Monday, October 27, 2008

Apollo Min HaTorah minayin, Venus Min HaTorah minayin

A fasinating piece of Shadal:

כ] ותלד עדה וגו' : נ"ל, שהזכיר הכתוב את האנשים האלה ממציאי קצת המלאכות, מפני שהיו האנשים האלה בימים ההם נעבדים כאלהים, ורצה הקב"ה להודיע לישראל כי אנשים היו, ומי אביהם. אבי : ראשון, ומלמד, כטעם בני הנביאים. יושב אהל ומקנה : יושבי אהלים ההולכים כה וכה עם מקניהם אשר ימצאו מקום מרעה. ומקנה : איש מקנה.

[כא] יובל : נראה שהוא אפולו. תופש : מנגן ביד. ועגב : נראה, שהוא מין כנור משונה מעט בצורתו.

[כב] תובל קין : נראה שהוא וולקאנוס, ודע כי קיניא בל' סורי וערבי ענינו צורף זהב וכסף גם חרש ברזל. אין ספק, כי הבלים הרבה נאמרו בימים קדמונים על האנשים האלה, והתורה טיהרה את הסיפורים ההם מחלאתם. לוטש : לשון מירוק וחידוד. כל חרש : על כרחנו צריך לפרש חורש כלי אומנות שבו החרטים עושים מלאכתם. נעמה : גם היא נראה, שהיתה נעבדת, ואולי היא וינוס ושמה מעיד עליה.

8 comments:

Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

This interpretation is not original to Shadal; it seems to have been in the zeitgeist of early modern biblical interpretation.

For example, see pg 557 of "Jewish Antiquities" by David Jennings (1825):

"...so likewise some heathen gods [are derived from Hebrew names], as Vulcan, which seems to be a corruption of Tubal Cain; as Apollo does of Jubal. "

link

But that is a late example.

Here are others: link, all before 1800, with one as early as 1582. So what we have here is Shadal accepting this interpretation, rather than originating it. However, it is also conceivable that he independently arrived at this interpretation since by his own account he had read little modern Bible scholarship (and none in German) until 1829-1830. He was, however, well versed in Greek literature and probably of the then commonly held view which exaggerated links between the culture of ancient Greece and the ancient Near East (links which were real, however).

Moti said...

I had recently come across this in Bulfinch's well-known old book on mythology. A section in the end briefly mentions theories of the origins of the myths. Here's the page:
http://books.google.com/books?id=vxF1cUHM8nkC&pg=PA277

Moti said...

Of course, there is a creative twist here:

The previous writers were looking for stories in Scripture from which, through a process of distortion and forgetting, the Greeks could have arrived at the stories in their mythology;

For Shadal, though, the Bible is not the source of the stories. Rather the original audience of the Torah is assumed to know the stories and the Torah is trying to guide them to an understanding of them compatible with monotheism.

Dan Klein said...

Mississippi Fred kindly brought this posting to my attention. In my translation of Shadal's perush on Bereshit (published 10 years ago), I added a footnote to the effect that the only other source that I was able to find for the identification of Tuval-Cain with Vulcan was a Victorian-era book, "The Wall Chart of World History." My research had been mostly limited to what was available in my local library. As Fred charitably noted, this was before the era of Google Books. In any case, I now find it intriguing that the idea was out there both before and during Shadal's lifetime. Usually he would have given a source for the idea; the fact that he did not do so may mean that he thought the idea was original, or to the contrary, that it was widespread and generally known.

Chortkov said...

Where can one find his perush on Chumash?

Wolf2191 said...

http://ishimshitos.blogspot.com/2008/09/blog-post.html

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