Movement 1: Sacredness and vegetation / Sacralità e vegetazione

Fig leaves, bramble thorns and cedars of Lebanon: silent and talking plants in the Bible and beyond


A number of Hebrew and Aramaic texts in which trees and plants appear as speaking characters are here published in Italian translation: the parable of the trees in Judges 9, a haggadic expansion of Midrash Esther Rabbah upon Esther 5:14, a hymn inserted before Esther 7:10 in the Targum Sheni, and the two extant stanzas of a Classical Syriac dispute between The vine and the cedar. They exhibit a high level of literary elaboration and have rhythm and structure similar to the Mesopotamian dispute. Plants and trees are humanized as spokesmen who, sometimes ironically and playfully, put into stage values and knowledge of the Bible centred culture of their authors, audiences and readerships. The midrashic and targumic texts organize Biblical quotations on trees and plants in the form of brilliant debates that were possibly used for pedagogical purposes. The Classical Syriac dispute of the vine and the cedar by David bar Pawlos (8th-9th century) has a more learned character and recalls one of the elegant reuse of traditional forms and themes in Arabic adab texts.


Targum; Aramaic; Dispute; Bible; Classical Syriac

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