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November 26, 1976 - Image 56

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1976-11-26

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

56 Friday, November 26, 1976



Sounds of Aramaic in Pentateuch Restored by Seminary Scholar

sounds of an ancient lan-
guage can be seen and,
with a little imagination
heard, in a new edition of
the Pentateuch.
Four volumes of frag-
ments from Genesis
through Deuteronomy
have just been published
in their oldest surviving

translation into Aramaic
from the original Hebrew.
Instead of a modern key
to how Aramaic was
thought to have been
pronounced, the frag-
ments are marked with
an early Babylonian sys-
tem forgotten for hun-
dreds of years.
Assistant Professor

Gentile Names

Daniel Boyarin of The vocalization code
Jewish Theological Semi- and dashes above the let-
nary of America compiled ters — that indicates how
this unique version of the Jews spoke after Aramaic
translation, the Targum replaced Hebrew as the
Onkelos, from pieces of vernacular in Second and
13th or 14th Century Third Century Babylonia.
Yemenite manuscripts in "Over the course of
the Seminary's Elkan subsequent transcrip-
Nathap Adler collection. tions in Yemen and
Europe, the vocalization
The manuscripts carry a

erusalem's Historic Past


Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem

Many a visitor to
Jerusalem is surprised to
find a remarkable
number of non-Jewish
names connected with
some of the holiest Jewish
You stand before the
Western Wall and notice
the base of an ancient
arch jutting out of the
Wall. This is "Robinson's
Arch". A gate that must
have led up into the Tem-
ple Mount, near its
southern reaches, is
"Barclay's Gate."
Along the Wall a
tunnel-like passage with
arches built of well-cut
stones contains another
great arch, "Wilson's
A few more steps and
you come to a deep shaft:
counting downwards you
discover no less than 13 or
14 tiers of stones like those
of the Western Wall, near
by. Obviously those tiers
must have been placed
there at a time when the
Temple Mount rose out of a
deep valley that passed at
its foot. Who found this out
by digging that shaft? The
name — "Warren's Shaft"
gives us the answer.
Why are the names of so
many gentiles connected
with these sites?
From about the year
1840 there was in the
Western world an up-
surge of interest in the
Holy Land, its history,
geography, its flora and
fauna. Tens of expedi-

These drawings depict archeological digs in
Jerusalem a century ago. The top photograph shows
Wilson's Arch north of the Western Wall in 1865. The
bottom photograph shows Warren's excavations near
Robinson's Arch in 1867.

tions with hundreds of
men from Great Britain,
Switzerland, Germany,
the United States,
France and other coun-
tries came to the ancient
land, which was then part
of the declining and ill-
administered Ottoman
Edward Robinson was
a New York professor of
biblical literature, a
philologist and a theolo-
gian. He may rightly be
called the father of Eretz
Israel research.
Barclay of "Barclay's
Gate" was a medical doc-
tor and a missionary who
was sent to Jerusalem by
the Sultan, to accompany a
Turkish architect who was
to carry out repairs on the
Dome of the Rock. Barclay
used the years 1855-1857
in Jerusalem for research
into the antiquities of the
His privileged position
as envoy of the Sultan
made this fairly easy for
him. He later published
his main findings and
theories under the name
"The City of the Great
King, or Jerusalem as she
was, as she is now and will
be in the future."
Warren was a 27-year-
old officer of the Royal
Engineer Corps in Eng-
land and was sent to
Eretz Israel in 1867 as
head of the second exped-
ition of the Palestine Ex-
ploration Fund. This fund
had been created two
years earlier in the
"Jerusalem Chamber" of
Westminster Abbey in
Warren dug seven
shafts in the area around
the Temple Mount. It is
he who discovered the
subterranean maze of

vaulted streets that had
been burried for many
hundreds of years. He
published his classic

"Underground Jerusa-
lem" in London in 1875.
To these few names add
dozens of others. There
was the Swiss, Tobler, who
published many volumes
on his findings between
1839 and 1857. In 1841
Holthaus published
"Wanderings of a Jour-
neyman Tailor," and he
was indeed a German
tailor who wandered
around the Middle East for
16 years.
W. J. Bartlett's "Walks
in and about the City" or
his "Jerusalem Revi-
sited" are two books by a
sentimental Englishman.
Jews were not al-
together absent from this
field, but they certainly
were a minority among
19th Century explorers.
One was Rabbi Jehoseph
Schwarz who was born in
Bavaria and lived in
Jerusalem in the years
1833-1865. He specialized.
among other pursuits, in
recording exact observa-
tions on the times of sun-
rise and sunset in
Jerusalem, for which he
published no less than
4,000 figures.

was changed and cor- Hebrew-Aramaic
rupted. The vocalization phabet and numerous
of the Targum in our combinations of those let-
texts is completely inac- ters, and then consider
curate," says Dr. that because the Babylo-
Boyarin, describing the nian system was forgot-
new edition as "one very ten, Dr. Boyarin concedes
important tool in discov- scholars still are "not
ering how Aramaic was clear on all pronuncia-
spoken in the times of the tions."
The Babylonian system
And yet another facet
that distinguished this
edition was forgotten by — the medieval Yeme-
scholars everywhere nites did not copy the
until it reappeared on Targum with Hebrew
numerous other manus- Aramaic on sepa.
cripts taken out of the facing pages as would be
Cairo Geniza, a centu- done today.
ries-old synagogue stor-
Instead, they wrote a
age room opened to re- line in Hebrew, the same
searchers at the turn of line in Aramaic and again
this century.
in Arabic. Then, they went
More recently, Dr. back to the next line in
Boyarin compared the Hebrew and so on. But all
Geniza manuscripts to three languages, including
the Yemenite fragments the Arabic, were written in
and concluded — `These Hebrew characters.
manuscripts (the Yeme-
This can be seen on the
nite) are as close to the large photographic fac-
Babylonian system as similes used in the four
any that are known."
volume 360 copy limited
edition printed by Makor
Sounds of Aramaic
Publishing Ltd. in Israel
In his introduction to the and distributed in this
new edition of the Targum, country.
he not only seeks to prove
The Jewish Theological
this point, but also to de- Seminary of America,
monstrate the sounds of where the research was
early Aramaic.
conducted, has one of the
A suggestion of how dif- largest collections of
ferently Aramaic was manuscripts and cere-
pronounced might be the monial objects in the en-
letter vay. Before the let- tire world.
ters mem, bet or peh, the
Tiberian system would museum annually at-
pronounce vav as u; Dr. tracts tens of thousands
Boyarin says the Babylo- of students, scholars and
nians would have said wa. observors who gather
Multiply this change by there to pursue rigorous
22 characters in the research.

Mystery Centers on Weizmann Papers

Druyanov's efforts at dis- and the Weizmann Insti- he unravels the mystery
covering the secret of tute, Bethlehem and of missing documents, a
manufacturing oil from Caesaria, and re-creates spy on the Rehovot cam-
pus and Druyanov's run
sweet potatoes. many historic moments
If that hypothesis in Weizmann's scientific for his life.
sounds humorous, don't career through the
"The Sun Chemist" is a
laugh until you read "The Weizmann scientific pa-
humorous mystery
Sun Chemist" because pers.
In the end Davidson "whodunit," but with a
Davidson, who lives in Is-
to weave an intricate sophisticated scientific
rael, constructs a coin-
pletely plausible plot and reconciliation between and Jewish theme that
his fast-moving theme makes it highly enter-
keeps it moving quickly.
Whether accurate or and the facts of today as taining reading.
not, completely absorbing
are Davidson's descrip-
tions of Weizmann at
work, both during his
early days - in England
when he achieved notable
scientific successes and
during the last days of his
life at the Institute.
Druyanov is forced to
play historical sleuth to
decipher "Chaimchik's"
papers. We even learn
that the removal of false
teeth while dictating to
secretaries can obscure
important clues to solv-
ing the 1973 energy crisis
with a 1904 solution.
And "Chaimchik's"
chase through England
and Israel as the Weiz- jealous wife may have
edited or destroyed some
mann Institute in Re-
correspondence that
hovot tries to uncover the
secret of some of Weiz- would have helped the
search because of their
mann's last meandering
compromising nature.
Add a murder in In-
Davidson's "The Sun
diana, the unprovoked as-
Chemist" (Knopf) is an
sault on a researcher in
absorbing piece of fiction
London, the ransacking of
based on historical people
several English apart-
and places in Israel's past
ments and several frantic
and present. Davidson
trips between London and
places Weizmann Insti-
Rehovot to the author's
tute Chancellor Meyer
Weisgal in a prominent
Davidson placeS it all
supporting role in this
against vivid background
novel, directing young
descriptions of London
historian Igor

A solution to • the
world's energy problems
that would break the
Arab oil cartel is hidden
in the scientific papers of
Chaim Weizmann and his
With that premise au-
thor Lionel Davidson
leads the reader on a
fast - paced fictional

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