[b-hebrew] Exod. 19:1 (update subject line)

Gary A.Staszak sowersoftheseed at verizon.net
Wed May 30 14:26:17 EDT 2007


Thanks for your excellent summary below. Besides outlining the major  
interpretations regarding Exod. 19:1, it highlights the ambiguity of  
the phrase "this/that day" (the very reason I raised the question  
initially).

I offer this additional data, which appears to address your question  
and provide some insight. (I hope I haven't strayed to far from our  
discussion. Please offer a correction where I have misunderstood the  
evidence.)

1. Masorah Parva/Magna:

a. The Masora Parva of BHS (117) notes six passages that contain the  
phrase "bayom hazeh." An Online Bible search for the phrase found  
Gen. 7:11, Exod. 19:1, Lev. 8:34, Lev. 16:30, Josh. 7:25, and 1 Sam.  
11:13.

Each passage, including Exod. 19:1, contains a temporal marker in the  
immediate target or near text of the pericope:

Gen. 7:11 --> v. 11
Exod. 19:1 --> v. 1
Lev. 8:34 --> vv. 33, 35
Lev. 16:30 --> v.29
Josh. 7:25 --> vv. 13-16
1 Sam. 11:13 --> vv. 9-11

It seems the presence or near presence of the temporal marker to the  
phrase "bayom hazeh" governs it nature. The pattern that emerges in  
these passages suggests the phrase describes a time concurrent with  
the temporal marker of the pericope.

b. If I am reading the Masorah Magna correctly, four of the above  
passages contain a vav/waw prefixed to the phrase: Gen. 7:11, Exod.  
19:1, Lev. 16:30, and Josh. 7:25 (Frensdorff, Die Massora Magna, 78).  
It seems the presence of the vav/waw does not change the  
interpretation materially.

2. Grammatical Features of Exod. 19:1:

a. Does the meaning of the preposition "B" prefixed to vdx/chodesh  
(month/new moon) offer a possible clue to a translation/ 
interpretation? Lambdin indicates that "B" could be translated as  
"on" or "in" (Lambdin, 317, 336).
b. Does the infc prefixed with "L" in the first clause indicate a  
completed result in this context (cf. Lambdin, 129)? If so, what  
value does this offer the interpreter?
c. Lambdin indicates that "hazeh" be translated as "this" (Lambdin,  
34), which might change the meaning of the phrase "bayom hazeh"  
slightly? Instead of referring to a distant temporal marker, could it  
be referring to a near marker as suggested by the pattern in 1a. above?

3. Possible Translation:

Considering all of these elements (the meaning of the governing  
preposition, the infc, and the pattern cited in 1a. above), wouldn't  
one plausible rendering of the Hebrew be "On the third new moon after  
the sons/children of Israel had gone forth from Egypt, on this/that  
day, they came into the wilderness of Sinai"? This rendering would  
place the entry into the wilderness of Sinai on the third new moon  
day after leaving Egypt or Sivan 1 (=  the Gemara and Rashi).

In contrast, I was previously rendering the text as "In the third  
month after the sons/children of Israel had gone forth from Egypt, on  
that day, they came into the wilderness of Sinai." This rendering  
appears to offer two possibilities: a date somewhere within the third  
month or the day in which the Israelites came out of Egypt (i.e.,  
Nisan 15 --> Sivan 15).

Would then the best way to solve the dilemma of interpreting the  
phrase "bayom hazeh" be to read it as time concurrent with "on the  
third new moon"? If not, aren't we reading the 15th of the month into  
the text?

Just my thoughts.

Gary A. Staszak
Manassas, VA

On May 30, 2007, at 12:26 AM, Daniel Purisch wrote:

> Right. The "third new moon translation" is probably an attempt to set
> the arrival date on the first day of the third month of the year so
> that it would be possible for the giving of the Torah later in the
> chapter to by synchronous with Shavuot, which is, of course, the
> Jewish tradition. What is strange to me is that this translation
> doesn't accomplish what they are trying to do: the third new moon
> after the Exodus is the first day of the fourth month of the year -
> not the third month - so I can't see why anyone would prefer to
> translate chodesh as new moon, which is really only a viable
> translation in I Sam 20:5 (tomorrow is the new moon)...
>
> The way that the Gemara (Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 86b) and Rashi
> set the date on the first of the third month of the year is by
> reinterpreting "bayom hazeh," and not by reinterpreting "chodesh." We
> have been taking it to mean "on the same day of the month that they
> left Egypt"; the Jewish sources take it to mean "on the very day that
> the third-month-after-the-Exodus began." Since the third month after
> the Exodus is the third month of the year, the date that this month
> began is the first day of the third month of the year; there would
> therefore still be time within the seven week countdown of the Omer
> for a few days of Moses' ascending and descending the mountain and
> the people's 3-day preparation before the giving of the Torah later
> in this chapter.
>
> I have been struggling to figure out which reading of "bayom hazeh"
> is correct - perhaps someone knows of a similar passage that might
> elucidate the idiom?
>
> Daniel Purisch
>
>
>
>
> On 30/05/2007, at 03:52, Tory Thorpe wrote:
>
>> Jason Hare <jaihare at gmail.com> wrote: Gary,
>>
>> Yes, exactly. However, the Israelites left on the fifteenth of the
>> month of Nisan during the night. This means that they arrived at the
>> Sinai wilderness three months later on the fifteenth of the month.  
>> (At
>> least, this is how I read it.)
>>
>> Assuming the "month of the Abib" in the oldest calendrical
>> statements is the same as, or synchronous with, the month
>> of Nisan in the Babylonian year. Exod. xix, 1 is considered
>> non-priestly, and the HD$ here was thought to refer
>> to the "new moon" as early as Ehrlich, Randglossen, I
>> (Leipzig, 1908), pp. 312-13, if not earlier. The NJPS renders:
>> "On the third new moon" which frankly makes no sense to me.
>>
>> Tory Thorpe
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