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אַצִיתוּ לִי אִילָנַיָּא | Atsitu Li Ilinaya | The Argument of the Trees — a debate-poem for Purim in Aramaic from the Targum Sheni

https://opensiddur.org/?p=54642 אַצִיתוּ לִי אִילָנַיָּא | Atsitu Li Ilinaya | The Argument of the Trees — a debate-poem for Purim in Aramaic from the Targum Sheni 2024-03-07 12:49:46 This Aramaic poem, written in the early Byzantine era by an unknown author, can be found in its entirety within the Targum Sheni for Esther 7:9. It features an argument between an assortment of trees over which one is required to bear the great dishonor of having to be the one to hold Haman. It's also chock-full of anti-Christian polemic and references to Toledot Yeshu. Text the Open Siddur Project Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (translation) Unknown Author(s) https://opensiddur.org/copyright-policy/ Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/ Purim Acrostic translation Jewish-Christian relations polemic acrostic Aramaic פיוטים piyyutim Alphabetic Acrostic Trees mid-first millennium CE combating anti-Jewish oppression particularism and universalism
This Aramaic poem, written in the early Byzantine era by an unknown author, can be found in its entirety within the Targum Sheni for Esther 7:9. It features an argument between an assortment of trees over which one is required to bear the great dishonor of having to be the one to hold Haman. It’s also chock-full of anti-Christian polemic and references to Sefer Toldot Yeshu. The translation preserves the somewhat ragged acrostic. Two lines [in brackets] were invented by the author to fill lacunae in the verses.

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Source (Aramaic)Translation (English)
אַצִיתוּ לִי אִילָנַיָּא וְכׇל־שְׁתִילַיָּא
דִּשְׁתִילוּ מִן־יוֹמָא דִּבְרֵאשִׁית
דְּבַׄר הַמְדָתָא בַּעֵי לְמֵסַק
לְאַכְסַדְרָא דְּבַר פַּנְדֵירָא
Attention to me, trees and all plants
That have been planted since the day of creation!
The boy, son of Hamdata, wants to rise
to the parlor[1] An emendation of the Targum Sheni text’s אלכנדריא Alexandria. Leiber points out its similarity to the word אכסן peg, axle, which befits the crucifixion imagery.  of the son of Pandera![2] Jesus. 
גּוּפְנָה אֲמָרָא קוּצְרָא אֲנָא יִצְטְלֵב בְּרֵישִׁי
דְּמִנִּי נִסְבִּין חַמְרָא בְּנִיסוּכִין
Grapevine said, “I am too short for him to be crucified atop me,
For from me is taken wine[3] Per Leiber’s emendation, from the Targum Sheni text’s אמרא ewe. According to Bavli Eruvin 53b the two words were homophonous in Galilean Aramaic.  for libations.”
אֲדָרָא אֲמָרָא יִצְטְלֵב בְּרֵישִׁי וְלָא יְכִילְנָא
[דְּמִן־כְּשׁוֹרַי אִתְעֲבִידָא תֵּיבוֹתָא]
Declared the juniper, “He’d be crucified atop me, but I can’t,
[For from my beams was made the ark.]”[4] This line was written by the author to fill lacunae in the Targum Sheni. One of the suggestions for the mysterious gopher wood of Genesis 6:14 is the wood of the juniper. 
חִילָא אֲנָא אֲמָר תְּאֵינְתָּא
יִצְטְלֵב בְּרֵישִׁי וְלָא יְכִילְנָא
דְּמִנִּי נִסְבִּין לְבִיכּוּרַיָּא
וּמִנִּי לְבֵישׁ אָדָם וְחַוָּה
How[5] This acronym is sloppy. The usage of ח in the ה location here, along with the mixup of חמרא and אמרא in note 3, show the Galilean Aramaic loss of distinct gutturals, preserved to this day in Samaritan Hebrew. Note that Samaritan piyyutim often show the same sort of merger frightened am I!” said the figtree,
that he be crucified atop me, for I can’t,
For from me is taken first-fruits,
while I clothed Adam and Eve.
זֵיתָא אֲמָרָה יִֹצְטְלֵב בְּרֵישִׁי וְלָא יְכִילְנָא
דְּמִנִּי נִסְבִּין מִישְׁחָא לִמְנָרְתָּא
חֲכִּים רָזַיָּא בְּרַא יָתִי
לְמִפְרַע שְׁטָרֵיהּ דְּעוֹבַדְיָה נְבִיאָה
Zoinks!“ said the olive. “He’d be crucified atop me, but I can’t,
For from me is taken oil for the Temple lampstand.
Hidden Things’ Knower created me
to pay back the debt of Obadiah the prophet.”[6] Referring to a midrash found in Exodus Rabbah 34a, that Obadiah spent all of his money and had to borrow on interest in order to pay to support the prophets of God he was protecting. 
טָב חֲרִינָא דְּיִצְטְלֵב בְּרֵישֵׁיהּ
אֲמָר דִּיקְלָא קֳדָם נְטוֹרֵיהּ
יָדְעִין כׇּל־בְּנֵי בִּיסְרָא
דְּהוּא הָמָן רְשִׁיעָא בַּר בְּרֵיהּ דַּאֲגַג עֲמָלֵקָאָה
כׇּל־מַלְכַיָּא יוֹדוּן קֳדָמָךְ
דְּאַתְּ הוּא אֱלָהָא וְלֵית בַּר־מִינָּךְ
לָךְ יָאֵי לְמִפְרוֹק בָּנַיָּא
כְּמָא דִּפְרַקְתָּא יָת אַבָהָתְהוֹן
That on someone else he’d be crucified is better,”
said the palmtree before his Guardian.
Yes, all moving things know
that this wicked Haman is a descendant of Agag the Amalekite.
Kings all give thanks before You,
for you are God and none is like You.
Look, You see fit to redeem the children
Just as you redeemed their ancestors!”
מֵיתִיב קוּדְשָׁא וַאֲמָר לֵיהּ
יִישַׁר חֵילָךְ כׇּל־מָה דַּאֲמָרְתָּ
נְסֵיבִיתָךְ בְּעֵצָה דְּיִצְטְלֵב בְּרֵישָׁךְ
דְּאַתְּ זוֹגָא לִכְנִישׁ דְּצִיּוֹן
Making a riposte, the Holy One said to him,
“Well done in all you said!
Now I chose you for a reason. He should be crucified atop you
for you are the pair of the community of Zion.”
סְבֵירִית אֲמָרָת אֶתְרוֹגָא דְּיִצְטְלֵב בְּרֵישִׁי וְלָא יְכִילְנָא
[בְּדִיל דַּאֲנָא אַבָּא דַּהֲדָרָא דְּחַגָּא]
דְּעָׄלַי אֲתָא כׇּל־עַלְמָא כֻּלְּהוֹן
לְמֵיסַב מִן־אִיבַּי לְשַׁבָּחָא קֳדָמָךְ
So I thought,“ said the citron. “he’d be crucified atop me, but I can’t,
[since I’m the source of the glory of the holiday].[7] This line was written by the author to fill lacunae in the Targum Sheni. The holiday in question is Sukkot. 
For on me the whole entire world comes
to take from my fruits to praise before You.”
פְּתַח אָסָא פּוּמֵיהּ וַאֲמָר יִצְטְלֵב בְּרֵישִׁי וְלָא יְכִילְנָא
הָא אֲנָא שׁוּתָּף עִם־אֶתְרוֹגָא
Proclaimed the myrtle promptly: “He’d be crucified atop me, but I can’t.
Aren’t I tied up with the citron?”
צְוַח בְּלוּטָא וַאֲמָר יִצְטְלֵב בְּרֵישִׁי וְלָא יְכִילְנָא
דְּבוֹרָה מֵנִיקָה דְּרִבְקָה קְבוּרָה תְּחוֹתוֹי
Choked the oak, “He’d be crucified atop me, but I can’t.
Dvorah the nursemaid of Rivqa was buried under me!”
קְרָא בּוּטְמָא וַאֲמָר יִצְטְלֵב בְּרֵישִׁי וְלָא יְכִילְנָא
דְּאַבְשָׁלוֹם בְּרֵיהּ דְּדָוִד אִיתְּלַי בְּרֵישִׁי
Quipped the pistachio and said, “He’d be crucified atop me, but I can’t,
For Avshalom David’s son was hanged atop me!”
רוּמָּנָא אֲמָר יִצְטְלֵב בְּרֵישִׁי וְלָא יְכִילְנָא
דְּצַדִּיקַיָּא מְּתִילִין לׇקֳבְּלִי
Remarked the pomegranate, “He’d be crucified atop me, but I can’t,
for the righeous are likened to me.”
שְׁמַעוּ מִנִּי אֲמַר אַרְזָא
צְלִיבוּ יָתֵיהּ לְהָמָן רְשִׁיעָה
וּלְעַסְרָה בָּנוֹי עַלֵי צְלִיבָא
דְּאַתְקִין יָתֵיהּ לְנַפְשֵׁיהּ
Shush, listen to me!” said the cedar.
“Crucify Haman the wicked
And his ten sons on the crucifix
That he himself had set up!”

 

Notes

Notes
1An emendation of the Targum Sheni text’s אלכנדריא Alexandria. Leiber points out its similarity to the word אכסן peg, axle, which befits the crucifixion imagery.
2Jesus.
3Per Leiber’s emendation, from the Targum Sheni text’s אמרא ewe. According to Bavli Eruvin 53b the two words were homophonous in Galilean Aramaic.
4This line was written by the author to fill lacunae in the Targum Sheni. One of the suggestions for the mysterious gopher wood of Genesis 6:14 is the wood of the juniper.
5This acronym is sloppy. The usage of ח in the ה location here, along with the mixup of חמרא and אמרא in note 3, show the Galilean Aramaic loss of distinct gutturals, preserved to this day in Samaritan Hebrew. Note that Samaritan piyyutim often show the same sort of merger.
6Referring to a midrash found in Exodus Rabbah 34a, that Obadiah spent all of his money and had to borrow on interest in order to pay to support the prophets of God he was protecting.
7This line was written by the author to fill lacunae in the Targum Sheni. The holiday in question is Sukkot.

 

 

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