Secret acts or rods?

מאת: אבנר רמו

אל: avnerramu @

נכתב ב: 11:34:12  28.08.2013, כתוספת/תגובה ל: שמות א

In the Book of exodus we read:
ויבא משה ואהרן אל-פרעה, ויעשו כן כאשר צוה יהוה; וישלך אהרן את-מטהו לפני פרעה ולפני עבדיו--ויהי לתנין. ויקרא גם-פרעה לחכמים, ולמכשפים; ויעשו גם-הם חרטמי מצרים בלהטיהם--כן. וישליכו איש מטהו ויהיו לתנינם; ויבלע מטה-אהרן, את-מטתם.
“And Moses and Aaron went in to Pharaoh, and they did so, as YHWH had commanded; and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh and before his servants, and it became a serpent. Then Pharaoh also called for the wise men and the sorcerers; and they also, the magicians of Egypt, did in like manner with their secret arts. For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents; but Aaron's rod swallowed up their rods” (Ex 7:10-12).

The Hapax legomenon להטיהם (lehateyhem), which was translated to English as “Secret arts,” was understood by the Greek translators as “Magic potion.” A similar Hebrew word appears in this narrative three times: לטיהם (lateyhem), (Ex 7:22; 8:3, 14), but the translators assumed that it is the same concept as להטיהם (lehateyhem). It appears that the translators believed that להטיהם (lehateyhem) is a letter-insertion error of לטיהם (lateyhem).

Now we read:
ויעשו-כן משה ואהרן כאשר צוה יהוה, וירם במטה ויך את-המים אשר ביאר לעיני פרעה ולעיני עבדיו; ויהפכו כל-המים אשר-ביאר, לדם.
“And Moses and Aaron did so, as YHWH commanded; and he lifted up the rod, and smote the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh, and in the sight of his servants; and all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood” (Ex 7:20).
ויעשו-כן חרטמי מצרים בלטיהם; ויחזק לב-פרעה ולא-שמע אלהם
“And the magicians of Egypt did in like manner with their secret arts; and Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he hearkened not unto them” (Ex 7:22).

However, the comparison between these verses suggests that בלטיהם (belatehem) is a misspelled במטיהם (bematehem) - “with their rods” If this suggestion is correct that the letter מ (m) in במטיהם (bematehem) was erroneously been replaced by the letter ל (l).