[b-hebrew] Karnaim

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Mon Nov 8 08:30:36 EST 2004

On 08/11/2004 04:57, MarianneLuban at aol.com wrote:

> ...
>The ketubah is written in Hebrew.  It is dated to the 19th Century of our own 
>era and may retain an Aramaic term here and there but the Samaritans ceased 
>to use Aramaic regularly long ago, of course.  It was translated by J. Wilson 
>and I found it in John Bowman's "Samaritan Documents".  Bowman takes issue with 
>some of Wilson's translations and even suggests that Wilson may have misread 
>some of the letters involved and finds the phrase "Bahur ha-karnaim" unlikely 
>and would emend it to "Bahur-ha-kohanim".   Bowman makes the point that 
>Samaritan ketubot have not apparently changed since the format that was seen in the 
>Elephantine documents.  That is a hallmark of the Samaritans--an aversion to 
>change.  I would just have accepted Bowman's theory about what Wilson did with 
>"karnaim" except for there is the problem of what the karnaim of Moses was all 
>about--and this is also far from clear.  Since, at the time of the writing of 
>this ketubah, the Samaritan community resided at Nablus, I doubt another 
>toponym would be involved.  Wilson translated the phrase as "an eminent youth".  
>The context is (with Bowman's amendment to "the choicest of the priests") "the 
>bridegroom, the good, honorable, scholarly, and devout, and master of 
>calculation, all of whose acts are worthy; and he is the choicest of the priests and 
>the most handsome of bridegrooms, who does all good things..."
>Bowman indicates that he has not translated this ketubah, himself, but has 
>taken Wilson's rendering--so Bowman can only guess at what Wilson did or saw.  I 
>have the feeling that this has nothing to do with actual "horns" or "priests" 
>but has a meaning obscured by time.  
Well, not very much time since the 19th century, and given the Samaritan 
aversion to change. So you could try asking the modern Samaritan 
community how they would understand this phrase. Fortunately they are 
not so averse to change as to spurn the Internet, so see 
http://www.the-samaritans.com/. Their discussion forum does not seem to 
be working at present, but you can e-mail their webmaster. You might 
also find a link there to the MS of the ketubah you are interested in, 
and so be able to check Wilson's reading.

I note the following at http://www.the-samaritans.com/Store.htm#torah, 
concerning differences between the Samaritan and Masoretic Pentateuchs:

> The most important case is the word ‘chosen’ that appears, where the 
> Jews have ‘will chose,’ concerning the sacred place. 

I suppose that the reference is to Deuteronomy 12:5 etc where the 
Samaritan has BXR YHWH for the MT YIBXAR YHWH "YHWH will choose". The 
Samaritan vocalisation might be BAXAR YHWH "YHWH has chosen" or BAXUR 
YHWH "(is) chosen by YHWH". This might suggest that the word BAXUR has 
special theological significance to the Samaritans.

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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