DSS Isaiah 52:13–15

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Jason Hare
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DSS Isaiah 52:13–15

Post by Jason Hare »

הנה ישכיל עבדי וירום ונשא וגבה מואדה כאשר שממו
עליכה רבים כן משחתי מאיש מראהו ותוארו מבני האדם
כן יזה גואים רבים עליו וקפצו מלכים פיהמה כיא את אשר
לוא סופר להמה ראו ואת אשר לוא שמעו התבוננו
The above is how the Great Isaiah Scroll begins the fourth servant song of Isaiah. Grammatically, there is a problem with וירום. Orthographically, there are problems here with מאודה (for מאוד — why is there a heh there?!), עליכה (for עליךָ — at least I can understand the heh here), גואים (for גוים — where did that aleph come from?), פיהמה (for פיהם — how would one even pronounce that final heh??), and להמה (for להם — at least this form exists elsewhere). I also wonder why we have בני האדם rather than the perfectly sensible בני אדם of the MT.

We would expect either ורם “and he will be exalted” or ירום “he will be exalted” (as in the MT) [both future tense] instead of וירום (which sounds like it would be vav-consecutive, וַיָּ֫רָם “and he was exalted” [past tense]). I mean, there is the option of a jussive for וירום “and let him be exalted,” but that is clearly not the meaning, which makes this word non-grammatical for biblical Hebrew, although the rabbinic Hebrew that was beginning to emerge could have that form as a future.
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Re: DSS Isaiah 52:13–15

Post by kwrandolph »

Have you considered that the Qumran caves were a type of Genizah, where worn out and/or poor quality manuscripts were trashed? One of the things that impressed me when looking at the Great Isaiah Scroll was how sloppy was the handwriting. Would that not also translate into that the scribe (if we can call him that) was also sloppy in how accurately he transcribed the text?

Secondly how does it compare with fragments of the same text that have also been found?

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Re: DSS Isaiah 52:13–15

Post by S_Walch »

There's only two other DSS which have anything extant for Isaiah 52 other than the Great Isaiah Scroll.

IQIsab has the following:
תלכון כי הולך לפניכם יהוה ומאספכם [אלהי יש]ראל הנה ישכיל
עבדי ירום וגבה ונשא מאד כאשר שמ[מו עליך] רבים כן משחת
מאיש מראהו ותרו מבני אדם כן יזה ג[וים רבים] עליו יקפצו
מלכים פיהם כי אשר לא ספר להם ראו ו[אשר לא] שמעו התבוננו
4QIsac has very little of the text here extant:
[הנה י]שכיל ע[ב]די ירום [ונשא וגבה מאד כאשר שממו עליכה רבים כן]
[משחת] מאיש מרא[הו ותארו מבני אדם כן יזה גוים רבים עליו יקפצו]
[מלכי]ם פיהם כיא [אשר לא ספר להם ראו ואשר לא שמעו התבוננו]
The only extant difference between 4QIsac and the Masoretic is the plene כיא in v15, just an orthographic dissimilarity. 1QIsab swaps around the words וגבה ונשא in v13, has ותרו for וְתֹאֲרוֹ in v14, and וקפצו for יִקְפְּצוּ in v15. Very few differences then compared to the Great Isaiah Scroll: 1QIsab has "and he will be lifted up and exalted"; what looks like a spelling variation for "and his form"; and the last variant agrees with the reading in 1QIsaa, "will also shut".

Most of the readings in the Great Isaiah Scroll are just mere slight spelling variations; the suffix is a feature of numerous manuscripts at Qumran, known as the "Adverbial heh" and "heh mater". There's a book called Qumran Hebrew: An Overview of Orthography, Phonology, and Morphology by Eric D. Reymond people should have on their bookshelf.

The extra aleph in גוים is merely being used as a double mater lectionis with the י, which is a feature of the Great Isaiah Scroll more or less throughout; other DSS manuscripts spell it as גויים, such as 4QSama, 4Q Minor Prophets c, 4QPso, 4QPse, and 11QPsa.

The only variation which is likely not spelling is האדם; though one wonders whether this should be understood as anything different to "humans" or "mankind". The LXX does have τῶν ἀνθρώπων ("the men/mankind"), but as it's preceded by ἀπὸ one suspects a variant Hebrew reading מאדם.
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Re: DSS Isaiah 52:13–15

Post by Max S-R »

Very late to the conversation, I know, but if I can be at all useful, so much the better.

Regarding the 'spurious' (to borrow a usage from Ancient Greek) final ה-mater, I recall that it's sometimes used in Daniel and Ezra instead of aleph, for the long 'ā' of the so-called emphatic state (e.g. דּי יכלת למגלה רזה דנה, Dan 2:47). Is it possible that at least some of the ה's in question are this usage, which we can justly call an Aramaism?

While I admire Eric Reymond, it's a tad old-fashioned, or downright obsolete, to call them 'adverbial hehs' or the like. And in any case, the 'adverbial heh' is not particular to Qumran Hebrew. We know that it's a remnant of the "accusative case" common to all Semitic language and that it answers very nearly the function of the old Indo-European accusative, insofar as it can mark the object of one's going (as in Exodus 3:1 Moses goes חרבה). Is it not possible there were varieties of Hebrew where this feature was more salient?

As regards the peculiar בני האדם, it makes me think of a nicety maintained in the Syriac gospels, where the circumlocution "son-of-man" meaning "human being" (ܒ݁ܰܪܢܳܫܳܐ) is distinct from "Son of man" meaning "Christ" (ܒ݁ܪܶܗ ܕ݁ܐ݈ܢܳܫܳܐ). The force of the suffix (3rd. sg. masc.) in the latter phrase seems to be as much as to say not "a son of man" but "the Son of man". Is it possible, then, that there exists a similar distinction between בני (ה)אדם: that it means not "sons-of-man(kind)" but rather "sons of Adam", specifically?
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