Thursday, June 08, 2006

The Inverted Nun

I do not refer to the Flying Nun's sister or evidence of Satanic mischief. It is a curious scribal mark in both the Ben Chayyim and Ben Asher Masoretic Texts which somewhat resembles an inverted Hebrew nun. They've been placed around the following verses:

Numbers 10:35-36 (2)
Psalm 107:23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 40 (7)

Here's a picture from Numbers in the Ginsburg Bible (red marks next to inverted nuns):

I examined Psalm 107 in the Aleppo Codex. Although the marks appear there too, they were obviously added at a later date by a different hand. The marks are large, less precise, more curvilinear, and done in what appears to be different ink.

Psalm 107:23-28 and 40 are preserved in 4QPSf (aka 4Q88), however, I was unable to find a photocopy, facsimile, or Hebrew transcription.

In Swete's Septuagint, the last verses in Numbers 10 are arranged: 33, 35, 36, 34. I checked Codex Alexandrinus (A) and found that verse arrangement there. So the Masoretics show a different verse order than the LXX, which may account for the markings therein. Psalm 107 in the Septuagint is no different.

If the markings in Numbers indicate verse change, then it should read as follows:
So they traveled from the mountain of the Lord three days' journey; and the ark of the covenant of the Lord was traveling before them during the three days' journey, to find a resting place for them. And when the ark traveled, Moses would say, "Rise up, O Lord! May your enemies be scattered, and may those who hate you flee before you!" And when it came to rest he would say, "Return, O Lord, to the many thousands of Israel!" And the cloud of the Lord was over them by day, when they traveled from the camp.
--Numbers 10:33, 35, 36, 34


Blogger P J Williams said...

There is a useful section on inverted nun in Emanuel Tov, Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible, pp. 54-55. I'm afraid I'm giving page numbers from the first edition, but the second is not much different.

4:48 AM  

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