Fear

25 02 2011

Quite some time ago, I wrote a post about an interesting difference between the Masoretic Text (Genesis 42:1) and two of the Aramaic translations: Targum Pseudo-Jonathan and the Peshitta. What interested me about them was that they had both understood the word תתראו as תתיראו: “[you pl.] looking at one another”, vs. “[you pl.] are afraid”. It seemed to me, if not to others, that the Aramaic/Syriac version was superior to the version in the Hebrew, which never really satisfied me in context. Turns out that there’s another instance, very similar to that one!

Almost exactly one year ago, Dov Bear wrote a post about Exodus 32:5, in which he indicated his confusion over precisely what it was that Aaron is said to have seen. In this instance, Targum Pseudo-Jonathan keeps the same Hebrew verb as we find in the Masoretic Text (although he does add details that concern what Aaron saw), but the Peshitta, again, renders this as √דחל, “to fear”. In this instance, however, the anonymous translator would not have had a text that featured an additional letter, but was merely vocalising differently those letters that he had.

This all reminds me of the fact that I really should read more of the Peshitta. I wonder how often it renders “look” as “fear”? The root √ראה turns up almost four hundred times in the Torah alone, and as I don’t have the Peshitta on my copy of Accordance, I expect that this experiment might take more time than I am prepared to commit. Until I update my hopelessly outdated software, I wonder if anybody in possession of a newer version would like to take a stab at this? Does the anonymous translator of the Peshitta specifically have a thing for the horror genre?

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