For today's--and for days' to come--reading Rebecca Lesses of Mystical Politics has suggested a difficult passage in Hekhalot Zutarti (the "lesser palaces") §§420-421 because it is baffling. And so, while I started off with a passage that was relatively straightforward, we are delving into one that has left many baffled. It has a great deal of textual difficulties, so we will spread this over several posts.
Hekhalot Zutarti is perhaps even more literarily disorganized than Hekhalot Rabbati. Its disparate materials, however, are indispensable because much of it is highly unique in the Hekhalot texts. For example, it has the lone reference in the Hekhalot literature to the so-called "posture of Elijah," which after Gershom Scholem's reading of Hai Gaon that placed it at the center of merkavah mystical practice received a great deal of attention. I think most now find Scholem's emphasis rather extreme since it does only occur in this one passage with many other practices discussed throughout the different "macroforms."
Lesses's selection, as we will see, also is fairly interesting. Peter Schäfer has, in fact, called it unique not only for Hekhalot Zutarti, but for all of the Hekhalot (Origins of Jewish Mysticism, 301). It appears in all the major mss. and in the Geniza fragments (the text of which I do not have in front of me).
Text and (Preliminary) Translation:
אמר רבי ישמאל על מי שתק השר שהוא קורא אותו מגיהשה שאין בריה בכל משרתים שיקרא אותו בשם הזה ואת קורא אותו מגיהשה מפני שהוא שני להדרירון הדר תוב הדר טהור הדר זיו אוריה יה יה אלהי ישראל
Rabbi Ishmael said concerning one who is silent: The prince who is called MGYHShH--there is no creature among all the ministers who will call him by this name and you call him MGYHShH--because he is distinguished (?) to crown (?) a good crown, a pure crown, a splendorous crown of the light of Yah Yah Yah God of Israel.
M22 adds אמרו עליו after ישמאל. N8128 uses קוראו instead of קורא אותו. M40 has כשר rather than השר.
A couple mss. have מניהשה (D436) or מניחשה (N8128). M22 has בדוק rather than בריה; O1531 has ביריא; and N8128 has בירייה editorially inserted.
Both O1531 and N8128 add כל after שאין.
M22 and O1531 have משרתיו; N8128 has המשרתים
D436 has שיקראנו rather than שיקרש אותו; M40 has שיקראנו בזה השם; M22 omits הזה.
N8128 uses ואת קוראו rather than ואת קורא אותו.
Same variations as before with angel's name.
O1531 and D436 has שיני; N8128 omits שני.
N8128 has להדריון, which looks smoother, but all of the other readings agree on להדרירון.
M40 and D436 read טוהר; O1531 doubles הדר תוב and omits טהור.
There is a great deal of variation on the divine name. Some add another "Yah," some include YY, an abbreviation of the tetragrammaton. M40 misspells the word "God" as אלדי. N8128 adds גיהוי פנהודי.
This is quite a difficult passage, indeed. The rest of §420 improves, but I thought I should stop before I was overwhelmed by textual variations. For translation and interpretation, the abundance of pronouns can be quite dizzying and I make no claim to have sorted it out quite yet. The use of punctuation is solely my own--and provisional--to help clarify the passage. It may obscure the meaning as well. I welcome any and all amendments to translation and punctuation. For example, is "concerning one who is silent" to be part of what R. Ishmael says or not? I have started to opt for not, but I probably can be easily convinced otherwise. Should it be better rendered as "still"? I have chosen to render "the prince who is called" rather than the more literal "the prince who he calls him." There are other problems as well--am I right with "distinguished" and I find what I have rendered as "to crown" quite baffling. I am pretty sure I have not captured all that is going on in that word. And if I am missing something--whether it should be obvious or obscure--please let me know.
Moving along, as Schäfer notes, this is a fairly unique passage. I am not quite sure what is going on with the silence/stillness part--perhaps Rebecca Lesses has some insight here?--but so far we are meeting an angelic figure, whose name varies by mss. and who appears to be quite important in the divine throne room. This importance is easy to see already--one of the few easier things to see--because this angel appears to be in charge of taking care of the divine crown, which is good, pure, and splendorous (words that are often bandied about in Hekhalot texts). Indeed, the divine realm is one of intense goodness, purity, and splendor to much a higher degree than any place on earth.
It seems, though, that not everyone does--or can?--call the angel by name or by "this" name, which might suggest that the angel has several names. The angel's name is a privileged disclosure.