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orion-list guilty corpses
Russell's intriguing questions concerning
tumat meit bring to mind the words of R. Yohanan:
"[The tractates of] Nega'im and Oholot, which are
heavy in this world, will be light in the world to
come" (Pes 50a). Similarly, Yalkut Shimoni (759)
attributes puzzlement even to Solomon: "I succeeded
in understanding the whole Torah, but as soon as I
reached this chapter (i.e., Num 19) ... 'it was too
far from me' (quoting Ecc 7:23)".
Still, "lo talmidah-hakam anoki, ve-lo bat talmidah-hakam
1) Cf. 4Q491 fr. 1-3, where your construct also appears.
2) There is a juxtaposition of peger (pl.) and asham only
at Is 34:3 : ve-hal'leihem yushlaku/u-frigeihem ya'aleh
ba-asham/ve-namasu harim mi-damam.
The NJPS translates: "Their slain shall be left lying,
And the stench [sic] of their corpses shall mount; And
the hills shall be drenched with their blood". Apparently,
the NJPS follows the Targum (t'nanhon < root 'to smoke';
see Jastrow s.v. t'nan).
But both Radak and Metzudat David understand (from
clause 1&2) that no one will bury their corpses. Metzudat
Zion says of asham that "this concerns seirahon". The
latter could refer to either the stench of decay (e.g., BK 82b;
cf. Suk 26a -- but does the rabbinic lit ever use this word
of corpses?), or to 'fault' in the sense of an offense (e.g.,
Pesikta R. s.44, where it is used with het: "one who is
without sin or fault").
3) Within an aggadah in the Yerushalmi (Soteh 5, 20c) we
have two senses of the root p-g-r:
When our ancestors (avoteinu) went up from
the Sea, they saw bodies of sinful people
(pigrei anashim chatim) ... and all of them
[were] dead bodies (pegarim metim) cast
on the shore.
4) Interestingly, Nahum 3:3 uses both peger and
g'viyyah (Vulgate: cadaverum ... corporibus...);
the latter (g'viyyah) is used in the Mishnah, where
treif foods and liquids render the body unfit for
receiving teruman (Mikvaot 10:7). But this is
Each of Russell's other questions, in the delightful
expression of the Sages, "tzarik i'yyun".
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