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orion Re: Commentary on Nahum- "hanging alive upon a tree"

There are several intersecting problems in the discussions of crucifixion
in 2nd Temple judaism : the exegesis of the verse in Deuteronomy 21:23
(see my "Ki qilelat elohim talui: Early Jewish Exegesis of Deut. 21:23," 
_JQR_ 74 (1983) 21-45 and the literature cited there particularly the two
articles by J.M. Baumgarten in Jbl 1976? and Eretz yisrael 1983?), the
ancient versions of the verb _talah_ and its "synonyms" throughout the
Hebrew Bible, the material from Qumran (11QTemple and 4QpNahum), and
rabbinic writings. 

one of the major hurdles is the tendency of scholarship to translate, for
example, _clb_ in the targumim by "crucify," whereas it probably means
whatever biblical Hebrew _tlh_ means, depending on context. there is no
doubt that _talah hay_ means "crucify" (as in Sifre to Deut 21:23), but
_talah_ might mean "hang," "crucify," "impale," or perhaps even
"strangle," depending on context. the targum of Num 25:4 of the rare word
"hoqa`a" may not produce any evidence for the practice of 2nd temple
judaism. the rabbis, after all, write (i don't have text in front of me so
i may be off a bit) "minayin lehoqa`a shehi teliyyah."  note the
equivalence of rabheb _tlh_ and targum _clb_!  if i'm not mistaken, hebrew
versions of the shimon ben shetah story use _tlh_ while the aramaic uses
_clb_ so no "proof" can be derived from there either.  josephan and
philonic vocabulary also need to be compared with the septuagint in this

regarding judith's comment on the 4 modes of death penalty in the mishna,
cf. furthermore the classic article by Buchler in MGWJ around 1906 on
"judische Todestrafen," the article by Urbach on "Sanhedrins of 23 and
DEath penalties," (I think it's in a world congress volume, but it's also
in his collected essays Me`olamam shel Hakhamim), and the famous or
infamous passage in targum Ruth (on the phrase "ba'asher tamuti amut"
which refers to the fourth of the death penalties not as "shinnuqa
desudra" (= _heneq_/strangulation) but as "celivat qesa" (lit.,
hanging/crucifixion on/by wood) 

i see now that rolf furuli's posting goes in the same direction as mind
although from a different starting point. the vocabulary of all of our
sources must be clarified before we can make grandiose historical
judgments (or even minor ones).

i have a long-deferred study of "talah and synonymous verbs in the ancient
versions, philo and josephus" sitting in my computer looking for an excuse
to get out. perhaps this discussion will energize it!  i'd be interested
in hearing, off-line after this discussion dies out [accidental pun], from
anyone with further information or thoughts about the topic. 


moshe bernstein