3

In Bamidbar (26:23):

בְּנֵ֤י יִשָּׂשכָר֙ לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתָ֔ם תּוֹלָ֕ע מִשְׁפַּ֖חַת הַתּוֹלָעִ֑י לְפֻוָ֕ה מִשְׁפַּ֖חַת הַפּוּנִֽי׃

Descendants of Issachar by their clans: [Of] Tola, the clan of the Tolaites; of Puvah, the clan of the Punites;

The Puvah family is brought as a son of yisachar, but when it says the clan name it says “clan of Punites”, not “clan of Puvites”! Why?

(Note: Onkelos has both Puni and Puvah, according to the Chumash in front of me)

  • The Heh of פוה and the Ni of פוני are suffixes, leaving "פו" as the root of the surname. You can read it as משפחת הפווני - Puvani as V and U are interchangeable in Hebrew. – Al Berko Jul 15 at 9:16
  • @Al Berko where is U interchanged with V in tana”ch Hebrew? Also, here the ה would have to be interchangeable with the ני as that is what has changed, not the U (I assume you mean וּ?) – Lo ani Jul 15 at 10:03
  • @LoAni תוך שור און שוק all have consonantal ו switch to matres lectionis in different conjugations. (You probably never would have thought to ask this if you didn't regularly lisp your /w/ sounds into /v/ sounds as in many modern Germanic languages. Towkh and Tawekh actually sound similar.) – Double AA Jul 15 at 11:14
  • THat's like Torah - Torani – Al Berko Jul 15 at 18:34
  • FWIW, I always thought it was a Second Temple-era copyist's error, like the skipping of the Nahash intro in I Samuel 11. A square(but not 1st Temple-era Paleo) nun looks lots like a vav if the bottom stroke is small or disconnected. – Gary Jul 15 at 20:27
5

The Chida (1724—1806) writes in his commentary to Numbers 26:23:

לפוה משפחת הפוני. לכאורה הול״ל הפווי. ויש לרמוז כי הפוני רמז ה׳ שהיא מלכות פ״ו גימטריא אלהים נ׳ רמז לן׳ שערי בינה י׳ חכמה ודוק כי קצרתי

Of Puvah, the clan of the Punites. In reality it should have said "the Puvites." We can say the "Punites" is an allusion to Hashem's kingship:
"pu" (pey vav) is the gematria of Elokim,
"nun" is an allusion to the 50 gates of understanding
"yud" refers to wisdom

... I've abridged this, but dig deeper into this and you'll find more

However the Kitzur Ba'al Haturim (1269-1343) writes that the name change has to do with Yissachar's intensive Torah study:

לפוה משפחת הפוני היה לו לומר הפוי וכתיב פוני לומר שכל ישראל פונים אליו ללמוד מתורתו

It should have written the "Puvites" but it says "Punites" to teach that all of Klal Yisrael would turn to face them to learn Torah.

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