Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The First Hymn of Marqe ben Tute (Mark the son of Titus)

I will introduce the First Hymn of Marqe with a personal story. I didn't find the hymn, the hymn found me or more precisely - my Samaritan friend told me about it after he learned about my Agrippa theory. 

It all began in a Denny's restaurant in Florida (I think it was in Melbourne but it must have 2005). I was with my Samaritan friend. He had just ordered grilled fish from the menu (for dietary reasons). After hearing my usual round of stupid questions he stopped me and said there was something I ought to know. It was this hymn. He recited it to me but his English was so bad I couldn't make out all the nuances. It wasn't until a few years later when I managed to get my friend Ruairidh Boid to figure out what the Samaritan was on about. 

He actually took the time to translate all the important parts of the hymn. The comments that follow are his. I should say that Samuelsson's thesis about the inherent ambiguity with regards to old crucifixion references is applicable here. Both the Samaritan and the Samaritan expert take crucifixion to be the context of the hymn but the terminology reflects the ambiguity of the times. 

The original comments comments from the translator Boid after my request:

(a) The only hymn of Marqe’s I could find that fits what you said is no. I. This is recited in part on every Sabbath and every Festival. Notice this. At some time it must have been laid down that it had to be recited constantly. It will take me some time to translate. It has 22 verses, each with seven lines. 22 x 7 = 154.

This hymn speaks of death and destruction in the present, wrought by estrangement from the will of God, and urges a reversal of behaviour. One verse could be taken as referring to executions, depending on how you understand one word. This is the fifth verse. Other verses might refer to this, but not directly.

“As a consequence of the sins we have committed, we are afflicted (or punished) with the TShNYQYH. [Look up the root ShNQ in Jastrow]. We can’t blame your goodness. All the blame is on us, since we ourselves have made ourselves perish. If someone goes and hits himself, who can rescue him?”. 

Tashnîqayyå is the definite plural of T Sh N Y Q tashneq from the root Sh N Q. Ben-Hayyim is not at all convinced that it always means strangulation.

(b) The hymns translated by Kippenberg are from the collection called the Durran. They are very old. These are the hymns that talk about a very recent rejection of wrong religious practice or perhaps wrong doctrine.

(c) There is a lot of work to be done on the Samaritan liturgy. Life is too short.

Something different. The old Samaritan Hebrew to Aramaic dictionary of the Torah glosses Shilo as “the unsheather of the cross”. Any suggestions? Ben-Hayyim, followed as usual by Tal (who should have copied Ben-Hayyim’s thoroughness and rigour but didn’t) translates “the uprooter of the cross” saying (as a mere guess) that it refers to Muhammad. This makes no sense. How could the rise of Islam have been what took the sceptre away from Judah? The verb shin-lamed-pe usually means to unsheathe a sword, but can mean to take a shoe off or to pull something out of the ground. I think the plain meaning is that the reference is to whoever unsheathed the cross and used it like a sword to take power away from Judah or the Jews, but I can’t work out what exactly is meant.

I hope there a few people here at this site who are aware of the traditional implications of Shilo (not Brangelina baby). The name comes from the important reference in Genesis 49:10:

The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until Shilo comes and the obedience of the nations is his.

The name Shilo is a numerological equivalent of Moses (i.e. they add up to 345) and is usually understood by Jews and Samaritans that the messiah/the one to come will be 'like Moses.' The Samaritans themselves allude to the fact that Marqe ben Tute (Mark the son Titus) was this figure (Mark = MRQH = 345 = Moses). The obvious question that Boid and I have is whether Mark is being cryptically referenced as 'the unsheather of the cross.' I just showed in another thread that Origen drawing from a first or second century Jewish history identifies Agrippa with the both Shilo and the messiah of Daniel 9:26. Rabbinic tradition echoes Origen's interpretation (the Samaritans didn't recognize Daniel). 

In any event without further ado here is Boid's translation of the Samaritan material. If anyone needs clarification about who the scholars Boid is referencing (Kippenberg, Ben Hayyim, Tal) just let me know.

The verses run from the first letter to the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet (i.e. alef to tav). The translated section begins at lamed (l):

Hymn I
by Marqe


ל Punishments don’t disconcert the sinner, nor do wounds frighten him. He doesn’t take any notice. The rebel sees himself delivered up to punishments, and finds himself crucified.[1] He turns to his possessions(?) and knows that there is no enjoyment from it.

מִ Death can be compared to a Priest making someone drink the Bitter Water of Testing.[2] Woe on whoever is found to have committed sin. Woe on all sinners, since they will be in great distress. The punishments they suffer are the result of all their offences.

נִ The soul (or individual) stands dumbfounded. Those living are in great affliction, because the Good has turned his face away from them. If the Merciful does not save, and remember those that love him, all the sinners will bewail themselves, because they are in great distress.

סִ The signs tell us that in this generation of ours there is not a single person not in partnership with sinners. The mothers and children, all of whom took part and rebelled,[3] they too are punished with[4] crucifixion.[5]

עִ The fact is that by our sins we are the ones that are the murderers, murderers of the silent and those that can speak. Innocent animals or children that have never sinned, or young adults of good descent, suffer for sins they never committed.

פִ It is the Age of Disfavor[6] that has brought all this suffering about. The fruit of the womb is stopped, and the fruit of the earth destroyed. Every place is becoming accursed for us. The mouth of punishment is open before, ready to swallow up the baby with the old man.

ר Merciful and Good, treat us justly and well as is your nature. We can’t withstand this judgment. A leaf on a tree startles a sinner, so how can we withstand judgment that startles the world? Treat us justly and well, so that we aren’t crucified [6] by punishments[7]
ADDITION: There are some more lines on the same theme in Verse Kaf and Verse Tsade, but they don’t add anything new.

[1] The word from the root tsade-lamed-bet in Verse Lamed is מצטלבה miṣṭållēbå. It is a perfectly normal ethpa’al participle (to use Syriac terminology) equivalent to the Hebrew hitpa’el. The is an infix. It is the tav of the hitpa’el or ethpa’al which moves to AFTER a sibilant and changes its form to match the sibilant. Here it changes from tav to tsade. Next to zayin it will change to dalet. The only difficulty is the suffix, which in form is either feminine indefinite or masculine definite. The second grammatical interpretation of the suffix gives “The rebel sees himself vulnerable to punishments, and knows that he himself is the one crucified”. The first interpretation gives the meaning, “and knows that his identity is crucified”. The word translated “he himself” or “his identity” can only be interpreted from the context and a grammatical analysis of the components of the word, since the usage here is not attested elsewhere.
[2] I have translated according to the traditional Samaritan etymology and understanding, which is not far from the traditional Jewish understanding. Disregard the mangling by most modern translations. This is water that is drunk to establish innocence. It has a tiny little bit of the dirt of the ground round the Sanctuary in it, as well as something to make it bitter, from memory I think wormwood. A guilty person is afflicted by it. (It was a wonderful device for clearing people of slander). The innocent person unjustly accused is given better bodily and mental and spiritual health by it. (This is one of the hints of resurrection in the Torah, and Marqe seems to have it in mind along with the other meanings). The false accuser who has sworn a false oath or committed perjury or conspiracy is struck by afflictions or even in some cases death. The passage in the Torah is in Numbers. I will look up the reference later. There is a lot of traditional theory not stated in the words of the Torah but agreed on by Samaritans and Jews
[3] tashnîqayya. This is the traditional Samaritan understanding here, but Ben-Hayyim argues for the meaning “burnt up”. The Aramaic verb is apparently from the root tsade-lamed-bet, and this is how the Samaritans understand it. Ben-Hayyim thinks this to be a phonetic variant of tsade-lamed-he-bet in this place, but it seems to me that he is scratching round for alternatives to the traditional understanding because he can’t see the relevance of it
[4] maradu
[5] or 'suffer'
[6] Fanuta a core Samaritan theological concept history being divided into periods of favor and disfavor. 
[7] verb is shin-nun-qof
[8] The verb shin-vav-bet is Hebrew. The Aramaic equivalent is tav-vav-bet. The participle of the Aramaic verb is Ta’eb. I think your question is whether the Aramaic tav-vav-bet occurs. No. In Verse Yod the verb is used to mean returning to God or repenting. This is the usual Samaritan theological equivalent of the Hebrew shin-vav-bet when writing in Aramaic. The word Ta’eb does not mean someone that repents. It means someone that comes back again. It is used in the the extant texts in the sense of someone that makes something come back again, the Tabernacle or the Ruuta. That is grammatically impossible. In that meaning the af‘al participle would be needed (=Hebrew hif‘il), i.e. metib. This means the original meaning of the return of Moses has been deliberately obscured.

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