Sunday, January 28, 2007

Ve’ahavta le-*Rī‘u-kha Kamokha ?

Shemot/Exodus 10:10
וַיֹּאמֶר אֲלֵהֶם
יְהִי כֵן יייי עִמָּכֶם
כַּאֲשֶׁר אֲשַׁלַּח אֶתְכֶם
וְאֶת טַפְּכֶם
רְאוּ כִּי רָעָה נֶגֶד פְּנֵיכֶם

Old JPS Translation:
And he said unto them:
'So be the LORD with you,
as I will let you go,
and your little ones;
see ye that evil is before your face.

I don't remember where or when I got this idea, or who I got it from, but did you ever wonder what if רעה here isn't the Hebrew word ‘evil’ — but is instead meant to represent the name of the Egyptian sun-god, Ra?

In that case, maybe a translation of this pasuq should look like this:

And then [Par‘o] said to [Moshe and Aharon],
“Fine, be that way. And may your god be with you
when I kick you out,
and your little dog kids, too;
be aware, though, that Ra will get you!”


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, Rashi hints to that approach.

But there's an article about it here:

I don't have access to it, but anyone from an academic institution should.

1/29/2007 1:53 AM  
Blogger Noyam said...

I wonder then if this is the same רעה as in Exodus 32:12?

1/29/2007 10:44 AM  
Blogger Noyam said...

Turns out I'm not as clever as I'd hoped:

Rashi says the same thing:


1/29/2007 11:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this week's haftara mentioned the egyptian god Amon

1/29/2007 12:42 PM  
Blogger The back of the hill said...

Steg, a brilliant flash, that.

Makes that psook hold together a lot better.

It makes more sense now.

1/29/2007 5:11 PM  
Blogger tmeishar: said...

Interesting. But, as with any peirush, I must ask in what way this enhances the meaning of the text.

1/29/2007 8:05 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...


cool, thanks! Unfortunately, i am not an academic institution, and i don't think the high school i teach at has an account with them.


Yup. In that case in Shemot, if you wanted to interpret רעה as Re‘/Ra‘/*Rii‘u, you would have to delete the ב


Yeah, that was pretty cool. And Amon is identified with Ra‘!


thanks! i can't remember if it's mine, though :-P


The way it enhances the meaning of the text is that reading רעה as simply "evil", Par‘o is warning the Israelites that either the Wilderness is dangerous, or they're starting off on the wrong foot by threatening him, any of those things.
Reading רעה as Ra makes it a contest of power between the "God of the Hebrews" and the Egyptian Pantheon. Par‘o isn't backing down, he's doing the threatening himself, on behalf of his own divinity.

1/29/2007 9:51 PM  
Blogger J. "יהוא בן יהושפט בן נמשי" Izrael said...

If memory serves. rashi sez it. Or @ least hints.

1/29/2007 11:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As evidence in favor, the place name "Ramses" is spelled twice in sefer shemot with an ayin.

(Of course, the spelling of Ramses is also evidence against Moshe's name having an Egyptian source...)

1/30/2007 4:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


A lot of the Moshe vs. Paraoah interplay can be read as a contest of Gods, with Hashem wanted to show Pharaoh in no uncertain terms who's really the boss. Rav Leibtag mentions this a few times in his parsha shiurim.

1/30/2007 9:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was caught up on this verse too- but that gives it a whole new meaning- You rock Steg!

1/30/2007 4:09 PM  
Blogger Lion of Zion said...

cassuto mentions this too.

on a different matter, you wrote on orthomom: "never heard of linden heights... as far as i know the most "modern" shul in BP is Young Israel Beth El, on 15th avenue and 48th or so, near Bobov."

linden heights is on 9th and 45th. it is probably as "modern" as beth el is these days. it is pretty much a carpathian operation and i would never recommend davening there on shabbat.

1/30/2007 11:51 PM  
Blogger Josh M. said...

I was wondering about that recently, but wasn't sure if it was more than a coincidence (depending on the equivalence of the 'ayin in the Ancient Egyptian language), but the name "Ra'amses" should have tipped me off.

I skimmed through the article linked to by Dave, and to quickly summarize, you were m'chavein to Midrash Lekach Tov (compiled by R' Toviah ben Eliezer in 11th century CE), who also says that this deity is identical to Ba'al Tzefon. Louis Ginzberg notes that this idea can be combined with the Midrash ShHSh"R quoted by Rashi which says that ra'ah was a star which symbolized blood and death to be a reference to Re', the sun deity of Egypt, symbolized by a red glowing disk (the sun in the minds of desert-dwellers, after all, is vastly different than the sun in our minds).

The author of the article explains that the statement of Pharaoh is thus a mocking retort along the lines of, "Yeah, your God had better be with you when I send you and your children, as you'll be entering the desert, where Re' is strongest."

He also supports the idea that Re' is Ba'al Tzefon by noting that once the Hyksos were expelled in 16th c. BCE (around the time of the shi'bud), Re' became amalgamated with the deity Amon, whose name has the same meaning in Egyptian, hidden, as the Hebrew tzafon.

1/30/2007 11:58 PM  
Blogger J. "יהוא בן יהושפט בן נמשי" Izrael said...

In the same vein, could this play on words work in the opposite way too? Eye of Ra = Ayin HaRa / Evil Eye?

1/31/2007 12:17 PM  
Blogger thanbo said...

The Stargate guys killed Ra in the initial movie.

Ari: if you want to see Steg, Micha & meself in real life, we'll be at Toras Emes this Motzi Shabbos after 8 or so (at my shul dinner). Tzadik Ba La'ir!

Tickets $75, contact me if you want to actually come to the dinner. Blogger_name at gmail.

2/05/2007 5:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ברוך שכוונתי
I too thought of this "pshat" some years ago and was hoping to find someone else who agreed so I was very gratified to find this post.

2/15/2007 6:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think I saw this translation in R' Aryeh Kaplan's Living Torah

10/24/2011 11:25 PM  

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