Friday, May 12, 2006

Riblah or Diblah, Ezekiel 6:14

Should we read 'Riblah' (ESV) or 'Diblah' (NIV) in Ezekiel 6:14? Of course the Hebrew letters daleth and resh look similar in both palaeo-Hebrew and in Aramaic square script. The Leningrad Codex and most strands of MT read Diblah, and the 'd' is also attested by the ancient versions. I suppose that modern authors often reject the 'd' on the grounds that the do not know of a place called 'Diblah' (though otherwise it is not an impossible place name; cf. Jer. 48:22). 'Riblah' is read (according to BHS) by a St Petersburg ms of the year 916. There are a couple of issues. First, it occurs to me that variants within existing mediaeval Hebrew mss could constitute a good argument against the view that all mediaeval mss basically stem from one codex. I suspect that the ms base of MT is broader. Secondly, I am wondering about the exegetical sense of reading 'Riblah'. God is pronouncing judgement on Judah. Why should part of that judgement involve making desolate all the way north to Riblah, if the northern part is not inhabited by Judaeans? Am I missing something? I suppose that with either reading we need to establish the geographical bounds of the judgement. What makes more sense?

3 Comments:

Daniel Buck said...

Adam Clarke weighs in on this variant unit:
Verse 14. "And make the land-more desolate than the wilderness toward Diblath"
Diblath or Diblathayim is situated in the land of Moab. It is mentioned Num. 33:46, "Almon- Diblathaim"; and in Jer. 43:22, 'Beth-Diblathaim'. It was a part of that horrible wilderness mentioned by Moses, Deut. 8:15, "wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought." The precise reason why it is mentioned here is not very evident. Some think it is the same as Riblah, where Nebuchadnezzar slew the princes of Israel, and put out Zedekiah's eyes; the principal difference lying between the daleth and the resh, which in MSS. is often scarcely discernible; and hence vast multitudes of various readings. Five, probably six, of Kennicott's MSS. have riblathah, as likewise two of my oldest MSS.; though in the margin of one a later hand directs the word to be read bedaleth, with daleth. But all the Versions read the word with a 'D'. This may appear a matter of little importance, but we should take pains to recover even one lost letter of the word of God.

jennie barbour said...

"it occurs to me that variants within existing mediaeval Hebrew mss could constitute a good argument against the view that all mediaeval mss basically stem from one codex. I suspect that the ms base of MT is broader."

Could you say a little more about the evidence for this? - I've seen a couple of times on this blog the idea mentioned that there might be more in those collections than people assume, but everywhere else I've only come across the view that the variants assembled by Kennicott and de Rossi are really just scribal noise. I'd love to know if there are good reasons for looking into them more seriously.

P J Williams said...

I suppose that the judgement on the nature of the mediaeval texts is mainly going to be on the basis of readings. Clearly the overwhelming majority of variants can be explained as secondary developments. Howevever, for some this explanation appears less natural. Such might be the case in Ezek. 6:14 and I have similarly in 'TMR in 1 Kings ix 18', Vetus Testamentum 46 (1997) 262-65 (here).

Perhaps people have mistakenly taken the general lack of major variants within the Masoretic tradition as a sign that it must derive from a narrow ms base.

Note that some germane material is found in Jimmy Adair's ch. 5 here (see esp. fn. 4 on Barr and the section on Goshen-Gottstein).