Modern Israelis ascribe several meanings of the Hebrew root taph-bet-ayin: “to demand,” “to investigate,” “to prosecute” and while about it, “to sue”. None of these meanings were useful in deciphering a mysterious line in the Dead Sea Scrolls.
For decades scholars struggled with a phrase sporting the Hebrew word “tit’ba’e’ch”. Their efforts to interpret the phrase to conform with the modern usage of the root resulted in contortions that the Cirque de Soleil could only envy.
Therein, contend two students, lies the mistake. The root in question had another use too. The verse with the word titbaech appears in a poem called (in English at least) “Apostrophe to Zion” — which appears in the so-called “Psalms Scroll”, together with other poems very much like the biblical Psalms.
Most of the Psalms Scroll had been satisfactorily deciphered and published in distinguished scientific journals. But the mystery verse with titbaech remained obscure.
There were interpretations, to be sure. They just didn’t make much sense. And then Hanan Ariel and Alexey Yuditsky, doctoral students working on a project at the Hebrew Language Academy, had an epiphany.
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