, November 20, 2007

האל בית אל

Here's a fun fact to know and tell about Targum Onkelus, Targum Yonatan and a superfluous letter ה

Genesis 31:13:
אנכי האל בית אל אשר משחת שם מצבה אשר נדרת לי שם נדר עתה קום צא מן הארץ הזאת ושוב אל ארץ מולדתך
I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar, where you made a vow to Me; now arise, leave this land, and return to the land of your birth.

Though it flows nicely in translation, האל בית אל is non-standard. Rashi, of course, manages to smooth it out, writing: The same as אל בית אל the letter ה being superfluous It is usual for Scripture to speak this way as in [another example of a superfluous ה].

Hmmm. So the ה is not needed here, but, per Rashi, it isn't unusual for the Torah to occasionally throw in an unnecessary ה. In other words: Move along, nothing to see here.

Both Targum Onkelus and Targum Yonatan deal differently with the problem. They translate the verse as: I am the God that appeared to you in Beth El. [Two extra words in Hebrew]

This is also the translation provided by a third, less famous Targum, the Targum Shivim [Scroll to 31:13]

....vhamaskil yidom?

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