Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Paging Mr. Tumnus

This week's parsha: Ha’azinu
it begins: Devarim/Deuteronomy 32:1-2
האזינו השמים ואדברה / ותשמע הארץ אמרי פי
יערוף כמטר לקחי / תיזל כטל אמרתי
כשעירים עלי דשא / וכרביבים עלי עשב
Listen, sky, and I will speak / and the earth will hear my mouth's words
My lesson will drip like rain / my speech will flow like dew
se‘irim on the lawn / and like revivim on the grass...

So, what are שעירים and רביבים ?

שעיר usually means goat, as frequently in listings of sacrifices. According to pretty much everyone, here שעירים means something along the lines of 'rain', 'raindrops', 'storms' or 'stormy rainfall'. However, there's another meaning to the word שעיר...

Vayiqra’/Leviticus 17:7
ולא יזבחו עוד את זבחיהם לשעירים
אשר הם זונים אחריהם
חוקת עולם תהיה זאת להם לדורותם
Old JPS translation:
And they shall no more sacrifice their sacrifices unto the satyrs, after whom they go astray. This shall be a statute for ever unto them throughout their generations.

Other translations understand שעירים to be 'goat-demons', which I guess is a pretty good (albeit negative) description of a satyr. Other occurances of satyr-type שעירים include:
Yesha‘yahu/Isaiah 13:21:
ושעירים ירקדו שם
...and satyrs shall dance there.

So, due to these other "שעירים", I've always imagined the שעירים and רביבים of Ha’azinu as some kind of legendary wilderness-dwelling monsters. Not evil people-eating monsters, of course, but monsters nonetheless. Like satyrs, or fauns, or centaurs... or who knows what else kind of mythic-style possibly half-human half-animal beasts.

It's a completely different image — Moshe's words passing over and penetrating the minds of the listeners like rain storms over the fields and meadows, or Moshe's words dancing in their heads and inspiring them with love of God like legendary creatures frollicking in unknown lands...

כי שם יהוה אקרא / הבו גודל לאלהינו


Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

So, what are שעירים and רביבים?

Sa`ir and Raviv sound like Israeli last names to me.

כי שם יהוה אקרא / הבו גודל לאלהינו

בָּרוּךְ שֵׁם כְּבוֹד מַלְכוּתוֹ לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד!!

10/11/2005 6:14 PM  
Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

PS: Did I leave Vox Graeca or the Devarim volume of תורת חיים at your apartment? I can't find them.

10/11/2005 6:17 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

I seem to remember you putting them in your bag, but i can check.

10/11/2005 11:35 PM  
Blogger The back of the hill said...

Perhaps akin to a ghoul (ghawl), a human-eating monster of the wastelands.

The mixture of herd animal with human, in various forms, seems peculiarly middle eastern.

This we'll never see: "...and so the savage chicken-boy, the daemon from the sands, came to the village and kept everybody awake all night with his squawking. Until someone decided to shlug kapores".


10/12/2005 5:47 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

back of the hill:


ghoul is ghawl ? i assumed it was ghuul

10/17/2005 12:33 AM  

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