The Hebrew Café began this week a new interactive live stream reading event with the goal of helping Hebrew learners of all levels engage with the Masoretic Text of Joshua.
These notes will assist you in reviewing what we covered in the one-hour session in case you missed the livestream, are short on time, or need further clarification on anything mentioned during the session. The reading group is focused upon grammatical and syntactical issues in the Masoretic Text, thus this blog will also serve to provide suggestions for further reading.
The Bible most University and Seminary students use is the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (BHS), though there is an abundance of options. The BHS is based on Codex Leningradensis, though it is far from a perfect copy of this manuscript. Despite these small errors, the BHS offers the best apparatus of the textual witnesses. More substantial is the objection to the BHS for its reliance on the Leningrad Codex, since most Biblical Scholars agree on the superiority of the Aleppo Codex. The Miqraot Gedolot, published by Bar Ilan University Press, reproduces the text of this preeminent codex. (The Online version can be found here: https://www.mgketer.org.)
This codex was copied by Solomon Ben Buyaꜥa, and the eminent Masorete Aharon ben Asher provided the vowels, accentuation, and masoretic notes in tenth-century Tiberias.
The best introduction to the editions of the Hebrew Bible is:
Emanuel Tov, Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible. 3rd ed. Minneapolis: Fortress; Assen: van Gorcum, 2011.
Very helpful and also standard for the deeper issues is:
– Yosef Ofer, The Masora on Scripture and Its Methods, Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter, 2019. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110594560
– Israel Yeivin, Introduction to the Tiberian Masorah, translated and edited by E.J. Revell, Missoula, MT, 1986. And the updated version:
– Israel Yeivin, The Biblical Masorah (Hebrew), Jerusalem 2003.
Now to the text:
Joshua is reckoned to the former prophets and serves a fitting continuation of Deuteronomy.
V.1. The LXX (Septuagint) has for נוּן Ναυη (Nave). Morentz has pointed out that the translater(s) probably tried to avoid equating the father of Joshua with the Egyptian deity Nun and thus changed the name.
מְשָׁרֵ֥ת is a piel participle, here substantivized. We discussed whether this verb could be used in the cultic context, acc to Gesenius, it can be, but this meaning is not at all apparent here. (W. Gesenius, Hebräisches und Aramäisches Handwörterbuch über das Alte Testament, 18. Aufl. Berlin 2013).
V.2. נֹתֵ֥ן This participle, as pointed out by Jonathan, could have the function of immediacy, the so-called futurum instans. The translation would be something like “which I am about to give to them”. On this see Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar, §116d and p.
לָהֶ֖ם A qamatz is expected when the ל is attached to the following element immediately before the tone syllable. This is also the case with the infinitive like: לָלֶכֶת. See Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar, §102f-i.
V.4. מְב֣וֹא הַשָּׁ֑מֶשׁ The word מָבוֹא, from the root בו׳׳א utilizes the common pattern of substantivizing a verb: prefix מ. Others of this pattern are מָקוֹם and מָגוֹר. There is a distinction between מָבוֹא meaning the entrance or even alley and מְבוֹאָה, which denotes lobby or entrance hall, or in archaeological contexts an atrium.
הַשָּׁ֑מֶשׁ is the pausal form. On these forms see Fassberg, Steven E., “Pausal Forms”, in Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics, Edited by: Geoffrey Khan. Consulted online on 20 November 2023 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2212-4241_ehll_EHLL_COM_00000273>
וְֽעַד־הַנָּהָ֧ר הַגָּד֣וֹל The Gaꜥya (or Metheg as it is later called) on the first syllable signifies to the reader to read the vowel slower or lengthened. געי literally means “to low, to bellow” (see Sokoloff, DJPA, 124f.). The pronunciation of the shewa in the masoretic tradition was a short a (small patah) at the beginning of a word, but when marked with a Gaꜥya, it became a full patah. Before gutturals, different rules applied: it “was pronounced as a short vowel of the same quality as the vowel following the guttural, but when it was marked with a gaꜥya, it had the sound of a full vowel of that quality.” Yeivin, Introduction, §336. In our case then, the slowing of the reading resulted in a short a. For more on the Gaꜥya, we recommend reading Yeivin, Introduction, §311-357 or Yeivin, Masorah, §363-409.
V.5. עִמָּ֔ךְ Here it is important to notice the Zaqef qatan over the word which allows for the Pausal form.
אַרְפְּךָ֖ is from the root רפ׳׳י.
אֶעֶזְבֶֽךָּ The expected form is אֶעֱזֹב or אֶעֱזָב but some verbal forms with the suffix have the connector an (called Nun energicum) between the verb and the suffix. This short a becomes Seghol with the tone. Contrast with this Gen 28:15:
וְהִנֵּ֨ה אָנֹכִ֜י עִמָּ֗ךְ וּשְׁמַרְתִּ֙יךָ֙ בְּכֹ֣ל אֲשֶׁר־תֵּלֵ֔ךְ וַהֲשִׁ֣בֹתִ֔יךָ אֶל־הָאֲדָמָ֖ה הַזֹּ֑את כִּ֚י לֹ֣א אֶֽעֱזָבְךָ֔ עַ֚ד אֲשֶׁ֣ר אִם־עָשִׂ֔יתִי אֵ֥ת אֲשֶׁר־דִּבַּ֖רְתִּי לָֽךְ׃
Where the nun energicum is not present and the expected pointing is retained. Cf. Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar, §58i
V.6. חֲזַ֖ק וֶאֱמָ֑ץ. Both forms are imperatives. We would expect אֱמַץ but the form here is pausal.
As we progress through Joshua, we will undoubtedly address issues like the Masorah, the accents (or tropes according to some), and scholarly discussion on the grammar and syntax.
We invite everyone to join us in reading the Hebrew text of Joshua.