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From: rhendel@mcs.drexel.edu (Russell Hendel) Date: Thu, 29 May 1997 22:27:45 -0400 Subject: Regarding Changing Biblical Texts During the Memorial day weekend I had a chance to catch up on some research needed to answer some challenging questions on former postings. In particular a while back there was discussion on comments in the literature on our traditional texts. One such comment lists 18 verses in the Bible which were "fixed" by the scribes. The question arose as to whether the verses were actually "changed" by the scribes for reasons of discretion or whether they just appear changed. As a simple example, Gen 18:22 mentions "And Abraham was still standing before G-d" when in reality according to the text it should have said "And G-d was still standing before Abraham". So now we have the question. Was the text changed? Or does it just appear changed. Also what does Rashi there really believe. I believe I have found some new sources that place this in a better light. Everyone agrees that One job of the Mesorah is to prevent scribes from 'correcting' "queer" constructions which they might think are errors. For example: It usually says "As G-d commanded Moses(e.g. Ex 40:19,21,23,25..) In one verse it says "As G-d commanded *TO* Moses(Ex16:34)" The Mesorah says "Appears without TO". Clearly the Mesorah is simply warning us against making the error of leaving out the *TO*. This Massoretic style "Appears.." is frequently used with "queer" prepositional constructions. Additionally, the Rabbis researched and found 18 texts where sentence order or word forms appear wrong. Again their goals were simply to warn scribes against errors (not to indicate that anyone changed the text). Mechy Fraenkel and Steve Oren were concerned that the phrase "which the Rabbis 'turned'" (Rashi Gen 18:22)seems to indicate a "willful" change of texts (for reasons of discretion). However my research shows that it is only in English that "turned" means to "Change". In Hebrew the word "turned" means to do research (cf. Avoth 5:27). Similarly the Biblical Hebrew word "plough" denotes thinking. I hope this strengthens the possibility of this approach. Russell Hendel; Ph.d;ASA rhendel @ mcs drexel edu