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Zev Farber

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How Many Trumpet Blasts to Travel? MT+SP=LXX

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Zev Farber

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How Many Trumpet Blasts to Travel? MT+SP=LXX

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How Many Trumpet Blasts to Travel? MT+SP=LXX

YHWH instructs Moses to sound a teruah blast to get the eastern camp to travel, and a second for the southern camp. What about the western and northern camps? The answer can be found by comparing the Masoretic Text, the Samaritan Pentateuch, and the Septuagint: It was a parablepsis.

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How Many Trumpet Blasts to Travel? MT+SP=LXX

15th c. miniature of Jean Miélot compiling Miracles of Our Lady. Jean Le Tavernier, Bibliothèque nationale de France. Wikimedia

As Israel is about to travel away from Mount Sinai, YHWH instructs Moses to have a set of trumpets made, which Moses will then use to call the Israelites to assemble or travel:

במדבר י:א וַיְדַבֵּר יְ־הוָה אֶל מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר. י:ב עֲשֵׂה לְךָ שְׁתֵּי חֲצוֹצְרֹת כֶּסֶף מִקְשָׁה תַּעֲשֶׂה אֹתָם וְהָיוּ לְךָ לְמִקְרָא הָעֵדָה וּלְמַסַּע אֶת הַמַּחֲנוֹת.
Num 10:1 YHWH spoke to Moses, saying: 10:2 Have two silver trumpets made; make them of hammered work. They shall serve you to summon the community and to set the divisions in motion.

First, YHWH establishes different trumpet signals for summoning either all the people or just the leaders:

במדבר י:ג וְתָקְעוּ בָּהֵן וְנוֹעֲדוּ אֵלֶיךָ כָּל הָעֵדָה אֶל פֶּתַח אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד. י:ד וְאִם בְּאַחַת יִתְקָעוּ וְנוֹעֲדוּ אֵלֶיךָ הַנְּשִׂיאִים רָאשֵׁי אַלְפֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל.
Num 10:3 When both are blown in long blasts, the whole community shall assemble before you at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting; 10:4 and if only one is blown, the chieftains, heads of Israel’s contingents, shall assemble before you.

Next, YHWH explains that when it is time to move the camp, the priests are to blow short blasts:

במדבר י:ה וּתְקַעְתֶּם תְּרוּעָה וְנָסְעוּ הַמַּחֲנוֹת הַחֹנִים קֵדְמָה. י:ו וּתְקַעְתֶּם תְּרוּעָה שֵׁנִית וְנָסְעוּ הַמַּחֲנוֹת הַחֹנִים תֵּימָנָה...
Num 10:5 When you sound short blasts,[1] the divisions encamped on the east shall move forward; 10:6 and when you sound short blasts a second time, those encamped on the south shall move forward….

The point, as the text clarifies, is that tekiot (long blasts) are for calling the assembly, but teruot (short blasts) are for moving the camp:

במדבר י:ו ...תְּרוּעָה יִתְקְעוּ לְמַסְעֵיהֶם. י:ז וּבְהַקְהִיל אֶת הַקָּהָל תִּתְקְעוּ וְלֹא תָרִיעוּ.
Num 10:6 …Thus teruah blasts shall be blown for setting them in motion, 10:7 while to convoke the congregation you shall blow long blasts, not short ones.[2]

Earlier in Numbers (ch. 2), the camp was organized into four sections—east, south, west, and north—each with three tribes encamped there. YHWH here establishes that after the first short blast, the eastern camp will move, and after the next short blast, the southern camp will move. Yet this leaves a lacuna: YHWH says nothing about blasts to announce the moving of the western and northern camps.

1. The Other Two Blasts Are a Given

R. Moses Nahmanides (ca. 1195–ca. 1270) argues that blowing for the western and northern camps is implied in the summary statement at the end of v. 6:

ואמר: תרועה יתקעו למסעיהם – שיתקעו כן לכל מסעיהם, לומר שיתקעו תרועה שלישית למסע המחנות החונים ימה, ורביעית למסע החונים צפונה. כי לכל דגל מסע בפני עצמו כאשר יפרש.
It says: “teruah blasts shall be blown for setting them in motion”—they shall blow this way for the travels of all, meaning to say, that they shall blow a third teruah for the travels of those encamped in the western camp and a fourth [teruah] for the travels of those encamped in the northern camp. For each degel (unit or banner) had its own travels, as well be laid out [in the latter half of the chapter].

Nahmanides notes that in the Baraita de-Malekhet HaMishkan, a text from late antiquity that lays out the details of the Tabernacle’s construction, the requirement to blow four separate teruot, one for each of the camps, is taken for granted (ch. 13).[3]

2. Only Two Blasts

R. Abraham ibn Ezra (1089–1167) suggests that the Levites only blow trumpet blasts for the eastern and southern camps:

תרועה שנית – שיסע דגל ראובן ולא יתקעו עוד, כי הקהתים, ועמם הכהנים התוקעים, נוסעים קודם דגל אפרים.
“A second teruah”—so that the troop/banner of Reuben begins to travel, and then they would not blow again, since the Kehathites, and with them the priests who blow the trumpets, would travel before the troop/banner of Ephraim.

According to ibn Ezra, the reason for only two blasts is practical—the trumpet blowers, part of the Levitical camp in the middle, started travelling, following the instructions of Numbers 10:21, after the southern camps, so they could not blow. Like Nahmanides, ibn Ezra also finds support in earlier sources. The Tannaitic midrash on this passage writes (Sifrei §73):

או כשם שתוקע למזרח ולדרום כך תוקע לצפון ולמערב? תלמוד לומר: תרועה יתקעו למסעיהם תקיעה אחת לשתיהן.
Perhaps just as the trumpet must be blown for the eastern and southern camps, it must be blown for the northern and western camps as well? The text teaches us “teruah blasts shall be blown for setting them in motion”—one blast for both of them.

In other words, this second blast covers not only the south, but the remaining two camps as well.

3. Text Criticism

Unlike the MT, the Greek Septuagint (LXX) describes four blasts:

Num 10:5 And you shall trumpet a signal, and the camps encamping on the east shall set out. 10:6 And you shall trumpet a second signal, and the camps encamping on the south shall set out. And you shall trumpet a third signal, and the camps encamping west (lit. along the sea) shall set out. And you shall trumpet a fourth signal, and the camps encamping towards the north shall set out. They shall trumpet with a signal at their departure.[4]

In this version of the text, a teruah blast is blown for each of the camps. It is possible that the MT contains the original text, and the LXX corrects the MT’s omission of the blasts for the western and northern camps. The text of the Samaritan Pentateuch (SP), however, suggests otherwise:

במדבר י:ה ותקעתם תרועה ונסעו המחנות החנים קדמה׃ י:ו ותקעתם תרועה שנית ונסעו המחנות החנים צפונה תרועה יתקעו למסעיהם׃
Num 10:5 When you sound teruah blasts, the divisions encamped on the east shall move; 10:6 and when you sound teruah blasts a second time, those encamped on the north shall move. Teruah blasts shall be blown for setting them in motion.

The SP’s text is clearly an error: The second camp to move according to Numbers 10:18 is the southern camp; the northern one is last (Num 10:25). Notably, the SP scribe could not have been copying an MT-like text, since an error of reading תימנה “south” and writing צפונה “north” is unlikely—these words do not resemble each other. Instead, the SP scribe was using a Hebrew LXX-type text, and the error is due to parablepsis (“scribal oversite”).[5]

Specifically, the SP’s error appears to be homoioarcton, meaning “identical beginnings,” when the scribe’s eye skips from one word or set of letters at the beginning of a phrase to the same word or set of letters later in the text. Here, the scribe’s eye jumped from the second ונסעו to the fourth ונסעו (bolded below words):

ותקעתם תרועה ונסעו המחנות החנים קדמה
ותקעתם תרועה שנית ונסעו המחנות החנים תימנה.
ותקעתם תרועה שלישית ונסעו המחנות החנים ימה.
ותקעתם תרועה רביעית
ונסעו המחנות החנים צפונה.[6]

As for MT, here too the text reflects a parablepsis, but this time homoioteleuton, meaning “identical endings.” Copying from a full LXX-like text, the scribe’s eye jumped from the נה of תימנה to the נה of צפונה:

ותקעתם תרועה ונסעו המחנות החנים קדמה
ותקעתם תרועה שנית ונסעו המחנות החנים תימנה.
ותקעתם תרועה שלישית ונסעו המחנות החנים ימה.
ותקעתם תרועה רביעית ונסעו המחנות החנים צפו
נה.

Thus, Nahmanides’ understanding of the process is correct, but not because the need to blow the trumpet for each camp was obvious, but because the MT text suffers from a lacuna here, with the final two clauses lost by the skipping of a scribe’s eye.

Addendum

Solomon’s Prayer: Another Example of Double Parablepsis

A good example of a passage that experienced two parablepses is a line in Solomon’s prayer, in which he quotes YHWH.[7]

Homoioteleuton (MT)

In this example, the scribe who copied the MT text of Kings skipped from one להיות שמי שם to the next (in bold below), deleting everything in between (in cross out), an example of homoioteleuton. We can reconstruct the error by comparing the text in Kings to that of Chronicles, which seems to preserve the original full text:

1 Kings 8:16 (MT)

2 Chronicles 6:5–6

מִן הַיּוֹם אֲשֶׁר הוֹצֵאתִי אֶת עַמִּי אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל מִמִּצְרַיִם לֹא בָחַרְתִּי בְעִיר מִכֹּל שִׁבְטֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לִבְנוֹת בַּיִת לִהְיוֹת שְׁמִי שָׁם וָאֶבְחַר בְּדָוִד לִהְיוֹת עַל עַמִּי יִשְׂרָאֵל.

מִן הַיּוֹם אֲשֶׁר הוֹצֵאתִי אֶת עַמִּי מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם לֹא בָחַרְתִּי בְעִיר מִכֹּל שִׁבְטֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לִבְנוֹת בַּיִת לִהְיוֹת שְׁמִי שָׁם וְלֹא בָחַרְתִּי בְאִישׁ לִהְיוֹת נָגִיד עַל עַמִּי יִשְׂרָאֵל. וָאֶבְחַר בִּירוּשָׁלַ‍ִם לִהְיוֹת שְׁמִי שָׁם וָאֶבְחַר בְּדָוִיד לִהְיוֹת עַל עַמִּי יִשְׂרָאֵל.

Ever since I brought My people Israel[8] out of Egypt, I have not chosen a city among all the tribes of Israel for building a House for My name to abide there; but I have chosen David to rule My people Israel.

From the time I brought My people out of the land of Egypt, I never chose a city from among all the tribes of Israel to build a House for My name to abide there; nor did I choose anyone to be the leader of my people Israel. But then I chose Jerusalem for My name to abide there, but I have chosen David to rule My people Israel.

The MT Kings passage is problematic, since YHWH seems to be suggesting a contrast, but not choosing a city and deciding to choose a king are unrelated. The passage in Chronicles makes much more sense, since YHWH says that at first he neither chose a city nor a leader, but now he has chosen both a city and a leader.

Homoioarcton (LXX)

Notably, in this same passage, the scribe of LXX Kings is also missing a line when compared to Chronicles. In this case, it seems we have a homoioarcton, with the scribe’s eye jumping from וְלֹא בָחַרְתִּי “and I didn’t chose” to וָאֶבְחַר “and I chose.” While such an error in the Hebrew is not impossible, it seems unlikely, as the grammatical forms look quite different.

Thus, I suggest the mistake was made by a scribe copying the Greek, which originally had the full text, since “and I chose” looks exactly like “and I didn’t choose” with the exception of the οὐκ (“didn’t”) in the middle. Again, a comparison with Chronicles helps:

1 Kings 8:16 (LXX)

2 Chronicles 6:5–6 (LXX)

Ἀφ̓ ἧς ἡμέρας ἐξήγαγον τὸν λαόν μου τὸν Ισραηλ ἐξ Αἰγύπτου, οὐκ ἐξελεξάμην ἐν πόλει ἐν ἑνὶ σκήπτρῳ Ισραηλ τοῦ οἰκοδομῆσαι οἶκον τοῦ εἶναι τὸ ὄνομά μου ἐκεῖ· καὶ ἐξελεξάμην ἐν Ιερουσαλημ εἶναι τὸ ὄνομά μου ἐκεῖ καὶ ἐξελεξάμην τὸν Δαυιδ τοῦ εἶναι ἐπὶ τὸν λαόν μου τὸν Ισραηλ.

Απὸ τῆς ἡμέρας, ἧς ἀνήγαγον τὸν λαόν μου ἐκ γῆς Αἰγύπτου, οὐκ ἐξελεξάμην ἐν πόλει ἀπὸ πασῶν φυλῶν Ισραηλ τοῦ οἰκοδομῆσαι οἶκον τοῦ εἶναι ὄνομά μου ἐκεῖ καὶ οὐκ ἐξελεξάμην ἐν ἀνδρὶ τοῦ εἶναι εἰς ἡγούμενον ἐπὶ τὸν λαόν μου Ισραηλ· καὶ ἐξελεξάμην ἐν Ιερουσαλημ γενέσθαι τὸ ὄνομά μου ἐκεῖ καὶ ἐξελεξάμην ἐν Δαυιδ ὥστε εἶναι ἐπάνω τοῦ λαοῦ μου Ισραηλ.

Since the day that I brought my people Israel[9] out of Egypt, I have not chosen in a city, in one scepter of Israel, to build a house for my name to be there, and I chose Jerusalem for my name to be there, and I chose David to be over my people Israel.

Since the day that I brought my people up out of Egypt, I did not choose for a city out of all the tribes of Israel to build a house that my name be there, and I did not choose for a man to be leader over my people Israel. And I chose Jerusalem for my name to be there, and I chose David to be over my people Israel.’

Again, the King’s passage is problematic, in this case because it is unbalanced. YHWH says he hadn’t chosen a city, and ends with how he has chosen a city and a leader.[10] Luckily, Chronicles, in both the MT and LXX, preserves what was once the original text of this passage in Kings.

Published

June 17, 2022

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Last Updated

October 25, 2022

Footnotes

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Dr. Rabbi Zev Farber is the Senior Editor of TheTorah.com, and a Research Fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute's Kogod Center. He holds a Ph.D. from Emory University in Jewish Religious Cultures and Hebrew Bible, an M.A. from Hebrew University in Jewish History (biblical period), as well as ordination (yoreh yoreh) and advanced ordination (yadin yadin) from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah (YCT) Rabbinical School. He is the author of Images of Joshua in the Bible and their Reception (De Gruyter 2016) and editor (with Jacob L. Wright) of Archaeology and History of Eighth Century Judah (SBL 2018).

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