I am working on a course on Micah and have come across an
in one of the Qumran mss. In 4QXII(f), Micah 5:1 reads:
<heb>"w'eth beth lehem 'ephratha ts'ir lehayoth be'alphey yehuda
LO yatsa"</heb> ... etc.
The transcription offered here is misleading on two accounts.
First, the variant you are concerned with is written lamed-aleph, which
may or may not have been pronounced "lo" (see below). Second, you have
not indicated where actual text is or is not preserved. The reading "li"
is not extant but supplied by the editor. This is almost surely an
It is this LO which strikes me as really remarkable. This LO is,
absent from the MT, though it is present in a couple of Greek
mss (B*, C).
The editor of the scroll fragment suggests that <gk>ek sou</gk>
from <gk>ex ou</gk>.
The Hebrew and Greek variants are not related. The versional
evidence reflects an inner Greek problem with the phrase translating
mmk. "Ou" is a personal pronoun, not a negative.
Considering the fluid state of Hebrew orthography during the
time this scroll was written, one should not assume too quickly that the
scribe of this small fragment was using biblical (Masoretic) Hebrew,
i.e. "l)" equals "not.". The use of metathetic aleph and matres
lectionis was common. Both were also seemingly optional. For example,
the common word "ky" is found also as "ky)" and "k)" at Qumran. The
variations on "l)" also include "lw" and "lw)." Thus, the extant "l)"
could have been pronounced "li" or "lo." If the former, it is not a
textually significant variant. If the latter, it could be due to a
waw/yod interchange at some point in the history of transmission, an
easy mistake. Even then the word could still be understood by the scribe
or any contemporary reader as "to him," "indeed," or "not."
It is impossible to tell which the scribe understood. (Remember,
frg. 5 does not actually belong to 4QXII-f and contains only ten extant
letters, thus we have no comparative data for this scribe's
orthography). Since a negative is found nowhere else (as far as I know)
in the manuscript tradition or in the history of Jewish or Christian
exegesis of this passage (again, as far as I know - and here my
knowledge is even more limited), concluding that "l)" must be read as a
negative here is certainly precarious.