Deuteronomy 33:21

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The meaning of the word sāfûn in Deuteronomy 33:21 has defied scholars for millennia. The ancient versions and rabbinic interpretations, which typically point to an understanding "hidden, buried," reflect more eisegesis than any real awareness of the word's actual meaning. The LXX reading "gathered together" has suggested to scholars that the two-word string present in M T, namely, originally appeared in reverse order and as one word, that is, as "and they gathered together." This form, however, would be unique in the Bible, since paragogic nun appears rarely with wayyiqtol verbs, very rarely with T-stem verbs, and never in any such combination (that is, a T-stem wayyiqtol form). Moreover, the Deuteronomy scroll discovered at Masada corresponds exactly to M T, reading the phrase as. The best solution is to follow the great Swiss scholar Jean Le Clerc (1657-1736), who rendered as cohonestatus "honored." Le Clerc was followed by Moses Mendelssohn (1729-86), with the gloss, that is, "verehrt," and by Johann August Dathe (1731-91), with the gloss dignitate "worthy." This connotation of is known from tannaitic Hebrew and finds its way into three modern translations: the JPS Tanakh, La Bible en français courant, and the Nieuwe Bijbelvertaling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-42
Number of pages26
JournalHebrew Union College Annual
StatePublished - 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Religious studies


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