Numbers 12:1 Cushite

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Michael W Abernathy
Posts: 37
Joined: Thu Jan 09, 2014 8:38 pm

Numbers 12:1 Cushite

Post by Michael W Abernathy »

וַתְּדַבֵּ֨ר מִרְיָ֤ם וְאַהֲרֹן֙ בְּמֹשֶׁ֔ה עַל־אֹד֛וֹת הָאִשָּׁ֥ה הַכֻּשִׁ֖ית אֲשֶׁ֣ר לָקָ֑ח כִּֽי־אִשָּׁ֥ה כֻשִׁ֖ית לָקָֽח׃
Numbers 12:1 Is usually translated something like, “Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married (for he had married a Cushite woman).”
The Israelite Samaritan Version of the Torah translated by Benyamin Tsedaka translates the word הכשית as “beautiful.” After a lot of searching I found an independent source supporting this translation, “As is well known, the meaning of כשית (MV: כֻ‬‬שִׁית; SH: kaset) in this verse is disputable, ‘Cushitic’ (gentilic of Cush) being only one of the suggestions. As pointed out by Ben-Óayyim, the Samaritans interpreted כשׁית as ‘beautiful’. This interpretation is reflected in the ST: אתתה כשירתה ‘the beautiful woman’. Onqelos as well went in this direction: שפרית. The Samaritans went one step further and adopted the word for free use in their writingsוממכלותך כשית ‘Your kingdom is beautiful’ (Ben-Óayyim, Samaritan Piyyutim, p. 371); כשית ויומיה ‘good days’ (C. 138); ולעבדו בלב כשית ‘to worship Him with good heart’ (C. 618); ויאמר בלב כשית ‘he said with good heart’ (C. 791); וכל עודביו כשיתה ‘all his deeds are good (C. 836). Moreover, the feminine morpheme of the word tyçk has been interpreted in HSH as part of the root. Thus, the masculine form is not כשי* but rather כשית as seen in the above examples.”
As mentioned in the above quote, the Targum also takes this verse to say Moses’ wife was beautiful.
When I checked Rashi, he translated it as “Cushite,” but interpreted “Cushite” as another way to say “beautiful.”
Is it more likely that the Samaritan Pentateuch has the original meaning or that both the Samaritan Pentateuch and the later Jewish interpretation come from the Targum?
Florentin, Moshe. Late Samaritan Hebrew: A linguistic analysis of its different types / by Moshe Florentin. Studies in Semitic languages and linguistics, 0081-8461 43. Leiden, Boston: Brill, 2005.
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Re: Numbers 12:1 Cushite

Post by ducky »

Hi Michael,

This is an old Rabbinic commentary, therefore, the Targum translates it like that.
(according to this commentary, this woman was not a new woman that he took, but it was actually Zipora, his old woman, and Moses "divorced" her).

When Rashi wrote his commentary, he brought the words (shortly) of the Midrashic books Sifre, and Tanhuma.

You can read it with more details in Yalqut Shimoni


Other commentaries just read it as a new woman from Kush
(and there are also a couple of stories about how and where and when)

Some still see her as Zipora while keeping the meaning of the words as "of Kush".

But as for the main subject, I think that the Samaritan translation just uses the old Rabbinic commentary.
David Hunter
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