Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Why does Onkolus Sometimes Translate City Names and Sometimes Leaves them Unaltered?

In Matos, when the members of shevet Gad and Reuven approach Moshe with their request to inherit the area that had already been conquered (Ever Hayarden), they start off by listing the conquered cities (Bamidbar 32:3).

Usually, Onkolus leaves city names unaltered in his translation, but here, he translates them according to their meaning or significance. For instance, he translates "El'eila" as the Aramaic equivalent of "Argumentative People. And he translates "Nevo," as "Burial Place of Moshe."

This is very different from what he usually does, even though the city names often have discernible meanings elsewhere as well. In addition, many of these city names are used again later in the parsha and he goes back to his usual modus operandi there of not translating/explaining city names.

Does any have any insight into why he does this davka in this pasuk?

Incidentally, this is such a parsha of ahavas ha'aretz, along with the story of the daughters of Tzlafchad last week. Kol tuv!