I noticed that one of the changes made by the sages that authored Targum Hashiv'im (the LXX) for King Talmai was:

"וַיִּשְׁלַח אֶת זַאֲטוּטֵי בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאֶל זַאֲטוּטֵי בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לֹא שָׁלַח יָדוֹ"

"And he sent the elect [za’atutei] of the children of Israel. And upon the elect of the children of Israel He laid not His hand." (Megillah 9a, Sofrim 1:8)

Which is exactly what was found in Sefer Za'atutei, one of the three scrolls discovered in the Mikdash:

"א"ר שמעון בן לקיש שלשה ספרים נמצאו בעזרה ספר מעונה ספר זאטוטי ספר היא באחד מצאו כתוב מעון ובשנים כתוב מעונה אלהי קדם (שם לג) וקיימו שנים ובטלו אחד באחד מצאו כתוב וישלח אל זאטוטי בני ישראל

R. Simeon b. Laḳish said: Three scrolls of the Torah were found in the Temple court: the Ma‘on scroll, the Za’aṭuṭë scroll, and the Hu’ scroll. In one of these they found the expression of ma‘on, and in the other two it was written, The eternal God is me‘onah (a dwelling place), so they adopted the reading of the two scrolls and discarded that of the one scroll. In another of the scrolls they found it written, And he sent the za‘aṭuṭë (nobles) of the children of Israel" (Sofrim 6:4 and a variant in Yerushalmi Taanit 20b)

Nachalat Yaakov on Sofrim noted this:

"וישלח אל זאטוטי בני ישראל. כן צריך להיות וישלח את זאטוטי בני ישראל והוא בסוף פרשת משפטים וזהו אחד מי"ג דברים ששינו לתלמי המלך כדאיתא במסכת זו פרק קמא הלכה ח'."

Translation: ""And he sent to the za‘aṭuṭë (nobles) of the children of Israel" So it should be "And he sent the za‘aṭuṭë (nobles) of the children of Israel" and that's at the end of Parshat Mishpatim and this is one of thirteen things they changed for King Talmai as it is brought in this tractate, ch. 1:8."

Has an explanation been given explaining the connection between the two events? E.g., the sages in Egypt based this change on the variant scroll found prior in the Mikdash, or perhaps the other way around, the variant scroll was based on this decision of the sages in Egypt, or another option?

  • What does זאטוטי mean, anyhow? Rashi in Megillah there says it's a language of chashivus, respect. But what is the origin of the word? Does it have a Hebrew shoresh?
    – MichoelR
    May 4, 2021 at 13:39
  • 1
    @MichoelR that's a good question. Classic commentators agree it comes from the expression "זוטו של ים" which means greatness or largeness. However, I found in the book ביקורת התלמוד by Yaakov Levi that he writes that he thinks it's from a Greek word that means holy and pure (I was unable to copy the Greek word he provided because I was unable to identify one of the letters).
    – Harel13
    May 4, 2021 at 15:08


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