Translation talk:Genesis


Hey Alex43223! It's really great that you are able to help with this project! If it's not too much trouble it would be nice if you could post the source text you used for translation, or if that doesn't apply othe misc information. Also if this is your own translation, or a revision of a pre-existing translation.

Thanks, --Jdavid2008 06:55, 1 April 2007 (UTC)

A question. I've added the last 19 or so verses to the Genesis 1 text, and I don't know where I should post my source information. My source is the traditional Masoretic text, and for translating I relied on four English public domain translations for help: John Nelson Darby's Translation, the Authorised/Common Version/King James Bible, Young's Literal Translation, and Walter Porter's ACV. Where should I acknowledge those sources? Fontwords 17:31, 24 November 2007 (UTC)

Hey Fontwords! This is the place that (the discussion page) where people generally state their sources. So you did everything correctly. Thanks a lot for all your work!--Jdavid2008 17:42, 24 November 2007 (UTC)

Chapter 1 verse 1[edit]

shouldnt the word ĕlôhı̂ym, el-o-heem’ be translated as Gods instead of God. i am sure the hebrew word means Gods

I found it interesting to note that the Hebrew words "baalim" and "adonim" similarly use the "royal we." --Eliyak T·C 22:36, 2 February 2010 (UTC)

Well, I think we should re-translate Genesis 1:1, to 1:2, for the fact, that some of the vocabulary, and references, people may not get. Also, I re-translated Genesis 1:1 for you guys. "In the beginning. God created the skies, and the land."--Alegend (talk) 02:14, 30 October 2010 (UTC)

Chapter 1, Verse 2[edit]

Hey fontwords! Here are a couple thoughts on verse 2, what do you think?

2a: The Hebrew phrase translated here as "universe" literally means, "face of the deep" and is taken by some to refer to the oceans of the world.

This is one of the verses first translated by Alex? Maybe we should use "face of the deep", the literal and just let readers decide themselves what it means? Or do you think that would ruin the easy english quality of the text?

2b: According to Strong's Concordance, the Hebrew word translated here as "floating" means literally "brooding," as a hen does over its eggs.

floating isn't exactly that nice a word, brooding though sounds a bit oldish--and I wouldn't have gotten the meaning correctly without the explanation about a hen. I wonder though if there is a better word for here?--Jdavid2008 06:33, 26 November 2007 (UTC)
Jdavid2008--Sorry about the delayed response. I don't get on the library computer to do this often.
2a: This was translated by Alex as universe, a translation I've never seen before. "Face of the deep" seems fine to me. I would have changed it to that, but being new to wikipedia, I'm trying not to step on any toes. If it seems fine to you and whoever else is involved, I'll change it.
2b: This word for "brooding" comes from an old root in Hebrew meaning "to be soft," so many translation use "moving," "moving gently," or "hovering." Personally I have no objection to floating--it seems to convey the original thought very well. I just added the footnote for anyone who might be interested.
Finally, in looking over I've noticed that there's an awful lot of footnotes for Genesis 1. If anyone thinks I should, I'm more than happy to take some down. Thanks for your thoughts,
Fontwords 21:08, 30 November 2007 (UTC)
Hey Fontwords! Alex did a little work on this a long time ago, but for ages hasn't been active, or contactable. Since you took over this chapter, feel free to make any edits you think are important. Because it seemed good to you though I'll change universe to 'face of the deep', if when you get to the library you decide differently you can always change it :)
All your footnotes look good, and there isn't really any problem with having lot's, I'd say just leave them.
Thanks again for all your work!--Jdavid2008 00:37, 1 December 2007 (UTC)
I was just looking over the translation and I'd like to help out since I have broad training in biblical languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek and Latin); I figured the Genesis discussion page would be the most active. My first thought is just that I think "floating" in 1:2 is still inaccurate and reminiscent of earlier translations with less fidelity to the proto-Hebraic original (e.g. the Vulgate). I think "brooding" is much more accurate: but since that has unwanted connotations in modern English, I would suggest "perching/ed" over, or "hovering" on (e.g. NIV), which preserve the separation of the Spirit and the substrate implied by "floating" while getting some of the connotation of the connection between the two of "brooding" in the sense of "incubation of an egg". Since I haven't edited before I wanted to throw this out there and see what folks thought and/or who else is active on this project. Cheers! --Citizensunshine 04:10, 6 December 2007 (UTC) (My Userpage is on at the same handle; I'll try to migrate it soon)
Hey Citizensunshine! I'm glad you came and are interested in helping out, this project sure needs a lot of work!! There are only a few of us--actively I think maybe three other people, one working on John, one working on 1 John, and then Fontwords. I just wanted to drop in and say Hi -- I'll leave your specific question about this verse to fontwords though, as he's been doing most of the work on Genesis. :)--Jdavid2008 05:58, 6 December 2007 (UTC)
Citizensunshine--I'm always happy to bump into someone who knows biblical languages well. "Hovering" looks fine to me. If you can help improve the translation--by all means do so. Although I've been doing a lot of translation for Genesis, my knowledge of Hebrew is limited to putting out this sort of "rough draft" sort of stuff. Thanks for your advice, Fontwords 16:10, 7 December 2007 (UTC)
Sirrahs: thanks for the tabula rasa, as it were. After the holidays with my family (I'm back) I hope we can get some speed in the Wiki Bible translation. For the sake of non-duplication, I shall begin with (semi-randomly chosen) the Book of Daniel and see how it goes with relevant contributions.
I'm sorry it took me so long to get back. I've done several verses of Daniel as I promised and I am now I hope nicely equipped to finish the entire book. [Please other contributors, check my work; my contributions are under "citisunshine" rather than this handle] As to returning my mail: I believe I've gotten two messages; but Genesis still appears to be by far the most trafficked discussion page so I post here in response to them. To answer both: my sources (aside from the obvious use of the mostly vulgar Latin proto-Jeromic Vulgate and the high Greek Septuagint) are primarily the Judaic "Talmud Yerushalmi" in Hebrew and Aramaic and to a lesser extent the Essene Old Testament (plus still-debated apocrypha) of c 20-80 BC. A part of my intermission was getting a (typographic of course) copy of the Essene "Dead Sea Scrolls". To the Wikier who asked me to post my sources: I will attempt to post the relevant sections of the Yerushalmi if you wish (that being largely a dispersed source for the meaning of words at the time of [in this case the Book of Daniel's] canonization); but sadly due to the vagaries of copyright law, the Essenic text (at least the translation to anything other than original which I certainly can't get anyway) represented by the Dead Sea Scrolls is not yet and (RIDICULOUSLY for not another 60-odd years) shan't be in the public domain; thus I can't republish on Wiki nor even its discussion boards the small part of it I have obtained even as text. (Of course I speak only to US law but as I reside here I must abide by it.) I shall push on, on Daniel, unless I hear otherwise from yall. If that meets with general approval I think I'd like to hit on Jeremiah next: but that's a huge project and I want to make sure I'm on the right page. I'm also of course open to suggestions if yall feel there's another task on the Wikibible better suited to me. Citizensunshine 11:06, 20 January 2008 (UTC)

Standard Footnotes?[edit]

Could we adopt another way to do footnotes in WikiProject Bible? I understand that those who put in footnotes have generally used the letter a, b, c, and so on with the Fn tags. However, as the Fn system is very inflexible when adding extra footnotes, and, at least in Genesis, notes are starting to pile up and not link right. I've had no success trying to make them work.

If no one objects by Monday, I'm going to change the notes in Genesis to work with the simpler ref tags.Fontwords 16:20, 7 December 2007 (UTC)

Sounds great Fontwords! I started using the Fn tags because other translations on Wikisource were using it, but also have noticed they are really impractical for this project. The ref tag sounds great.--Jdavid2008 17:56, 7 December 2007 (UTC)

Gen 1:25[edit]

Is cattle in 1:25 better translated as livestock? (I don't know Hebrew, but somebody told me it was, so I decided I'd check :)--Jdavid2008 06:40, 27 January 2008 (UTC)

Now that I've looked at it, I think it probably would be better livestock. It's the Hebrew "behemah" which according to Strong's Hebrew Definitions means: 1) beast, cattle, animal "1a) beasts (coll of all animals) 1b) cattle, livestock (of domestic animals) 1c) wild beasts." As there isn't a clear exact definition of the word that I know to be authoritative, I used the more traditional cattle. But livestock is probably better, as cattle in today's English implies bulls and cows, while behemah is a more general term. (By the way, the "behemoth" of Job is linguistically related to "behemah." Fontwords 16:26, 1 February 2008 (UTC)
If we're going to change behemah to livestock instead of cattle, would it be all right with you all if I looked up all instances of behemah in the Hebrew Old Testament so far translated as livestock and changed itj to cattle, for the sake of consistency? Fontwords 14:33, 6 February 2008 (UTC)

Sources (Jon)[edit]

I was asked to put my sources in here. I used the Blue Letter Bible [1] online site. For each verse that site has tools for various things to include showing the verse in like 20 different translations, dictionary definitions, and the Greek/Hebrew words and definitions for each verse as needed. The translation was my own original translation for contribution to the site. Do not hesitate to edit any part of my work as you see fit. --Jon 17:12, 14 March 2008 (UTC)

Sources (Cato)[edit]

I have added Chapter 3 and revised Chapters 1 & 2. I am trying to translate directly from the Hebrew, but am clearly very influenced by existing translations, especially JPS 1917, and by Rashi. However, I am avoiding "thou" and other archaisms.--Cato 11:47, 16 March 2008 (UTC)

Mistakes (listed by Prof. Friedman)[edit]

According to the Newsweek article on us (see here "(Old Testament scholar Richard Friedman says he's already found errors in Wiki's Genesis translation.)" I emailed Prof. Friedman asking if he could point them out so we could correct them and this is what he responded:

I can only take the time to give a you a few examples at this time:
1) The second verse of Genesis 1 has the subject preceding a perfect verb (weha’ares hayetah). We now know that this is the form of the past perfect. The perfect would have read watehî weha’ares, with the verb preceding the subject, which is the usual form. Therefore, the correct translation would be "the earth had been," not "the earth was." It's not a small point. It has theological implications: it means that there was pre-existing matter at the time of creation. There's no creatio ex nihilo. Some of the more recent translations (including my own) now reflect this understanding. And there will be a great many more cases of this form in Genesis.
2) The old translation of Gen 1:1 as "In the beginning God created..." does not correctly reflect that the first two words are in the construct state. This was first pointed out by the medieval commentator Rashi and is reflected in most of the translations in recent decades.
3) The footnote connecting the word merahepet in Gen 1:2 to a (Syriac) word for "to brood" is misleading here in Genesis 1 and makes no sense in the context.
4) The initial day is identified with a cardinal number: "one day" (’ehad), not with the ordinal "first day" (ri’sôn) in the text. That is an interesting point and has been commented on for hundreds of years and therefore should not be hidden in a translation.
5) In Gen 1:9 the Hebrew uses a verb to express the gathering of the water. It is incorrect to translate it with an adjective ("together"), which does not convey a sense of the Hebrew Niphal verb.
I hope that these few examples from the first verses of Genesis give you an idea of the kind of mistakes that are involved.
(My computer can't do all the diacritical marks that are necessary to transcribe Hebrew properly. I trust that the transcriptions above will still be clear to you.) "

I don't yet know anything about Hebrew yet, what do people think? Jdavid2008 19:37, 3 July 2008 (UTC)

I know a tiny little bit of Hebrew. I do know for certain that many scholars widely disagree with each other on what basic Hebrew phrases mean. I'd like to run the mistakes by some scholars at Mechon Mamre (a Jewish institute concerned with Hebrew Texts) to see whether they agree with him. As to his list:
1) I've never heard of this before. Many well-known translations have "the earth was"--The New King James Version, the New International Version, the New American Standard Bible, the English Standard Version, the American Standard Version, The John Nelson Darby Translation, the Holman Christian Standard Bible, and Todays New International Version. I've yet to find a translation out there that used "the earth had been."
2)This one I have heard before. Young's Literal Translation and Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) recognize this issue. Young translated Genesis 1:1 "In the beginning of God's preparing the heavens and the earth..." The Notes in the HCSB suggest "When God began to create the heavens and the earth..."
3) Oops! I'm responsibe for this one. I referred to Strong's Concordance, which has been a sort of standard in Bible translation. Anyhow, Syriac and Hebrew are closely enough related that there may be some relation between the words (see the explanation in Strong's Concordance).
4) Okay...maybe we paraphrased a bit to freely. That's a valid point--I'm pretty sure he's right on this one.
5) Yes, we did paraphrase this one a tad bit. But English is frequently turning to using adjectives or prepositions along with verbs--e.g. "go away" for depart, "go down" for descend, "gather together" for gather, "burn up" for "consume with flames", etc. Perhaps we should get rid of the together, though--it really doesn't help the reader.
Folks, if these are the kind of mistakes we're making, I don't think we need to be too worried. By those standards, even the best translations made conventionally are pretty flawed. That write-up in newseek was interesting to see. I guess that's the power of wiki projects--that about twenty people can make national news. But what we really need to watch out for is agenda-based changing of the text--that's the real danger in a wiki.

Fontwords 17:17, 9 July 2008 (UTC) Fontwords 17:33, 9 July 2008 (UTC)

The debate over whether the word should be "was" or "became" or "had been" is a long one. The NIV has "became" in the footnotes as a possible alternative. Other scholars claim "was" and most Bible translations have opted for this.
Hi there. I'm a pastor and a geologist, and I've spent a lot of time working with the correct rendition of the Genesis creation account. I agree with Prof. Friedman about "had been" as opposed to "was". I'm enthusiastic about that interpretation, because it allows just enough room for science to coexist with religious belief. I've just now found this project, and I'm very impressed. Good work, all! -- Pinkfud (talk) 20:47, 11 March 2009 (UTC)
I hope no one minds if I chime in. By way of introduction to this project, I have a degree in Ancient Near Eastern Studies with an emphasis in Biblical Hebrew and a minor in Greek. I am enrolled in a masters program in Jewish Studies at the University of Oxford. I'd like to comment on Dr. Friedman's critique and add a comment of my own.
1) Verbal aspect and tense has long been a controversial issue in Biblical Hebrew, but it can hardly be reduced to simple subject - verb word order. To assert a past perfect generally requires a relative, causal, or temporal clause that establishes a temporal context against which the pluperfect can be compared. Friedman likes to interpret the first two words of Gen 1:1 as standing in the construct, which would provide just such a context, but I don't think the narrative establishes that frame of reference as temporally separated from the verbs of verse 2. I think a past imperfect is more precise, which would render our understanding (not necessarily a translation) of the verse something like this: When God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was (at that time) in a state of barrenness.
2) I agree here, and I think the syntax demands verse 1 be read as a type of introduction or heading. The sense seems to be along the lines of "This is how it went down when God created the heavens and the earth: . . ."
3) Agreed.
4) Agreed.
5) Also agreed. This is a fientive verb. The transitive sense should be conveyed, but the translation seems to render the verb as a stative, thus making "water" the subject rather than the object ("let the waters BE in a certain state" when it should be "let the waters be ACTED UPON in a certain way").
I would also add that the phrase tohu wabohu (Gen 1:2 - "chaotic and empty"), rather than representing chaos or nothingness, denotes a barren wilderness or desert. This is the sense elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible and it appears to mean the same in the Ugaritic literature. For a good discussion of this issue see chapter 1 in David Tsumura's Creation and Destruction: A Reappraisal of the Chaoskampf Theory in the Old Testament. maklelan (talk) 17:10, 12 June 2009 (UTC)

(deindent) Having done a translation of this text, I want to make some comments on this:

  1. It is difficult for a non-native speaker of hebrew to distinguish hebrew tense well, and not perfect for a native speaker also, because of the passage of time. I am not saying that non-native speakers should be excluded, but that it would be good to get as many native speaker perspective as possible.
  2. Elaborating on the point, I independently translated chapters 1-6, and my translations were very different from the ones already here. I independently translated ch 24 too, and it was almost identical to the one that was already here. I conclude from this that ch 24 was translated by a native speaker of Hebrew, while the others were not. It is impossible to overemphasize the extent to which being a native speaker of Hebrew helps accurate translation.
  3. There is a lot of pressure from religious people to make the text more sophisticated than it actually is, especially with regard to the primitive idea that the sky is a big dome over our heads. The text is completely straightforward, and almost unambiguous, especially when compared to psalms or lamentations.
  4. There is no "construct state", nor does it apply here. Rashi is full of shit, as always (I read only a little).
  5. It is important to recognize sectarian bias, and get as secular a translation as possible. Until now, the bible has always been translated by the religious folks, because there were no secular Hebrew speakers. Now we have them, so we can translate well.

I am not convinced that tense-matching is essential, I changed some phrases' tense around a little for flow and for clarity. I think less than 5% of the verbs have changed tense, and the meaning is unaltered. The important thing is that the verses meaning is unchanged.

As for reconciling religion with science, the genesis creation story is the least significant part of the Bible, it is even the least significant part of genesis, you could throw it out without changing anything else. God the creator is not particularly important to religion, which is why religion doesn't usually care about big-bang nucleosynthesis.

This book is mostly concerned with what particular sins some hypothetical ancestor of this or that tribe must have committed to explain why they are all so pathetic, and why the descendents of more worthy hypothetical ancestors are justified in occupying their land and slaughtering them.

It also is concerned with what manner of action lead to riches and numerous descendents, and these actions are those that God engenders, thereby defining God by a series of examples. The creation of the world is the dippiest part of the book.

Genesis 2[edit]

I thought this needed to be addressed. I've noticed that a user named LittleStar has changed "LORD" to "Yahweh" throughout Genesis 2, but left "LORD" be in the rest of Genesis? I know we don't have an agreement yet on how to translate the tetragrammaton (YHWH), but shouldn't we at least leave it as set by the translators till we get some sort of consensus?

I think I'll change Genesis 2 back to "LORD" so we can be consistent, and to respect the translator. (Personally, I'd rather we had "Yahweh" than "LORD" throughout the Old Testament, but I think that if we change it, it needs to be uniform throughout the text.) Fontwords 17:39, 9 July 2008 (UTC)

I apologize. I was originally intending to revert Genesis in its entirety from "LORD" to "Yahweh" but then never got around to it. I do agree that it should be changed back, though. Didn't God Himself say at Exodus 3:15 "God also said to Moses, 'Say this to the Israelites: Yahweh, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever; this is how I am to be remembered in every generation.'"Holman Christian Standard BibleLittleStar (talk)

Testing translation for Chapter 1[edit]

I tried to rewrite the first chapter into a more literal translation using as many short Germanic words as possible, to convey the folky flavor of the Hebrew. I was wondering how people here feel about this sort of thing. I'm fluent in English and modern Hebrew, but I have no particular expertise in ancient Hebrew. I had some trouble translating "remesh" (I didn't like the King James solution).

My major complaint with King James is that it bulks up the Hebrew too much, probably out of reverence. Two word constructions in hebrew become multisyllabic multiple-word overlong constructions in the English, making the Bible seem less accessible than it actually is to a Hebrew speaker. The solution is to use shorter words, which this site does.

But I had many complaints about the previous version: I didn't like the first sentence, which was not a direct translation, but an (IMO incorrect) interpretation. I changed the wording slightly so as to keep the prepositional structure of the sentence, which I think gives it a rhythm that matches the Hebrew.

I didn't feel the noun neologism "strech out" is acceptable for "rakiya", which in context, should be a solid dome-like object. I also dislike using "heavens" for "shamaiim", which just means "sky" (it was used in the rakiya verse).

I also tried to keep important parallelisms--- like when god says "yehi or" and then "yehi or", it's an important parallelism. It's hard to keep in English because the tense must change, but I tried as best I could.

The "dominion" is a little too long a word for the Hebrew original "ourdou", which means something like "go down on", which I thought just means "look down on", or "oversee".

If people here are OK with the general spirit of these edits, I'll get an account, but for now I'm an anon, sorry. 06:52, 4 August 2010 (UTC)

IMHO this represents Wikipedia:Original research. TomS TDotO (talk) 10:43, 4 August 2010 (UTC)
If Wikipedia idiots like you are active here, I'm gone. 12:53, 4 August 2010 (UTC)
I will take that as no complaint if I simply revert your translation. TomS TDotO (talk) 14:05, 4 August 2010 (UTC)
Take that as "why don't you get out of here". This is a project to make a new translation--- it does not operate by the rules of Wikipedia encyclopedia. You are supposed to talk about substance, and you are supposed to suggest modifications to translations based upon the language and guidelines for translation. Since you haven't made any substantive comment, why are you here?
The 3 chapters I edited are not perfect, but certainly more faithful than what was here before. 04:46, 5 August 2010 (UTC)
Reading the previous comments, I agree with calling bullshit on "merachef" as "brooding", that's just wrong. I am not sure about the interpretation of "hayeta" as past perfect--- where is this coming from? It looks like the ordinary past tense of to be. 04:57, 5 August 2010 (UTC)
I was not aware of any guidelines for translation. Where are they? Cygnis insignis (talk) 05:14, 5 August 2010 (UTC)

(deindent) read here. 05:51, 5 August 2010 (UTC)

That is a deadlink. Cygnis insignis (talk) 11:17, 5 August 2010 (UTC)
sorry, here75.24.127.154 23:03, 5 August 2010 (UTC)
I have no intention of getting into a flame war over this. If there is no interest in the integrity of Wikisource by other contributors, so be it. TomS TDotO (talk) 10:58, 5 August 2010 (UTC)
I hope there isn't, because I want to finish translating this book. There are several sticking points for me, but no other hebrew speakers are arguing here. 23:03, 5 August 2010 (UTC)

Chapter 2[edit]

I didn't like the interpolations and additions that were added into the text. They provide some form of commentary, which I am sure is well intentioned, but I think it is best to stick closely to the original. I am using original Hebrew text, and nowhere does it say that all the water of Ethiopia was provided by the river, for example. Nowhere does it say that the helpmate should be "suitable", etc.

I was confused by verse 3, the last clause, where I could not sort out the syntax in a way that makes sense. The sentence seems to say that the creation created god to create it, or that God created other Gods to make creation, or something else nonsensical. The King James is not helpful, because it just disregards the strange syntax.

The word "toldot" in verse 4 usually means "tales" or "narratives", not "generations", although the root of the word is the word for generating offspring.

There is an issue with "Mot tamuth", the threat that if you eat from the tree of knowledge you will "die a death". This is a Hebrew emphasis stylistic device, but it doesn't work at all in English. The King James solution is to say that you will "surely die", but that is not satisfactory, because it doesn't capture an essential Hebrew play on words: you can interpret the words "Moth tamuth" to mean "you will die some sort of death", which could just mean alternatively "you will die in a certain way, not literally". To capture the ambiguity, I tried to use the phrase "You will die a certain death", which is similarly ambiguous in English, depending on whether certain means "type of" or "assured". If you read it as "You will die an assured death", it is a lie by God to Adam, but if you read it as "You will die a type of death", it describes the loss of innocence, so that God isn't really lying to Adam, just being ambiguous. 09:01, 4 August 2010 (UTC)

I know this comment was left here a long time ago, but I think something needs to be cleared up for future readers. Mot tamut does not mean "die a death" (much less "die a certain kind of death). That misinterpretation by the unnamed IP address treats mot as a noun. It's not a noun. If it were a noun, it would be mavet here, not mot. No, mot is an infinitive, so you have two verbs here. Adding an infinitive form of the verb next to the regular form of the verb is very common, it's done all over the Bible with all sorts of verbs, and it doesn't add "ambiguity" by any stretch of the imagination. If anything, it might reduce the ambiguity by repeated the word for emphasis. Alephb (talk) 00:48, 7 June 2017 (UTC)
It's not incorrect, what you say, but it shows complete incomprehension of Hebrew. Like you learned it from a book.
Please try to sign your posts. Alephb (talk) 22:13, 19 July 2017 (UTC)
Ok, signing. But let me explain: whatever "mot" is linguistically, it can be used to mean "A death". E.g. "Mot Avraham" means "Abraham's death". So "Mot tamuth" CAN BE "You will die a death". It is ABSOLUTELY NOT the preferred interpretation. The preferred interpretation is "You will die die die", repetition emphasis. But because I am not repeating here, I used "You will die a certain death", which has the same (small) ambiguity. The ambiguity is real, although it is small, and I kept the exact same ambiguity with the exact same smallness in the English. Because if someone told you "You will die a certain death" you are very unlikely to intepret it as "You will die in a certain way", just as in Hebrew "Mot tamuth" would be very unlikely to be intepreted as "You will die a manner of death". But you are wrong. It is possible to read it as ambiguous. Although this argument is ridiculous, considering you kept this translation intact. 09:07, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
I left it intact because "die a certain death" looked fine in English. Since we're both happy with that wording in English, I see no need to split hairs further on this question. We clearly agree on the peshat. I won't argue about the derash. Alephb (talk) 09:47, 23 July 2017 (UTC)

Chapter 3[edit]

Here were the issues that came up on this one.

  1. There's always the verbosity issue. The Hebrew is extremely terse, while the traditional English is always prolix, with the effect that the pacing of the narrative is destroyed.
  2. Cherubim is difficult--- in the hebrew it feels to me that these are warriers, since the word looks like it is derived from a warrier root, but the current image of cherubs are little naked babies with zero warrier credibility.
  3. This text should avoid the modern "There is only one god" bias--- this chapter has reference to "one of us" in the context of "God", so I am pretty sure the snake says "you will be like gods, knowing good and bad", not "you will be as God". Later, God says "they have become like one of us knowing good and evil", he clearly means, like one of the gods.

In regard to point 3--- the monotheism of the old testament is that there is one all-powerful god that rules all the other lesser gods, not that there is only one god in toto. Otherwise, the first commandment "you will put no other gods in front of me" would make no sense. I don't know theology, but I hope that this translation can avoid changing the text to make theological points. 06:07, 5 August 2010 (UTC)

Chapter 4[edit]

Here, I'll go through it verse by verse:

This is crap--- she literally says "I bought a man of Yahweh", because "Cain", which I think is better spelled "Kain" to emphasize the guttaral "K" sound (although in modern English and Hebrew there is no guttaral K, the K has a better connotation of it). The reason is the root of "buy" or "purchase" is Kn, which is Kain's name.

Also, knew is Hebrew euphamism for sleep with, which in English is "Lay".

"And in due course it came to pass" is in hebrew "vehayah". To read all that into a single word that sort of means "And then" is the source of the verbosity in biblical translations. It is important to stick close to the Hebrew here, especially "fruit of the earth", which is much more poetic than the less lovely "crops".

This is not great: the Hebrew says he brought their fat, the sheep fatback, as offering. It's one word, but it occurs several times in the bible, and it is known to mean "fat", not "fat sheep". It is incorrect Hebrew to translate it as "fat ones". It was their actual fat which was the offering.

Also, the word here is simple, but I think "respect/disrespect" is too harsh on Kain's offering. I think it is better to say that he was "keen" on Abel's but not particularly hot on Kain's, without implying disrespect.

I think that embittered is a better translation of Kain's feelings. Kain is embittered, not angry. No real wrong has been done to him.

This is surely the correct interpretation of the words, and eloquently written, but the actual text is different and terser, and in particular, does not have the final "but". Also, there is a mismatched conjugation in the interpretation of "desire" as applying to the word sin (although I agree this is the right interpretation, it's a typo in the original, or an edit from singular to plural which wasn't made consistently). I'll try to render thy syntax problem accurately. "Sins lurk at the opening, and desires you, and you can govern it" is about right (the Sins/desires/it don't match in number).

This is flat out WRONG. First, rendez-vous is French, and does not belong. You can say "arranged to meet". But all of this is interpolating from the single Hebrew word "amar". What the Hebrew actually says is "Kain said to Able, and when they were in the fields, killed him". The first part is not grammatical, and looks like an error, or an editing omission. The easiest interpretation is to interpret it as "Kain said this to Abel", meaning the previous text that Yahweh gave to Kain.

The source cannot be used to insert wholecloth an interpretation which is inconsistent with the Hebrew original. If you want to say "Kain spoke to Abel", you would use "Diber" not "amar". The second is only used to indicate dialogue, not arranging rendez-vous.

I think this is another typo, but whatever. I rendered it as accurately as possible, with the weird grammar.

I think "screams" is slightly better, but "shouts" might be best. It has no connotation of sadness in hebrew, but of terror.

This is "nah ve nad", which in Hebrew seems to mean wandered and swayer, but is probably idiomatic for rootless drifter. I tried to arrange the phrase into something here, but the original isn't bad, except for "fugitive", which is an interpretation.

I substituted "torment", which I think is better, and is also the King James interpretation.

I might have misunderstood the Hebrew here-- but which word means "sharp"?

"Yeled" should be "child", but in the context, I thought should be translated "kid", which is similarly ambiguous regarding age in English.

Again interpretation, and while I agree with it, the original doesn't have this structure.

The word "shet" comes from the root for "plant" as in "plant a seed", and it says that Yahweh planted a seed underneath Abel's, which is folksier, and more poetic than this, I think. 08:34, 5 August 2010 (UTC)

This comment was made a long time ago, but I think I should clear a few things up in case anyone comes along here and reads it. When it comes to (4:1), it is not at all clear that qaniti means "I bought." And there's a problem with the particle et in this verse. There are several different ways the verse might be taken.
As to Cain being angry, it is strange to claim Cain is not angry. For one thing, the verb "was angry" (ch-r-h) appears, which repeatedly refers to anger in various parts of the Bible. For another, Cain kills his brother over this. If that's not anger, I don't know what is.
When it comes to your question about the word sharp, it comes down to the word choresh, which the previous translator took as "sharp instrument." That roughly the same way Gesenius understands the word as well.
The name shet doesn't have anything to do with planting. The IP has mistakenly read the verb shatal into the verse, where it does not appear. The actual verb that appears is shat, which here means to give or appoint.Alephb (talk) 01:00, 7 June 2017 (UTC)
YOU AREN'T CLEARING ANYTHING UP, You are making obvious shit sound complicated. "Qaniti" means "I bought". That's what it means. There's no problems with particles, you made it up.
It's not "anger" you are talking about, it's some word that means "Wrathful". Anger is different root. The translation I gave might be wrong, but your argument is shitty.
No. The word "choresh" does not mean "sharp instrument", it means "plow". You don't speak Hebrew.
Except it says "Shatal" in the verse, you douche.
Please sign your posts. Clearly, we disagree on a number of things. Let's start with the very simplest: whether or not the verb shatal appears in the verse. Here's the full Hebrew text of the verse in question, Genesis 4:25: וַיֵּדַע אָדָם עוֹד אֶת־אִשְׁתּוֹ וַתֵּלֶד בֵּן וַתִּקְרָא אֶת־שְׁמוֹ שֵׁת כִּי שָׁת־לִי אֱלֹהִים זֶרַע אַחֵר תַּחַת הֶבֶל כִּי הֲרָגוֹ קָיִן. Now let's sound the words out carefully. vayyeda adam od ishto vattelekh ben vattiqra et shmo shet ki shat li elohim zera tachat hebel ki harago qayin. Notice that there is no "shatal" in the verse. There is a "shat li" -- shat is the verb, li is "to" + "me". You've mentionally squished the first lamed in li onto the verb shat. Alephb (talk) 22:46, 19 July 2017 (UTC)
Oh, ok, you're actually still here. I thought I was talking to a void! I'll try to be less hotheaded. You are of course right about the "Shatal" business, I read it a long time ago, sorry. But the meaning of "Shat li" is clearly "stuck inside me", and it is a similar (although not identical) root to "Shatal", and I know what it means. Regarding "Qanity" and "Harah", you didn't argue, so I assume we agree. We are the only two people here, so although I didn't sign the posts, you know it's me, because there's no one else. unsigned comment by (talk) .
They're not the only ones here. Please sign your posts: it's easy to do, it makes conversations easy to follow; it tells us whether the post is new or old; etc. There may not be many people here now, but notice how many people were here before, and think of the people who will come after, trying to pick up old threads as Alephb has been doing. —Beleg Tâl (talk) 23:23, 20 July 2017 (UTC)
Well, I started with shatal because it seemed the simplest. Given your tone, I wasn't in a hurry to engage in a multi-front argument with you, so I started with the bit where you were failing to see word divisions. In the future, please be civil. And please sign your posts.
Yes, in modern Hebrew qanah is "buy." And sometimes it has the meaning of "buy" or "acquire", as in Genesis 25:10, where it says that Abraham qanah a field from the Hittites. But there's also a meaning "to create," as in Genesis 14:19, where the Canaanite priest Melchizedek calls El Elyon "Qoneh Shamayim Vaarets." Is the priest saying El Elyon "bought" heaven and earth? From whom? The reason I say "buy" or "acquire" rather than just buy is that the word is sometimes used where someone gets something and no money changes hands, like in Exodus 15:16 were God qanah his people. Another hint that the meaning is broader than buy is 2 Samuel 24:24, where David offer to qoneh a threshing floor bimchir at a price, as opposed to for free, as Araunah is offering it.
On top of the problem with what qanah means in general, there's that weird particle et stuck to it. You are apparently reading it as "from", so that "I have bought a man from Yahweh" is qaniti ish et yahweh. I'm puzzled by this. Let's say you're right, and you really know modern Hebrew better than I do. Would anyone in modern Hebrew use et this way? Certainly, there's nowhere else in the Bible that et gets used this way. In Genesis 25:10, Abraham gets his field me'et the Hittites, not et them. So some people take this as a typo, and that Genesis means to read me'et here. Other people read it as an extension of the less common use of et as with in the sense of with the help of or maybe even like. Alephb (talk) 15:58, 21 July 2017 (UTC)
I read it as "off", as in "I have bought a man off Yahweh". That's how I translated it, to keep all the weirdness. The word "buy" is pretty accurate for all occurences of "Koneh" (or "Qoneh" as you spell it), although for "Koneh shamaying wa-aretz", I would use "Owner of Sky and Earth", rather than "Purchaser of sky and Earth", simply because it means God owns it, not that he paid money, as you correctly say. 09:03, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
That strikes me as a somewhat unusual use of et, but because the wording is weird, any option is going to look a little unusual. As long as you keep some kind of footnote recognizing that the verse gets read multiple ways, I have no major objection to any particular reading of the verse. As for qanah as "create," there's also Deuteronomy 32:6, which looks a little bit like a possible spoke where "create" would be meant. Have you ever read Gesenius' Lexicon, in the English translation by Tregelles? Gesenius writes this Lexicon of biblical Hebrew, a path-breaking-work, two generations before Modern Hebrew was a twinkle in anyone's eye. He writes it in German, and this guy Tregelles translates it into English. Gesenius gives a few of meanings for qnh, including "create", "own", and "buy" (or something like those three). Anyhow, Tregelles, as he does all over the place in his translation, doesn't like this, and adds a little comment in brackets, something like [but all the passages that Gesenius gives for "create" could just as easily be translated owner]. Our conversation here reminds me a little bit of that. As I said, I won't argue for any particular meaning of qaniti ish et yhwh, although I do this a minor point in favor of Gesenius on this one is that, after Ugaritic was discovered, they found that Asherah, and important figure in early Yahwism, was described as qnyt ilm, something like "creator" or "maker" or "progenitor" of the Gods. I wonder if Eve's comment about being the qonet of Cain might reflect a more archaic meaning of qnh, with "buy" or something along those lines being the ordinary biblical meaning but shades of an earlier more archaic meaning that shows up in Canaanite religion. Alephb (talk) 10:02, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
I didn't read Genesius, but you must understand that modern Hebrew is derived from Mishnaic Hebrew, which was "spoken" (as a second language) essentially unchanged from the 1st century to the 19th, when it becomes subsumed into modern Hebrew. There's a continuity there which you are missing. The modern Hebrew language is nearly identical to Mishanic Hebrew from the 10th century, in that anyone can read that stuff easily today, although it sounds kinda old. The Biblical language is actually a little closer to modern Hebrew than Mishnaic Hebrew, just because the modern speakers used Biblical Hebrew as a common shared literature base. So it's not like I need to read Genesius, it would be like reading the dictionary 99% of the time, and also, the weird meanings would be WEIRD and misleading, like if I told you "turkey" can mean "truth" because "Let's talk turkey". That doesn't mean that "I ate a turkey sandwich" means I was served a helping of truth between two slices of bread. Languages are always complex, and modern Hebrew is close enough (and continuous enough) to ancient Hebrew to not need to get so formal and academic. 12:23, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
Huh. I've read Mishnaic, and at least in grammar Mishnaic looked a lot closer to modern than biblical does. I would believe you that modern Hebrew is a substitute for studying biblical Hebrew itself if I hadn't seen what you've done to biblical tenses, what you did with shatal, what you did with chattat, what you did with shoet, what you did with nechmad, how you translated tanninim as crocodiles (we haven't even had that conversation yet), you're quick dismissal of bereshit as a construct noun, you're suggestion that "urdu" means "go down on" (my goodness!), your reading of mot tamut, what you did with qaniti, your interpretation of choresh as plow, your interpretation of kinim as "reeds", your interpretation of rosh tabachim as head chef, your assertions about tohu and bohu, what you did to Genesis 4:7, the interpretation of "baz" as diss, the interpreation of "ha-" and "and then," your denial that yod can take a dagesh, the translation of "shesh mashzar" as "sixfold wrought cloth", and what you did with mass.
And almost all of those are just in the last couple of days. Alephb (talk) 13:08, 23 July 2017 (UTC)

(deindent) Of course Mishnaic is closer to modern, but modern is between Mishnaic and ancient, meaning if you compare Mishnaic to ancient and modern to ancient, modern, despite being later, is closer to ancient! The reason is just that the religious Jews in Israel used Hebrew as a lingua-franca, because everyone spoke it universally, and not all of them read Mishna, but all of them read ancient. The grammar introduced European innovations, but it was still backward compatible with ancient hebrew, so that you need to use the particle "ze" to do recursion.

Choresh is still plow to my ears, you gave no argument.

Kinim is something that sounds like reeds, it isn't. I made it cells. "Tzohar" is most likely storeroom, not skylight, because "and you filled it to a cubit from the top" sounds like you are filling it with grain. The accepted interpretation is conjectural. Rosh Tabachim could have been head chef, if not for the context (and even given the context, the "head of the guard" is still extremely weird--- a guard is not usually a tabach. It should be "chief executioner". Tabach doesn't mean guard). My reading of Moth Tamuth was more accurate than yours, especially as to connotation, as was my reading of Qaniti. The "tohu and bohu" we came to agree on, Baz IS diss! It is exactly diss. And it's pure ancient Hebrew. Nobody says Baz anymore. Just "diss" can't be used in translation, so I had to find another word. My interpretation of Ha is totally correct, I know it's correct even though it's only used in ancient text. Yod doesn't take dagesh in any meaningful sense, there is no context or meaning I can see to it, and there is no way it was useful in the 10th century (and I'm right about animal--- I should point out that I have asked other religious haredi Israelis what this means, and they all say "animal", none say "lively") and I already know my shesh mashzar is wrong, I just still haven't figured out how to say it. I used "oddfeel shesh" in the last version, interpreting Mash as "feel" and "zar" as odd. Also, my mas is ok, although not usual, as you will see upon further experience with the usage. Or maybe not. Then I'll change my mind. But we are going to agree in the end, one way or another.RonMaimon (talk) 08:52, 25 July 2017 (UTC)

Chapters 5 and 6[edit]

Five is a straight geneology. But the hebrew word for "geneology" and "narrative" are mixed up, and I am sure there is a proper word in English that mixes them up in the same way, like tribal geneological narratives.

Chapter 5 is boring and I changed hardly anything, except to make the names as correct as possible. I kept "Seth", because the prefered hebrew "Sheth" just sounded very awkward.

The next chapter, I had reservations about the KJ translation of "cells" for Kinim in the Ark--- I thought that meant "Reeds". Also, there is something that is filled to the top that I rendered as storeroom, but KJ renders as something else which I couldn't quite make out. I am guessing storeroom, if someone knows what it is, fix it.

If you can find a perfect English equivalent for the Hebrew toldot, that will be a surprise to many biblical scholars who say there isn't one. As for qinnim, yes, that is an issue. As it stands, it normally means nests, which seems out of place. One guess is that maybe it also refer to compartments. The word reeds that you're thinking of would be qanim. As for the "storeroom" you speak of, the Hebrew is tsohar, which is unique in this verse, and debated by scholars. Alephb (talk) 01:03, 7 June 2017 (UTC)
I "found" one today, while watching a crappy TV show (Game of Thrones): perhaps "lineages" might be most accurate. In the series, a book of lineages also included stories of the ancestors.
Please sign your posts.Alephb (talk) 16:00, 21 July 2017 (UTC)

Through ch 15[edit]

There were sticking points. I screwed up "Toldot", it does seem to always mean geneologies in the bible. Sorry, I tried to fix it.

On chapter 15, there is one passage that I can't go with King James on what it means:

וַיִּקַּח-לוֹ אֶת-כָּל-אֵלֶּה, וַיְבַתֵּר אֹתָם בַּתָּוֶךְ, וַיִּתֵּן אִישׁ-בִּתְרוֹ, לִקְרַאת רֵעֵהוּ; וְאֶת-הַצִּפֹּר, לֹא בָתָר

transliterating: And (he will)take that-all-those, and (he will)(?v) those-them in-the-altar, and-he-will-give man-(?n), toward its/his brethren, and the-bird he didn't (?v)

Everything hinges on the mystery noun/verb "batar"/"bitro". According to KJ this is "divide in two", and the "man" is a figurative to mean the sacrificed animals, so that the meaning is that the animals were divided, and each half got its corresponding other.

But I think this interpretation is weird--- it makes no sense to me. This requires some discussion, I am not sure if a better Hebrew speaker might not know this right off.

But it is correct--- the word Batar appears again later, and it is like the word "quarter" in English, except it means a half-shekel, and to split is the natural interpretation. I fixed it. 15:04, 7 August 2010 (UTC)
The word toldot usually does refer to genealogies, but see Genesis 2:4, where "genealogies" would seem a strange fit. Alephb (talk) 01:05, 7 June 2017 (UTC)
Um, I translated it as "Narratives" in that spot. You kept it. I don't know why you are telling me something I already know. I just assumed "toldot" always means narratives until I read enough to see it means "lineages". 09:09, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
I wasn't disagreeing with your choice of meanings, I was just leaving more information for anyone who was coming along later. At that point I figured you were gone for good, and figured I'd add a brief note for whoever picked up next. Alephb (talk) 10:05, 23 July 2017 (UTC)

Style points[edit]

I try to use Hebrew pronouncation as best as can be reconstructed for the first occurence of a name, with a parenthesised aside to indicate what the English version is, if it is equally notable. Later occurences of the same name can be in the English version, with parentheses to indicate the corresponding Hebrew versions.

Here is a made up example:

"And to Harat Mitzraim (Mizraim) was born, and Mizraim (Mitzraim) was the father of the peoples of Egypt(Mitzraim)"

In general it causes no confusion, I think.

For the gutteral "Ayin" sound which is sometimes transliterated as "G" (Gaza) and sometimes as a glottal stop (Ishmael), I tried to consistently use the invented "g-" for the first occurence, but this should only occur once, I think, then revert to standard spelling.

For "chet" I use the German ch, which is standard, for "yud" I use "Y" when its a consonent, and for "vav" I use "w", which is almost surely the old pronounciation. I try to keep the distinction between the gutteral K, vs the plosive C.

This is what I started doing automatically after a while, but I haven't gone back to clean up Ch 1-10.

I will use asterisk for "ayin", because g- is too intrusive. Later parts have that, but early parts don't.
I found a website which uses backtick ' for ayin, and this looks good. I have modified the whole text to this convention. 07:35, 13 August 2010 (UTC)


This tripped me up--- it's translated as God Almighty, but that makes no Hebrew sense. It reads literally as "God of my breast" or "God of my breasts" (NOT God-of-his-breasts or God-of-her-breasts or God-of-breasts). The Rabinnical interpretations here are less than worthless. Does it mean, the god I was nursed upon?

The interpretation in academia is that this comes from an Akkadian root of Shadam, meaning mountain, so that this is "Mountain god". Leaving aside the weirdness of this, the whole root is not used: it's not El-Shadam. When the root is modified, the meaning shifts.

Another interpretation is that it comes from Shadad, the hebrew root for plundering, so that this is a destroyer god, like Shiva. But it's not El-Shadad, or El-Shedodi, and without the two d-sounds, a Hebrew speaker just "knows" that this is not from that root, just as an english speaker "knows" that "Unpibbled" is something that has not been subjected to a good pibbling.

I am placing this comment on this hackneyed thing because I really have no clue.

El Shaddai is tricky for biblical scholars as well. I wouldn't call the mountain interpretation the interpretation in academia. There's several proposals. Alephb (talk) 01:07, 7 June 2017 (UTC)


I am toying with switching "covenant" to pact, since the Hebrew word is closer to pact. This is not to be done lightly, since the first is established biblical English.

I just wonder why "pact" is thought to be closer. Is this due to changes in the meaning of "covenant"because of usage by preachers in the last hundred years?
I don't know. I think whoever left the "pact" comment did it a long time ago. I wouldn't mind seeing "treaty" used myself, but I have no objection to "covenant." Alephb (talk) 01:10, 22 May 2017 (UTC)
I left that comment (and all the others until the recent stuff--- I did the original translation working alone). Pact is one syllable, Covenant is three. The Hebrew is one syllable. It's as simple as that. Keep the syllable count accurate, and you preserve the reading flow. Break it, and you break the reading flow. 08:59, 23 July 2017 (UTC)

Ch 39-42 continuity error?[edit]

The egyptian that Joseph is sold to is a castrated dude described as the "rosh hatabachim", which is translated as "head of the guards", but it means "head chef". The reason it is translated "head of the guard" is apparent later, because Joseph is imprisoned in one chapter, and then the baker and the server are imprisoned, and the baker and the server are under guard and supervised by "rosh hatabachim", which makes sense as "head chef", since the head of the cooks might be responsible for guarding the baker and server.

But then he sends Jacob in to see them, and Jacob is supposed to be in prison! So to resolve this inconsistency, which looks to me like just a plain old continuity error, the interpreters have given a tortured interpretation that the "rosh hatabachim" is the "head of the guard", so that he can be at the prison, along with Joseph.

I translated in the way that is natural, without having to postulate a strange drift of meaning of "tabach" (cook/slaughterer/meat-preparer) to a completely unrelated root "shomer" (guard/prison guard), but this leaves the continuity error. I am pretty sure that this is real, because the construction has it that Joseph is still a servant of the "rosh hatabachim" when he is intepreting the dreams.

This might be an attempt to reconcile the Yahwist chapter 39 with the Elohist chapters 40- 13:55, 10 August 2010 (UTC)

Why would you think that rosh hatabachim means head chef? There's nothing in this story to indicate that Potiphar is a cook. In 2 Kings 25, a rab tabachim destroys Jerusalem -- the idea of "chief officer" works better here to. Are we to imagine that the Babylonian empire sent a cook, leading their armies to destroy Jerusalem? You're being overly suspicious of the King James Version here. The problem here is that you're reading modern Hebrew back into biblical Hebrew. You really should look things up in a good Lexicon of biblical Hebrew when a meaning is confusing you. Alephb (talk) 01:14, 7 June 2017 (UTC)
"Tabach" means "slaughterer" in Hebrew, and this is universal to modern and ancient Hebrew, the modern language is derived from the ancient language and only differs from it in very small ways, analogous to the drift in English from Shakespeare's time. The "rab tabachim" means "head slaughterer", and IN THAT CONTEXT it means "slaughterer of people". In THIS CONTEXT, rosh hatabachim obviously means head meat-slaughterer, or head-chef, as I said it.
Well, if you think "THIS CONTEXT" argues for it to "obviously" refer to meat slaughtering, I'd be interested to hear the argument. But first, just as a matter of housekeeping, I need to clear up an error. Unfortunately, I just took your word for it when you said there was a rosh tabachim mentioned in Genesis. Looking back over the text, I see that I should have double-checked: the expression in sar hattabachim every time the expression occurs. But sar and rosh have similar meanings in a context like that, so it's an easy mistake to make.
As for the expression in general, it's worth noting that outside of this story, every time an individual is called leader of the tabachim, that refers to a military person (2 Kings 25:8-20; Jeremiah 39:9-13; 40:1-5, 10; 43:6; 52:12-30). So the bulk of usage seems to lean toward a military official.
As for the context, let's consider what the text says about Potiphar. We know Potiphar has a household, a wife, and a slave (Joseph), and his household is substantial enough that he makes Joseph top steward. Joseph then gets tossed into a prison large enough that its warden, the sar beit hassohar, places the other prisoners under Joseph's control (39:22). The prison gets two more inmates in 40:3, and here it is called the bet sar hatabachim. So it seems that a sar hatabachim controls the prison, and 40:4 says the sar hatabachim puts Joseph in charge of the prison. As for castrated, I'd bet saris is used for Potiphar in the sense of "officer," which the word sometimes has. He does have a wife. On the other hand, that wife is looking for some strange, so who knows?
Anyhow, those are the arguments against Potiphar as a chef. Granted, the ancient world was different from today, but would a head chef operate his own prison? There's a lot of translations that don't take Potiphar as a cook: KJV, JPS (1917), JPS (1985), NRSV, NIV, NLT, ESV, Holman, NET, etc. I haven't found one yet that says "cook." So am I missing something in THIS CONTEXT that makes Potiphar "obviously" a chef, like a passage where he's whipping up a souffle or something? Alephb (talk) 03:24, 20 July 2017 (UTC)
Ok, ok, you make a good argument. I buy it. You convinced me.

(deindent) He's now "chief executioner", and he's no longer "castrated", but an "officer".RonMaimon (talk) 16:10, 10 August 2017 (UTC)

In my defence, the verb "Tvoch Tvach" is used a few chapters later for slaughtering for lunchtime when Joseph invites his brothers for lunch. So it had a culinary association back then, and I tend to believe head chef is still possible, although, given the weight of the evidence and weight of world opinion (and translator opinion here), I have to go with executioner. Sigh.RonMaimon (talk) 20:12, 11 August 2017 (UTC)
Oh, you're absolutely right about the verb טָבַח. It has culinary overtones. Even a noun טַבָּח which refers to something like a cook appears in 1 Samuel 9:23-24. My argument was restricted to the phrase שַׂר הַטַבָּחִים and רַב־טַבָּחִים. I'm with you on the root. It's the specific phrase, which makes up all but one of the uses of טַבָּח in the Bible, which I didn't think could sustain the meaning "chef." Alephb (talk) 20:38, 11 August 2017 (UTC)

Chapter 49[edit]

This chapter is a bitch--- it's very poetic, and it talks about the future of the 12 tribes.

Unfortunately, I don't know all the vocabulary, so I had to rely on a previous translation (linked above) for the meaning of the words. This is not the KJ, I believe it is a public domain 1912 Jewish translation, also archaic.

There is one point that is worth mentioning: the incomprehensible attack on Reuben is due to his having slept with one of Jacob's concubines in a previous chapter. This is not mentioned in the liturgy that I read, but it makes the Hebrew translatable, without this, I couldn't make heads or tails of the business.

The words פַּחַז כַּמַּיִם "Pachaz camayim" is translated as "unstable as water".אַל-תּוֹתַר is translated as lacking excellence. I have no feel for this.

עִקְּרוּ-שׁוֹר is what the brothers Levi and Simon did, and it means, "castrated a bull" if I am not mistaken. But I think it means something else here. I translated it literally.

מִי יְקִימֶנּוּ -- means "who will built us up" and "who will wake him up", and there is no similarly ambiguous English phrase.

Anyway, this book is done.

The word "Mikneh", consistently translated as "cattle", same as "Bakar", I think it actually means "herds", irrespective of what beast, since in one of the last chapters, they say "Our Mikney, our sheep, our bakar" several times in context, where Mikneh seems to mean both. This might be a known case where a word's meaning has drifted in time.

When it comes to "cattle," the issue is meaning drift in English. In English cattle used to be a broader word than it is now. For example, goats and sheep used to be called "small cattle", a term roughly equivalent to the Hebrew tson. Alephb (talk) 01:16, 7 June 2017 (UTC)
Yes, I meant English drift when I left the comment years ago.
I would have realized the conversation was years old if you would remember to sign your posts. Alephb (talk) 03:25, 20 July 2017 (UTC)


This book is an original translation from the masoretic Hebrew text, with occasional glances to a parallel public domain English translation or, when this didn't work, to King James, for the sole purpose of figuring out the meaning of difficult vocabulary words. The archaic texts were never consciously used for translation. A handful of times, one had to use a concordance or an online dictionary when this was insufficient, but no other sources were consulted. No more than one word of text at a time is derived from a source, and any textual parallelisms with other translations are accidental. 12:36, 19 September 2010 (UTC)

Tohu wavohu[edit]

The Hebrew term "tohu wavohu" appears only a couple of times in the bible, always in this idiomatic construction, and it is known to mean "a big mess", "chaotic and formless", but in a rhymey idiomatic slightly childish way. I chose "helter skelter" because it is equally rhymey, has almost the same meaning, and is equally idiomatic, with equal childish connotations. You don't say something is "helter" and other things are "skelter", they are always "helter skelter", just as they are always "tohu wavohu". This was changed by someone else to a worse translation of "conglomeration" which doesn't even preserve the meaning.

I don't think there's justification for saying that tohu wabohu is "childish." It's used in pretty serious texts: here, Isaiah 34:11, Jeremiah 4:23. There's no biblical passage where a child uses the term, or where anyone use it in a joking way. A problem with helter-skelter is that it refers to a frantic state, like a chaotic running back and forth, while tohu wabohu refers to abandonment or emptiness. In this passage, the world is empty and lifeless because it has not been created, while in Isaiah and Jeremiah it refers to the state of a land after it has been conquered and emptied of people.
But I agree that conglomeration is way off the mark. I'm not sure what you mean when you say tohu wabohu "always [appears] in this idiomatic construction. It's true that bohu only ever appears with tohu, but tohu usually appears on its own.Alephb (talk) 01:20, 7 June 2017 (UTC)
Agree with you for the first and probably only time. I didn't know about the other occurences of Tohu.
Please try to sign your posts.Alephb (talk) 21:40, 19 July 2017 (UTC)
INCHOATE CHAOS!!! I finally found it. "Inchoate" == Toho "Chaos" == Vohu and the two words look and sound nearly as similar. I will suggest this translation for the entire Bible. This was the last thing that was bugging me in the translation, the imperfect "Tohu Wavohu".RonMaimon (talk) 19:36, 27 August 2017 (UTC)

"Light will be" vs. "Light be"[edit]

As far as "Light will be" to "Light be", I think it is good to keep the tense accurate. God says "Light will be", in the future tense, and then light becomes, in the same tense in hebrew, but it means "and then it was light". The parallel might be better by changing the tense, but it is a trade-off, and so needs to be considered carefully. 05:03, 28 September 2010 (UTC)

You're confused because you're reading the modern Hebrew tense system back into the (very different) biblical Hebrew "tense" or aspect system. Biblical Hebrew doesn't quite have a "future" tense in the way languages like English or modern Hebrew do. What you're dealing with here is not two future tense verbs, but a jussive and a weqatal verb. The jussive, used here in "Let there be light" is used for a wish or command. God is commanded that light should come into being; he's not predicting that there will be light. The second verb is not future, it's weqatal, which functions roughly like the English past tense most of the time. So "God said, Let there be light: and there was light." Alephb (talk) 01:29, 7 June 2017 (UTC)
YOU ARE SO WRONG, IT IS APPALLING! The tense system in ancient Hebrew is weird and archaic, but completely obvious to any Hebrew speaker after a few minutes of adjustment. You are reading it as if you learned Hebrew from a book, you have no NATIVE SPEAKER FEELING, and so you say stupid things.
Oh, come on, now. Biblical scholars continue to have all sorts of arguments about some ins and outs of the biblical tense system. Modern Hebrew tenses are easy to understand. Mishnaic Hebrew tenses are easy to understand. Biblical Hebrew "tenses", if you can even call them tenses, are another matter. As for "native speaker feeling", it's worth remembering that the very first native speaker of modern Hebrew was born in the 1880's. Modern Hebrew was invented by speakers of European languages who had, as you might put it "no NATIVE SPEAKER FEELING" for biblical Hebrew either. They "learned it from books", or in school, and then invented modern Hebrew. And modern Hebrew, when it comes to tenses, is much closer to modern European languages or to the Mishnaic Hebrew of about 200 CE than to the biblical Hebrew of 500 or 1000 years earlier. So anyone who knows their way around Hebrew grammar learned it either from a book or in an academic or religious setting. Growing up in 400 BCE Yehud Medinata is just not a viable option at this point. Alephb (talk) 23:01, 19 July 2017 (UTC)
Ok, ok. You have no native speaker feeling, I have no academic learning, so there's something to contribute on both sides. But I ASSURE you that native speaking is useful. There are all sorts of "auras" around words due to different roots colliding, so for example, the modern Hebrew word "Chaizar" (meaning--- extraterrestrial alien) sounds a lot more VICIOUS and UGLY than "Alien" simply because it is similar to two other roots, "Chazir" (pig) and "Achzar" (cruel). These connotations are really important in Biblical texts, and the reason I made certain translation choices was to preserve the web of connotations around the word. But you are a serious person, sorry for getting angry.
Apology accepted. And I agree that native speaking of Modern Israeli Hebrew will help quite a bit with picking up vocabulary, morphology, and some of the grammar. On the other hand, the native Hebrew speaker that I learned a lot of my biblical Hebrew from was always careful to distinguish between eras: here's what the word means in the Bible, here's how it's used in the Mishnah, here's how it's used in Israel today. Where we probably disagree is on how reliable Modern Hebrew is as a guide to grammar and on how much individual words change their meaning over time. But, with the exception of the "tenses", we can probably work through a lot of that on a case by case basis. Alephb (talk) 16:14, 21 July 2017 (UTC)
And yes, yiqtol and jussive are two different things. I could recommend some reading material on the history of Hebrew if you decide to add some book knowledge to your NATIVE SPEAKER FEELING at some point.Alephb (talk) 23:01, 19 July 2017 (UTC)

I finally understand 4:7[edit]

The text is probably corrupted in a simple way--- the final "tet" in the word "sins" (chataoth) has been accidentally divided into this word instead of the next word "rovetz", to squat, sit low, which should have been "tirvotz", and the sins should have been singular. Then the sentence is not only grammatical, but it has correct future tense for all verbs, and it says:

If you improve, all right, and if not, A SIN WILL AWAIT the opening, and into you it's desire, and you will govern it.

This changes the meaning from the generic "sins" to the singular "A sin", meaning the murder of Abel. 17:06, 2 December 2010 (UTC)

The big problem with this theory is the the word sins is masculine, and here it is getting a feminine future tense. 17:11, 2 December 2010 (UTC)

I found the right explanation: the word "sins" has a specialized ritual meaning in which role it becomes masculine singular, and in this specialized meaning is used again in Exodus 29:14, to describe the remains of a sacrificed bull. It means something like an object which is steeped in sin and contains the sin within it, a sin-absorbing object, like a sin-sponge. This is hard to translate, because sin does not objectify so easily in English. 06:39, 24 January 2011 (UTC)

This whole conversation (or is it just one editor talking to themselves?) is based on a misunderstanding. There is no plural word for sins here. It's not chataot -- he's added a vowel that's not there. It chattat. There is no holem here. Alephb (talk) 01:32, 7 June 2017 (UTC)
It is one editor talking to himself (namely me), but you are WRONG, the word is Chataot, and it reappears in Leviticus.
All right. Let's review the Hebrew vowels and how they work. Here's the word in Genesis 4:7 -- חַטָּאת. Under the chet, you see a straight horizontal line. That's called a patach, and it is approximately an a sound. Next, we have a tet. Inside the tet is a dagesh. It is no longer pronounced in modern Hebrew, and it used to double the length of the consonant in a case like this (where it is classified as dagesh chazak). Under the tet it there is a little horizontal bar with a vertical bar that meets it in the middle. That's called a kamatz. The kamatz is also approximately an a vowel, unless it's in a closed unstressed syllable, but that's not the case here. If you wanted to read an o vowel, like you'd find near the end of a plural noun ending in ot, then you would need something called a holem. A holem is a little dot placed above a consonant. Because this word does not have a holem, there is no o-vowel here.
So it's chattat. Your holem is missing. Alephb (talk) 23:14, 19 July 2017 (UTC)
I KNOW THE VOWELS, DUDE. The "Holem" is not that important, I read without vowels mostly. The word is not "Chattat", which is not a word, and if it were, it would appear without the "Aleph", it should be "Chataoth", like I said, and it's a feminine noun. I don't know why they didn't indicate the vowel there, but the vowels are tacked on anyway, and the same word appears in Leviticus, meaning "sinstuff", and has the same spelling, with perhaps an extra "holem" or whatever, but it's the same word. Please check. I ran into it later and changed the verse.
But chattat is a word. It appears probably a couple hundred times in the Bible. Here's just the first few.
Genesis 4:7 — The Masoretes read the word as chattat. It takes a singular (but masculine? WTF?) verb. Genesis 18:20 — chattatam, takes feminine adjective kabdah. Gen 31:36 — mah chattati? Gen 50:17 — chattatam. Exodus 10:17 — chattati. Exodus 29:14 — chattat hu. Exodus 29:36 — chattat. Exodus 30:10 — chattat. Exodus 32:30 — chattatkhem. Exodus 32:32 — chattatam. 32:34 — chattatam.
Exodus 34:7 — chatta'at. 34:9 — ulchattatenu. Leviticus 4:3 —chattato and lchattat.
As you requested, I checked up to Leviticus. In every case but one, the aleph is silent and the word is chattat. Wherever there was grammatical indicators, the word was treated as feminine singular, except in Genesis 4:7, which is a tricky verse on multiple levels. I think all this suggests that we're dealing with a feminine singular -at noun. Given the carefulness of the vowel-pointers, that seems more likely than the possibility that they accidentally dropped a holem two or three hundred times, every single time they came to the word. On top of that, there's the fact that even though the biblical orthography leans toward defective, they generally provide a waw for the plural -ot ending. A -ot word that consistently had an aleph there and no waw would be very unusual.
As for whether an aleph demands a vowel, I don't think so. Consider the first word of the Bible — bereshit.
The word chattat does get used for the bull that is a sin-offering (or, as you might say, "sinstuff") but chattat is also used for an individual's sin in general. When it's used in the ritual sense, the chattat is one of the forms of animal offering, along with the olah, shelem, tenuphah, terumah, and whichever ones I'm forgetting at the moment.
I'm speculating a little about this last part, but the one place the aleph takes a vowel in the passages I've seen so far is Exodus 34:7, where the aleph takes a kamatz. There might be another place like it. So I would speculate that perhaps we're dealing with a word that was once pronounced chatta'at, and later shortened to chattat, causing the aleph to go silent. Pronunciation usually changes before spelling does, so the spelling would reflect the archaic form. That's my guess. Alephb (talk) 17:07, 21 July 2017 (UTC)
Ok, ok, you obviously see that I pronounced "Chattat" as "Chataoth", big whoop, it makes no difference for translation purposes how I pronounced it in my head--- the word means "sinstuff" everytime it is used, and it took me a long time to figure out what it means, and also a long time to find a reasonably good English parallel in "sinstuff", so you're welcome.
The proper translation of the sentence is "If you improve, swell, and if not, sinstuff squats at the opening, and into you it's desire. You will govern it." That's exactly as "broken" as the Hebrew, and is correct in words and meaning. I don't know why you insisted on changing it to something less accurate. 08:57, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
Well, what I'm trying to do is translate all the way into English. As a native speaker of English, "sinstuff squats at the opening, and into you it's desire" does not strike me as something anyone would say in my language, or as anything that a native speaker of English would understand. I do appreciate that you wanted to read the wording awkward in English, and I think it's rare to find someone who agrees with me that, when possible, awkward Hebrew phrases should be translated with awkward English phrases. Usually the translations come out a lot "cleaner" than the original text in tricky spots, and so I appreciate the idea. As you and ever other contributor was gone at the time, I simply made changes without discussing them. Now that you're hear, I'd be happy to talk through whatever. As for "sinstuff," I'm still not sure why you're putting a "stuff" on the end of the word. Most of the examples I've seen of the word use it pretty much as if it is just describing a person's sin, not some kind of sin-saturated object. When it's used for a particular kind of offering, then we've got a concrete object, but in the normal usages of the word I'm puzzled at the "sinstuff" explanation. And I wasn't convinced convinced that s'et ever takes the meaning "swell" in the sense of "super-duper." I don't think I've ever encountered it used that way. Alephb (talk) 10:20, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
I'm also more or less a native English speaker. I just was born in Israel, I grew up in the US half my life, and my English is somewhat better than my Hebrew (but my Hebrew is still ok, like Israeli slightly-below average, nothing special). I mean, I dream and think in English normally, even though I live in Israel today. I tried to do something interesting in this text, which is to keep a little bit of "foreign feeling" in the text. I don't think "If you improve, swell, and if not, sinstuff squats at the opening, and into you is its desire, you will control it" is in any way unnatural, although it is awkward, I think it's about the same as the Hebrew. Maybe I misjudged.
Look, I like many of your changes and comments. I am also somewhat overly attached to my own manure. I think it is good that someone is here to yell at me "This is terrible English". I am fluent, but I also like to be original, perhaps too much so.
Regarding "Chattat" (or "Chataoth", as I mispronounced it before), it's not exactly "sin", because that's just "Cheth". Maybe I got it wrong, but I was under the impression in Leviticus that "Chattat" was always "Sinstuff", like the sinstuff offering. Maybe it just means sins, I'll have to reread in Heb. 11:12, 23 July 2017 (UTC)


The controversial part of this verse is, in Hebrew:

אַל-תִּירָא אַבְרָם, אָנֹכִי מָגֵן לָךְ--שְׂכָרְךָ, הַרְבֵּה מְאֹד.

The literal meaning of the words are: Don't fear, Abram, I-myself sheild you, your wage, very much.

The two interpretations are

  1. I am your sheild, your wages are very great.
  2. I am your sheild, your (very great) reward

In languages where the verb "to be" is not left implicit, interpretation 2 looks like it is the correct one. It is here that it is essential that one speaks Hebrew fluently or natively. In Hebrew, intepretation 1 is obvious and automatic. But interpretation 2 is only marginally grammatical in modern Hebrew, after a great stretch of the imagination, and probably completely ungrammatical in ancient Hebrew, because I have never seen a sentence with anywhere near such complex grammar anywhere else in the ancient text.

This might not be readily apparant to a non-native speaker, because the following sentence:

אַל-תִּירָא אַבְרָם, אָנֹכִי מָגֵן לָךְ--שְׂכָרְךָ

actually would be grammatical, and would take interpretation 2. The truncated form is still clunky. This sort of thing would almost surely have been written like this:

אַל-תִּירָא אַבְרָם, אָנֹכִי מגנך--שְׂכָרְךָ

To make the parallel explicit. So this part of the sentence requires interpretation 2.

But the actual sentence has a dangling הַרְבֵּה מְאֹד which changes everything. In order to make a sentence, this descriptor has to attach to something. If it attaches to "your wage", the result is ungrammatical.

אָנֹכִי שְׂכָרְךָ, הַרְבֵּה מְאֹד

This sentence is about as sensible as the English "I am your very much wages" (i.e. not very). Some actual grammatical Hebrew for this would be "Anochi Scharcha, she-gadol me-od", or "Anochi Scharcha, she-rav meod". The "she-" is not optional, and "Harbe meod" is just wrong wrong wrong.

So the only way to make a grammatical sentence out of this is to attach the final "very much" to "your sheild", which makes:

אָנֹכִי מָגֵן לָךְ הַרְבֵּה מְאֹד

which is grammatical (but clunky) Hebrew, which means "I sheild you very much, and am your reward". But if you interpret it this way, the sentence has a fully embedded clause sitting between the verb "sheild you" and its modifier "very much". This is allowed in modern languages like English and modern Hebrew, but is a very weird construction. So the sentence makes marginal sense in interpretation 2 in modern Hebrew, but only by a huge stretch. In ancient Hebrew, it is not clear at all that you can embed like this. I haven't seen it anywhere else.

On the other hand, interpretation 1 is still obvious and natural--- the implicit "to be" in "your reward is" gets the "very much" modifier, making it "your reward is very great". Not only is this not clunky, this is the number 1 Hebrew construction for "your wage is very great", no stretch, nothing. I went to great lengths to explain things that are just completely intuitive to a native Hebrew speaker, for the benefit of non-native speakers. This sentence is not ambiguous at all: some commentators have made ambiguity where none exists.

Further, the next sentence is a response by Abraham: "what would you give me, when I go childless, and when my financial son is Eliezer...", etc, meaning that Abraham himself understood the reward to be some sort of financial business, not Yahweh. 01:40, 2 January 2011 (UTC)

I figured out a way to make the interpretation work, but it requires a change in pronounciation, the pronounciation would have to be: "anochi magen lecha, secharcha harabah me-od", which actually would be fully grammatical if the word "sechar" were feminine in ancient Hebrew (it's masculine in modern Hebrew). Then it would mean: "I am your sheild, your reward, which is very great."
This is more or less what KJ interprets. But this pronounciation cannot be interpreted the other way, the way Abraham interpreted it. There is no ambiguous version of this sentence. Further, I don't think Sechar could possibly ever have been a feminine noun. So this interpretation is also tortured.
One must keep in mind that the translation "Your wages are very great" is still obvious and automatic, these contortions only apply to trying to make Yahweh into the wage. 01:50, 2 January 2011 (UTC)
There is another stretched interpretation I missed, where the "very much" applies to "I myself", so that the sentence would read: "I myself sheild you, am your wage, am very great". But this interpretation is just as clunky in Hebrew as it reads in English, and this type of construction is also weird for ancient Hebrew (or for any language).02:12, 2 January 2011 (UTC)
This whole discussion is based on the misleading assumption that speaking modern Hebrew natively is the same as having a feel for the grammar of biblical Hebrew. Those are two very different things.
"But interpretation 2 is only marginally grammatical in modern Hebrew, after a great stretch of the imagination, and probably completely ungrammatical in ancient Hebrew, because I have never seen a sentence with anywhere near such complex grammar anywhere else in the ancient text." Then you clearly haven't read all that much ancient Hebrew. It gets plenty complicated. Alephb (talk) 01:35, 7 June 2017 (UTC)
NO THEY AREN'T! Only a person who doesn't speak Hebrew natively would be under that impression. The grammar is a little weird and archaic, but you get used to it quickly.
It doesn't "get complex" until the Ktuvim. The sentence is ungrammatical in any Hebrew, modern or ancient.
Please try to sign your posts. Alephb (talk) 07:54, 20 July 2017 (UTC)

Samaritan Pentateuch 4:8[edit]

I tried to find what Cain said to Abel in the Samaritan pentateuch, but couldn't get a hold of the verse online. It's really a terrible butcher job of a verse in the Masoretic version. 05:42, 30 January 2011 (UTC)

In the Samaritan Pentateuch it says nlkh hsdh ("Let us go to the field."). Alephb (talk) 01:39, 7 June 2017 (UTC)
It says "Nelecha hasadeh", "A-fieldward we'll go", and "Let's go to the field" is a good translation. 08:55, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
If I remember right, the Septuagint says the same thing as the Samaritan Pentateuch, and the Vulgate has almost the same thing, so I'd bet that the Nelcha hassadeh would be the correct original reading. For the future, it's not quite a substitute for having a Samaritan Pentateuch, but Kittel's Biblia Hebraica is available online and contains a lot of Samaritan readings where it differs from the Masoretes. Here [2]. I don't know if you read Latin, but if you don't, don't worry too much about the Latin preface; the actual biblical notes themselves shouldn't be too hard to figure out. Alephb (talk) 10:33, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
Thanks! I'm really psyched there's another person here who does Hebrew who shares my translation philosophy (more or less). I thought I was the only one. 11:14, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
I think we share some of the same concerns, in that we both want the tone to match, we both want simple phrases translated by simple phrases and complex ones by complex ones, and so on. We do seem to disagree on a lot of how that plays out, but that's completely to be expected whenever you have people on the internet trying to translate the Bible. Alephb (talk) 12:03, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
Oh, it could be so much worse. I was worried someone would come here and replace the whole text with KJV. 12:16, 23 July 2017 (UTC)


The hebrew word "Baz"(בז) means exactly what the American slang word "Diss" means, but "dis" doesn't work for the translation, because it is too jarringly informal. I tried "mock", but "baz" doesn't have to be active mocking, it can be entirely mental. I tried "defiled", but that's both too active and too formal. I finally found "belittled" which is almost perfect. 15:38, 20 February 2011 (UTC)

3:11 declarative/interrogative?[edit]

This verse is, in Hebrew:

וַיֹּאמֶר--מִי הִגִּיד לְךָ, כִּי עֵירֹם אָתָּה; הֲמִן-הָעֵץ, אֲשֶׁר צִוִּיתִיךָ לְבִלְתִּי אֲכָל-מִמֶּנּוּ--אָכָלְתָּ

Here is a quick word-for-word gloss: And-he-said(futurish tense)--- Who told-narrated to you but/that are-naked you: The-from/type the-tree which I-commanded-of-you to-keep-from eating of-it, you-ate:

Here is the version that was here: And said--- “Who told you that you are naked? The type of tree that I commanded to never eat from, you ate.”

Here is a recent revision: And said--- “Who told you that you are naked? From the tree that I commanded you not to eat from it, did you eat?”

Is the disputed sentence really a question?? I can read it that way, but its a bit of a strain to my ear. I agree that "Ha-min Ha-etz" means "of the tree" rather than "of the type of tree", I was thrown off by the meaning in modern Hebrew, where "min" means "type", but I agree that here it is just like "Ha-mi Ha-etz" in modern Hebrew.

But as far as the declarative/question question, it can be read both ways, leaving most of the significant meaning is unchanged. But the narrative is altered. In one, Yahweh is realizing that the man ate from the tree, and becomes angry

"Who told you you are naked?? Why, you must have eaten from the tree I commanded you not to eat from!!"

In the other, Yahweh is patiently asking a question

"Who told you you are naked? Did you eat from that tree?"

I think that the narrative with God realizing what happened is just better narrative, and reads more naturally in Hebrew. I can also see why religious readers might want to turn this into a question. There seems to be consensus by now that this is a question in other translations, including King James. I am just not persuaded by the Hebrew sentence. I will make it declarative for now, and leave a comment on the verse. 05:55, 7 April 2011 (UTC)

I'll start with your glosses. Vayomer is not a "futurish" tense. It's a weqatal verb, a past(ish) "tense."
The reason you're having trouble with the question is that you're trying to read this in terms of modern Hebrew grammar. In biblical hebrew, sticking that ha- onto min makes the sentence a question. You can't read this as a declarative unless you remove the ha-. It's not a matter of "religious" readers wanting to make this a question. Religion has nothing to do with it. It's a matter of biblical Hebrew grammar 101.Alephb (talk) 01:43, 7 June 2017 (UTC)
NO! It's "futurish" tense, which ends up MEANING "pastish" in context. Only a non-native Hebrew speaker will have gotten confused here (notice I did the same thing in English regarding tense in this sentence).
NO! NO! NO! I disagree with this. "Ha" means something OTHER than a question, it means a sort-of "and then", which CAN BE a question, sometimes, but other times not. I am sorry, but you are incompetent. In THIS CASE, it can mean "I deduce that you have eaten from the tree", and this is most likely what it means. You can't substitute for knowing a language fluently, not by learning some letters online.
No, weqatal verbs are used in ancient Hebrew overwhelmingly for verbs that occur where English speakers would use a past tense verb. The only reason you'd think "futurish" is if you're imposing the grammar of modern Hebrew onto biblical Hebrew. If you go find yourself a decent grammar of biblical Hebrew, it won't say that a weqatal is "pastish". As for the interrogative he, I strongly doubt there's any expert in Hebrew, ancient or modern, who would agree that "ha" means anything like "and then." That's just a very strange claim. It's an interrogative prefix -- it introduces a question. This can include rhetorical questions. Alephb (talk) 23:25, 19 July 2017 (UTC)
I'm sorry, but this is really a case where it helps to be a native speaker. People still use biblical language when they want to sound all stuffy and formal, and then the "Ha" is used to mean exactly what I said, and it's straight out of the Bible. It's sort of like "And now, that tree I commanded you to not eat from, but you ate from it, huh" It's that sort of thing. You could make it a question, sure, but it's not exactly a question, I don't care what it says in a grammar book. It's ambiguous, and I kept it ambiguous in the English. It reads more like a coming-to-conclusions, i.e., God notices that they are doing all sorts of covering up stuff, so He says "And now, I see you did the bad thing", it's more like what I did before in English, which is also half-way question half-way statement.
I'll settle for "half-way question, half-way statement". I think we both agree that in this case God's sentence, whether we call it a question or not, is one where God has deduced what's going on. For all our disagreement, we both agree that grammar-books don't actually dictate meaning. I would probably trust them a little more than you would, mostly because when I've looked at them they seem to usually match what seems to actually be going on in Hebrew. But I won't quote a grammar book at you. There are cases, though, where ha- is used for a genuine question where the speaker wouldn't know the answer. In Genesis 43:7, the twelve brothers are telling Jacob what Joseph asked them, ha'od abikem chay? In that case, I think Joseph genuinely wants to know if Jacob is still alive. Or in 1 Samuel 9:11, hayesh bazeh haroeh? But you are right that rhetorical questions are "real" questions in a certain sense. Unconsciously, when I use rhetorical questions, I tend not to add a question mark, because somewhere in my mind I don't treat a rhetorical question like a "real" question. Alephb (talk) 17:21, 21 July 2017 (UTC)
If we agree, why did you change "But from the tree which I commanded you not to eat from, you ate?!" Which is exactly half-way question, half-way statement, and is precise to the sentence. 09:11, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
Probably for two reasons. First was just a matter of English style. Reproducing the Hebrew word-order to the degree that you did seemed awkward to my ears. Also, it struck me as odd to end a sentence with "?/!" So I just picked a simple question form, which struck me as being just as simple as the Hebrew construction. I was trying to match the natural tone as well as I could, and I figured that both in Hebrew and in English it would come across and a leading question, where the reader will guess that God knows the answer before he asks. Alephb (talk) 10:39, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
You can say "it sounded shitty", and I might agree. But I like to be as accurate as possible. Maybe it does sound shitty. I wanted to find an ambiguous question/statement. 10:54, 23 July 2017 (UTC)

שְׂאֵת == Swell![edit]

That's uncanny to me--- the word Shoet means "swelling" and is used in 4:7 to mean "great", and the word "swell" in English functions exactly the same weird way. 07:22, 18 April 2011 (UTC)

You're misreading. There's no shoet in this verse. That dot is a sin dot, not a holem. You can tell because there a shva under the sin. It's s'et. Alephb (talk) 01:46, 7 June 2017 (UTC)
The word, whatever it's pronunciation, means "swell", as in "great!", and I don't know about the other occurences, but I didn't pay any attention to the dots on the Shins there either. Those dots are from the middle ages, the original text was vowelless and dotless. 08:53, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
Right, the original text was vowelless and dotless. Agreed. But they don't pronounce the word as shoet in Modern Hebrew either. It's a sin there too. I'll admit my modern Hebrew isn't perfect, but I'm pretty sure there's no shoet in biblical or modern Hebrew, at least no shoet related to this meaning. I'm not sure where you're getting the "great!" meaning. I think this is a case of reading English slang back into ancient Hebrew.Alephb (talk) 10:53, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
Of course not! I found the same word elsewhere, with the meaning "swelling up". It's in Leviticus. I came back here to fix the verse once I knew what it means. This "S'et" or "Shoet" is totally meaningless in modern Hebrew. I had no idea until Leviticus. 10:56, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
I mean, I am deducing that it means "hunky dory" from context in this verse. But it's a correct deduction. The crazy thing is that it also means "swelling" in Leviticus, when they're talking about all sorts of swellings on the human body. It might be "Shoet" or "S'et", I don't know. I didn't pay too much attention (and honestly, I always forget which side of the shin gets the "sh" sound). 10:57, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
I think s'et still gets used occasionally for weird body growths in modern Hebrew, but I wouldn't swear it. I know it's something negative and health-related. Alephb (talk) 12:05, 23 July 2017 (UTC)

Yahweh vs The LORD[edit]

The solution of using "The LORD" for the tetragrammaton is no good. One of the salient features of the Hebrew text is that it can be read phonetically with "Yahweh" appearing at all tetragrammaton places. The convention of pronouncing this "adonai" is fine, and carries over to English--- simply read aloud "The LORD" whenever you encounter Yahweh.

A more serious proposal would be to use "YHWH", which indicates that the vowels are not known. But this is not necessary, because the correct vowels have been found in grimoirs from the era, confirming the pronunciation Yahweh as correct. Leaving out the vowels for this word, and only this word, in an otherwise normal English translation is jarring and ruins reading flow. 01:28, 14 July 2011 (UTC)

The grimoirs have all sorts of different vowels. Some might read "Yahweh" but I've seen a variety of other vowels as well. Alephb (talk) 01:47, 7 June 2017 (UTC)
What are the other options? Why is "Yahweh" standard, when Masoretic has "Yehowah"? Yehowah is interesting, because it's a mixed up tense of "to be", future, present, past. I was stupidly trusting scholarly consensus.RonMaimon (talk) 19:10, 27 July 2017 (UTC)
I don't know of any other options that are taken seriously, but I've read that Yahweh likely derives from Yahwih earlier on, Canaanite probably having a three-vowel system originally, but was probably pronounced Yahweh by the time the Bible was written.
There's two reasons I wouldn't trust Yehowah as a pronunciation. In terms of the internal logic of the Masoretic system, a waw is either a consonant (i.e. it takes a vowel) or it is a vowel. To read "Yehowah" you'd need to spell it YHWWH, or put the holem not above the waw but above the he. On top of this, the Masoretes don't just write Yehowah, they also write Yehowih. They write Yehowah wherever Jewish tradition reads Adonai. This follows a well-established Masoretic practice of inserting the vowels of the preferred pronunciation into a word they're "correcting." But on the occasions where the Hebrew text has "Adonai YHWH", they can't do that, because it would sound silly to read "Adonai Adonai." So they put in the vowels from elohim, and get Yehowih. Working backward from that, we can then notice that the vowels shva holem qamatz, are the vowels from "Adonai", just adjusted for the fact that hatef patah is just what happens to a shva if you put it under a guttural letter. So the forms Yehowah and Yehowih are just qeres. This is confirmed by the taboo around pronouncing the name, which is recorded even 2000 years ago. (I went through that fairly quick, let me know if I need to spell any of that out in more detail.)
It's been a long time since I surveyed the grimoir evidence, but I know there were a variety of variants found in Greek magic texts. But we have ancient testimony that the Samaritans pronounced it Yabe (this is written in Greek letters, so the "b" could easily be a v). Even into the 1800's, people who spoke to Samaritans were hearing "Yahweh" or "Yahwah." On the other hand, there's also Iaou on at least some of the grimoirs, and Jerome reported Yaho, and the Jewish community at Elephantine spelled it YHW. There's a minority scholarly opinion that the name is Yaho or Yahu. But then why would there be a final he? Alephb (talk) 19:45, 27 July 2017 (UTC)

Genesis 11:2’s “from the east”[edit]

I strongly believe that Genesis 11:2’s “from the East” is better translated “eastward”, “to the east” or even “east”, especially since it refers to part of Babylon, a location east of this passage’s author(s). Further, the same word, qedem[2] is translated as “to the east” in Genesis 2:8. With no objections, I move to change it soon.

  1. Following [[w:Umberto Cassuto|]]
  2. Blue Letter Bible, note concordance

Lucas (talk) here; LLarson (talk) on Wikipedia

Fixed it. 03:20, 19 December 2013 (UTC)

Chapter 50:15[edit]

It says "Joseph will hate us: pay repay to us he will all the evil we have dealt him."
Shouldn't it just say repay?

If you think that is a better translation of the Hebrew, feel free to go ahead and change it. —Beleg Tâl (talk) 12:50, 24 January 2017 (UTC)
I have no idea what the Hebrew says. I just meant that it doesn't seem to be proper English. I understand that translation is not always straightforward, and translating to pay rather than repay might make it seem that Joseph's brothers don't think they deserve anything that Joseph would do to them. As well as that other difficulties in translation may occur. However "pay repay" isn't proper English. So shouldn't ane be left out and there be either a foot note referring to the other word or just add some formatting (pay/repay)? Simply so that it has a more proper English when reading it. —Lordwelch (talk) 18:35, 1 February 2017 (UTC)
Hey User:Lordwelch. You're right. There's this feature of biblical Hebrew where a word a verb gets repeated in a way that it doesn't in English. Whoever was here before did that, and some other strange things. I've straightened out the bit you pointed out. Thanks for the heads-up. The talk pages around here seem more or less abandoned, but if you see anything else you want a Hebrew consult on, just hit me up on my talk page and I'll be happy to take a look. Alephb (talk) 19:07, 21 May 2017 (UTC)
KEEP THE GODDAMN REPETITION! "Pay repay" is nonstandard English, sure, but you get used to it, and you know what it means. It keeps the structure very similar to the Hebrew.
Please try to sign your posts.Alephb (talk) 23:26, 19 July 2017 (UTC)
Could this perhaps be rendered as "pay and repay"? It preserves the verb repetition but avoids the issue of poor English. —Beleg Tâl (talk) 23:32, 20 July 2017 (UTC)
I could live with that. If I was translated all by myself, I'd just go with pay here, but since this is a group project, I won't argue against "pay and repay." It's a little odd, but at least it does translate the phrase into recognizable English Alephb (talk) 17:23, 21 July 2017 (UTC)
I also like "Pay and repay". I tried to keep every repetition in the Hebrew as a repetition in the English, but sometimes, I moved the repetition to another word. For example, in Noah's ark, when "Hamayim ne'etzamu meod meod", I said "And the waters intensified so so much" instead of "And the waters intensified so muchy much", because the first is accurately translating the sentiment into English of identical quality and style, with the exact same repetition-flavor, while the second is stupid in English. Now the Noah section reads differently, without the "so so much". 08:51, 23 July 2017 (UTC)

Footnote for El Shaddai[edit]

User:Alephb, I know you are not responsible for this, but can you please do something about this footnote. I don't mind the fact that it is not translated to English, because even Hebrew scholars debate what this name means, however the foot note is horrendous and needs to be changed. First of all the only way it could mean "God of my breast" would be if it were not being used as a name God calls Himself, unless he is telling us to apply that name to Him. Seccond, the "breast" interpretation connect it with the word shaddayim and there doesn't seem to be sufficient evidence to say for certain that is connected with that word, right? What are you're thoughts on this? 馬太阿房 (talk) 23:42, 31 May 2017 (UTC)

I wouldn't have written the footnote that way. The footnote currently reads:
Heb: אֵל שַׁדַּי King James says Almighty God, which is also modern Hebrew, the literal Hebrew translates as God-my-breast/God-my-teat, (a human female breast--- but not a cussword). Secular scholarly opinion is that it might be derived from El-Shaddam, Akkadian for mountain-god. Other interpretations are El Shadad, god of plunder, destructive god, or the completely inane rabbinical pun-interpretation אֵל שְׁדַּי with a different pronunciation, meaning "god that is sufficient", in ridiculously anachronistic Hebrew
My suggestion is that we rewrite it to read:
The Hebrew El Shaddai is a term of uncertain origins. Various hypothesis exist, including relating it to the Hebrew shaddai ("my breasts") or the Akkadian shadu ("mountain"). Traditionally, since the time of the Septuagint "El Shaddai" has often been translated as "God Almighty."
How's that sound? Alephb (talk) 23:52, 31 May 2017 (UTC)
Thanks, Alephb. I wish I could read or understand Hebrew, but I don't so not sure I can help much except for finding obvious issues. When I saw the footnote in it's original form, it provoked research and according to my research the word for breasts would be shaddayim. Does it convert to shaddai when speaking of one's own breasts? 馬太阿房 (talk) 17:23, 1 June 2017 (UTC)
That's correct. If you say shaddayim that means "breasts." If you say shadday that's "my breasts" in biblical Hebrew. If you want to learn to read biblical Hebrew, I'd be happy to show you online resources that you could use to learn it, starting with the alphabet, and working till you can read the Bible directly. There's 22 letters to learn, about 15 vowels, and then it's all a matter of building vocabulary and grammar knowledge one word and rule at a time. There's online resources you can use to look up words very conveniently, allowing you to learn by going through passages of your choice, word by word. And if there's anything you're having trouble understanding, just let me know on my talk page and I'll try to get you an answer (if there is an answer). Alephb (talk) 05:53, 2 June 2017 (UTC)
Thanks user:Alephb! With that explaination, I think your revision of the footnote sounds fine, except shouldn't you say, "... including relating it to the Hebrew shadday [you proposed revision has shaddai] ("my breasts")..."? I am very interested in the online resource you are speaking of. Please provide me with the link. I would like to help rework the translation mainly in an effort to make it sound less stilted/unnatural to keep it within the stated translation guidelines, namely, "The text should be as literal as possible while still translating the correct meaning into good English. Keep the translation simple, non-technical, robust, and easy-to-understand." 馬太阿房 (talk) 18:33, 2 June 2017 (UTC)
Oh, shaddai and shadday are simply two different ways of writing the same Hebrew word. When a word ends in a yod, sometimes people spell it in English as an i, sometimes as a y. When it comes to online resources, I'll send you a message on your talk page, because this page is more for specifically discussing the translation itself. As for stilted translation, a lot of our earlier translators wrote in very stilted English, and I sometimes do as well. Having some fresh eyes on the translation -- especially someone who speaks English but not Hebrew -- should really help us with clarity. Alephb (talk) 19:05, 2 June 2017 (UTC)

TSVA'AM == Ranks[edit]

The word "Tsva'am" means "their armies", and has a martial aura. In the context of Genesis 2, it means "God created the sky and Earth, and all it's inhabitants in their stations". But the WORD is literally "God created the sky and Earth, and all it's armies". How do you find the perfect English word for this? Does it exist?

YES IT DOES, the word is "ranks" ,which has identical military connotations, and means exactly "all the inhabitants in all their stations", which is why I translated it "God created the sky and the Earth, and all their ranks". Which is a PERFECT translation. But now someone substituted a nonsense other translation which removes the "ranks" and replaces it with an imperfect word.

Don't use an imperfect word when the perfect word exists.

Please try to sign your posts. Alephb (talk) 17:24, 21 July 2017 (UTC)

Prolix nonsense[edit]

The translation which was here before had a simple principle--- PRESERVE THE SYLLABLE COUNT. What that means is "al pnei" has 2 syllables, so you use "upon" (two syllables), not "on the surface of" (5 syllables). "Leyad" is "by" not "alongside with", etc. The new translation makes this text sound difficult and formal, when it is CLEAR and SIMPLE. unsigned comment by (talk) .

Is there a reason to preserve the syllable count? (I mean beyond personal preference; e.g. if the syllable count is actually significant to the meaning of the Hebrew or the intention of the author.) If so, that would be a good thing to document with a footnote. I personally think "on the surface of" sounds clearer and simpler than "upon", which is more abstract. —Beleg Tâl (talk) 23:38, 20 July 2017 (UTC)
I mostly agree with Beleg Tâl on the general principle here -- I think if we try to consistently preserve syllable count we'll write in broken English, which would be much more misleading to a reader than missing the syllable count. Translation is always full of trade-offs, and I'd trade syllables for meaning any day of the week. Personally, in this particular case I'd lean toward "upon," because to my ears it sounds like a perfect equivalent of al pnei, but not because it counts the syllables right. But on the other hand, I've read a lot of archaic English in my life, so I might be missing how awkward "upon" could be for other readers.
To our IP contributor -- do you think it might be possible for you to get a login? The way you jump from IP to IP, and comment to yourself, sometimes makes it look like you are multiple people. Also, please try to sign your posts. Please. Alephb (talk) 17:31, 21 July 2017 (UTC)
Ok, ok, signing. All the IP posts since the beginning are me, I did all the IP translation also, which was the entire book until you came along.
The REASON to preserve syllable count is because it preserves the flow of reading. The length of time a set of words swims in your head determines how long it commands your attention. So, for example, in English, the children's superhero is "Captain underpants", not "Captain clothes-that-you-wear-underneath-your-other-clothes". If you translate captain underpants to Hebrew, you should call him something roughly of the same length, so that the attention span of the reader is not consumed with something that is not all that attention worthy.
This is the reason I prefer "pact" to "covenant". The Hebrew word is one syllable, the English word has 3. It makes the "pact carving" agreements (literal tranlation of Biblical Hebew) into "decisions to carve out a covenant". While both mean the same thing, the multiple syllable complexity makes people pay undue attention to the phrase.
In point of fact, English has had thousands of years of further evolution compared to Biblical Hebrew, and languages acquire syllable complexity in time. So English has syllables like "Strength" and "traipsed" which are much more complex than anything in Hebrew of Japanese. This means that if you have any difference, the English should always be shorter in syllable number, and any time you go the other way, it is completely suspect, you made a bad translation.
If you look at any other Bible translation, the syllable spill goes the wrong way. The English has more syllables than the Hebrew. The REASON is because people take this stuff way too seriously, and end up trying to translate invisible metaphors. For example: "Bereshit" (3 syllables) means "At first" (2 syllables) or "At the start" (3 syllables, but not quite accurate, because, back-translating, it would be "Bahatchala", so it's not quite right), but it turns into "In the beginning" in King James (five syllables), which makes it just a tad too conspicuous. Just a tad, because "In the beginning" is pretty simple and idiomatic. But in other cases, it can be jarring. Translating "Vehaya" to "And in due course it came to pass" is an extreme example, this happened here before. "Vehaya" means "And it was".
Keeping the syllable count does not lead to broken English. Only trying to keep the idiomatic repetitions does that, and then, only rarely. Your job as a translator is to keep the impressions in reading the same between the two languages, not to make the text clearer, nor to explain the text. Anytime you have to footnote something because you didn't translate the literal meaning well enough, that's your FAILURE as a translator. Anytime you miss a meter, or a flow of text, and have to make it bulkier, you failed. 08:47, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
Well, there's any number of things to comment on here. As for "pact," I have no strong objection to "pact." If anything, "pact" might have the advantage of having a lot less theological baggage attached to it. At the most abstract level, of course we agree that it's nice to keep the message at a similar length in the target and source languages. On the other hand, there's grammatical differences between English and Hebrew that will repeatedly force English to be longer. And no one could live up to your standard of translating Hebrew verses into English verses with less syllables for any length of time without producing truly weird English. And translating normal Hebrew into weird English would also be a translation failure -- in my mind a bigger one than failing the syllable-count game. As for the idea that languages increase their phonemes per syllable over time, let's just say I'm extremely doubtful. As for your claim that keeping the syllable count does not lead to broken English, why don't you take, say, Psalm 1 and have go at keeping the syllable count exactly the same in the English translation, and see where it gets you? The good news is that this is a pretty empirical question, so there's no need to argue over it. We can just try out a passage and see what happens. Alephb (talk) 11:42, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
I TRANSLATED PSALMS 1-65 (and 100 and 137) KEEPING SYLLABLE COUNT AND METER UNCHANGED. I also kept aramaic words noticible, and I think it turned out perfect. Check out Psalms. 12:15, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
I checked out Psalm 1. The English has more syllables than the Hebrew for the first three verses at least. I didn't count after that. But that's my point. We can't realistically constrain our translating by the idea that the English should have less syllables. It can't be done. Not even the guy who thinks it should be done did it. I don't blame you, because you did what was necessary to make it somewhat comprehensible. Alephb (talk) 12:51, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
I support Alephb's request. I would also comment that the approach and language is not helpful to a complex discussion. This is a group project and being condescending neither helpful nor likely to engender agreement with your opinion. — billinghurst sDrewth 13:05, 22 July 2017 (UTC)
This stuff is not a political debate, if all the people are honest, it doesn't make any difference what people sound like. Anyway, you are not contributing, you are just saying stupid things on the sidelines. 08:47, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
I asked you to be civil yesterday, and billinghurst is asking you today. While you might be perfectly comfortable with a world where everyone unnecessarily calls each other stupid all the time, a lot of us would prefer that you didn't. Alephb (talk) 10:58, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
I didn't call anyone anything. I was commenting on the comments, not on the people. I will be nicer, ok. 11:55, 23 July 2017 (UTC)

On Jussive vs. Yiqtol ("Future") in Genesis 1[edit]

In the most recent edit to Genesis, which is unhelpfully given the edit summary, "fix to follow Hebrew, not ridiculous interpretation" there are several issues, but I'll focus for the moment on the problem of Hebrew "tenses."

The issue concerns y'hi, in y'hi or and y'hi m'orot. In biblical Hebrew, this is a jussive form. In terms of modern Hebrew, which doesn't have a jussive, it looks as if it is a future tense, "Light will be", or "Lights will be." Here's what's going on here.

In biblical Hebrew, the jussive expresses a desire or wish. The yiqtol and weqatal forms are (to generalize and simplify) used to express things that happen in the future. The weqatal and yiqtol are used depending on where the verb is in the clause.

At the start of a clause, we would use weqatal, while inside of a clause we would use yiqtol. An example of both can be found in Exodus 3:20, which contains the following clauses, "(1) I will stretch out my hand. (2) I will strike Egypt with all my wonders (3) which I will do among them, (4) and afterward he will send you away." Based on the rule that distinguishes weqatal and yiqtol forms, we should expect (1) and (2) to have a weqatal form, because the verb begins the clause; and (3) and (4) to have a yiqtol, because the clauses begin not with the noun but with the words "which" and "afterward." And sure enough, that's how the verse works. (1) weshalachti et yadi, (2) wehiketi et mitsrayim bekol niflotai (3) asher e'eseh beqirbo (4) we'acharei-ken yishlach etchem.

So the distinction between "weqatal" and "yiqtol" is not a future vs. past distinction, as though God is promising the stretch and smite in the past, but that he will do wonders and Egypt will send away in the future. The distinction is a simple one having to do with word order, which is lost in modern Hebrew, where nobody uses weqatal this way unless they're being deliberately archaic.

Where this distinction really comes in handy is when you see something like y'hi or, where something that looks like it could be a yiqtol verb is at the front of a clause. This is grammatically not done, though, and an apparent clause-fronting yiqtol is just a jussive. (In the third person, jussives look like yiqtols). So we should expect that where an apparent yiqtol begins a clause, we are expecting not a prediction, but a wish or command that something should be so.

And that's exactly what we find here. God commands, y'hi or, and vayhi or. God y'hi raqia, and then he makes a raqia. And so on for waters, plants, lights, and so on. These are basically the third-person equivalent of imperatives.

In addition to the technical grammatical side of things, there's the context. In this chapter, God isn't peering into a crystal ball and predicting a creation that will happen. He's actively describing what he's wishing to have happen, and then it happens or in the case of the raqia he makes it. Alephb (talk) 19:59, 21 July 2017 (UTC)

Listen, dude, it is COMPLETELY OBVIOUS that "WaYehi Or" is a command for light to appear, not a future tense prediction "I think light is going to come now", and I didn't make a mistake of interpretation. You can save the technical tense talk for some other time, all that nonsense is OBVIOUS to anyone who speaks Hebrew, you are just giving a WAY TOO ACADEMIC gloss to this.
What I was trying to with "Light will be" and "Light was" do is preserve the parallelism and idiomatic simplicity of the Hebrew. "WaYehi Or" is the command, and then, "WaYehi Or", light becomes. When I wrote "Light will be". The Hebrew is simple, not complicated, and parallel. God commands, then the thing commanded happens.
After your overlong and overly technical commentary, I see that indeed it is possible that "Light will be" could be misinterpreted as "I predict light will appear" rather than the command of light to become. That's a bad thing. But, as long as we are on the subject of extremely improbable misinterpretations, I should point out that your form: "Let light be" ALSO can be misinterpreted as a command to "Leave light alone, please. Don't bother that light.". Except you know very well that nobody would misinterpret it that way.
But you do have a (weak) point, so I think best translation is God said "Light is to be" and then light was. This is problematic only in that it is a little more complex than the Hebrew construction. But it's close enough to say it's accurate. 08:33, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
Listen, dude, it is COMPLETELY OBVIOUS that "WaYehi Or" is a command for light to appear, not a future tense prediction "I think light is going to come now", and I didn't make a mistake of interpretation. Well, not quite. "WaYehi or" is wayyiqtol, and functions as a past tense statement in this context. "Yehi or" is the command or jussive bit. Alephb (talk) 11:43, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
Whatever it's called, jussive, wayyiqtol, or whatever, the sense is "Light is to be", and I hope that we agree on the translation. I don't like making simple things seem complicated, and this tense stuff is REALLY obvious if you speak the language, it's something you feel and can't articulate into words, while you keep articulating it into words like "jussive" and "wayyiqtol" which I don't understand, and feel no need to understand, because I can grok the sentence without knowing the fancy terms. But it's ok, because I think we agree now on the best phrasing, and I do agree that "Light will be" could marginally be ambiguous as to meaning. 11:58, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
I'm teaching my little brother to read some biblical Hebrew right now, and I'm not telling him a damn thing about tenses. I'm just showing him how some verbs stick pronouns on the front, and some stick pronouns on the back. Most of the time, I think grok will carry you through. But it does strike me as useful to have some familiarity with some of the discussion about biblical Hebrew tenses. When it comes to the terms wayyiqtol, yiqtol, qatal, and weqatal, just imagine that you've got a verb qtl and you're producing forms of it. Instead of paal, niphal, and so on, some people use qatal, niqtal, and so on. You're right that most of the time you'll get by just fine without the terms, but as per the long analytical thing about jussives I wrote, the yiqtol/weqatal difference is just about word position, and not about a future/past contrast. Translating Exodus 3:20 as if the weqatals were past and the yiqtols were future would put something into the translation that just isn't there in the biblical verse. It does sometimes make a difference that something like yqtl usually shows up at the beginning of the clause if it's a command, and later in the clause if its a more ordinary futurish thing. But if we're going for a natural English translation of tenses, we could mostly do that without any knowledge, technical or otherwise, of the distinction between the four biblical "tenses." "Light is to be" strikes me as a little awkward, but not terrible. Alephb (talk) 12:13, 23 July 2017 (UTC)

Comments at the end of the Verse, please[edit]

I know it is tempting to put the comments in the middle, but they are really peripheral, they shouldn't be read by a reader who is here for the text, and they actually interrupt the smooth reading flow. I think they belong at the end of the verse. I made the mistake of interspersing comments inside verses, but I was pretty sparing with comments. Now they're everywhere. 09:32, 23 July 2017 (UTC)

If you want to move them, I won't try to stop you. Alephb (talk) 11:44, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
Ok, ok. I'll move them. I only did it because the first verse had a comment, like, every word. It's totally distracting, especially if you follow all the comments as I tend to do. 11:59, 23 July 2017 (UTC)

Regarding the comments to verse 1[edit]

You have to use your judgement about all the nonsense written about this obvious sentence. Because it's the first sentence, there's a lot of commentary, but as far as translation goes, it's extremely straightforward--- "At first, God created the sky and Earth. And the Earth was Higgledy Piggledy and darkness upon the abyss, God's spirit hovering upon the water." There's not much debate about the meaning, despite the long commentary. 09:35, 23 July 2017 (UTC)

Well, I know you don't like Rashi's reading of Genesis 1:1, where he takes Bereshit as in the construct form, on account of how it is missing the "a" vowel as in "Bareshit" "In the beginning. It looks barbaric to modern Hebrew or English to say, "In the beginning of God created." However, the book of Hosea starts with a similar form. After verse 1, which is basically a title, check out the first sentence. techillat diber Yhwh behoshea, vayomer Yhwh el hoshea.
It's techillat, not techillah. So, going literally, we'd have, "Beginning of Yahweh spoke to Hosea, and Yahweh said to Hosea." Which I would read as "When Yahweh began to speak to Hosea, Yahweh said to Hosea." So, I hesitate to brush the whole construct interpretation of bereshit off as pure nonsense. My guess is that ancient Hebrew really did allow a noun to be bound by construct form to a sentence, and that "Beginning of subject verb" means "When subject began to verb." Now, whether we should interpret Genesis 1:1 that way is another question, but I think Hosea is enough to show that it does seem to be an actual thing in ancient Hebrew. Alephb (talk) 12:25, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
I don't dispute anything regarding "Bereshit, but your Techilat example is very good. I disputed the "Bro" for "bara" which I have seen people use. I understand the idea you are giving, it's a possible, although suboptimal IMO reading.RonMaimon (talk) 06:02, 25 July 2017 (UTC)
Ok, I was wrong about "Bro". There it is, right in chapter 2. It's grammatical ancient Hebrew. Rashi knew Hebrew better than me. It could be "Bro", and then it's construct. But it's still not the right vowels, and the simple reading is still simple past tense.RonMaimon (talk) 09:28, 2 August 2017 (UTC)

Bereshit == Originally[edit]

I tried to find a good fit for "Bereshit", and I found "originally" today. Please consider it, because it is pretty accurate. I don't like "In the beginning", and you don't like "At first". 09:32, 23 July 2017 (UTC)

Asher Barah Elohim La'asot[edit]

In Ch2, there is an awkward phrase at the end of a verse "Asher barah elohim la'asot", which reads "wherefore created God[s] to make". It doesn't translate to "Which God created and made". It doesn't. In no way shape or form. But that's what it is interpreted to mean normally. It just doesn't mean that. I kept it tortured in the original translation, because it is tortured in the Hebrew. The job of a translator is to TRANSLATE, not to EXPLAIN. 09:59, 23 July 2017 (UTC)

It's tortured in modern Hebrew, right? Is that what you're saying here? Alephb (talk) 11:45, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
I'm saying it's tortured period. I can't figure out the grammar in ancient Hebrew. It's not like the rest of the stuff. Asher is a linking word, and if you just drop off the last word "la'asot", it makes perfect sense--- it's the creation which God created. But then the "la'asot" comes in, and it doesn't have anything to bind to! What's the "la'asot"? It makes no sense. So I just translated it word for word, with the senseless dangling part. It just doesn't mean "Which God created and made", that would be "asher bara elohim, we asah". I am not confused on this, and I would love to hear a grammar analysis which shows the grammatical construction which makes it sensible, but I don't believe it exists. I CAN make it make sense, but it is ridiculous--- it would be "wherefore (God) created gods (other gods) to make", but it's nonsensical. 12:02, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
The laasot doesn't strike me as all that strange here. I don't have a ton of time to find examples today, but I've seen a lot of places where biblical Hebrew takes two verbs with similar meanings and sticks them together in a way like this. bara la'asot -- create to make. It's not a perfect parallel, but there's also the case of all the times that a single verb is repeated twice, once in its regular form and once in the infinitive. Modern Hebrew has reined the infinitive way, way in from what ancient Hebrew allowed. I don't know if there's a real literal way to translate it into English that makes sense, but it doesn't strike me as all that odd. Basically, the whole chapter God has been "creating" and "making", and I think the author wanted to include both verses in his summation. It might reflect a difference between the verbs "create" and "make" in the mind of the author. The chapter starts with a broad "creation" and then moves on to God "making" all the individual things from the pre-existent matter. If you take create as referring to the creation of something completely new, and make as referring to the fashioning of particular bits, you could even in English say that God "created to make." Or it's just a way of getting both verbs in there that looks crazy to us that wouldn't look crazy then. I do think you're on solid ground in rejecting the "he created [other] gods to make" bit. Given that the first creation story always calls the protagonist "Elohim", if "Elohim" were to suddenly create some other elohim I'd expect an acherim thrown in there somewhere to make this clear.
Random fact. If you look carefully at the word "create", there only three times God "creates" according to the first story (most things he just "makes"). He "creates" the sky and land, the tannin-monsters, and human beings. Why those three? I'm not completely sure. Could just be random. Or it could be that the mythological tanninim are much more important to understanding ancient Near Eastern notions of creation than most modern readers would realize. Alephb (talk) 21:53, 24 July 2017 (UTC)
That's an interesting theory, it's plausible, but it's strange. Right now this is the only case of this type of usage I have seen in the whole text, meaning an infinitive stuck on to a . I saw something similar happen with "le'emor", meaning "to say" but wherever "le'emor" appears it always makes intuitive sense, "Va-yomer moshe le'emor". This "la'asot" doesn't make intuitive sense to me at all, and your gloss is interpretation. I am trying to stick close to the grammar, and grammar is tricky. "God created to make" is fine in English, but I am not sure it works in Hebrew, it just sounds wrong. I'll have to look for other infinitive/active-verb pairs to make sure. If I find them, I'll change it to "God created to make". I can also give you crazier readings: "Asher" (a corruption of Ashera") created Elohim (God) so as to make. I don't go with far-fetched nonsense, I am really trying hard to find the best translation.RonMaimon (talk) 05:56, 25 July 2017 (UTC)

Tannin == Sea Dragon[edit]

(continued) How do you know taninnim is mythological? I thought I ran across it in Exodus, when the staff devoured the other staffs, but it might have been "serpent". I forget. Is taninim unique?RonMaimon (talk) 05:58, 25 July 2017 (UTC)

(deindent) You're right about the mention of tannin in Exodus, where a tannin-serpent is made by magic. Deuteronomy 32:33 speaks of their hemah, which I'd take in that context as burning venom. There tannin is placed parallel to pethen, or a venemous snake. It's not impossible that tannin was used as a non-mythological synonym for snake in some cases. It also looks like it's used for some kind of creature that lives in deserts, howls, and sniffs the air. But there's also a number of passages with mythological overtones.

They show up in the creation, with the modifier hagedolim, "the great tanninim."

Job asks, "Am I Yam, or Tannin, that you set a watch over me?" (7:12). This echoes the standard Chaoskampf stuff. Psalm 74:13-14 places tanninim parallel to Leviathan, a mythological water-monster, as two things that God attacked in the primordial past. Psalm 148:7 calls on the tanninim and the tehomot (primordial oceans) to praise Yahweh. Isaiah 27:1, in a sort of apocalyptic chapter, has God finishing off the forces of chaos by killing Leviathan and Tannin. Isaiah 51:9 looks back to a primordial past in which Yahweh fought the Tannin named Rahab. Jeremiah 51:34 compares Nebuchadnezzar to a Tannin swallowing someone.

Lamentations 4:3 says that Tanninim nurse their young, for whatever that's worth. Ezekiel 29:3 and 32:2 call Pharaoh a Tannin.

So just from the biblical passages there's at least a whiff of mythology about the Tannin. The picture falls into place better when you look at other mythologies of the ancient Near East. To simplify, a creator makes the world from pre-existing watery chaotic elements, fights either the sea or a sea-monster, and defeats it, creating land and order. Bits and pieces of this story arrive into the biblical text in several places. In Genesis, the Genesis 1 story does follow the template: it begins with chaos, God brings it to order, and the Tehom, the chaos, and the Tanninim all appear. But the Bible takes the template and reworks it — instead of fighting, the God character is more like a monotheistic omnipotent deity — he simply commands and such, and only shadows of the Chaoskampf picture remain. But remnants of a more fighting-based notion of creation show up here and there, in passages where we find God fighting Tannin or Tannins at the beginning of time, and/or Leviathan, and or Rahab. Tannin, Tehom, and Leviathan are all related linguistically to similar figures in other languages who appear in parallel stories. In Isaiah, the creative act is repeated at the "apocalyptic" time, when the sea monster is to be defeated.

I'm not claiming that every appearance of tannin in the Hebrew Bible represents a mythical beast, but I think the cultural context and the wording of a lot of the appearances do demand a mythical sort of sea-monster for a number of those passages. I would include Genesis in this one, because Genesis borrows so heavily from near eastern mythology.

By the way, one of the arguments for the construct reading of "bereshit" (and this is not at all decisive, but one more thing) is the way that Enuma Elish, one of the pre-Genesis accounts that Genesis 1 seems dependent on, begins with a "When" construction, roughly, "When the earth and such hadn't been made, and all things were higgledy piggledy, and so forth." I noticed that the footnote you've placed in the Genesis translation makes it sound like religious people, on religious grounds, are arguing for the construct reading. But the only times I've seen it argued in religious terms is in the opposite direction. A number of religious people are ticked off that anyone would read a construct, because it undermines the doctrine of creation from nothing. If you read, "When God began to create, it was all higgledy-piggledy," it sounds like in non-biblical myths, in which the creator does not create all matter, but works with pre-existent chaotic matter to create the orderly world. But if you read, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth," that's more solidly classically monotheistic. So I would think it's the opposite as your footnote claims — it's religious scholars who are more likely to dislike the construct, and more secular scholars who tend to think that the construct reading strikes a blow against fundamentalism.Alephb (talk) 07:02, 25 July 2017 (UTC)

Your comments are SUPER AWESOME! Thanks for the heads up. I'll fix the comment. My comment is really only against the reading "Bro" for "Bara" which is 100% wrong. I don't know about the "construct", but totally coincidentally, "Originally" is actually pretty ambiguous in English regarding ex-nihilo, perhaps in almost the same way as the Hebrew (I wasn't trying for that, but it kind of gives that feeling). I don't care about religious disputes, I am not religious at all, I just want to translate the ancient text accurately. I am glad you know Enuma Elish well, I only skimmed it.
I accept that "taninim" is some sort of sea serpent. I'll have to go back and fix Lamentations and Exodus too now (strange that I missed taninim in Lamentations! I'll have to find it there). I kept the modern Hebrew only because it doesn't sound so magical in Genesis 1, where it's just an ordinary sea-creature of serpentine type, and "crocodile" I thought was as good as any other one. But now I see you have a point about the magic, and I never even considered the venom business.RonMaimon (talk) 07:17, 25 July 2017 (UTC)
Pleased to be of service. Alephb (talk) 07:28, 25 July 2017 (UTC)
I went over to Lamentations and it looks like you read "jackal," which is not a crazy reading. There does seem to be some kind of desert tannin in some passages, which howls and such. Could be a jackal. Alephb (talk) 07:42, 25 July 2017 (UTC)
Is "sea lizard" ok for tanninim? I realize now I didn't even split apart the tannin sitting inside "tannin midbar", it's so obviously idiomatic for a suckling creature in context.RonMaimon (talk) 08:31, 25 July 2017 (UTC)
I think "sea lizard" is an improvement over "crocodile", because "sea lizard" really alerts the reader well to the fact that we're talking about something out of the ordinary. My main objection is that I keep picturing those algae-eating iguanas off the coast of Chile. I'm not sure how many other people would get that picture. My very favorite possibility here would be to push that alert even further and go with "tannin-monster." Then the reader really gets the drift -- they see that it's a monstruous critter and they see that English doesn't have an exact equivalent, all at once. I know that tannin isn't really a translation, so I understand if you object there. I just think, for example, if I was translating a text about a unicorn into the language of a culture with no unicorn concept, that I would introduce a foreign word to them there, instead of picking a particular gloss, and then we'd use a footnote to fill the reader in. But if you won't go for that, I totally get it. My next favorite possibilities would be sea-monster or sea-serpent, in that order. I think including the word monster helps signal that we're dealing with something that is malevolent and formidable (as tannins would be) and somewhat indeterminate in form (the body plan of tannins isn't really spelled out). If you think monster is out of the question, then I'd recommend sticking the word "serpent" in somewhere because serpent has a slight ring of the mythological about it, and because the Tannin/Leviathan/Rahab and related literature tends to have strong serpentine associations. Alephb (talk) 10:08, 25 July 2017 (UTC)

I would agree "Tannin monster" is perfect, except for one thing. I agree with you that in whatever predecessor text inspired this text, the tanninim were mythological sea-serpent beasts, as you suggest. But the Hebrew bible is special in this regard--- it "euhemerized" (historicized, as Richard Carrier puts it) the previous stories of multiple gods into historical figures, it euhemerizes the battles of the gods into battles of history, it reinterprets all supernatural struggle as historical struggle, and it seems it also partially euhemerized taninnim into something more mundane.

The Exodus "tannin" is not a "big tannin", but it gives you a sense of the size of an "ordinary tannin", and it's the same size as Moses's staff. That doesn't fit completely with the reading as magical sea-serpent, because it comes in and swallows the other staff serpents. Also there's a "Nachash" (snake) and it's different from a "Tannin" (serpent), but in English, they aren't so different anymore. Crocodile is modern Hebrew, and it's ordinary. Sea Lizard is weird sounding (I didn't know about the swimming iguanas, it's funny as all heck). I could go for "tannin monster", but I think that it is already partly euhemerized into an ordinary creature even here, because it is not given any emphasis what these tanninim do or anything. It's like the "nephilim", they just appear, and that's it. I'll be ok with your readings, better than crocodile for sure. But I think a flavor of partial euhemerization is good too. Certainly "Tannin midbar" is an ordinary creature, like jackal, no magic at all.RonMaimon (talk) 09:19, 26 July 2017 (UTC)

All right, so if tannin-monster is just a little too mythological for your tastes, how about tannin-creature. Same number of syllables, preserves mysteriousness. I'd like "monster" a little better, but creature with tannin and a footnote should work just fine. Alephb (talk) 20:35, 27 July 2017 (UTC)
How about big sea serpents? That both King James and it is an English-language mythological creature. If you're going to say "tannin-monsters", I'd rather just say "tanninim", no translation, like "nephilim", but then that's translator laziness on our part. The real problem for me is in Exodus. It will have to make the staff become a "sea serpent" on land, which means it is a legged air-breathing sea ferocious thing, that has jaws and is about the size of a walking staff, and is common enough in Egypt to not be too alien, and now it REALLY starts to look like a crocodile. Maybe "great sea dragons" would allow the ambiguity. I don't know, the connotations are too mythological, and I don't know mythology. Do you know many months it took me to find Griffin for Cherubim? I'm going over sea monsters, but I don't know a legged monster other than "dragon", and "sea dragon" is too fire-breathing in connotations today.RonMaimon (talk) 12:43, 28 July 2017 (UTC)
Also, please don't be offended, but if keep using a concordance to identify "tannin midbar" with "tannin", I'm going to be worried about you. The "tannin midbar" is no more a "tannin" than a "seahorse" is a horse.RonMaimon (talk) 12:59, 28 July 2017 (UTC)
Sea predator?

(deindent) I think "sea dragon" is best. Dragon is similarly partially ambiguous in English regarding it's mythological status, with greater emphasis on myth than life. But "dragon" also has "komodo dragon" connotations, and that's like a crocodile (stretchy, but appropriate). Most important for me is that I think Tanninim have legs and breath air, while serpent connotes legless, and that's wrong. I think dragon is perfect.RonMaimon (talk) 06:18, 29 July 2017 (UTC)

Adam == Man != Human[edit]

Adam should not be translated as "human" in the context of chapter 2, because it means "a man", and it is also not correct Hebrew. A woman might be a "bat adam", but never an "adam". The translation also sounds strained with human

Example of how to handle footnotes[edit]

A footnote said in Ch2 regarding rivers: "Surrounded" or "meandered through", the Hebrew is ambiguous. This footnote is correct. When I translated, I simply missed the ambiguity in "Sovav".

That footnote shows laziness. If you think about it, "Wound about" is exactly equally ambiguous in English, and therefore becomes the best translation. Now the footnote disappears.

Footnotes which say "We don't know what this means" are useless. The word appears untranslated because you don't know what it means. I removed these footnotes. The point of footnotes is not to show erudition, they are to explain things that are not obvious from the text. 10:40, 23 July 2017 (UTC)

No need to throw around accusations of laziness. What we have here is just a difference of opinion about what footnotes are for. Given that the corpus of biblical Hebrew is fairly small, there's a lot of words and phrases where, barring the discovery of some giant Hebrew library or an ancient Hebrew dictionary produced by ancient Hebrew speakers, we just can't know what they mean. It strikes me as useful to pass on to the reader when that's the case. The alternative is to just pick something and not disclose the ambiguity to the reader. That strikes me as giving a reader a "cleaner" text than actually exists in Hebrew. Alephb (talk) 11:51, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
Sorry, of course you are right. I just meant that in this case, there is a way to fix the ambiguity. Sovav is not ambiguous because we don't know what the ancient word means, it's ambiguous in the same way that "wound around" is ambiguous in English. 12:03, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
Wound around is not a bad choice at all. Just didn't occur to me. Alephb (talk) 12:26, 23 July 2017 (UTC)

Nice to see[edit]

I translated the Hebrew כָּל־עֵ֛ץ נֶחְמָ֥ד לְמַרְאֶ֖ה to "Every tree that's nice to see". The Hebrew is not rhyming, but the literal translation is "Every tree that's cute to look at". Like "Kawaii" cute, and to preserve that cuteness, a little rhyming makes it work, I think. 10:49, 23 July 2017 (UTC)

So, when you state that nechmad is "cute," "like Kawaii cute," did you actually make some attempt to figure out what nechmad means in biblical Hebrew, or did you just assume that your knowledge of modern Hebrew covers the question? I already have a pretty good guess here which it is. Alephb (talk) 11:58, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
I always assume by default that Modern Hebrew preserved accurately the meaning of common words, the same as when you read shakespeare, you assume the word means the same thing until evidence comes to the contrary. There is no point in second-guessing words you know, it makes reading impossible. You need to have faith that the same forces that transmitted the Hebrew language to the present day made efforts to preserve it enough to read the ancient text, considering that this was their intent and their cultural goal. This means that the sense that a modern Hebrew speaker gets from the text is roughly accurate as a first pass for 99% of the text, and it is best to debate on the remaining 1%, not on the 99%. Nechmad is "cute" because it means that, it comes from "chemed" which is a root meaning "lovable", it has the same connotations as "kawaii", it's like the preferred young son of that patriarch or whatever.
When I say it helps to speak the language, I mean it. It really helps. I know you think I speak some other language that is remote from the ancient language, but I can see that this is not true, because I can read the text without help from footnotes or fancy grammars. Just read it, like you read Hamlet. I'm not saying I'm perfect, but in this case, the cuteness feeling is normal and I don't think controversial. I didn't think "Every tree that's cute to look at" was accurate, because this is TOO informal in English, but "Every tree that's nice to see" has what I think is a good balance between the folksiness and cuteness of the original, and the requirement of being reasonably faithful to the spirit of the text. Maybe I'm wrong, but it's pointless to use Bibical concordances to figure this out, you need to feel the language. Really. There's no mechanical way to figure out what words mean, it's a human activity. 12:10, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
Sigh. You wish I spoke better modern Hebrew, and I wish you read more biblical Hebrew. Well, if you don't want to read a concordance, I'd recommend reading the whole Bible through a couple times in Hebrew. It'll point out a lot of the differences between ancient and modern Hebrew for you. Nechmad is another such case. In modern Hebrew, it does mean cute, but not in biblical Hebrew. In biblical Hebrew, it means "worth wanting" or something along those lines. I'm flattered that you think I can read Shakespeare effectively, but most English-speakers are absolutely lost in Shakespeare unless they have notes indicating what the weird words mean.
In addition to the trees in the garden being nechmad, and the forbidden tree in particular being nechmad, here's two other uses. Psalm 19:11 says that the judgments of Yahweh are even more nechmad than gold. Proverbs 21:20 says that a wise man keeps nechmad treasure and oil in his house, but that a fool is so spendy that he loses his wealth. There's nothing in any of these passages to hint at anything kawaii. Alephb (talk) 12:41, 23 July 2017 (UTC)

(deindent) I changed the translation to "pleasant" (like you had it) in ch2, because, despite your impressions of serious disagreement, I agree with you completely regarding the plain meaning of the root "Nechmad". The translation choices I was talking about concern "auras" and connotations regarding "cute", not about pshat meaning. The mistakes of translation in the Bible are usually not pshat mistakes, but tone mistakes, making the text too formal, or too long. You are right that the pshat meaning of "nechmad" is "desirable", like Chemed, or Muhammad in Arabic, but it's not sexual here, it's like cute friendly pleasant, so in this context "Every tree that's pleasant to see", the current version, seems 100% accurate. In chapter 3, "nechmad" becomes more sexual sounding, due to the "te'avah la'eynayim", so I translated it with a different, more sexualized wording (but not going overboard), so "how attractively it makes wisdom".

Please sign your posts. Alephb (talk) 05:56, 25 July 2017 (UTC)

פרק שלוש[edit]

עברתי לעברית, למרות שקשה לי להקליד, כי לפי דעתי, אם השיחה תתנהלנה בעברית כמה שיותר עתיקה, התירגום יהיה יותר מדויק.

Please sign your posts. If you're more comfortable contributing to talk page discussions in Hebrew, you may find that it is easier to contribute to Hebrew Wikisource. Alephb (talk) 05:56, 25 July 2017 (UTC)
I just wanted to make sure you actually read Hebrew, and can write it. I have to point and click on letters to produce Hebrew, I can't touch-type it, so obviously it's not more comfortable for me. I was freaked out by some of the translation choices in Chapter 3 that you insist on which are obviously wrong:
"You MAY eat from the tree, but you MAY NOT eat from the tree" --- the Hebrew uses a phrase that can be interpreted as "may" only once, at the beginning, and then uses will and will not everywhere later. The translation you gave simply ignores that. The phrasing is important, otherwise the feeling of authority that you get from God's speech is lessened. When God says "You may", it's not as authoritative as "you WON'T". If someone tells you "you WON'T", it's more definitive and authoritative. And that's what God says.
"The tree in the center of the garden" the word "Betoch" or "Betwach" means "in" or "in the range of" or "in the region of". It doesn't have as specific a meaning as "center". The "center" is an interpretation. The statement means "we will eat of the garden trees, but of the tree that is within the garden (meaning inside the actual garden) we won't.
When the snake comes on, the language is extremely evil in Hebrew. It is very serpentine, and beautiful. "No death will you die" is "Lo Moth Tamothun" which is much longer and more idiomatic than "Lo thamuthu" (you will not die) or "lo tamuthun" (similar but more aramaic-y, although this is early), it has a repetition, it "feels" more EVIL (as in heavy-metal evil), and requires a heavier and more noteworthy translation.
The "te'avah la'eynayim" is like LUST, it's kinda sex heavy, although not explicit. The "nechmad" here is "desirable" or in context, "attractive", but this time, sexy attractive, unlike the last time, where it was cute-attractive. So "It's an eye-lust, and how attractively the tree makes wisdom". This makes the serpentine snake evil parts link up with Eve's immediate desire, which is rendered in much more lustful terms than previous desires. It keeps the heavy-metal EVIL feeling in that part. It's extremely important to be faithful to the sentiment. Nobody else keeps the Hebrew feeling right, so we need to.
The "ish" is not "husband", it's "man". Likewise you can see that the Isha at the end of chapter 2 (which is ambiguous) is woman, not wife. Presumably, marriage hasn't been invented yet, and the author is writing using non-marital words. This is obvious when God says "Toward your man go your desire" (which I translated this way to preserve the rhythm of the Hebrew, which flows very beautifully).
Chaguroth --- loin cloth or waist-belt. The issue is that they aren't "cloth", they are leaves. So it should be "loin-leaves". But loin-cloths would be imagined to cover under the loins, while the text seems to mean that they just belted it around the waist. I think waist-belt is better. This is a judgement call.
But in biblical Hebrew, ish is as much "husband" as isha is "wife." There's nothing about the use of "ish" that implies non-marriage in ancient Hebrew.
In Gen 16:3, Sarah gives Hagar to her "ish" to be her "isha". Leah, whose wedding is explicitly described, hopes that her "ish" will love her (29:32). If a pregnant woman is harmed in a certain way, the one who harmed her has to pay her ish. Leviticus 21:7 speaks of a woman divorced from her ish. A woman's 'ish can cancel her neder (Numbers 30:12). The divorce legislation in Deuteronomy 24:3 calls the husband an ish. And so on, for hundreds of cases.
On the other hand, baal is usually "owner," but occasionally is used for "husband" (Genesis 20:3, Esther 1, Proverbs 12, etc). To some extent the terms overlap for obvious reasons.
But, the bulk of the time, a woman's ish is her husband. Now, if you prefer "her man," I'll let you have your way on that, but the writer certainly isn't going out of his way to use non-marital language. If the writer had intended to mean "her husband," he would have written Genesis 3 exactly the way he did. The reason I'm inclined to think "husband" goes all the way back to her is that Genesis 2:24 seems to use the relationship between Adam and Eve as a template for marriage in general. But I think that as long as you leave Genesis 2:24 in roughly the same shape as it is now, this will come through for the reader regardless of what you do with ish in Genesis 3. Alephb (talk) 07:37, 25 July 2017 (UTC)
I see, thank you. I originally had "Toward your husband your desire", and changed it because I misread ish. I'll try to keep it alternating, and I'll get rid of my ignorant comment about this.RonMaimon (talk) 08:28, 25 July 2017 (UTC)
All right, let's look at another of the issues you raised. I'll simply grant that you're right about the loin-cloths. But I'm more interested in the issue of the nun stuck on to the end of the snake's verb temuthun. I have no criticism here, just added information that you might keep in mind with other instances of these silly nuns. As you've noted, it looks like Aramaic, but the text is early. The nerds call this unusual little nun the paragogic nun or nun paragogicum. It only occurs on certain verb forms, and it usually occurs in pausal positions. (You know about pausal forms? Modern Hebrew ain't got em. I'll lecture on pausal forms if you like).
Anyhow, our little paragogic friend isn't quite rare, but isn't quite common either. But despite the apparent Aramaicyness, it predominantly occurs in early texts, even though Aramaic influence shows up more the later a text is. So I'd wager that it's not coming in from Aramaic; it's coming in from the no-longer-surviving ancestor of both Hebrew and Aramaic. Just as, for example, Hebrew shows sings that the feminine ah ending may descend from a previous at ending, while is preserved in a lot of even modern Arabic words. In fact, by comparing passages in Samuel/Kings to passages in Chronicles, we can see the Chronicler "updating" the language here and there, because the Chronicler is late. And the Chronicler systematically removes paragogic nuns from his source material. In texts where the paragogic nun does show up, it often shows up where the verb that has it is at the end of a verse or sentence. It also sometimes shows up when the next word starts with an aleph or ayin. In this way it reminds me a little of the n in the English an, which pops up when the following word has a vowel.
There seems to be a degree of randomness to when the paragogic nun shows up, but I wouldn't say this means it's all random. Perhaps it signals that the snake is speaking in a slow, deliberate, and possibly menacing way, the way a TV bad guy might slow his speech down and speak in a more formal and less slangy manner to a victim. This might fit with its tendency to show up when there is a pause. Alephb (talk) 10:42, 25 July 2017 (UTC)
PS -- maybe pausal forms do show up in modern Hebrew, maybe in really formal contexts or biblical phrases or something. I don't mean pausal variation never shows up -- I mean if it does, it's rare enough I haven't noticed it. Alephb (talk) 10:49, 25 July 2017 (UTC)
PPS -- there's a guy named Hoftijzer who's written extensively on the paragogic nuns, and he thinks that nun paragogicum shows up when the speaker is giving a sentence which in some way contrasts with something earlier in the text. His proposal isn't universally accepted, but notice that it does work in this case. Eve says, "things are this way." And the snake, in contrast, says, "No, things are not that way-n." Alephb (talk) 11:05, 25 July 2017 (UTC)
This is fantastic stuff, thanks. I guessed it was an artistic flourish to use an ancestral or emphatic form, like in English, we sometimes say "shut thy mouth", or "need I say more", even though "thou" is obsolete for a while now and "need" is no longer auxiliary. I don't think it matters much, I immediately knew that that nun was not Aramaic, because of the otherwise absurdly Early Hebrew that it was embedded in, and didn't use faux olde-English for it.
I used Ye Olde Faux English for other occurrences of Aramaic-sounding things, either where it looked like interpolation or it was embedded in late sounding Hebrew, I think this is important, but there was zero Aramaic in Genesis. I am glad for the heads up, because I might have mistaken other paragogic nuns for Aramaic later. What that nun did, along with the next sentence, is make his dialogue sound so evil, I can't even describe it properly. Hoftijzer's thesis would be consistent with emphasis-use too, as usually when contradicting, we emphasize. J-God speaks very informally and clearly.RonMaimon (talk) 06:57, 26 July 2017 (UTC)
Pausal forms don't show up anywhere in modern Hebrew, I had no idea it existed until you brought it up just now. I googled, it seems interesting, but not so useful for translation, except in those cases where you had crazy feminine "At" (you-feminine) for God or something. I don't know enough to see where they occur.RonMaimon (talk) 06:57, 26 July 2017 (UTC)
Aramaic might not appear in Genesis interspersed in the text, but at least the author was aware of Aramaic. He has Laban the Aramean use "Yegar Sahadutha" as a placename. As for pausal forms, you'll typically just pick them up if you're looking at vowels. A common one happens in segholate nouns -- a class of nouns that includes a bunch of CeCeC nounds, where the CCC is your three consonants, like shemesh or yephet or lemek. In pause, which is generally at the end of a verse, or at the end of a major division within the verse, they'll become shamesh or yaphet or lamek. This, by the way, is why the biblical "Yephet" winds up as "Japheth" in English, and why the biblical "Lemech" becomes "Lamech." There are several others too, but they almost never impact the actual consonant-spelling of the word. A rare exception is the paragogic nun, which is usually a pausal form. Alephb (talk) 09:42, 26 July 2017 (UTC)
PS. This is why Abel is Hevel and Havel. You noticed the pausal form in your notes, but you didn't realize what you were dealing with. Alephb (talk) 11:18, 26 July 2017 (UTC)
Thanks again, you're a goldmine for this stuff. BTW, I'm not comfortable referring to the J author, the parts using Yahweh in Genesis, as a "he". I am pretty confident by now that it's a "she". If you look at all the stories, the woman part is always the perspective, and noticibly so. Whenever we end up "going into someone's head" it's often a woman (exception is Lot's story--- you go into Lot's head when he is fleeing, and Abraham, you sometimes go into his head). It's EVE that talks to the snake, and it's "inside her head" during that part, the eye-lust, the temptation. It's Rebecca that "drops off the Camel", and puts the veil over her face when she sees Isaac for the first time. The dialog between Abraham and the angels is overheard by Sarah, and we are placed in HER perspective. The conflict between Leah and Rachel is very personal, especially the fruit-exchange part. All the firstborn males in J are evil supermale testosterone filled jerks, and need to be put down, and generally men need to get their ends of their pricks snipped. It really reads like a female author, but not with any confidence, just feeling. Elohist is male, Priestly is male, but for the life of me, J sounds female. Keep in mind, it really helps in translating imagery to see how much is from a female point of view, it lets you pay attention to the personal internal vantage point given whenever there are women. For example, in this chapter, everything can be seen as witnessed by Eve. In the next, the personal stuff "I have haggled Yahweh into giving me a man", "He planted a seed in me", all that stuff is something you need to be inside Eve to see. The rest is "viewed from outside". J also has the female seduction of Joseph, female seduction written like that is I think unique to Hebrew scripture. RonMaimon (talk) 18:22, 26 July 2017 (UTC)

פרק ארבע[edit]

אני מתחיל בעברית רק בכדי לעודד אחרים שקוראים לתרגם, ולדחות אחרים שלא מבינים עברית מלהתחיל להשתולל פה.

There are only a few places where there are disputes, but they are extremely significant. they are everywhere where Wikisource and King James were divergent (I didn't make any of those changes lightly, that doesn't mean they were right, but they each require discussion. I believe they were reverted to King James without consideration):

1. Qana has much more property associations than "gotten". "Qana", even in Genesis is associated with acquisition through monetary exchange, as in Abraham and the Cave of the Machpela. The idea of exchanging money here, however, is problematic. So if you don't like "buy", and I think "buy" is by far the best translation, the next in line is "own", then "acquire", then "purchase", then "bartered/for", with "gotten" way, way down there in the list.

2. I always placed the Hebrew in the text in those cases when it's main purpose is clearly providing etymology, because that's the whole point of these verses anyway--- to provide name meaning, and the reader has no idea why the verse is there without the parenthesized Hebrew. In the Hebrew, it's obvious why the etymology verses are there. So I will place the Hebrew pronunciation next to the English (there was a good reason why I suggested this convention earlier).

3. As for the crazy את, it's crazy and problematic in the Hebrew, so it should be equally crazy and problematic in the English. You can't impose an interpretation on the reader. I chose "off" because it sounds reasonably weird.

4. וַיִּשַׁע , it looks like it means he "leaned toward", carried up. It doesn't feel, from the roots, at all like a "favored", it feels like "held up as exemplary".

5. יִּחַר This is "snarling" when it's with his nose, but here he is snarling without the nose part, so I chose "crestfallen". It's a sudden change in countenance toward darkness. It's not "furious", that's a different root. Furious is active, and has outward manifestation. "Fuming" would be ok, except that this also has a manifestation. I like "embittered" also, it feels right.נָפְלוּ פָנֶיךָ is a fantastic clue, because it shows you exactly what happens--- his face dropped down, it's exactly the type of expression you expect when a smiling person suddenly darkens. It's not fury.

6. שְׂאֵת == swell. I said it before, I say it again. It's meaning here, is just "all right, outta sight", and if you need a one word translation, it's gotta be swell, due to the crazy overlap in meaning.

7. רֹבֵץ == squat. It means "crouch", but it's a dirty word, in the same sense as "wretched" and "felching" in English. It sounds like something bad in Hebrew. You wouldn't say, "Oh, my pal was rovetz behind the couch, ready to say 'surprise' at my surprise birthday party", unless you meant that the result would be to give you a heart attack. It's like a predator which is crouching to strike, if it's rovetz, it's going to hurt you. Squat sounds ugly. If you don't like it, "stalks" would be ok, but it's nowhere near as earthy as "rovetz".

8. Baby sitter. Come on. It's "guardian".

9. עֲו‍ֹנִי Not punishment (although that's what it means IN THIS CONTEXT, our job is to translate, not interpret). Torment. It appears a lot. It's torment, or woe. KJ got it right, everyone else not. It's religious interpretation that changes this.

10. כָּל-חֹרֵשׁ נְחֹשֶׁת וּבַרְזֶל this is not "SHARP", it's absolutely not "SHARP", it can mean either "every smith of iron and copper" or "all instruments that are used to smith iron and copper". The word "choresh" IN THIS CONTEXT means "smither", either person or implement. The proper translation I believe must be "forger of copper and steel smithing tools". It's not sharp. Sharp is "chad". There's not a hint of sharp anywhere in here. I originally took a bold step of interpreting "lotesh" (a completely obscure verb I have no idea what it means, and I don't think anyone else does either) to mean "related to" or "associated with", and then I could take the "copper and iron smiths" interpretation, rather than the tool intepretation, so it makes sense as ancestry. But if "Lotesh" means "forger", then it's "copper and iron smithing tools" for sure. Not an iota of sharp anywhere.

11. כִּי שִׁבְעָתַיִם, יֻקַּם-קָיִן; וְלֶמֶךְ, שִׁבְעִים וְשִׁבְעָה "As seven times Kain is avenged, so Lamed seventy seven". Any elaboration is interpretation. The sentence is VERY SIMPLE (as is this entire chapter), all the words are baby words (although extremely archaic).

12. כִּי שָׁת-לִי אֱלֹהִים, זֶרַע אַחֵר The word "seed" together with "Shat" makes "Shat" into "plant". There's no way to go with another reading. Shat-li elohim means God planted the seed, I don't care if the full root is used or not. That's exactly what it sounds like, really, really.

13. אָז הוּחַל, לִקְרֹא בְּשֵׁם יְהוָה "Then it started, the calling of Yahweh by name". There's no subject. It's short.

The issue is that every sentence in this chapter is short as heck, the words are simple as can be (although I don't know what they all mean, I can tell they are all simple baby words, both by length and grammar), and the translations make it long. Preserving syllable count, preserving meaning, keeps the simple feeling, even when you don't know what everything means exactly.RonMaimon (talk) 17:13, 25 July 2017 (UTC)

Regarding these things--- they are all about Hebrew roots and connotations, not about exact meanings, which are vague. Hebrew is a language of roots and allusions, and this is why it is possible to understand things that are far away in time and context. The roots allow you to get a sense of a word, even when you had no idea. It's not always right, but the "feeling" is right, and this feeling is preserved in all Hebrew. Rovetz is always awful.RonMaimon (talk) 18:37, 25 July 2017 (UTC)

Nobody is "reverting to the King James" here. I'm not sure where you get that idea. Alephb (talk) 19:39, 25 July 2017 (UTC)
I know, please don't be insulted. "King James" is just what I mean by "traditional translation", because IMO King James is by far the most accurate to the Hebrew (accounting for the period English). Your fix of the last sentences was obviously from reading Hebrew (I didn't know what to do there, originally, thanks. Passive works.) I meant, these are the places where I wasn't sure about the reading, and your reading was more traditional (except for baby sitter, I laughed out loud at that).
Lotesh is the most significant. I am not sure what this thing is. The root is totally alien to my ears, but that might be because I'm not very good with Hebrew. A better Hebrew speaker than me might say, "oh, no! Didn't you know that "hamaltesha" is what everyone called the local steel foundary, and there are four references to smelting where it's "Hiltashti", but honestly, I have never seen that word, or that root. For all I know it means "begat" (although that sounds wrong to me, it's a totally unfamiliar root), and then the sentence is saying Tubal Kain is the ancestor of the Iron and Copper Smiths. There also might be an elided "Av Le", so it would be "Tuval Kain, Lotesh, av le kol Choresh Barzel ve Nechoshet", so that it's "Tuval Kain, the smelter(?), father to all smiths of iron and copper". The reason is that this is geneology for metalworking, and it seems that they should say who Tuval Kain fathered. I think the reason he is made out to be super-violent is that his descendants make swords, hence the temptation to interpolate "sharp". But interpretation is not our job.RonMaimon (talk) 07:14, 26 July 2017 (UTC)

Is it really true that Tuval Kain is saying about himself "As Cain would be avenged, so will I seventy seven?" I thought the dialog ended after "bruised me". There's no indication in the text, I thought it was commentary by the author on Tuval-Cain, not Tuval-Cain dialog. What's the preferred Rabinnical interpretation? I thought KJ had the dialog end after "bruised me". Is this reasonable?RonMaimon (talk) 08:58, 26 July 2017 (UTC)

Lotesh has to do with sharpening. In Samuel, when the Philistines are oppressing the Israelites, the Philistines keep the Israelites from practicing metallurgy, to the point where the Israelites only have 2 spears swords from 40,000 warriors, and they can't even sharpen their own tools -- they have to pay the Philistines to lotesh them for them (1 Samuel 13:20). There's a couple other passages that similarly have to do with sharpening. Now, the word choresh only appears in this particular verse, but related terms appear in the Samuel passage among the various things that need sharpened. I would think, because we're in a context discussing metallurgy, that Tubal Cain (Cain is "smith", after all), that Tubal Cain's particular talent isn't his ability to run a whetstone or whatever across a blade -- it's the ability to make sharp blades, and further sharpen blades, via hammering sheets of hot metal. That would be a meaning worthy of the passage -- that was "technology" in the biblical sense. So I'm reading kol choresh as roughly, "every sort of bladed tool." So my goal wasn't to "interpolate" the word sharp, it was just to explain how I was taking the passage -- Tubal Cain's particular talent was the metallurgical production of all sorts of things with blades. If I'm reading it right, there isn't a perfect one-word English equivalent for "lotesh" or "choresh", so I just approximated the sense.
As for the bit about "sevenfold," it looks like it's part of what Lamech (not Tubal Cain) says. The Genesis writer's "author voice" is in prose, while Lamech speaks in poetry. Because ki shiv'atayim yaqum-qayin welemek shiv'im weshiva follows the format of biblical poetry rather than prose, I'd put it inside of the dialog. Then prose resumes in the next verse. The KJV doesn't have quotation marks, so judging the end of dialog in the KJV is a lot like judging the end of dialogue in Hebrew. Alephb (talk) 09:26, 26 July 2017 (UTC)
Holy super fracking fantastic! You just explained the whole section convincingly and correctly. Thanks a million. Choresh in mod. Heb. is misleading, because the root was borrowed for all manufacturing. Do you have evidence for Ka-in == Smith? 12:46, 26 July 2017 (UTC)
Well, I don't have a smoking gun for evidence that qyn is smith, but I have several converging sorts of indirect evidence which I think make a strong enough cumulative case. First, of course, there's the association of Tubal Cain with metallurgy. Second, there's an Arabic word for Smith, spelled qyn. Third, there's the Aramaic qyny which means the same thing. And finally, there's a big metal weapon that his referred to as qynw, "his QYN" in 2 Samuel 21:16. My guess is that at the time the Bible was written, the noun qyn was old, and it was no longer obviously Smith, and so the etymology with qaniti was supplied. I don't think, if you were making a name from the root qnh, that you'd put a yud in the middle.
As an odd side note, in The Matrix, agent Smith's license place reads IS5416. If you go to Isaiah 54:16, it reads, in the KJV, "Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy." But the word smith here is charash, as it is in several other passages. The use of charash as the main word for a smith might be a reason for qyn to have become replaced as obsolete, surviving only in traces here and there, in the story of qyn and twbl qyn, and in the qyn/qyny ethnic group mentioned elsewhere in the Bible. The use of charash for "smith" is also why I tend to think that choresh probably refers to an object, rather than a person. It seems to me more probable that choresh would be a name related to a charash's word than for choresh and charash to be synonyms pronounced differently. Alephb (talk) 14:12, 26 July 2017 (UTC)
I decided to go look and see if I could find some more stuff on qyn. According to Othniel Margalith, in The Sea Peoples of the Bible (page 145), there's also a Phoenician word qyn which means blacksmith, and a Ugaritic word that may or may not mean the same thing. In Greek, khoaneuo refers to metallurgy, from khone, which means "smelter." Alephb (talk) 14:28, 26 July 2017 (UTC)
Your evidence, by the horribly reduced standards one has to go by when doing this sort of interpretive work, is something similar to "overwhelming". In science it would be "laughably insufficient". But in Hermeneutics, when you have nothing but vague feelings, something solid is always better than nothing, and this is more than something, it gives really good Bayesian confidence to your reading. Thanks a bunch. Can you fix up the Tuval Ka-in part? Or did you already? If not I'll do it.RonMaimon (talk) 14:50, 26 July 2017 (UTC)

פרק חמש, שיעור בחשבון[edit]

כדי להמשיך להתריע את כל היעאני פרשנים שהעברית שלהם על הפנים, אמשיך להקליד כמה שטויות בהתחלה.

This chapter is pretty straightforward, but I think for consistency, if you use "had" for "yalad", not "begat" or "spawn", all the book should fit the convention. I used "spawn" before (terrible).

Also, while translating, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of this chapter is not exactly geneology or lineages. It's an ancient arithmetic lesson. This is why the problem is given, then the answer, and it is never left implicit. It's the first arithmetic primer.

Also, there's the old idea that the enormous ages of patriarchs is because the ages used to be recorded in months, then it switched to years. Not everything makes sense though when you divide by 12.RonMaimon (talk) 14:47, 26 July 2017 (UTC)

The two big problems for the x12 theory are the very young ages for having children. Same thing for x10, or any other number -- nobody has a kid and then lives more than ten times that length of time. And then there's the problem where the ages decline in Genesis 11, working their way down from 900 to 200. The Genesis writer, apparently, was writing up a scenario where humans once lived ridiculously long lives, and then worked his way down toward the ordinary present, with Moses living 120 years, and then by the time of Samuel and Kings people living ordinary lives.
I don't buy the "primer" idea, but at that point we're just trading intuitions, so no need to debate that. But whether or not there's some intention of an arithmetic primer, it's worth noticing that the long ages in Genesis 5 aren't just an oddity unconnected to the rest of the Bible, or unconnected to the broader cultural context.
In terms of cultural context, the Genesis ages appear to depend on the much older Sumerian king lists, which were found all over the place in for almost two thousand years, and were very important for some reason in Mesopotamian culture. The template is the same: there was once a succession of people who lived incredibly huge lengths of time. A flood occurred, and afterward human lifespans began to decrease, eventually coming down to ordinary length with a list of historical kings. This matches the biblical account too closely for it to be coincidental. There is an important difference, though. The Mesopotamian myth has the kings living tens of thousands of years, while the Bible cuts the ages down to hundreds. This fits with the demythologizing program of Genesis 1 -- the Mesopotamian material is again used, but it gets cut down to more nearly ordinary proportions.
In terms of the Bible's own overarching chronological scheme, consider this. Genesis 5 gives 1556 years from Adam to the birth of Noah's sons, including Shem. Then if you go to Genesis 11, you get the birth of Arphaxad when Shem was 100, so (ignoring a complication with the dating of the flood), Arphaxad is born in the year 1656 Anno Mundi. Genesis 11 carries us another 290 years from the birth of Arphaxad to the birth of Abram, taking us to the year 1946 A.M. Abraham is 100 years old when Isaac is born in the year 2046, and Isaac is 60 when Jacob is born in the year 2106. Jacob enters Egypt at 130 years old (Genesis 47:9) at the year 2236.
Then Exodus 12:40 says that the Israelites spent 430 years in Egypt, bring us to the year 2666 (2/3 of 4000) at the Exodus. 1 Kings 6:1 says that 480 years passed between the Exodus and the beginning of work on Solomon's temple, four years into Solomon's reign, so the year is 3146 now. If you add up all the years that the kings of Judah reigned from Solomon's temple to the destruction of that Temple, that's 430 years, the same amount of time that the Israelites were in Egypt, bring us up to the year 3576. If you figure 50 years for the exile (ending at the decree by Cyrus in 538 BCE / 3626 AM), then the exile ends 480 years after the dedication of the temple, just as 480 years passed from the Exodus to the beginning of work on Solomon's temple.
480 is a nice, round number: 40 x 12. So you have the construction of Solomon's temple, with a nice round 480-year period on either side, bracketed by two deliverances of Israelites from foreign captivity. It gets better. From the decree of Cyrus in 538 BCE to the rededication of the Temple by the Maccabees in 164 BCE makes 374 years. The Maccabees are the last historical event mentioned in the Bible, in the book of Daniel, which describes the events leading up to the Maccabees in coded form. As far as Daniel is concerned, the Maccabean revolt is the focal point of history, where Yahweh breaks into history and rescues his people from foreigners, ushering in a glorious new age.
Add the 3626 years from creation to the decree of Cyrus to the 374 from the decree to the rededication of the Temple, and you have an even 4000 years, filled with various symmetries around 430 and 480 years, with Solomon's temple and the Exodus occupying central positions.
And the whole set-up only works if Genesis uses the genealogical numbers that it does. I think it's no accident that the Bible gives interlinking chronological data from creation to the destruction of the Temple, and it's no accident that it comes to 4000 years between creation and it's rebuilding at the end of the biblical period. Alephb (talk) 16:02, 26 July 2017 (UTC)
I agree with everything you say. I just didn't have anything else to say about this mundane chapter. The translation issues are nonexistent. The "arithmetic primer" is to explain why there is duplicate information nin the text, they could have given two of the numbers, and let the reader deduce the third. In fact, a modern book would do that automatically. It's like the author is saying "Look, I know how to add!" It makes more sense to have a chapter devoted purely to proving you can add if this text is used in a communal school, and then it means "Look! My kid just learned how to add." The first four numbers, perhaps coincidentally, make gradually harder addition problems--- the first is adding to a round number, the second is adding to a not round number, then comes a carry in the 1s place, then a carry in the 10s place, then Methuselah gives you a "general" addition problem. The rest don't follow this pedagogical pattern. It might be a total coincidence. Nobody else suggested this before.
The crucial question for your "round numbers" hypothesis is whether the round numbers are deduced from unambiguous chronologies, or whether they have been "made round" by allowing one indeterminate that is then fixed by the requirement of making the answer come out round in the end. In your case, in the comment above, it's the length of the exile, which is freely adjustible (you made it 50 years). The geneology numbers have to be textually fixed at around 600BC, so they can't make round numbers for the events up to Daniel. One nice way of dating the text was given by Carrier--- any prophetic text can be dated relatively accurately by noting when the precise prophecies stop agreeing with history. I don't know how well that works, because I never read or translated the latest books.RonMaimon (talk) 17:56, 26 July 2017 (UTC)
Right. As far as I know, there's no proof that the Masoretic chronology is built on the assumption of a 50-year exile, other than the suggestive way it causes 430/480 to duplicate nicely. As a matter of historical fact, the period from the destruction of the second temple to the decree of Cyrus is more like 48 or 49 years, so we are going out on a slight limb by guessing that the Masoretic number-masters were figuring a 50-year exile. The exile strikes in either 587 or 586 BCE (that's pretty well established) so if you like we could redo all the same work without the 50-year assumption. In that case, year 4000 from creation would fall in 163/162, and we'd still have 4000 years ending early in the Maccabean period. If the 4000 years from creation falls at 163, we'd have a 3999-year chronology from creation to 164, with the Exodus falling exactly 2/3 of the way in. I'm not committed either way. What I do think is clear is that the numbers are deliberately set up, and perhaps deliberately set up multiple times. The Masoretic chronology differs systematically from both the Samaritan Pentateuch and Septuagint. None of this would mean that Genesis was written that late, of course. It would mean, though, that somewhere in the timeline somebody working late made some tweaks to make some things add up in certain ways.
Not to go too far afield, but in Daniel the prophecies all stop working around the Maccabean revolt, and work perfectly up to that point. This suggests that we can date Daniel much more accurately than most biblical books. Alephb (talk) 18:23, 26 July 2017 (UTC)
I believe the original intention of this chapter, the intention of J when she composed it, was to teach community children how to add. The later numerological obsessions of commentators is a form of mental illness born of too-deep reading of too-little text. The difference in numbers between Samaritan and Masoretic should be noted wherever they occur with a footnote.RonMaimon (talk) 05:05, 27 July 2017 (UTC)
What makes you think J composed Genesis 5? Alephb (talk) 08:27, 27 July 2017 (UTC)
Good point.RonMaimon (talk) 11:32, 27 July 2017 (UTC)

(deindent) Here's an alternate proposal. If you take Genesis 5:1-32 and 11:10-26 together, you have a complete source that runs from Adam to Abraham, giving ages all across. It legitimizes the lineage of Abraham by tracing his ancestry all the way back to creation, with chronological information. It parallels closely the structure of the Sumerian King List, which in Mesopotamia was used to legitimize current rulers by giving them a pedigree leading back to implausibly long-lived Mesopotamian kings. Let's call these two sections together the Abrahamic Ancestor List, just for the heck of it.

The very first verse, (5:1), of the Abrahamic Ancestor List, says, ze sefer toldot adam, practically a declaration that this is it's own source, which an editor is now incorporating into Genesis. For reasons I don't fully understand, this Hebrew phrase is currently translated as "These are Adam's lineages," as if the word sefer never appeared and as if the text said, elleh toldot adam instead. So instead of J composing Genesis 5 as a primer for children, the whole list including the material from chapter 11 is an Israelite spin on a Mesopotamian classic. In addition, the list Enosh-QYNN-Mahalalel-YRD-Enoch-Methuselah-Lamech-Noah-three sons of chapter 5 is incredibly close, basically an alternate version, with the list Adam-QYN-Enoch-'YRD-Mechushael-Lamech-three sons of chapter 4. Both lists start with a man named Man, contain basically the same characters with the exception of Noah, and end with three significant sons.

This doesn't rule out a possibility of use in math instruction, if ancient Israel had such a thing. I think if you want to stick with the primer theory, the thing to notice would be that the material in 5 has totals, while the material in 11 does not. So instead of being composed solely as a math lesson without reference to the broader genealogical concerns of Genesis, I think if you want to run with the primer theory, you'd be better off arguing that Genesis 5 is an integral part of both an earlier source, and of the book of Genesis as it now stands, and that totals were then added to give it an extra use. This theory would have the advantage that it fits snugly inside of a normal understanding of Genesis 5, and instead of seeking to explain the whole presence of the chapter, it just explains the anomaly -- that Gen 5, and nothing else, records the lifespan totals. Alephb (talk) 12:30, 27 July 2017 (UTC)

OMG! "Ze sepher", I fixed it. I feel horrible for missing that. Thanks.RonMaimon (talk) 15:16, 27 July 2017 (UTC)

ויהי ערב, ויהי בוקר, פרק שישי[edit]

בתחילת התירגומין, ויתרגם אחד לבד, והוא רן. ובבוא הימים, החל אלפ-ב פסוק לפסוק גם הוא. טרם יגמרו, יעבורון עוון ויסורין, עת עת לימים. ויקראו סרי האתר למיניהם, ויבררו, וישפטון דין בנימוסין ובמינהלין עד עיצבון, אך את רן לא היתריעו. ובבואם לאתר גוגל, תרגום תרגמו במחשב כל צבאם, אך שפתימו לא פיענחו .

Huh. I would have thought "Ron" would take a waw in modern Hebrew. You learn something new every day. Alephb (talk) 12:32, 27 July 2017 (UTC)
It does, but my name is "Ran", I just changed it to be more normal. Like by stopping to use "Ran". Still editing, comments soon.RonMaimon (talk) 12:41, 27 July 2017 (UTC)
You believe in cold fusion, but you want your name to be more normal. I guess everyone draws the normalcy line somewhere. Alephb (talk) 12:46, 27 July 2017 (UTC)
Just for the record, that wasn't intended to dig at your cold fusion theory. I am way, way outside of being competent to evaluate it. It was just a half-joking notice of your general not-caring about looking mainstream. Alephb (talk) 12:56, 27 July 2017 (UTC)
HA HA. I was a little more mainstream when I was 8. I don't "believe" in cold fusion as a dogma, I figured out a real mechanism ("Auger deuterons") that could be responsible for the effect (if it exists), and even if the experimental effect is totally bogus, Auger deuterons are real. The point is to show something people missed. I'm going to try to do that for this chapter now.RonMaimon (talk) 14:31, 27 July 2017 (UTC)

Ok, this is a HUMUNGOUS edit, and it's going to be super-controversial, but I intend to convince you of EVERY SINGLE ONE of my nonstandard choices, and I think you will agree. Or else you'll convince me. But I don't want to stop because you got tired. This is a difficult chapter, because it is very heavily interpreted, and has a lot of theology. My choices are to read the Hebrew as simply as possible (because I see it as extremely simple Hebrew, and I believe this is universal for a modern Hebrew speaker).

First, the phrasing I always take to match the Hebrew phrasing closely. This is simply because I love the Hebrew phrasing. Last time I had a shot, the English ended up being stilted, I tried to do it again, this time without stilted English. But if you fix it, please try to respect the Hebrew phrasing more. It's very beautiful, and it's usually possible to respect it without butchering the English (even if I suck at it).

תִּשָּׁחֵת --- this is the big, big one. This root repeats 4 or 5 times, it is always the same root, and it means "slaughter" at the last meaning. But in the first meaning, it sounds like "ruin" or "corrupted". The drift in root with time makes it difficult to be certain, but I tried to keep the "slaughter" flavor in every single spot. This might be too ambitious, and I might have to go back to more standard wording, but I want you to try to read the root as meaning "slaughter", because I believe it works for every instance, with the possible exception of the first. This root means "ritual slaughter", but it more commonly means "corruption" in modern Hebrew. The goal is to try to get as close as possible to the original ancient meaning, knowing the root meanings.

"All flesh slaughters to make its living on the Earth" represents eating of meat and eating of plants. I believe this is the most poignant and most accurate reading.

"I will bring a deluge to slaughter all living" again accurate.

"The land is slaughter-ridden", "slaughterful", filled with violence... this is how it reads to my simple ear.

The only place where I read "ruination" or "corruption" is in the first position, "toshachet ha-aretz", "The land became murderous" in my translation, "the land became corrupt" (mod Heb), "The land became ruined" (you), "The land became death-smelling" (how I feel it in my nostrils). The root needs respect here. I would like an opinion of a better Hebrew speaker than me.

צֹהַר תַּעֲשֶׂה לַתֵּבָה, וְאֶל-אַמָּה תְּכַלֶּנָּה מִלְמַעְלָה --- make a storeroom, fill it (or more likely, complete it) to the top to within a cubit from the top. That's how it reads to me. I might be wrong, but please discuss. This is what jumps out at me, and it seems right to my ear at the moment.

מַּבּוּל --- I like "deluge" better than "torrent". I wanted to give the impression of "torrential downpour" present in modern Hebrew, but you are likely right that the use of מַיִם עַל-הָאָרֶץ means that this is a neologism born here.RonMaimon (talk) 14:31, 27 July 2017 (UTC)

When it comes to sh-ch-t (shin chet tav), there is no association with ritual slaughter. The verb gets used all over in the Bible, and never for ritual slaughter. There are two main shades of meaning this word has. It is used for moral corruption, and physical degredation of various kinds, like when something rots. It is also used widely for destruction, as in a military sense, when a whole people is destroyed, or when trees are destroyed, or when a wall is destroyed, etc. etc. It is very often used for a military assault on a whole group or area.
However, sh-ch-tet gets used widely for actions like slaughtering animals. This verb is usually used for slaughtering sacrificial animals, and occasionally just for slaughtering dinner. It is also used for human sacrifice, and sometimes for killing individual people when there is no apparent religious overtone. When people are sh-ch-tetted, it is always an individual person or some specific people who are killed, a country or ethnic group is never sh-ch-tetted, as far as I can remember.
The two verbs are kept distinct in a number of ways. While sh-ch-tav is never used for sacrifice, sh-ch-tet often is. Where sh-ch-tav is used for various sorts of ruination and moral corruption, sh-ch-tet never is. Where sh-ch-tav is used many times for the destruction of non-living things, sh-ch-tet is always used just for killing living beings.
I'd be happy to dig up scripture citations for these various usages if you want examples.
In biblical Hebrew, tav and tet must have been pronounced differently, because the writers do not screw up tet / tav distinctions, despite making all sorts of other scribal mistakes, so I treat them as a genuine difference. In the same way, the biblical writers only occasionally mess up samek/sin distinctions, and I think they never or almost never mess up aleph/ayin and quf/kaf distinctions. So I would like to preserve those distinctions when we can, even if they aren't preserved in modern Israeli speech.
Where we definitely agree is that I would really like for our translation to do something other translations don't and translate sh-ch-tet verbs in this passage in a way that keeps the connection in Hebrew clear. In Hebrew, God sees that the world is entirely nishchata (6:12) and then announces in the next verse that he is about to mashchitam. Translations I've looked at all fail to connect the two — I bet Robert Alter finds a way to connect them, but I haven't looked up what he does here. In Hebrew, there's a "poetic justice" as the author sees it — God is only doing to the world in graphic physical form what the world has already done to itself. It is humans who have destroyed the world — God is just doing to them more of what they've already done. Leaving aside whatever ethical concerns we might have with destroying the whole world, there's a gloriously clever symmetry to the Hebrew phrasing.
The only English way I could come up with carrying this across was "ruin." But I'm open to suggestions. Alephb (talk) 15:34, 27 July 2017 (UTC)
I see, thanks! The most likely pronunciation difference "tet" and "taf": taf was gutteral (back of the throat) and taf like English "t" or "th" (depending on the dot, no dot, "th"). The "th" is never pronounced anymore, but it is inferred by analogy with other hard/soft dottings like p/f (I mean, I inferred it, but I think it's standard). The throat-tet is pronounced by Sephardi immigrants and news-anchors. Sometimes. Not by me, because I don't speak so sephardi.
I didn't notice that I was misreading, because I confused the two words, and now I realize I never distinguish them. I'll think about a good version, now that I am sure that this is "ruination" and not "slaughter", thanks for the correction, it's very important. Also, my bad! But I really am translating trying hard to use only what has been transmitted in the language, not using any dictionary, concordance, or religious interpretation. I confused "tet" and "taf", but I SHOULD NOT HAVE!RonMaimon (talk) 16:41, 27 July 2017 (UTC)
I also want to tell you what the point of me going on all sorts of weird alternate interpretations is: the goal for me was to produce something like "Ben Gurion's bible", meaning, a translation as it would sound to a traditional Marxist Zionist Jew of the early 20th century. Not because I'm so zionist, but because ever since Hebrew was revived, there are secular speakers who can produce a translation with no reliance on religious tradition at all, aside from the fact that the language has been preserved. I think that will get the most uncluttered reading, the most faithful version of the original intent, because there is no doctrinal barrier to adopting readings that are simple and obvious (like Chayoth==animal) but doctrinally disfavored for who knows what reason, perhaps even obsolete reason.
I am not the best person to do this, let's put it this way, I don't think I am even in the top million, because my Hebrew is rusty from many years of English, but I am the only native speaker here, and nobody else is willing to do it. There aren't any secular Bible readers left in Israel anymore, the society is split, with religious Bible readers, and anti-religious super-secular Jews (who keep dwindling in number, due to lower birth rate). With your help, I can fix the obvious mistakes, please bear with me, even if they sound terrible to you. I won't keep a mistake in the text, I promise.
I should point out that I asked a random religious Jew yesterday, and he knew "lotesh" immediately, he said "whetting" (he actually made a whetting movement of a knife and said sharpening), and I found a haredi who reads the verse in Exodus "Lively" (but the other two religious Jews read it "animal", following normal native speaker intuition). The Hebrew language preservation allows you to read the text without religious interpretation, but it requires careful correction when you make a mistake, please, please, bear with me.RonMaimon (talk) 16:49, 27 July 2017 (UTC)
Let's start with your distinction between "religious" and "secular" interpretation. There's this thing I've seen you do -- especially in footnotes, where you label an interpretation that doesn't suit you as "religious" or "traditional" when there is no warrant for doing so. Let's start with chayot. Your previous comments suggest that you see the "animal" option as "normal native speaker intuition" and the "lively" option as religiously-motivated. The real picture is cloudier.
Take the alleged religious motivation for the "lively" reading -- the attempt to avoid having the midwives lie to Pharaoh. They're still lying either way. Why would a religious person feel better about "lively" than "animals"? As far as I know, there's no evidence that some religious person is trying to trick anyone with this. You don't get more traditionally religious than Rashi. When a haredi opens up his Talmud, Rashi is there. And of course there's his complete commentary on the Tenach.
If you've got a copy of Rashi, you'll find that on Exodus 1, he gives two alternate interpretations of hayot. He briefly mentions the idea that "hayot" means midwives -- that the Hebrew women are like their own midwives, and that's why they deliver themselves before the midwives show up. But then Rashi offers another explanation, that hayot means animals. Rashi has no problem with this, and goes out of his way to offer a bunch of biblical citations supporting the idea that Israelites can be compared to animals. He cites in support the Talmud, which endorses the "animal" translation.
Rashi never even mentions the "lively" idea, although even that idea could be justified in terms of modern Hebrew (though I won't use modern Hebrew to justify a biblical reading, this is just an exercise). Consider chayut, energy, liveliness. Perhaps chayot means the women have chayut. Perhaps the meanings overlap -- a chayyah animals is after all a living being, from the root chay just as animal and animated overlap in English, and sometimes animalistic is even used to describe, say, a really animated roll in the hay.
When you spoke to your three religious friends, the two who told you it was "animal" were giving you Rashi's interpretation. The one who told you it was "lively" was giving you, possibly, an interpretation based on his own personal feeling for what hayot, with its relation to hay and hayut, would seem to mean. You'd have to ask him where he got it. Anyhow, I'm not saying "animal" is wrong. I'm saying that it's easy to make assumptions about who is being "religious" and who isn't, especially if you're not willing to look at any of the religious exegesis. You are arguing for the Talmud's interpretation, and I am arguing that maybe we should be slightly more open to an interpretation that isn't the standard Jewish traditional interpretation -- not that "lively" should be the translation, but that perhaps a footnote should treat the option more charitably.
With all that in mind, I would suggest that the word "religious" be removed from the footnote on 3:24, and the idea that a broader interpretation of hamas is "religious" in 6:11. As for the footnote on 6:16, given that you are trying to avoid interacting with the scholarly literature on difficult words like tsohar, I would recommend that not claiming that the other guess "are inferior" with "no root support" unless you actually read up on the other guesses first. It's one thing to put in your own preferred translation, it's another to make negative unsubstantiated claims about scholarly work you haven't bothered to read. Alephb (talk) 17:37, 27 July 2017 (UTC)
PS. chaya is Aramaic for midwife, so that's where that interpretation is coming from. Interesting that it would show up in a Hebrew sentence spoken by midwives. Alephb (talk) 17:51, 27 July 2017 (UTC)
OK, FIGURED IT OUT, in conversation with another Haredi Rashi-ite (trying without success to get me to wrap leather nonsense around my arms). The ANIMALS is Rashi's DRASH. Rashi's PSHAT is midwives! Rashi believed that there was a meaning MIDWIVES to Chayoth, probably back inferring from Aramaic! The fellow told me "Midwives" makes more sense than "Animals" in context, because Pharaoh was a smart guy, and wouldn't believe the lie if it is animals.
It's EXACTLY the same nonsense as always. People taking these homey fairy-tales as actual history, and then inferring based on common sense. That's what I mean by "religious" interpretation, when you refuse to read "15 cubits from the top" as "15 cubits fro the top of the dome of the sky", and you refuse to read "animals" as "animals" because your belief that Pharaoh wouldn't believe it in real life. But the Pharaoh of the story is an IDIOT, and would believe it, and further, it's a very instructive view of how ethnic bigotry works.
Regarding "lively", as I expected, the guy couldn't read it lively even after an explanation. Finally he was like "Oh, you mean, Chayoth, like, really animated Chayoth, that kind? No way." He went "midwives", following Rashi's pshat. Now that I understand the entire literatue on this, I am even more 100% certain it is animals.RonMaimon (talk) 18:21, 2 August 2017 (UTC)

(deindent) The fellow who I spoke to told me Rashi does not endorse "Chayoth" as animals! He was a total Rashi-ite. It was on a bus, he was a random guy with a big beard and Haredi dress, and he told me "Holy Rashi says it is not to be interpreted this way..." Oh God, I have to rummage through books. I don't want to read religious commentary.

The reason I say it's "animals" is because when you speak the language, it just becomes the automatic default reading. I am providing for you only the automatic default reading for someone who is native born, but has no education (and obviously can't distinguish tets from tafs).

I can't believe you that the Talmud says "animals", because I looked at ALL the translations, every single one, Jewish, Christian, literal, non-literal, and NONE of them had Animal there! When it's obviously animal. I can't describe how obviously it's animal. It's like, completely certainly obviously. Any other interpretation sounds like Jesus said "I am the son of .... MAN!", because someone stepped on his foot right as he said it. And none of the translations have "animal". That's the most galling thing for a Hebrew speaker. The last guy I asked about this said "What? The Parshanim don't read animal there? That's crazy!"

You are absolutely right that "Chayya" can mean lively, and it's grammatical. That's why it takes some intuition. But only a little bit! The meaning is obvious because it jumps at you, it's the first thing. You have to strain your brain to think of something else.

When I add the adjective "religious", I just mean "non-obvious". Where there's a non-obvious reading, you can bet someone religious somewhere got annoyed at some doctrinal thing. I can't trust some guy who has his whole life's operating system riding on what this or that word means to translate dispassionately. I trust a guy who speaks Hebrew, and doesn't have anything riding on it, i.e. a secular academic type person (who speaks Hebrew).

If you're offended at it, get rid of it. But I think any non-obvious reading is religiously motivated, otherwise, why would this book, which is so famous, have such lousy translations? I mean, none of them are flowing and clear, none of them are terse like the Hebrew. This one (despite the mistakes) was just as terse and just as clear as the Hebrew.

Ok, but Chaya is Hebrew for animal. And that's what it means in that verse. There's no way it's something else. I genuinely don't know the doctrinal reason this interpretation fell out of favor, but it's something stupid for sure. Perhaps even something obsolete.RonMaimon (talk) 18:47, 27 July 2017 (UTC)

Please, in the future, if you just mean "non-obvious," say "non-obvious." That way, if you ever mean "religious", then you can actually have a word left to say what you mean. If you want to know what the reasoning behind a non-obvious reading is, I can often probably find you a perfectly non-religious work of scholarship that explains the reasoning. And even when you say "non-obvious," you mean "non-obvious to someone who only speaks modern Hebrew, and who is deliberately avoiding reading any explanations that contradict his instincts about a 2500-year-old text." If you want to deliberately close yourself off to modern scholarship on the Bible, that's your right, but you don't get to do that and then speculate about the motives behind that scholarship. Whether I am offended has nothing to do with it -- if you find a genuinely religious-motivated reading that is genuinely bad, because the reader is attempting to avoid some unwanted conclusion, or make some theological point, fine. But just making things up about people you've never read will lead the poor reader astray who doesn't realize you're just making things up. In the case of the flaming sword, for example, one of the options was that the phrase referred to a messenger-deity imported from Canaanite religion. There's nothing traditionally religious about that.
Here is the bit from the Talmud, according to the Soncino translation. My Aramaic is rusty, so I'll stick with the translation. It's from Sotah 11b -- "What means hayoth? If it is to say they were actually midwives, do you infer that a midwife does not require another midwife to deliver her child! But [the meaning is] they said to him, This people are compared to an animal [hayyah] -- Judah [is called] a lion's whelp; of Dan [it is said] Dan shall be a serpent; Naphtali [is called] a hind let loose; Issachar a strong ass; Joseph a firstling bullock; Benjamin a wolf that ravineth. [Of those sons of Jacob where a comparison with an animal] is written in connection with them, it is written: but [in the instances where such a comparison] is not written, there is the text: What was thy mother? A lioness; she couched among lions etc." To paraphrase -- the Talmud notes the obvious (to an Aramaic-speaker) possibility that midwives is meant, but discards it as illogical, and then it argues for your preferred reading, using examples to prove that comparing Israelites to animals is a common enough thing in the Bible. Alephb (talk) 19:48, 27 July 2017 (UTC)
If it's in the friggin TALMUD than why is it in NONE of the translations???? it makes no sense! Is it a deliberate mistranlation to confuse the goyim???? I don't understand. I just saw a comparative list of like 20 translations, and it's nowhere! I mean literally nowhere. There is not a single English translation that uses this interpretation, and it's obvious, you don't need a Talmud if you speak actual Hebrew.
Regarding "religious", I can give you examples we've been through to show you what I mean:
1. Remember when God says "You will not eat from the tree"? Remember when I had to point out to you that he doesn't say "You MAY not eat from the tree?" Why is it not translated right anywhere? (reason: it can be misinterpreted as God making a prediction, or else using his omnipotent power, and then being wrong, Since obviously the text is infallible, it must mean that the proper translation of the Hebrew is "you may not" not "you will not".)
2. Why are all the flat Earth references gone from all translations?
3. You will be like Gods... like one of us.
4. "At her feet", in the chapter on Yael, Hever's wife, all the sex innuendo about "between her legs" is gone.
All in all, this book has the SHITTIEST translations I have ever seen. And it's the most translated book! Why? It's because every translation has to pass through a censor who vets it for "religious appropriateness" and "non-offensiveness to Jews/Christians/Buddhists" whatever. This site does not have any controlling authority. At least not yet. So we can be accurate. Until this page starts getting cited, and then believe me, it will revert into King James very quickly. Unless this talk page stays blunt and honest, or maybe, if it's in Hebrew it will work. Religious jews can usually be made to leave a secular discussion just by using a lot of "Yahweh" spelled out in Hebrew or English (it's like garlic for vampires). I changed this whole translation (every book) to Yahweh partly with this motivation, to keep it secular.RonMaimon (talk) 21:36, 27 July 2017 (UTC)
I really doubt there's any goyim-confusion operation going on here. My guess is that most translators take the missing dagesh a lot more seriously than you do. Maybe they shouldn't. Maybe your intuition, despite speaking a language that doesn't have gemination, is guiding you rightly here. That's fine. I myself would lean a little bit toward thinking they're using a word with a double connotation, in a way that isn't real easy to translate. But it looks to me like an honest difference of opinion, rather than part of a grand conspiracy. If the question concerned a question of biblical self-contradiction, or sex, or some theological problem, then I'd be a little more inclined to follow you on this one. My approach -- if there's no obvious reason that a religious person would prefer a non-obvious reading, then I don't assume it's a religiously motivated rendering until there's evidence otherwise.
As for "will" vs. "may", omnipotence has nothing to do with why I went with may. It just seemed natural, and sensible, and I don't see yiqtol verbs as restricted to making statements that have to be translated "will" in English. In plenty of cases, I think "You may not," "You must not," "Do not," "You are not to" all capture the yiqtol just fine. This goes back to how I (and almost anyone who teaches biblical Hebrew grammar) don't see the Hebrew verbal system as reflecting a mirror image of the English tense system. Now, if you say that you managed to figure out the biblical Hebrew tense system intuitively in ten minutes, or whatever, fine. But our disagreement is about the Hebrew tense system, not about theology. If I say that I don't see something as a "prediction" that's not because it would be theologically uncomfortable to, it's just because I don't think that's what the author is conveying. I didn't keep arguing because you've already expressed disinterest in the tense/aspect/mood distinctions the academics all talk about. Although if you ever do want me to put up a brief comment-lecture on tense-aspect-mood and how they relate to English — just as a broad overview, without any particular verse in mind, I'd be happy too. Then you would at least know where I'm coming from, even if none of it was convincing to you. Who am I kidding? It wouldn't be brief. I could put it in its own section.
As for "you will be like gods," you have a point there. There are surely some religious readers who dislike the "gods" option for reasons that have nothing to do with the Hebrew text itself. That makes sense. Same thing for sex. As for flat earth references, I'd have to see the particular verses to refesh my memory. But in those cases, there's clear religious rationales for the shenanigans. Where there isn't a clear religious rationale, like with "may" or "lively", the appeal to theology strikes me as reaching a bit. Alephb (talk) 22:27, 27 July 2017 (UTC)
EXACTLY! Exactly right. What you just said is why I don't trust non-native speakers to translate. When you learned a language from a book, you learn it in a cerebral way, you don't feel anything at all when you read it, all the imagery and grammar is laboriously reconstructed instead of immediately felt, the meanings sounds a thousands times more fungible and indefinite than when you are reading it as a native language. This is the issue.
For the original authors, when they read this stuff, it felt in their head just like it feels in mine, like a native language that they were born speaking. It was the language they thought in, they immediately got an interpretation of everything using only their automatic language center, not using some crazy rationalization they thought about.
If you've ever seen a non-native speaker try to interpret idiomatic English, and then screw it up, you'll understand. Regarding the grammar, I believe your academic knowledge is getting in the way of seeing how LITTLE difference there is between "Yiqtol" and "Jussive", or how intuitive a "vav-ha-hipuch" can sound. I mean, I am not saying this is the automatic first reading of a modern Hebrew speaker, but when you acquire the system, it just "plugs in" to your native language reader, and you just incorporate it in the same way a baby incorporates things. It's not like academic learning.
Now here, there is an issue that there are 2000 years of academic people trying to find ambiguity in lots of words. I know what religious Jewish commentary is like, and TRUST ME, they'll get rid of any theologically troubling stuff, and they'll systematically confuse goyim. Perhaps not intentionally, but in a verse that says "The Hebrew women are like animals", they'll avoid telling some Christian guy that interpretation, just because there's a less demeaning one available. For them, the meaning is optional. It's a matter of conscious choice, how to read something. For ME, it's whatever it sounds like when I read it, like reading English.
You must understand that for a native reader, interpretations are not optional. They just come, the same way as the meaning of what I'm typing is just coming to you. That doesn't mean it's right, but it means it isn't produced by deliberation. When I learn some new point of Hebrew, I train it until it is fits inside my native module, and I feel it, like I do in English. That's how Israeli children lean to read the Bible, they just read it until they naturally figure out the tense and aspect, without learning any formal grammar. And they don't get confused. Ever. I am not a great speaker, but I don't get confused a lot either (I get confused much more than average, BTW).RonMaimon (talk) 05:30, 28 July 2017 (UTC)
Of course vav-hahipuch becomes intuitive after a while. Of course jussive and yiqtol uses can overlap in some, and both can be used for commands. On the other hand, if you keep taking perfectly natural Hebrew sentences utterances like "yehi or, wayhi or," and then producing highly unnatural English equivalents like "Light is to be, and light was," or "Light will be, and light was," there's a breakdown in your intuition somewhere. When you post about how the "exact meaning" of a vav hahipuch is "a very long future-past tense in English", and how randomly translating some wayyiqtols as past somehow gets an English reader in the right "reference frame" there's a breakdown somewhere. And yes, I instantly feel the breakdown on an intuitive level, but I can also explain it in formal academicese. What's my alternative? I suppose I could constantly say to you, "I'm a native speaker of English. There's no substitute for being a native speaker of English. As a native speaker of English, you're butchering my language. You really should learn English. You have no NATIVE SPEAKER FEEL for English. There are no other NATIVE SPEAKERS of English here on this thread. It really helps to be a native speaker of English. Native speaker, native speaker. When you're a native speaker of English, you just naturally know how to write in English. This is SO WRONG IT'S APPALLING." When I talk about the formal grammatical differences between biblical Hebrew and modern Hebrew / English, I'm trying to avoid doing that. It doesn't mean I'm actually processing vav hipuchs or yiqtols through a conscious, formal grammar-based method when I just pick up a Tanach and read. But I do stop and work through the formal grammar when I try to explain something. One of the major goals in a translation is that bits that are written as perfectly clear and semantically normal Hebrew should come out as perfectly clear and semantically normal English.
I'm dealing with someone who asks why every existing English translation is so stupid, and then produces this kind of improvement:
"9 And if a beast, which will be sacrificed as an offering for Yahweh, all that will give of it to Yahweh will be blessed. 11 He will not exchange it, he will not trade it good for bad or bad for good. And if he will trade it beast for beast, then both it and its counterpart will be holy. 12 And if any impure beast which one will not sacrifice of it to Yahweh, and stood the beast on the stage before the priest. 13 And the priest will assess it, for good and for bad, as the assessment of the priest, thus it will be. 14 And if free he will be liberated, and he will add a fifth over your estimate of worth." If that kind of thing strikes you as an effective and accurate way of expressing your understanding of the Hebrew text into equivalent English expressions, I'm not sure quite how I'm supposed to discuss it. I read paragraph after paragraph of this stuff, and then I listen to you lecture about how you're a native speaker, and you intuitively "just get it" and why doesn't anyone else "just get it," and how I should stop making such stiff and formal arguments. I'm baffled. If your intuitive approach is helping you understand Hebrew naturally, then it's not doing it for English. There is a serious breakdown happening somewhere in the translation process.
If you've ever seen a non-native speaker try to interpret idiomatic English, and then screw it up, you'll understand. Exactly. Alephb (talk) 10:15, 28 July 2017 (UTC)

(deindent) I am a native speaker of English. That crap is mostly not my fault, it's Leviticus's fault! That Priestly character can't write to save his life. The sections read nearly as terribly in Hebrew, and they are just as boring, althoug perhaps my wording was a little too close to the Hebrew. My rule was to keep the first revision which was grammatical. I think you understand what he's saying about as well as Hebrew speakers get Leviticus.RonMaimon (talk) 13:12, 28 July 2017 (UTC) Let me rephrase--- the text I gave is an improvement over every other translation, because they translate the shitty repetitive ungrammatical Hebrew of Leviticus so that it sounds as equally flowing and beautiful as the gorgeous Hebrew of Genesis and most of Exodus. Leviticus sounds like crap in Hebrew. Sorry. It does. It sounds just like that thing I wrote.RonMaimon (talk) 13:37, 28 July 2017 (UTC)

Actually, the main reason my first attempt sounds "broken" in English is because I made the deliberate decision to translate every single "we" as "and". The reason? I didn't want to impose my interpretation of which "we" is "and", which "we" is "but", which "we" is "so", which "we" is a verb modifier. This is the reason it sounds broken, because I refused to interpret that turgid mess, and I'll go over Leviticus and insert all the "buts" and "so"s and "as"s.
It's more difficult in Leviticus, but not much more. Once it's "but" "so" and "as" (in addition to and) it will read as natural as any other translation, except this time faithful to Leviticus. To remind you, here is the Hebrew of that section:
ט וְאִם-בְּהֵמָה--אֲשֶׁר יַקְרִיבוּ מִמֶּנָּה קָרְבָּן, לַיהוָה:  כֹּל אֲשֶׁר יִתֵּן מִמֶּנּוּ לַיהוָה, יִהְיֶה-קֹּדֶשׁ.  י לֹא יַחֲלִיפֶנּוּ, וְלֹא-יָמִיר אֹתוֹ טוֹב בְּרָע--אוֹ-רַע בְּטוֹב; וְאִם-הָמֵר יָמִיר בְּהֵמָה בִּבְהֵמָה, וְהָיָה-הוּא וּתְמוּרָתוֹ יִהְיֶה-קֹּדֶשׁ.  יא וְאִם, כָּל-בְּהֵמָה טְמֵאָה, אֲשֶׁר לֹא-יַקְרִיבוּ מִמֶּנָּה קָרְבָּן, לַיהוָה--וְהֶעֱמִיד אֶת-הַבְּהֵמָה, לִפְנֵי הַכֹּהֵן.  יב וְהֶעֱרִיךְ הַכֹּהֵן אֹתָהּ, בֵּין טוֹב וּבֵין רָע:  כְּעֶרְכְּךָ הַכֹּהֵן, כֵּן יִהְיֶה.  יג וְאִם-גָּאֹל, יִגְאָלֶנָּה--וְיָסַף חֲמִישִׁתוֹ, עַל-עֶרְכֶּךָ.

And if a beast, of which they will sacrifice an offering to Yahweh: any of these which he will give to Yahweh will be sanctified. He won't exchange it, and he won't swap it good for bad, or bad for good. And if swap he will swap a beast for a beast, then both it and its counterpart will be sanctified. And if any impure beast, of which one does not sacrifice of it offerings to Yahweh--- then he stood the beast before a priest. And the priest assessed it, how good and how bad, and as the assessment of the priest, so it will be. And if redeem he will redeem it, then he will add 20% to it's value.

I just redid it now. That's the translation. All the repetitiveness, and bad persepctive changes, and confusing wording, that's all in the original. This chapter is the most badly written in the entire Pentateuch, perhaps in the entire Bible.RonMaimon (talk) 17:11, 28 July 2017 (UTC)


Ok, I'm going to be completely honest--- it sounds like "storeroom" and I DON'T KNOW WHY. I feel like Litzhor is to store up, I feel like Tzohar is a storeroom, and I don't know if it's ancient Hebrew, Modern Hebrew, or my own crappy memory. But it really feels like storeroom, and it doesn't feel like skylight. If you can tell me a little bit (or link) about scholarly interpretation of this, I'll read it. I am not claiming erudition, this is just what it feels like. I can't justify it except "the root sounds like it would mean that" and "it makes sort of sense in context". Also, you can get rid of the other comments. But I think I know the "skylight" idea, maybe it comes from "Tzohorayiim" (noon), but I think that's totally modernn Hebrew, but maybe not. I thought nobody knew what this thing is.RonMaimon (talk) 18:59, 27 July 2017 (UTC)

Do you have access to JSTOR? I'm sure I could find a paper or two on the subject. Alephb (talk) 19:46, 27 July 2017 (UTC)
In the meantime, tsohar itself is found only once in the entire Bible, so it's a hapax. And if a word occurs only once, you can never "prove" that it means anything, really. There's just better and worse guesses. The term tsohorayim does occur in the bible, so on thing would be to guess that the dual ending means "double light" because it's the brightest part of the day. Working backward, tsohar would mean "a light." So picture a window across the top of the ark, the window is one cubit tall, and wraps around the boat, interrupted here and there by beams. That's what I picture, but I have zero confidence in that.
Another argument I've read, based on an Arabic word for "back," was that the word refers to how much taller the middle of the boat roof is that the edges. So you'd have a very gently slopped boat roof, allowing water to wash of the sides. There was more to that argument, but I can't remember it right now.
I don't think there's really a verb litzhor in modern Hebrew. I don't know of any other options other than those two and the one you suggested. Alephb (talk) 20:03, 27 July 2017 (UTC)
I don't think there is one either, but I swear to you it sounds like "storage" and I can't for the life of me figure out why! It's been torturing me for a while. There is a related word, but "Litzbor" (to hoard) is not similar enough for me to fool myself. I know the standard picture of the skylight, and Tzohorayim is too weak for that deduction, especially that it's not "Tsoharayim". By the way, I got edit conflict, it's a pain in the ass with such a long text. I tried "rotten" variants instead of "slaughter" for the part I screwed up.RonMaimon (talk) 21:01, 27 July 2017 (UTC)
When I get an edit conflict, I just copy-paste my text into a text editor, hit cancel, hit edit, and reenter my text. That seems to work faster than trying to resolve it through the official set-up, which strikes me as clunky. Alephb (talk) 21:04, 27 July 2017 (UTC)

GOT IT!!! HA HA!!! I GOT IT!!! I Know why! I know why it sounds like storage (you won't like it, it's really stupid. I realized when I woke up this morning). It comes from Beit Sohar! In my head, the "t" annd "s" combined to make a connnotation of "BeTzohar", like, "put away", and then when I read the text, it looked like "storage". But if "Beit sohar" in this exact combination is ancient, I wouldn't rule out this interpretation, because remember, everyone else is guessing too. Where we can provide a plausible unique thing, I think we should.RonMaimon (talk) 05:00, 28 July 2017 (UTC)

The difference between tzohorayim and tzohar strikes me as a bit less of a reach than the difference between beit sohar and tzohar. You might call it "really stupid", but I'd just say it's "implausible." Alephb (talk) 10:19, 28 July 2017 (UTC)
It's not "implausible" as etymology, it's "impossible", "idiotic", "brain damaged", "laughble", "nonexistent", "GTFO". Still, guessing based on sound associations can sometimes work even when there is no reason. I am leaning to skylight now that I understand how bogus my intuition was. I still don't like it. The confirming part for me while reading was "fill it to the cubit", but "wayichol" is more like "complete in itself", "fill up" is not necessary, I think. Fill to a cubit is natural with "storeroom", complete is not natural with any interpretation, not skylight, not slope.RonMaimon (talk) 13:12, 28 July 2017 (UTC)

Ok, I MADE UP a just-so story to justify tzohar as a grainery: tzahov means yellow, or "the color of grain", tzoharayim is "double grain time", meaning when you eat the big meal, and tzohar is where you store the grain, or grainery. It's a just so story, but it's about as plausible as the skylight one.RonMaimon (talk) 11:06, 31 July 2017 (UTC)

Matza Chen[edit]

I don't think "look nice to" captures "matza chen beynayim" right. If you matza chen in someone's eynayim, it's not so much that they find you good-lucking, it's that they have a favorable view of you, and, by implication, they will do you a favor. There's probably a couple ways to translate this, but I think we need to see eynayim as closer to the English "view(point)" than the English "look at."

Abraham says, "If I've matza chem beeynayim, stay and eat with me" (Gen 18:3). Lot says, "I've in your e., so let me flee to Zoar" (19:19) Laban says, "If I've, then keep working for me" (30:27). Jacob offers a gift so that he'll Esau (32:5; 33:8, 10; 33:15). Shechem hopes he can Jacob and is willing to pay whatever dowry Jacob requires (34:11). Joseph Potiphar and is granted a management position (39:4). The Israelites, hoping to mchbe Joseph, offer to serve as slaves (47:25).

So you either ask a favor by saying "If I've matza chen," or you offer something so that you can matza chen with someone, or you do something good for someone because they've matzaed chen. I don't think how anyone looks really comes into the picture.

That's more a comment on the footnote than on the translation. "Noah looked all right to God" doesn't do to bad at giving the reader the gist. I just think "look nice" sounds a little too much like complimenting someone's attractive clothes or something in the footnote than the phrase can really justify. So I'd recommend just clipping a little off the footnote. Alephb (talk) 21:35, 27 July 2017 (UTC)

Clip away. I agree completely, I chose "all right" because of the little bit of "right" in there, which, if you take a literal interpretation, means "right", like "right and wrong", and I think gets precisely the idiomaticness and the right feeling. The "looks nice" is a little wrong, but I think "look all right" is good. I thought you would find it too informal.RonMaimon (talk) 21:42, 27 July 2017 (UTC)
Well, I am the guy who made the "baby-sitter" edit. If I was translating all alone, I would probably go with something more formal, but the gist seems about right, in a Gestalt sort of way. Alephb (talk) 21:49, 27 July 2017 (UTC)
Actually, the root "chen" is literally beautiful. Like physically attractive. But I still don't think "looks nice" is good. But "chen" is definitely physically attractive, not an abstract "favor". Also, what you called "Gestalt" is what every publishing house in the world calls "translation". Except for the Bible.RonMaimon (talk) 08:02, 28 July 2017 (UTC)
This is your unfamiliarity with biblical Hebrew talking again. In biblical Hebrew, there is a usage of chen that refers to physical attractiveness. But usually it doesn't. This would be a simple thing to verify if you find yourself a good concordance of Hebrew. Alephb (talk) 09:24, 28 July 2017 (UTC)
I believe this is YOUR unfamiliarity with the Hebrew. That single usage of Chen is more significant than all the others, because I'd bet nearly all the others sit inside the idiom "matsa Chen". It's amazing how again you lecture me on my native language. Get this through your head--- modern and ancient Hebrew are continuously connected, and mutually intelligible. Like Shakespeare's English and yours. You don't need to read a dictionary to read Shakespeare, you just start reading, and figure out the differences as you read.
I will never read a concordance. It's no good to translate using a concordance, that's why all the other translations in the world suck balls, and mine doesn't. You can't learn a language by reading a dictionary, you have to use the words yourself, hear how they are used, and get a sense, and then feel the usage. Chen is attractive, beautiful, not exactly physically, but close enough. It is "beautiful" but in Chen in Hebrew, the language makes beauty not associated as a property of the beautiful thing, but of the eye of the beholder, hence the beauty is transferred to the viewer. "But Noah was beautiful to Yahweh's eye" might be better than "Noah looked all right to Yahweh", but it's not quite accurate either, because the "beauty" is usually lost in the idiom, like the "pnei" face in "al-pnei" is never a face, it's invisible metaphor. The idiom applies to all sorts of "happy-with-you" qualities, and it has been one of the top 5 idioms used in Hebrew continuously since the beginning of time, always with the same meaning. It did not drift, I understand all the "Chen"s and "Matsa-Chen"s immediately, without a hint of a problem.RonMaimon (talk) 13:27, 28 July 2017 (UTC)

שחת שחת שחת שחת שחט[edit]

I changed my misinterpretation of "Shachat" everywhere, except the last spot, where there was nothing I could do. It has to mean "slaughter" there. I decided that the author made a pun based on similarity of sound, which might mean final-position undottet "Taf" had a harder pronounciation than "th", or else that final-position tet had a softer pronounciation than middle-tet, so that the play on words would work. This last spot was what confused me between the two roots, decay/corrupt and slaughter, and that last spot still confuses me, even after seeing they are two different roots. I'll comment using "slaughter" in that last spot. It's the only thing that works with bite.RonMaimon (talk) 14:15, 28 July 2017 (UTC)

Actually, later I found "lay waste", which is so perfect for "Shachath" that it might be good everywhere. I removed "decompose", "sloughter" (with purposeful typo), "corpsify", and put "lay waste", which I think is perfect in both direct meaning and connotation. Unfortunately, it affects "Havoc and waste" for tohu vavohu, that's no good anymore, because the meaning of waste is slightly changed by using it for Shachath. Maybe back to "vacuous havoc".RonMaimon (talk) 09:51, 5 August 2017 (UTC)

Miracle! אֶת-הָאֱלֹהִים, הִתְהַלֶּךְ-נֹחַ[edit]

We got the "et" for "Qanity Ish Et Yahweh". It's with. Here's the other usage. It means with for sure, and normally and otherwise "et" is nothing, it links what in English would be a direct object to the verb. This is the "active" et, it means "with". I'll fix the Eve part and link to this verse.RonMaimon (talk) 20:13, 27 July 2017 (UTC)

You know, just a few days ago I was telling this other commenter here that "et" sometimes means "with," but he told I was making it up and droned on and one about how I was a douche and lacked the vital modern Hebrew knowledge that one needs to understand the nuances of qaniti ish et Yahweh. Glad to see that you're more reasonable than he was. Alephb (talk) 20:28, 27 July 2017 (UTC)
He's a total douche, I know him. He changes his mind like the chaff of wheat blowing in the wind.RonMaimon (talk) 21:03, 27 July 2017 (UTC)
Well, at the very least, being willing to change one's mind is a good quality. Alephb (talk) 21:05, 27 July 2017 (UTC)
In his defense, although it's a weak one, I think you may have noticed that all his arguments are "it feels like" and "boy this sounds like that". In other words, he's relying on the nebulous language transmission organ to do the job others do using their frontal lobe. The point is, it works for 99% of the text, because Hebrew really was preserved, and it really was revived. Really. Learn modern Hebrew, it will help keep this site clean if I can talk to you in pure Hebrew. That's why all the rabinnical commentary is in Hebrew BTW, except they are all super religious and the central doctrine is infallibility of the text they are in charge of being stewards of.RonMaimon (talk) 21:56, 27 July 2017 (UTC)

וּמִן-הַבְּהֵמָה אֲשֶׁר לֹא טְהֹרָה[edit]

What?? Alephb, what is this? What is the impure livestock? Why is this used to refer to ALL impure animals? This means impure beast, not impure livestock. That means all your interpretation of "behema" as livestock is SUSPECT, and I've been changing everything to that. Didn't you notice this before? There's a contradiction with this theory!

"Livestock" is certainly not what it means here. Here it just means general "beast". Just like in modern Heb. It might have started to exclusively mean "livestock" by E's time, but I want to see an argument, I think this is no longer supported by the text at all.

We made a change to Masoretic based on this, because of the idea, remember? Domesticated animal, wild animal, rather than the vague "beast" and "field animal". What is the evidence. I no longer believe it. There is no way to interpret this using that schema.RonMaimon (talk) 14:38, 28 July 2017 (UTC)

Also, I use "livestock" for "mikneh" later, that is for sure 100% accurate, and I don't like to use the translation for the same word. Mikneh is livestock when it is owned. Behema is perhaps livestock when it is unowned, or just general "beast", as here.RonMaimon (talk) 20:56, 28 July 2017 (UTC)

Behema must have had a precise meaning of "large herbiverous land mammal". That's compatible with beast, livestock, cattle, and all usage I see. It's also the right connotation in modern Hebrew. For translation, I think cattle for first usage, and livestock beast for second usage, and just beast everywhere else will get the right connotation established and the right imagery everywhere.RonMaimon (talk) 05:43, 30 July 2017 (UTC)

(deindent) I GOT IT! Behema means livestock-animal, but in this context, it is Noah's responsibility only to bring the pure and impure livestock. The rest come of their own accord, God brings them. That keeps the interpretation, and allows Behema to match "cattle, livestock animal" throughout. I agree with you. This was the verse that made me go and make Behema "beast" everywhere. I got it wrong, the rest of the world was right. Sorry. This is already reflected in the translation, there's nothing to change.RonMaimon (talk) 15:44, 31 July 2017 (UTC)

Ok, now that I am sure you're right (and the rest of the world too), I think "domestic beasts" is best for all early occurence of behema, and "beasts" for later occurences. Let me know if this is ok. "Livestock" connotes money-purchase with "stock" and should be "mikneh", which has a purchase root.RonMaimon (talk) 10:20, 13 August 2017 (UTC)

פרק שביעי: אלפ-בי אלפ-בי למה שבקתני[edit]

אני לא מבין, חבר. לא קראתה את ההערות בתרגום הקודם?

Ok, this is another major edit. I am mostly restoring wording from the translation I did, which was both good English, and also absolutely faithful to the Hebrew, so much so that it even kept a normally invisible metaphor. Please read the English. Notice how beautiful the sentiments are. That's how beautiful it is in the Hebrew.

Most important stuff

חֲמֵשׁ עֶשְׂרֵה אַמָּה מִלְמַעְלָה, גָּבְרוּ הַמָּיִם[edit]

It is possible (notice, I didn't say mandatory, although to my ears, it IS mandatory! I just said possible) to interpret this as "fifteen cubits from the top of the dome of the sky, the waters built up". I demand a translation which keeps this ambiguity in English. Although, honestly, I don't see any ambiguity. It means 15 cubits from the top of the dome of the sky for sure. That's just what it means. And that makes the dimensions of the ark sensible, and makes the chapter extremely moving--- the whole "yekum" is reduced to the dimensions of the ark, between the top of the water, and the dome of the sky.

הַיְקוּם HaYekum[edit]

This means universe in mod. Heb., it's from the root "that which exists", and it clearly is correctly translated as "expanse", as it's ancient meaning is the space between the waters above and the waters below, that space of air in which we live.

On the other hand, in Deuteronomy 11:6, the ground swallows up Dathan and Abiram all their yekum. I think the typical way to understand yekum in ancient Hebrew for most interpreters would be some variation on "living thing," including both humans and animals. This makes sense of the Deuteronomy reference and the two flood references. One of the flood references practically seems to define yekum as living things. "Then was destroyed every yekum which is on the face of the earth: from humans to livestock to crawling things, and to birds of the sky. They were destroyed from the earth, and only Noah and those with him on the ark survived. " Alephb (talk) 03:49, 5 August 2017 (UTC)
Alephb!! You're back!! Thanks! I'll go read deuteronomy. The root implication of "existing" is just so strong for this word, there's no root pressure from "living", it's hard for me to read it that way and have it feel right. But, ok, I'll check out Deuteronomy, I wanted to read it in order, but whatever. it, stretchingly, might mean "biosphere", but that's SO scientific. It's like "gestation period" for "time of life", it makes the text more academic sounding than it should be. Let me check it out. Are you sure you can't read Deuteronomy as "it swallowed up their entire universe" and have it make sense?RonMaimon (talk) 09:57, 5 August 2017 (UTC)
If you haven't read Deuteronomy yet, I think you might be surprised how much more complex a lot of the sentence structure seems than in Genesis. The Deuteronomist is an interesting character. I can feel the "existence" pressure on yequm from hitqayem and qiyum, but I think of "existence" here in a biological sense. To be more concrete and less abstract, I'd think of yequm as including whatever can "arise" or "stand up" or "get up" as living things do. At the risk of going slightly off topic, my impression is that the q(w)m root wouldn't generally be quite as abstract in ancient Hebrew as it sometimes is in modern. I think if in biblical Hebrew you needed to say something like "exist" you'd pick haya like in Isaiah 66:2. So while I think there's a lot of continuity between biblical and modern uses of the root q(w)m, I think modern has extended the range of meanings a bit into the "existence" territory and maybe clipped out a little bit from the "living" area. I don't think I can read "universe" into the Deuteronomy passage, and I don't even think it's the most plausible reading in Genesis 7:23, but your mileage may vary. I think "living thing," "creature," "any sort of thing can is capable of waking up and going about it's day" (obviously not a translation suggestion, that last one!) or something along those lines works really well for Genesis 7:23, where (as I read it) the author uses "yequm" as a general word and then lists subcategories of yequm, in the same way we would in English "from X to Y to Z . . .". All the forms of yequm he lists are critters of various sorts. I'd rather not read "biosphere" for a couple reasons, one being the possibility of reading a round world into a text which doesn't presuppose one, so we agree on "biosphere." My instinct is to go with "creature" or "creatures" for yequm in the translation itself. Alephb (talk) 15:58, 5 August 2017 (UTC)
Your root analysis is better than mine. I no longer saw the "Qam" in "Yekum", but you still do. I tried "ecosystem", a little too scientific, but no round-earth, and dead-on accurate to your intended meaning, plus including the "everything together" idea. It might be precise, but I'm worried it's like "gestation period", wrong academic connotation.RonMaimon (talk) 08:33, 6 August 2017 (UTC)
All right. Here's an alternate idea. I'm not sure if it'll sound right. What if we translated "kol yequm" as "every being" or "all beings." It seems to me like it hits a number of bases in matching the Hebrew yequm: it's a word that includes humans and animals, it is drawn from a very common verb, yet as a noun it's a bit uncommon like yequm but still comprehensible to the average reader, the word "being" would match your gut feeling that "existence" is in play somehow, while it would still indicate something living without using the word "life/live/living" just as the Hebrew doesn't use the chay root, and . . . two syllables! But take your pick -- that or ecosystem, or some other better option neither of us has thought of yet. Genesis is your baby at this point. Alephb (talk) 08:59, 6 August 2017 (UTC)
I'll do "all beings". Do you have a complaint about the text? Does it sound stilted? Tell me! I don't own the text, I just fight hard for my preferred wording! You have valid ideas, fight hard too. This is about judgement calls, qualitative human things, so it requires back and forth, and adversarial debate. We're all on the same side. This isn't a power-play or a game, I am trying hard to be faithful to the text. I'll try all beings, please, sit with different choices for a while, give them a chance, to see if they work. I couldn't read your "As Kain avenged 7, Lemech 77" as Lemech dialogue at first, now I can't read it any other way, that was the right move. Kip down for lalun is totally not working, for example, lodge is good. This stuff takes time and effort.RonMaimon (talk) 06:52, 7 August 2017 (UTC)

כָּל-מַעְיְנֹת תְּהוֹם רַבָּה, וַאֲרֻבֹּת הַשָּׁמַיִם[edit]

M`uinot sounds like wells, it's the sources of the ground. The "arubot" looks like chimmneys, but it's clearly the gates holding up the sky's water from leaking down as rain, and it is idiomatically so. So "floodgates".

וַיִּסְגֹּר יְהוָה, בַּעֲדוֹ[edit]

God closed for him. Not closed him in. God closed the ark for him.

The other difference is that I didn't interpret. I know you love to interpret the "husband/wife" at the beginning as "male/female", but it says "husband/wife", and it's not an invisible metaphor, because it switches to "male/female" later--- it means breeding pair, and there wasn't a way to say that, so the author decided to say it pungently, by making a matrimonial analogy. It is a completely obvious metaphor in Hebrew and in English both.

וְהַמַּיִם, גָּבְרוּ מְאֹד מְאֹד[edit]

take your pick:

1. The waters intensified very very much 2. The waters intensified so so much 3. The waters intensified and intensified so much

It repeats in Hebrew. This chapter is written like a diamond. It's possibly the greatest story told in Hebrew. Please don't wreck the Hebrew pacing, nor should you change the vocabulary. Even the "intensify" vs. "built" is based on careful consideration of root.RonMaimon (talk) 15:58, 28 July 2017 (UTC)

Caanan is Noah's butt baby[edit]

The curse on Canaan is explained by Ham siring Canaan as an incestuous homosexual product of his seed and Noah's butt. This is probably the early version of the story here preserved in a rated G version. It took a long time to figure it out, because nowadays, we know babies don't come from butts.RonMaimon (talk) 14:17, 7 August 2017 (UTC)

The idea that there are homosexual overtones to the story is entirely plausible. There's some linguistic overlap with some of the incest-related legal passages that English-speaking readers could miss. The rest I have a harder time buying, although there's a couple other scenarios I would probably rate a little higher in likelihood. I find it hard to imagine Hopefully you will stick to translating the story as it exists in the Bible, rather than a reconstructed version that includes the phrase "Noah's butt" somewhere. While a Hebrew-speaker of the first millennium may not have known about chromosomes and zygotes, I'd bet good money he didn't think babies come from man-butts. Alephb (talk) 16:57, 7 August 2017 (UTC)
You know I translate faithfully. This is just to get out of my system. If you look at "Weekly World News" (when it existed) there would be all sorts of stories of humans mating with animals, producing deformed offspring, etc. The primitive world believed that life can spontaneously generate, and that semen has magical power of bringing forth human life. The idea subtly expressed here is that Canaanites are literally people made of shit. It's extraordinarily vicious, and the version that's in the Bible looks like a mild bowdlerized version of a much more vicious slander. It doesn't have to be taken seriously, I don't think anyone at the time thought of these origin-stories as scientific fact, more as people do today, as stories you beleve (in a human sense, not a scientific sense) so as to justify prejudices against this or that nation.RonMaimon (talk) 08:50, 8 August 2017 (UTC)

As an aside, before reading this, I would have bet good money that first-millenium Hebrew speaker would know that putting striped sticks in front of goats doesn't do jack shit to their offspring.RonMaimon (talk) 20:42, 8 August 2017 (UTC)

Well, this would all be a lot easier if there were another fifty Bibles' worth of ancient Israelite literature contemporary with the Bible. I could say that there's no precedent in the Bible for a man being thought of as having a kid, but it wouldn't be odd by Egyptian standards, and my argument from silence wouldn't mean much given that we basically have 800 pages of total literature in the entire language, and only maybe fifty pages of it set in (what a biblical writer would see as) the distant past. My (less drastic) thought on reading the episode was that we might be dealing with a story that started out as a rape, and that in the earliest version of the story Noah's youngest kid was named Canaan, rather than Ham. But then, due to the nature of editing the biblical text together, Noah had to have three sons to balance out some other genealogies, and so Canaan gets stuck as Ham's kid and we get a bit of a disconnect in the cursing sequence. I say this because the story only has three sons (Shem, Ham, Japheth) but then the poetic cursing sequence has three characters two (Shem, Canaan, Japheth). It's as if Ham has disappeared and been replaced by Canaan, or vice versa. So I'd guess we've had the old switcheroo done to us. There's other pretty weak indirect arguments I could make for the likelihood of Canaan being one of the original three, with Ham originally just being a stand-in for Egypt, but none of them are all that weighty, and we're deep into "just-comparing intuitions territory here. Alephb (talk) 01:46, 9 August 2017 (UTC)
Here's the reason I think it's what I said--- the names "Shem", "Ham" and "Japheth" are clearly very broad ethnic categories. "Japheth" is roughly southern and Eastern European people, "Ham" is Northeast-African people, Egyptian-Ethiopian, and "Shem" is Middle-Eastern Levantine, which the authors naturally see as the golden mean. These are the three races of man for the authors, and there's no "racism" in the modern sense in the Bible, there's no sense in which Ham is made out to be an inferior ancestor, as for example in racist 19th century writing. Egypt was an empire, the story of the founding of Babylon by Nimrod is preserving Hamitic legend, the Pharaoh is an Egyptian supremacist and views Shemites as subhuman (Ci Chayoth hen, "But they are animals...").
Canaan, on the other hand, is a very specific set of clans, a small set in the Levant. I doubt that these broad categories could ever be so specific as to confuse Canaan, an extremely localized people, Hittite, Jebusite, etc, the ethnic tribes of pre-Jewish Palestine, with such a general category as "all people from Northeast Africa".
When a tribe is hated by the author, they are given an incestuous birth story. When a tribe is REALLY hated by the author, what do they do? This business about "seeing nudity", homosexual overtones, and then Canaan appears for the first time.
There are obvious omissions from the story, and I think they were omitted simply to maintain good taste and plausibility. Remember, at some point, people began to believe these stories as literal truth, and butt-baby is hard to swallow as truth. Note that most of the time we know the mother for births, somebody tehar and telad, and then a person appears, or a father has a child. Here, Ham just sires Canaan out of nowhere, there's no mention of Canaan's birth before this story. It says "Ham is the father of Canaan", but not in the usual formula of "yalad" for giving birth, but just as information, "Ham is the father of Canaan". There's no birth of Canaan except, right after, he appears.
It looks like the butt baby business, really, except entirely deleted and censored, because it really is vile bigoted slander, and because, if it were inside, the chapter would sound as crude as this talk page.RonMaimon (talk) 06:32, 9 August 2017 (UTC)
Well, here's a few of the things that float around in my head when I think of other possible reconstructions of the Canaan story -- I don't think any of them are conclusive. When Noah gets drunk, where does he go? He goes into אָהֳלֹה. The Masoretes, by putting that holem there, are endorsing "his tent." But the spelling looks like whoever wrote the consonants intended "her tent." Genesis is otherwise really good about distinguishing hers and his -- not perfect, but good enough that this raises an eyebrow for me. So this raises the possibility, I think, that the scene of the crime here may be in Mrs. Noah's tent. Then, following Noah passing out in his wife's tent, while himself galah-ed, Ham comes into the tent his erwah nakedness. Later, Noah sees what his youngest son did and curses Canaan. Mentally, I wonder if the idea of a "father's nakedness" is being used in a manner similar to the way it is used in Leviticus 18:8 -- erwat eshet-abika lo tegalleh erwat abika hu. Do not uncover [galah, same verb] the nakedness of your father's wife. It is your father's nakedness.
This reading might tie up several loose ends. It explains the origin of Canaan, the bastard child who therefore cannot legitimately hold an inheritance and thereby has no legitimate claim to the land of Canaan. It explains why "her tent" seems to appear in Genesis 9, and it explains why just "seeing" a father's "uncovered" nakedness is such a huge deal. On this reading, Genesis 9 is using a familiar metaphor which also pops up in Leviticus 18 to avoid outright stating that Canaan barged into the tent and completed the act for his passed-out father. It also ties this passage strongly to the Lot's daughters story which you mentioned.
Both stories, now, contain a case of parent-child incest involving an incapacitated father, creating bastard children who would become indigenous Canaanite people, and later need to be displaced by the Israelites. Perhaps we can go even further. Now that I think about it, both stories contain language that indicates that a single family is all that is left on earth, and that a flood has occurred. I'm going to step out on a long limb on this one now. There's two little details that have always bothered me about the Lot story, and perhaps they might make more sense now. One detail is that the older daughter of Lot offers a curious justification for her incest plan -- ein baarets lavo alenu kederek kol haarets. There is no one available to come to bed with us according to the universal custom. It is possible to read this as "there is no suitable husband nearby," but it's also possible to read it as if the daughters think that they and their father are the only humans left in the world. Second, there's another interesting bit in a story involving Lot slightly before the cataclysm where Sodom and Gomorrah are destroyed.
Nine mythical kings come together to fight in Emek Hassidim, which is the Dead Sea (14:3). This location, Emek Hassidim, appears nowhere else in the Bible. Now, we could read "which is the dead sea" as just referring to the term Siddim, take Siddim as a synonym for the dead sea, and read Emek Hassidim as "the Dead Sea Valley." But suppose instead that we read "which is the Dead Sea" as referring to Emek Hassidim, so that the valley is set in a mythical location which, according to local lore, was later flooded during the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and became a lifeless salty sea. Salt production does turn up briefly in the Sodom and Gomorrah episode, where Lot's wife is turned into a pillar of salt. So if we make some interpretive leaps, we could read the Canaan-origin story as a very tight parallel to the Moab/Ammon-origin story.
I'll need some time to think here to see if the parallels I'm sketching out are crazy, or whether maybe there's actually something there. Alephb (talk) 02:24, 11 August 2017 (UTC)

(deindent) For what it's worth, I agree with everything you say. I am only not sure about the Emek Hasidim becoming the salt sea. I think it's interpreted as a much bigger area, the whole area around the dead sea which is a total wasteland desert. The "Lot's wife" pillar is a monument in modern Israel, I think it's ancient enough that this is an origin story for the monument.

It's totally possible, in my opinion too, what you said, about Ham siring Canaan through Noah's wife. That's the only alternative to butt baby. But I honestly think butt baby is much more likely, because otherwise, it would have been kept intact instead of getting redacted. Like the Lot daughter story was kept. This story is really missing the crucial elements, so you need a reason why it was deleted.

I can't believe nobody but you understands that bit in Lot "There is no man to come to us" obviously means "we're the only people left on Earth". They saw their valley destroyed by fire from the sky, everyone except them was killed as far as the eye can see, they have no radio or television, so of course they assume it's a global apocalypse! That was my automatic interpretation too until you told me that "suitable husband" nonsense.RonMaimon (talk) 08:26, 11 August 2017 (UTC)

Yeah, I'm not sure about the Emek Hassidim bit either. My question on "there is no man" relates to "baarets," whether it means "in the whole earth" or "in this area." The reason "in the whole earth" puzzled me was because, as he flees, Lot begs to run away to the town of Zoar, and the angels decide to spare the town for Lot's sake. Lot gets scared and runs off to the hills later. So the plot hole is how the daughters forget that anyone exists in Zoar. But I'm not too hung up on that -- the stories tend to look like they have a complicated transmission history before reaching us, so the wording might reflect a version of the story that doesn't feature Zoar, or in which Zoar winds up getting destroyed too. Alephb (talk) 16:54, 11 August 2017 (UTC)

(deindent) Zoar was meant to be a ghost town. They were the only people there. That's how I read it, and "Mitzar".RonMaimon (talk) 18:46, 11 August 2017 (UTC)

I'm going to have to chew on that Zoar idea some time when I have time to put my thinking cap on. The "ghost town" possibility did not come into my mind. I do know that Zoar appears in some later stories in a way that makes me think it was a real town. So if it's meant to be a ghost town in Genesis, it must get repopulated later. I wonder if I should take some time and try to separate out J/E/P and see if that helps make the story clearer. Alephb (talk) 00:48, 12 August 2017 (UTC)


בבקשה לא לתרגם אותם מילים למילים שונות ממקום למקום

There's consistency issues in the translation. The reason for some awkward usage in the original was that I was trying to keep consistent. So if you use "pillar of salt" for Lot, why is Jacob putting up a "monument" and not a "pillar"? I made it pillar both places, perhaps it should be monument in both places.RonMaimon (talk) 14:13, 8 August 2017 (UTC)

In Genesis 19:26, Lot's wife becomes a netziv, which is highly odd because netzib is almost always used to describe military garrisons. I just took a guess, based on the association with the root stand, that pillar would do the job -- a standing salt thing, a pillar of salt. Before I came along, netzib was translated as "formation," which might be right, but I thought something standing upright would be better. I'm not strongly attached to anything in particular for netzib -- it's seems obscure to me.
In the Jacob story, Jacob sets up a matseva. A word with similar root, yes, but not the same word. For the word matseva, pillar seemed somehow not adequate to me. The term does seem to refer to something upright, so pillar wouldn't be terrible. But a matseva doesn't seem to me to just be an upright thing. It is used overwhelmingly (always? I'm not sure. I can't think of any clear counterexamples) of religiously significant objects. Whoever translated before me had "monument" up for the matseva, so I just left that be.
So, in my defense, I didn't cause the inconsistency here, I just allowed it to continue. And, on top of that, they are two different words with two different sets of connotations in biblical Hebrew, even if they are related. Alephb (talk) 03:45, 11 August 2017 (UTC)
You're right, I didn't notice. Sorry. "pillar" and "monument" sound good. But now it's "pillar" everywhere.RonMaimon (talk) 08:17, 11 August 2017 (UTC)

אל תירא מ"ירא",יא אללה.[edit]

The word Yirah is often (accurately) translated "fear", but it isn't exactly fear, it's exactly intimidation. The problem with "intimidated" is that "intimidated" is a 5-syllable monstrosity, while Al Tirah is a common idiom for "don't fear". The issue comes up when Jacob is "Yirah" at the foot of Bet-El, where the ladder appears. He is intimidated, not afraid. This means that the translation should be "awestruck/intimidated" or "awestruck/awesome", not "afraid/terrifying". This is subtle, it won't show up well in Genesius, but it's clear in Hebrew speaking.RonMaimon (talk) 14:28, 8 August 2017 (UTC)

וַיָּבֹא, אֵלֶיהָ[edit]

This means "sleep with her" in the same way as the english "came to her" means sleep with her, it's a gentle euphamism. It's even more gentle than "Yada' otah". It's not "Went inside her" at all. There's no reason to assume this.RonMaimon (talk) 16:38, 8 August 2017 (UTC)

Here's "Sleep with her", it appears later in the chapter: יִּשְׁכַּב עִמָּהּ . That's definitely "sleep with her", literally and figuratively both. The other phrasings are euphamisms.RonMaimon (talk) 18:49, 8 August 2017 (UTC)

When I used "go in to her" I was picturing a man coming into a tent or a room where the woman was. It was, in my mind a gentle euphemism for sex, like when in an old movie a man would come in, the man and woman look at each other, and the camera pans away. Now that you mention it, "in to" does sound a lot like "into," which gives exactly the wrong impression. I didn't intend to pornographically describe a pelvic thrust at all. I'm completely okay with "sleep with," if that sounds better. However -- this is something I read but I haven't verified for myself, so take it just as an unproved idea -- I have read that lavo eleiha is only used of the very first time a man sleeps with a woman. Not the first time he's had sex, or the first time she's had sex, but the first time they've had sex. I can't think of a counter-example. If that idea is true, then we have a real tricky phrase on our hands. Is there possibly a way to express that concept in English, and lightly indicate the newness of the union, that doesn't require us to do something barbaric like, "slept with for the first time"? Alephb (talk) 03:30, 11 August 2017 (UTC)
Fascinating! Probably true, it does sound like that now that you mention it. "First get it on" would probably be closest, but it's a little crude. That's really interesting, thanks again.RonMaimon (talk) 08:12, 11 August 2017 (UTC)
I'm sorry for misreading, but "went in to her" sounded like a pelvic thrust to me when I read it, I get your intention now, but I think "went to her" would be better for that, I used "come to her" or "come onto her" (just to please you a little with the onto, to keep the flavor of "went in to her" using "come on to" which is a crude reference in English, but I guess you can get rid of the "on" now).RonMaimon (talk) 08:14, 11 August 2017 (UTC)
Well, all I would have to do is read "went in to her" out loud once or twice and I would have seen that I picked entirely the wrong words. It's good you misread, because I picked an unnatural phrasing that was begging to be misread. If you hadn't caught it, some poor sap with no underlying knowledge of the Hebrew would get the wrong impression. Alephb (talk) 16:49, 11 August 2017 (UTC)

וַיְמַלֵּא שְׁבֻעַ זֹאת[edit]

The word שְׁבֻעַ Shevua' does not mean week. Shavua' means week, although it can have the same spelling. In this pronounciation, it means "oath" or "seven", and the meaning is "seven-year bond". I translated it appropriately.RonMaimon (talk) 18:07, 8 August 2017 (UTC)

In terms of how it's pronounced in modern Hebrew, I'll grant you that Shvu(a)ʕ would seem to be the oath-related word here, and not week, Shavu(a)ʕ. But I would argue (1) that the form here is in fact consistent with Shavua "week" and that (2) the form here is not consistent with Sh'vuʕah "oath" at after all. Finally, I'll (3) argue that there is a reasonable possible interpretation based on week. You are, as usual, welcome to take it or leave it. Genesis is your baby.
(1) In the construct state, the initial /a/ in Shavu(a)ʕ disappears. So it's Shavu(a)ʕ "week" on its own, but "Shvu(a)ʕ zot" "the week of this [woman]" in the construct state. Shavu(a)ʕ also does this in the plural. So it's Shavuot in the plural in Exodus 34:22 but "Shvuʕot chuqqot qatsir" "the regular weeks of harvest," or more literally, "the weeks of regulations of harvest." This sounds weird, but it's due to the way that words in a construct relation are "pushed together" into a phrase, and vowels sometimes get effectively "squeezed out." We do this all the time in English (not the construct, but vowel-squeezing-out), but we don't write it down, so it's truly odd to encounter the phenomenon in print. Compare also "davar", "something said" but "dvar elohim" "what God said." Likewise shaddayim "breasts" but "shdei n'urayik" "your youthful breasts."
(2) The word Shavu(a)ʕ "week" is a masculine noun. I put the final a-vowel in parenthesis because it's a furtive patah. It's stuck in irregularly in front of the guttural ayin, and probably the patah wasn't pronounced in the first millennium BC at all. The word Shavuʕah "oath" is a feminine noun, and has the regular feminine ending kamatz he, which was definitely pronounced in the biblical era. The biblical texts do not confuse the two — weeks ends in the patah ayin, while oath ends with the kamatz he. So the words are distinguishable pronunciation-wise even if the distinction doesn't show up in modern Hebrew. Another hint at the original difference between kamatz and patah lies in the fact that a patah is always pronounced as /a/ in Sephardi and Israeli speech, but a kamatz winds up falling out as either /a/ or /o/ depending on its exact position into the sentence. So basically, we can reconstruct the original pronunciation of kamatz as an /aw/ or /au/ type vowel, intermediate between patah and holem, before it got forced out by influence from Spanish, with its five vowels. Thus the dozen or so Masoretic vowels basically get pronounced just five ways in Israeli Hebrew, plus shva. Yemenite Jews, whose language did not conform to Spanish, continue to maintain (the traditional ones) a distinction between patah and qamatz in pronunciation.
Plus in Shavu(a)ʕ week the patah is in front of the ayin, while in Shavuʕah oath the kamatz is after the ayin. So the a-vowels are on different sides of the gutteral consonant, too, another one of those things that doesn't show up in most modern Israeli Hebrew.
So I think we've got to read this verse's word as a form of "Shavu(a)ʕ," not "Shavuʕah".
(3) So what does "the week of this woman" mean? My best guess is that we're speaking of a week of wedding celebration. There's other documents which show BC Jewish weddings lasting a week, a couple hundred years after Genesis but close enough to make it plausible that there might be some continuity of meaning. Thus, my preference would be that "complete the week of this woman" means finish Leah's wedding celebration week, and then we'll marry you to Rachel as well.
Another option comes from looking at Daniel. In Daniel, the term "week" gets used for "seven-year-period." It's an obscure prophetic usage, but still. So "complete the week of this woman" could be read as complete Rachel's seven-year period of work and then you'll get to marry Rachel.
The real pickle we're in here is that the immediate context shows both a wedding, and a mention of seven-year periods. So the question then is, is the "week" the wedding of Leah, followed by marriage to Rachel and another seven years of labor? Or is the "week" another seven years of labor, followed by a marriage to Rachel. I think in this case the context pushes toward the "week" being a literal week, because if you follow the order of events in Genesis 29, it's (a) seven years of labor, (b) wedding to Leah, (c) wedding to Rachel, (d) seven more years of labor. So I don't think there's room in the narrative for the Shvu'a to be a seven-year period of labor, because then we would expect to see Jacob marry Rachel after working another seven years, rather than at the beginning. Alephb (talk) 02:05, 9 August 2017 (UTC)
Stop saying "it's your baby", there is no controlling power here, someone could come tommorrow and do something else. Nobody has any power here except admins, and thankfully none of the admins can read Hebrew. The power is how good an argument you make.
I actually like your interpretation more, as it makes the contest between Rachel and Leah much more interesting, and plausible. I would LOVE to read it your way, but there are problems:
1. I don't know what is this "construct state" of which you speak. Can you give some examples? I thought that applied to verbs, not nous.
2. Nitpicky details of pronunciation are unreliable, this is not useful to use as an argument.
3. The standard interpretation is as a pun/double-meaning of seven-year week-of-years.
4. If you read it as "another seven years", the next chapter makes sense, when he flees Laban, and says "I worked 7 years for her, 7 years for her, and then another 6 years", it could be the way you say though, with the extra 6 years the time after he started separating the splotched and the striped.
5. I think this is original to you. Good work. I think you're right. But take credit! Otherwise I think this is coming from Rashi or somebody, and then I get suspicious that it's some doctrinal nonsense, not looking at Hebrew.
Looking over my points, they are weak. I agree it's more likely week of days.RonMaimon (talk) 07:15, 9 August 2017 (UTC)
I am very much puzzled by your point number (2). This whole thing started with you relying on the vowel-dots the Masoretes added and treating them as authoritative here. I just showed why, if you decide to rely on the vowel-points, they point toward "week" rather than oath.
A construct is when biblical Hebrew (and it shows up in modern Hebrew) sticks two nouns together to create an "of" relationship. So "bet ab", "house of father" / "father's house." Or "melek mitsrayim", "king of Egypt." Basically, it gets used in biblical Hebrew where modern Hebrew uses "shel." So "bananot Alephb" is the biblical equivalent of "bananot shel Alephb." Normally, a noun is in its default, or "absolute" state. When a noun is the first in a construct relatiionship ("A of B") the first noun is in the construct state. This creates several pronounciation shifts in the noun it effects.
The most obvious and consistent of the pronunciation effects are what happens to feminine singular (-ah) nouns and masculine plural (-im) nouns. So while you might say "torah" ("law") in the absolute state, you'd say "torat Yhwh" in the construct state. Or while you would say susim (horses), you would say susei Pharaoh (Pharaoh's horses). I'm sure you're aware of this in its broad outline even if you wouldn't have used the word "construct," because you generally translate constructs correctly. You might know them by the modern Hebrew term smichut.
More subtle effects of the construct state also occur, where it shifts vowels around a little, like when derachim becomes darchei Yhwh. Or, in the singular, davar/dvar, zaqen/zqen, katef/ketef, sadeh/sdeh. And sometimes it creates a pronunciation shift reflected in the Masoretic vowels but not pronounced in modern Israeli Hebrew, as when a kamatz becomes a patah in chakham or chatser.
I can't take credit here, at least not for the grammatical stuff. Since you mentioned Rashi, I looked him up, and he does substantially read this construct state the same way I do, although he gets confused and says patah when he means kamatz. Hopefully you will not count Rashi's agreement against me here. I did it without him. Alephb (talk) 03:47, 10 August 2017 (UTC)
Ha ha, no worries! I was full of shit, and all my points are nonsense. You and Rashi (independently) are totally right. Sorry, it's fixed.RonMaimon (talk) 08:47, 11 August 2017 (UTC)

Chapter 30 is such a bitch[edit]

Here are the main issues: first, as always, the syllable count. It matches now roughly, it didn't before, and this means that the reading flow in English was different than in Hebrew. That's fixed. Please preserve this property in future edits, it really makes the text flow equally well in either language.

נְּקֻדּוֹת nekudot --- this means dotted in mod. Heb, I am going to use that, because everything else is equally guessy.

טְּלֻאֹת teluoth --- I use "splotched", because the word is meaningless in mod Heb.

עֲקֻדִּים 'akudim --- here I went "multi-colored". The word "parti-colored" is not a word I recognized.

יֶּחֱמוּ --- this means "got things hot", so I used copulated, although mated is good too.

חוּם --- brown, not black. It's probably derived from burning things. It's definitely brown, in modern and ancient Heb.

בָּרְהָטִים, בְּשִׁקְתוֹת הַמָּיִם --- carefully, translating "rehatim" to troughs, and shiktot to "watering places". It's hard, as you commented.

Please discuss if you feel the translation is awkward now. I think it's completely natural, without ruining syllable count.RonMaimon (talk) 20:17, 8 August 2017 (UTC)

My use of black for chum is a reflection of being raised in an agricultural area. When wool is dark, including brown, that's "black wool." When white sheep with recessive genes mate and produce a dark offspring, it's a "black sheep" as in "baa baa black sheep, have you any wool?" So I just instinctively used the word black, because that's what farmers would say, at least in my neck of the woods. Parti-colored is also animal breeder lingo, and while everyone knows "mate," it's also the most common way the American farmer community would refer to two sheep having carnal knowledge of each other. But since we're making a general-purpose Bible, and not one for rural people in particular, I have no objection to changing those various words. Alephb (talk) 03:53, 11 August 2017 (UTC)
Now that you explained, and I've had time to sleep it over, you're technical term "parti-colored" is much better than multi-colored. These are specific English words for the same technical Hebrew words I can't even start to fathom (except nekudot, I think that means dotted). But black gives the wrong idea for chum, I think, because unlike parti-colored it has a non-technical meaning. So perhaps tlu'ot --- parti-colored (that "feels" most right as a total guess, although I have no idea)?RonMaimon (talk) 06:51, 12 August 2017 (UTC)
I could live with parti-colored / multi-colored, either way. For nekudos, I'm good with dotted. The term only appears in this story, and the context gives us nothing more than "it must be something that happens to sheep coloration that doesn't usually happen." In that case, I'd say we have a strong reason to fall back on the later Hebrew evidence. The Septuagint paraphrases "nekudot" as "white and spotted" -- so Jacob just said he'd remove the dark sheep, but he'd also remove ones with spots of non-white. I think that gets the picture right, though I prefer "dotted" to "white and spotted" just so that we don't over-interpret here. I read teluot as coming from the verb tala, as in Judges where the Gibeonites arrive with their clothing and food disguised, like they came from far away. It says their shoes we're tala-ed, which I'd read as "patched up." Similarly, I think teluot animals would be ones with patches of different colors. So Jacob is calling for the brown sheep, the dotted sheep, the patched sheep -- all sorts of non-typical colorations. Alephb (talk) 00:02, 13 August 2017 (UTC)

Ok, for future reference:

נְקֻדִּים -- dotted עֲקֻדִּים -- spotted (it's good to take two similar English words for these two) טְּלֻאִים -- parti-colored (awesome term) בְרֻדִּים -- piebald (awesome term)

While for חוּם I did brown.RonMaimon (talk) 08:14, 14 August 2017 (UTC)

הִשָּׁמֶר לְךָ פֶּן-תְּדַבֵּר עִם-יַעֲקֹב--מִטּוֹב עַד-רָע.[edit]

This means "Don't you DARE talk to Jacob about right and wrong! (after all you've done)". It literally means keep yourself from talking to Jacob from the good to the bad. Non-native reading misreads it, I have relatively high confidence in my reading here, but please tell me if I missed something.RonMaimon (talk) 13:22, 9 August 2017 (UTC)

In the context of Jacob absconding with Laban's daughters, what you say makes good sense. I don't have a strong degree of confidence as to what exactly "from good to bad" would mean. I have a little more trouble with the instance in Genesis 24:50, where there is no similar backstory. Eliezer proposes a long-distance marriage, and Laban and Bethuel answer, This thing comes from Yahweh. We cannot speak to you bad or good. If possible, I would like the language in the translation of Genesis 24:50 to come out looking more or less like the language of Genesis 31. It's not quite the same phrase, but very similar in Hebrew.
With this kind of phrase, I also wonder about tov vara in the garden of Eden story. So I wonder if "good and bad" in general is a term that had connotations of moral judgment. This could, potentially, tie in to all three passages. In the case of Laban chasing Jacob, it makes sense that God would tell Laban not to pass moral judgment on Jacob, which Laban promptly screws up by accusing Jacob of stealing. In the case of Eliezer seeking a bride, Laban and Bethuel say, roughly, "We can tell from your story that Yahweh has ordained the marriage, so we our own judgment is irrelevant. Yahweh decided it, we can't pass judgment." And then in the case of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, perhaps Adam and Eve are being faulted for seeking a sort of moral / judicial authority they should not have, but that should instead be the province of deities. Then they pass from being innocent children to being people with moral responsibilities, and it doesn't go well for them. Isaiah 7:15-16 seem to speak in similar terms of moral knowledge, and in 2 Samuel 14:17 it speaks of moral/judicial discernment.
So I think your instincts are basically sound on how the phrase applies to Genesis 31, but you raise a question that we'd have to think more about in other passages. Alephb (talk) 04:17, 11 August 2017 (UTC)
Oh, "Tov va Rah" is "right and wrong" most of the time, it's always moral in these contexts. I translated it that way and you kept it, so I thought we agreed. The "Good and bad" is only used in this sense in English with little kids. You know "Be good, don't be bad".
Regarding the "From good to bad", it means "in the moral spectrum", it's like "Don't you dare speak to jacob about anything in the moral spectrum from awfully terribly wrong to wonderfully saintly right". At least, that's the obvious reading. Same in the case of the Rebecca story, we can't speak to you about judgements, because Yahweh already decided it was right.RonMaimon (talk) 08:54, 11 August 2017 (UTC)
I think we do agree. I haven't kept up completely with everything happening on the translation itself, because we always seem to be having ten talk page conversations at the same time, and then when we're not I head off to plug away at Deuteronomy. (By the way, my work on Deuteronomy so far does not reflect a careful, considered approach to every sentence. Right now I'm focusing on churning out a plausible rough draft, and when I get through Deuteronomy to head on through other unfinished books. I may not loop back around to do things like check for consistency and a lot of stylistic stuff until we've got a draft of everything up. I have a lot of half-formed thoughts on good and bad that I should probably at some point try to hammer out, but for now the moral spectrum seems like a plausible way of understanding it -- definitely in the case of Laban, but I wonder if something slightly more nuanced is going on in Genesis. The whole "knowledge of good and evil" episode just strikes me as very weird, from one end to another. Large sections of the wisdom literature praise knowledge to the heavens, but Genesis 1-11 seem to denigrate it. Plus there's the way that almost everything in Genesis 1-11 doesn't get referenced anywhere else in the Bible, which kind of makes me wonder if Genesis 1-11's relationship to the rest of the Bible might be weaker than most people realize. Some day I might pursue that question. But not today. In general, if you make a change on the Genesis Translation and I leave it be, that doesn't necessarily mean approval or disapproval. I'm just trying to balance the continuing editing on Genesis with my production of fresh draft material, which has kind of slowed down lately. Alephb (talk) 00:35, 12 August 2017 (UTC)
I would like to get to the point where we trust each other enough to not get freaked out by us working together. I think I might have spoiled that a little by coming in and throwing a tantrum. I hope you've forgiven me! We're like 90% in agreement, and I think on the parts we disagree, you're right at least half the time if not more. But can you please start counting syllables? It will help a lot. That's nearly all I do, reduce syllables.RonMaimon (talk) 09:47, 12 August 2017 (UTC)
We place very different values on syllable count. For you, it seems to be a very high priority. For me, it's something I think is nice to have, but lower down on my list of priorities. When I'm cranking out first-draft material, I don't think I'll work too hard on the syllable issue, although it's definitely something worth thinking about. Have you ever read Robert Alter's translations of parts of the Bible? He is someone I think basically gets it right. I don't dare look at his work while I'm translating, because I might be tempted to borrow a lot of phrasing from him. But if you ever get your hands on his translation of the first five books of Moses, and just read the preface, I think you'd find that he's thinking about a lot of the same concerns we have. I only read his preface to Genesis recently, and he's pushed me slightly in your direction on a number of things -- he sees the repetitive use of "and" as integral to getting the feel of biblical narrative right, he likes "lad" for na`ar, he often (but not quite always) prefers more literal readings where it has a chance to make sense, and he does pay attention to syllable count and rythm -- more than I generally do, but he isn't as strict about it as you. Anyhow, he might be worth reading if you're looking for reading material. Even if you don't agree with him, he's sort of recognized as a major figure in the field of biblical translation and I think at least thinking through a lot of the issues he deals with is worthwhile. Alephb (talk) 00:19, 13 August 2017 (UTC)
Yes, I saw his translation about a year after I did the translations, and I got super-pissed at him for stealing my translation ideas! Now I check the publication date, and I see he did it about 3 years before I translated anything. Regarding syllable count, I do that on second draft of course, the first draft I get anything down, but I always do first and second draft of each chapter in one go, and that's important, because you can learn from the second draft about what your translation vocabulary choices are so you remember them. The final draft must have approximate syllable parity, or it won't read the same. Just read this Genesis, it flows exactly like the Hebrew.
Regarding "and" repetition, I went along with you and reduced it everywhere, because "and" is slightly more intrusive a syllable than "we", it has two serious consonants "n" and "d" sitting in it, while "we" is barely there. But I kept the "and" in somewhat more places than you, in particular, in lists, where you decided to use Strunk and White conventions, while the Bible sprinkles "and"s in those lists without any rhyme or reason, so I just preserved it.RonMaimon (talk) 10:15, 13 August 2017 (UTC)
Haha. Taking some cues from you and Alter, I've been increasing my use of and over what I had in Genesis. If you look at my most recent Genesis bits, I'm using almost as many ands as the Hebrew. We seem to have switched places there. In defense of "and," the biblical "and" where it exists in a wayyiqtol verb isn't pronounced like the Hebrew v' -- it's a v, plus an a vowel, plus it doubles the first consonant of the verb most of the time. So usually there are to consonants and an 'a'. And if the original pronunciation of patah is what I think it is, when the phonetic parallel is even tighter. Alephb (talk) 13:01, 13 August 2017 (UTC)
Huh? What it this black magic of which you speak? How would you pronounce WaHalach or WaYomer? Wahahalach? Wayoyomer? There's no way you have evidence for that! Do you?RonMaimon (talk) 21:40, 13 August 2017 (UTC)

Yep. I've tried to describe this several times, but you were worked up about chayot and saying weird things about religious motivations for dageshes, so I let it drop. This is, like, the most basic of undisputed biblical Hebrew grammar facts. Dageshes are used to double the pronunciation of a variety of consonants. It's called gemination, and it is a real thing in a variety of languages, including biblical Hebrew but not including modern Hebrew. The Masoretes marked gemination with a dagesh. Gemination (and therefore dageshes) only occurs on certain consonants. It does not occur with ayin, he, and resh, for example.

So for the wayyiqtol verb wayyomer', the y is given a dagesh and is pronounced noticeably longer than it would be in just yomer, for example. With halak, you can't double a he, but it doesn't matter anyway, because the he drops out and you get a doubled yud: wayyelek. I'm suprised you proposed WaHalach. I don't think that occurs anywhere in Scripture. WeHalach, maybe, but not WaHalach. Let me know if I missed an example.

Even though the distinction between regular and long consonants has disappeared in Hebrew, just like the distinction between samek and sin has disappeared, it has left traces behind. One of those traces is the begad kefat letters. When spirantization (the b to v, p to f, k to kh, etc. change) started victimizing innocent Hebrew plosives, it came as a sort of "relaxing" of the regular pronunciation. So tob becomes tov. But a geminated b, for example as medabber, would not be spirantized.

Gemination is the backstory that explains why b/p/k alternate the way they do. It explains why dageshes are meaningful in modern Hebrew on some letters, but appear bazillions of times on other letters with no apparent effect on pronunciation anymore. It explains why dageshes don't appear on alephs -- try pronouncing an aleph longer. It explains why dageshes appear at all.

As far as I know, there is no theory other than gemination to explain why the Masoretes put dageshes that are no longer pronounced all over the fricken place. It's not just wayyiqtol that requires a dagesh. A variety of other verb forms consistently get dageshed in certain places. And the article ha- also dageshes the following consonant (wherever it is grammatically allowed). So "shamayim" is sky, and hash-shamayim is "the sky." Mabul is deluge, but hammabul is "the deluge." Alephb (talk) 22:16, 13 August 2017 (UTC)

PS -- I need to correct an earlier statement. When I said, doubles the first consonant of the verb, I should have specified the first consonant of the yiqtol form. So yiqtol becomes wayyiqtol, yiktov becomes wayyiktov, nomar becomes wannomer, and so on. It doesn't double the first consonant of the root. Alephb (talk) 22:35, 13 August 2017 (UTC)

Actually, now that you've explained it, it makes sense, and I do have a sort-of sense for what you are talking about. It's got a remnant in modern Hebrew, in that you place emphasis on the consonant, and make it "longer". but you don't double the syllable like wayeyelech, you just go waYYEHlech, you just elongate the consonent pronunciation and put stress on the syllable it's all about the stress, and yes it does survive in modern Hebrew (in faux Biblical pompous contexts, so I would say "VeRAIIti et Netanyahu Medaber im ha'itonaim", and it sounds stupid and Biblical). It's normal in reading Biblical Hebrew, but I don't pay too much attention because it hasn't affected my comprehension yet. It's like the pausal forms, a 1% effect. But thanks again.RonMaimon (talk) 23:24, 13 August 2017 (UTC)
Gemination was never about doubling the syllable, only the consonant. Alephb (talk) 23:33, 13 August 2017 (UTC)

וַתִּגְנֹב אֶת-לְבָבִי[edit]

This is a subtle idiom. It is supposed to mean "outwitted", but it doesn't mean that exactly, it means, move in a way to violate a trust connecting people. If it is said positively, then "outwitted" is a good translation, because it means you did something the other didn't expect. If negatively, then "broke my trust" is the proper translation. This idiom isn't used anymore, but I think it is good to speak fluently to read it properly.RonMaimon (talk) 13:27, 9 August 2017 (UTC)

The frustrating thing about this idiom, for me, is that in Hebrew the verb "stole" is clearly visible, and even though we can't translate it literally, I think we lose something thematic by translating it as "outwit," "deceive," "broke my trust," or what have you. What we lose is that the whole passage hangs on the theme of theft. Jacob's flight begins with Jacob and his wives both accusing Laban of stealing from them (wages and inheritance), and then Jacob steals away in the middle of the night, and Rachel steals the teraphim. Laban shows up, and accuses Jacob of stealing both his teraphim, his children, and his lev. I'm going to keep tumbling this around in my head, but I'd really like to come up with an English phrase that preserves the sense of "deceived" while still preserving an overtone of theft. Of course, "stole my heart" won't work because in English you steal someone's heart by being adorable, which isn't exactly the accusation Laban is making against Jacob. Alephb (talk) 04:28, 11 August 2017 (UTC)
Oh you are right! I didn't notice. Please fix it if you come up with something.RonMaimon (talk) 08:55, 11 August 2017 (UTC)
I have an idea regarding this--- use "steal away" instead of "run away", move the connotation to a different verb. I do that sometimes when I get stuck like this.RonMaimon (talk) 14:36, 11 August 2017 (UTC)
Excellent idea. It's the wrong verb, but it's in the right verse. I like it. Alephb (talk) 16:47, 11 August 2017 (UTC)

פֶּן-תִּגְזֹל אֶת-בְּנוֹתֶיךָ מֵעִמִּי[edit]

No brute force here. Where is it? Ligzol is to take by cheating, there's no connotation of force.RonMaimon (talk) 13:39, 9 August 2017 (UTC)

Well, in modern Hebrew if you're haggling over a shirt or something, and the guy wants $20, and the shirt is a $5 shirt, you might say this is gezel, or that he's trying to gazal you. No disagreement there. But I think in the Bible connotations of force and strength and oppression stick to gazal.
Deuteronomy 28:31 uses gazal in what looks like a violent scenario to me. In Judges 9:25, the leaders of Shechem sent people to ambush travellers and gazal them. I don't know if that passage is talking about robbery or perhaps even kidnapping. In Judges 21:23, at the very creshendo of the growing crapstorm that is Judges, an incident that began with a bunch of Benjamites committing rape ends, symmetrically, with a bunch of Benjamites gazalling women who come out to dance and taking them as wives, without the consent of their fathers. In 2 Samuel 23 / 1 Chronicles 11, the truly hardcore Benaiah with nothing but a staff is fighting an Egyptian guy, seven feet tall, with a spear. Benaiah gazals the spear right out of his hand and kills him with it!
Not every instance of gazal clearly involves violence, but a good number do. On the other hand, I don't know that there's a single clearly non-violent use of the term in biblical Hebrew. Alephb (talk) 04:45, 11 August 2017 (UTC)
Thanks, accepted.RonMaimon (talk) 08:07, 11 August 2017 (UTC)
Ok, on review, no longer completely accepted. The proper interpretation is "rob", that fits every instance, and it has a little bit of violence in it, in that robbery differs from burglary in that you are face-to-face in a robbery. It can't be any more than that given the common meaning.RonMaimon (talk) 18:41, 11 August 2017 (UTC)
I think rob is better than either of our original proposals. It matches almost every use of gazal I can think of (even the haggling scenario, where in English someone might complain that a high price is robbery). In the rare case of Benaiah gazalling the spear from the Egyptian, I'd say "snatch" or "grab" would work better, but in this verse and most others, I endorse "rob." Alephb (talk) 20:48, 11 August 2017 (UTC)

עִם אֲשֶׁר תִּמְצָא אֶת-אֱלֹהֶיךָ, לֹא יִחְיֶה[edit]

"Whoever you find your gods with won't live". It might be a corrupted "whoever you find your gods with, I won't live with", which differs in an aleph for a yud.RonMaimon (talk)

So would the idea be that Jacob is promising to break up with or expel whoever has the teraphim? I'm trying to think whether "live with" is ever used this way in biblical Hebrew, like living with someone in English. I haven't come up with an example, but that doesn't mean it's not there. At least for me, the phrase looks perfectly natural as it is. Is there something in it that makes you think we might need to propose a copying error here? Alephb (talk) 04:54, 11 August 2017 (UTC)
No, not at all. I translated it as it appears. I just misread it on first reading as "Whoever you find your gos with I won't live with", so it's close to that. It's not a proposal, just a note for myself.RonMaimon (talk) 08:06, 11 August 2017 (UTC)

Dealing with Chapter breaks[edit]

I used "verse 0" in Psalms to deal with non-Jewish numbering which makes more sense. In this text, I think it is best to put the chapters in the logical breaks, and the numbers as the masoretic. I hope this is ok. Those subscripts are horribly distracting, and adding or subtracting 1 is not so difficult for a reader.RonMaimon (talk) 14:47, 9 August 2017 (UTC)

I don't have a strong opinion on verse numbering in Psalms, though I'd like to have some way of alerting the reader to the difference in numbers. Maybe a short note at the beginning of the whole book would do the trick. Anyhow, I've added the Psalms page to my watchlist, so we can discuss other Psalm issues there. Alephb (talk) 04:55, 11 August 2017 (UTC)
Do you have an opinion on putting the chapter breaks in the "wrong" places, like I did here for Ch1-2 and Ch31-32? I think these are the right places.RonMaimon (talk) 08:58, 11 August 2017 (UTC)
No strong opinion. If you don't object, I'll add a little footnote immediately after verse 1 of the next chapter to clue the reader in on what's going on. I worry about the average reader. They could get lost. I think I read somewhere that the average American only understands three out of five sentences he reads in a newspaper. I definitely have no attachment to the chapter divisions, because they were added in in the middle ages. And I definitely agree that the natural line between Genesis 1 and 2 is misplaced (we both buy into at least some form of the documentary hypothesis here). On the division between 31 and 32, I could read it either way. Since the original writers didn't do chapter divisions, it sort of looks like a toss-up to me. 32:1 is sort of a transitional bit dividing the stories, and I don't really care whether it's considered the conclusion to the previous block or the introduction to the following block. Alephb (talk) 20:55, 11 August 2017 (UTC)

וְהָיָה הַמַּחֲנֶה הַנִּשְׁאָר, לִפְלֵיטָה[edit]

Leplita here means "for escape purposes", if one of the camps is struck, the other camp will serve as refuge. The grammar doesn't naturally support "escape". If you wanted to say that, it would be vehaya shehamachane hanishar yiphalet, or something similar.RonMaimon (talk) 15:03, 9 August 2017 (UTC)

Okay, so here's how I read it. First, I don't think I could support vehaya shehamachane hanishar yiphalet in the Bible because for most of biblical Hebrew, the particle she- "that" doesn't get used. That's more like a very late biblical/Mishnaic/modern thing. I'm taking haya l- as the idiom "become." I'm reading the noun pleita as a collective noun meaning "escapees".
So I read v'haya hamahane hannish'ar lifletah, if we do it in a literal and clunky way, as "then the remaining camp will become escapees." I would then translate, "Then the remaining camp will escape" just for the sake of smoother English, but I'm not actually taking pleita as a verb.
Usually pleita is the abstract noun "escape" or "survival (in war/fighting)", but there's a few other spots where it gets used as a collective term for people who escape in a conflict. 2 Kings 19:30 reads, "The pleita of the house of Judah that remains will again put roots downward and make fruit upward." Likewise for Ezra 9:8. So I'm reading pleita not in the abstract sense "escape purposes" but in the concrete sense "people who escaped." Alephb (talk) 06:12, 11 August 2017 (UTC)
You're reading is possible, I see now. But my reading was the automatic intepretation, but honestly, I am not sure which way it leans in ancient Hebrew.RonMaimon (talk) 08:59, 11 August 2017 (UTC)
Upon reflection, I think you're right. The right reading is that the machane would get away. Also, by parallel, the verse in Genesis 2 should be "Asher bara elohim le'asiya" to mean "That God created for the making" (by parallel construction with this, and that sounds fine to me).RonMaimon (talk) 14:33, 11 August 2017 (UTC)

גִּיד הַנָּשֶׁה, אֲשֶׁר עַל-כַּף הַיָּרֵךְ[edit]

This is not penis. People remember the word for penis, and remember that it is "penis" when they see it. These texts have been in continuous reading use essentially since they were first composed, and the lost words are obscure.RonMaimon (talk) 16:11, 9 August 2017 (UTC)

Well, I'm not set on any particular interpretation of this verse. If I were to try to defend the genital-striking view, I would argue that kap yarek, with yarek as thigh and kap as palm, might be a roundabout way of referring to the groin. I would read gid as something like "sinew" or "ropey bit", and nashe appears only here. So if we were to go with the interpretation that has a wrestler punched in the dinger, it's not that kap yarek or gid hanashe would be the normal, everyday word for the disco stick. The Bible seems to go out of its way from using normal, everyday words for gherkin. Even when Ezekiel is talking about the massive manbits of Egyptians and Assyrians in a very vulgar way, he uses euphemisms. Just as someone writing a text in English might find a hundred ways not to directly use "penis" when referring to the male member. In Latin, for example, people would use neruus, literally "sinew" or "tendon", to refer to the tallywhacker, and I think the same thing happens in Ugaritic, but I'm not sure. To remove the johnson from someone in Latin, you might say eneruo, de-sinew. And yarek is famously used in a number of biblical passages that refer to one's knob.
So we could have a very obscure use of words to talk in a roundabout way about how Jacob got kicked in the meat stick, and it could be that later interpreters either didn't, or didn't want to read the passage as saying that an angel or God would stoop so low as to win a wrestling match kicking Jacob in the pecker. Just in terms of a wrestling context, if you find yourself unable to beat someone, it is easy to imagine that a quick way of taking him down would be to strike him in the peter. Then, perhaps, you're opponent would go limping away with a wounded python, as Jacob did, and maybe even feel like he's met his maker ("and he called the name of that place Peniel").
Anyhow, I could also argue against the schlong theory, so I'm not married to it, but it does seem to make a certain kind of sense to me. I'm not proposing that ancient Hebrew readers forgot the most common term for skin flute at one point (although I'd guess that the modern Hebrew pin is of European extraction rather than ancient Semitic origin). I'm just proposing that, intentionally or otherwise, a rare way of referring to a man's block and tackle dropped out of the language, and that it was supplanted by a more literal reading of gid as sinew/tendon/nerve, eventually leading to the Orthodox habit of making the back half of an animal basically off-limits due to the problem of picking all the downstream parts of the sciatic nerve out. I find it hard to believe that, at the time Genesis was written, there was a taboo on the sciatic nerve. A taboo on eating an animals fifth leg is easier to imagine, at least for me.
Finally, notice how many different ways of saying trouser snake I've packed into this little essay alone. I would not be surprised if there were a similar number of synonyms for the phallus. Add in synonyms for testicles and we could probably reach the hundreds. I would bet the existence of loads of terms for a man's junk is a phenomenon also true of ancient languages.Alephb (talk) 05:24, 11 August 2017 (UTC)
Hmmm, yes, you do make a good point, I agree now. I think it should be translated to keep the ambiguity though, if possible, instead of forcing an interpretation down a reader's throat. I know "pin" is European, but whatever the ancient term (probably zayin, also used for dick, more commonly than "pin" for sure. It means "war-implement", the letter, or "cock"), it would be notable.
The issue is that this is used as a verse to explain a point of law, that Jews don't eat this particular sinew in this particular place. I think that law has been followed, and it's a sinew in a place, not a penis. I don't think there's a kosher problem with eating bull testicles or penis.RonMaimon (talk) 08:03, 11 August 2017 (UTC)
In googling, testicles and penis are totally kosher. But it might be because this was misinterpreted sometime between the 10th century BC and the 6th century BC, who knows.RonMaimon (talk) 09:03, 11 August 2017 (UTC)
So I take it that you support a pretty early date for at least parts of Genesis. In defense of the traditional reading, although an argument from Latin isn't conclusive, check out that word neruus I mentioned above. The doubled "u" means the first one is pronounced as a consonant w/v. The final -us is just a grammatical termination. So the root is nerv = "nerve." There's at least one premodern society who used the term "sinew" to refer to a nerve. Or, perhaps more accurately, they had a word that covered sinews and nerves both. If hanashe is related to a similar Ugaritic word for the area between the anus and lower back, then we could easily be looking at the sciatic nerve, just as the halakha has it. And, just like a swift kick to the nethers, a pinched sciatic nerve could easily cause limping, especially in a middle-aged man like Jacob. I noticed that you put "vein" in the translation. That has just a smidge of ambiguity in English, where someone who needs to take a leak might excuse himself to go "drain the main vein." Alephb (talk) 21:04, 11 August 2017 (UTC)
I'm not comfortable with more than that (accidental) smidge, because this episode is so extraordinarily moving, as a metaphor, the wrestling with God, that I think any more explicit genital talk would ruin it. But if you insist, we can try "bowl of the thigh" instead of "hollow of the thigh", that has more connotations of nutsack (it's right on the edge of where I get squeamish).RonMaimon (talk) 17:09, 12 August 2017 (UTC)
I'm no expert, but I feel the early dates around 9-10th BC are more plausible, for no good reason, just because this Hebrew in J Gensis is so early it's archaic even compared to other archaic stuff. Not sure, experts know better, but they all have their academic axes. But it's possible it's all from the immediate post-exilic period, but that would be weird to me. You have to explain the Samaritans, who probably are preserving pre-exile Judaism, as they celebrate Passover at the right month.RonMaimon (talk) 17:12, 12 August 2017 (UTC)

(deindent) I wouldn't insist. I was just trying to sell you on the idea that it was plausible. There's also plenty of good argument for the sciatic nerve or something along those lines. One unfortunate cross-cultural problem, I think, is that in some ways we are more squeamish about physical stuff than the biblical writers were. There is an essay that surveys this, by a guy named Roland Boer, but he is deliberately provocative and, in my opinion, in a number of cases exaggerates just how much the Hebrew Bible refers to male equipment. Nevertheless, it might be worth a read just for a quick overview of all the different ways the Bible might be referring to genital matters. If you feel like it, it's here [3].

I'm inclined, like you, to put J early, but I'm also very skeptical about how much we can now indirectly from linguistic dates. So I would very tentatively agree with you. My time with the Bible has focused more on understanding it's ins and outs on a word-by-word and sentence-by-sentence level; dating has been more of a secondary issue for me. I'm inclined to think Richard Elliot Friedman's arguments in favor of a pretty traditional J/E/D/P breakdown are pretty persuasive, but I'm only so confident about any argument based on hypothetical sources that no longer exist. Alephb (talk) 00:36, 13 August 2017 (UTC)

Yeah, I now started to think of J as a record of female oral storytellers from tribal days, while E is Kingdom-era extensions and revisions. You can see the radical change in style in the Joseph story, which is E heavy. The translation effort is so much easier compared to the previous Isaac/Jacob stuff, especially the Jacob stuff. And there are flourishes "And he came, and he brought, and he took, to his mom" (this da-da-da da-da-da da-da-da da-da-da form repeats in both Isaac and Jacob, suggesting common authorship for sure, it's very distinctive prosidy "And we'll walk, and you'll walk, and I'll walk alongside). The Joseph story is also much longer and more developed. The main J part there I can identify is the seduction of Joseph by PotiPhar's wife.RonMaimon (talk) 09:55, 13 August 2017 (UTC)
Ok, I read your reference, and he's full of crap. "Motnayim" means "hips", and is used as a euphamism for the area between them, so "loins" is a perfect translation. "Halutsayim" (I guess) is testicles, I mean it could be. The Mezuyanim doesn't mean "horny" it means "well armed" or in this case, "well hung" (Zayin means dick). The horny might come later, I don't know I have to read it in context. Yarech means thigh. I doubt that "caf hayarech" means nutsack, it sounds wrong, it sounds like the area when your leg joins in the inside part, or "the hollow of your thigh". I think this guy has his own academic axe to grind. People just make up whatever they want in this Hebrew translation bit. And even Robert Alter took pains to make flourishes that aren't there in the Hebrew, and increased syllable count by 30% to 50%. This translation is at parity or better, meaning it mostly reduced syllable count, as you expect for a language with sophisticated syllables like english (e.g sprints --- n t s that one syllable would be 5 in Japanese, se-pe-ri-ne-tes, and three in ancient Hebrew spa-rin-tes, given the allowed consonent clusters).RonMaimon (talk) 11:27, 13 August 2017 (UTC)
Oh, yeah, Roland Boer has an axe to grind, and he definitely doesn't do justice to some of the Hebrew words he's working with. I think there's a good reason he couldn't publish his piece in any of the mainstream biblical journals, but had to pick a "Journal of Masculinities." He's almost an academic troll. Mostly I just passed it on because it's the one place where I've seen the largest collection of crotchital biblical references gathered into one place. Alephb (talk) 13:09, 13 August 2017 (UTC)


Na'ar and Ne'ara mean exactly teenaged boy and teenaged girl, after adolescence, but before end of growth, so ages 13-19. When translating Dinah, the ne'arah, you need to translate as girl, because "teen girl" doesn't work, and the accepted usage for teenage girls today is girls, not woman. Due to the lack of such a term in English, if you mean a pre adolescent, you generally specify with "little girl".RonMaimon (talk) 23:19, 9 August 2017 (UTC)

Also, le'anot means to torture, or to cause great suffering. It's not "to force", or "to violate", or "to dishonor". The verse of Dinah is he slept with her, and tortured her.RonMaimon (talk) 23:19, 9 August 2017 (UTC)

Well, there is the modern Hebrew piel verb "inah" for torturing, and "unah" for being tortured. I think there's clear continuity between the biblical and modern uses of the term, but I think in modern Hebrew the term has become more specialized. Here's a sampling of biblical uses in various binyanim. Sarai anahs Hagar, and Hagar runs away. The angel tells Hagar to go back and anah herself under Sarah. God asks how long the Israelites will refuse to anah themselves in front of him, when he wants to know why they won't submit (Exodus 10:3). To anah your nephesh is biblical idiom for fasting. God feeds the Israelites manna to anah them, to make them humble, even though there's nothing really torturous about the manna. It reminds them that they are dependent on him. Delilah anahs Sampson by cutting his hair off -- she brings him low, to the level of ordinary men, but doesn't torture him.
I agree that pain or oppression or submission is often connotated by anah, but I wouldn't go so far as to say that it has the specialized meaning of torture. There is a specialized meaning where a man "anahs" a woman, and sometimes it is in a situation of rape, and sometimes seems to have more to do with disgrace or loss of honor.
There's a passage in Deuteronomy 21 that regulates the taking of war-brides from enemies of the Israelites. It allows a man to take a prisoner as his wife, provided that he waits 30 days before having sex. If, after consummating the arrangement, the man is not happy with his prisoner of war, he can send her away. But he cannot sell her like a slave, because he has anahed her. In other words, the passage makes it sound like taking and discarding a war bride is inherently anah-full action. If a man rapes a virgin (Deuteronomy 22), he is automatically committing the offense of anah-ing her, and has to pay a fine and can never divorce her. So it doesn't seem that anahing is something done in addition to a rape, it is inherent in the virgin-rape itself. When the men of Gibeah want to rape some guests, the host says to go ahead and anah the concubine and his virgin daughter.
If I had to come up with an awkward and unusable but very precise translation, I'd say that anah in the Bible has to do with opression and/or dominance/submission, and that when done to a woman in a sexual sense, you are having sex with her in a way that, probably usually non-consensually, humiliatingly lowers her status. I don't know that there's a single English word in today's English that captures that, but "violated" might come close. Older English would use "humbled," but I'm not sure that captures the gist. But I think the anahing of Dinah is inherent in the sexual act itself -- it's not something else that Hamor did in addition to the rape. Alephb (talk) 05:46, 11 August 2017 (UTC)
Follow-up question. The term in the translation right now is "little girl" for Dinah. Are you working from the hypothesis that Dinah hasn't undergone puberty yet? Alephb (talk) 21:06, 11 August 2017 (UTC)
Of course not! Everywhere she is referred to a "ne'arah" (girl) except when Donkey's son asks Donkey to get her for a wife, and then he says "Yaldah" (daughter/little-girl), it makes him sound like a dimwit in Hebrew, and in English both. Both Donkey and his son sound like bumpkins in Hebrew, and I hoped translating that way kept that flavor. If it doesn't work, maybe "little gal", "gal" or just "girl".RonMaimon (talk) 09:40, 12 August 2017 (UTC)
Regarding the sex act being the cruel hurting, and not a separate act, I completely agree. But I think it's obvious in the English, no? The root "'awen" has two separate meanings, wrongdoing, and pain, and perhaps you are getting confused because of the overlap. I think I'm reading it fine, and any connotation of domination is subtle, if at all. I mean, for example, Cain says it regarding his punishment, it's what Rachel feels during childbirth "Ben 'oni", it's pain, real hard physical pain.RonMaimon (talk) 17:33, 12 August 2017 (UTC)
Okay, I think I see where we're differing now. You're reading the verb עָנָה as being mostly closely related to the root אָוֶן. I think of ענה as a whole other verbal root, which, as a verb, is about humility, humiliation, humbleness, oppression, and submission, depending on the exact binyan. For me the leap from aleph waw nun to ayin nun he is just too big a verbal leap to make. Where the waw go? Where is the he from? Why does the aleph change to an ayin? So I wouldn't see the Cain episode or Rachel stories as relevant to figuring out ענה. Instead I would look to `anan and `oni, for poor or oppressed or lowly people, `anawah "humility", "condescension", `enut "oppression", ta`anit "fasting," because the Bible calls it "humbling oneself". So I read `nh words as being not so much about the crime/punishment field of meanings, but more about dominance/submission/oppression/humiliation.
Oops, sorry. My talk page mistake doesn't change the interpretation or translation, because I never misinterpret this in the text (or in my mind), in all cases where it's awen I interpreted as "wrongdoing" and all cases were it's "'anah" I interpreted as physical pain. The humiliation bit is not there in my ears, sorry. I'll have to review your other usage. It might have a domination/submission aspect, but it's mostly used for physical pain.RonMaimon (talk) 09:52, 13 August 2017 (UTC)
Perhaps you're getting confused with "'anah" "to answer"? This is a completely different use of the same root.RonMaimon (talk) 10:44, 13 August 2017 (UTC)

(deindent) Unrelated--- you were right about Heb:mas, it appears in Yissachar's role, he's a "servant porter", and in Hebrew there's a "mas" right there. It has strong labor connotations, perhaps physical slavery. The root is probably related to "Masa'", burden. RonMaimon (talk) 10:39, 13 August 2017 (UTC)

This is the point where, if you were a regular Joe, I would suggest using a concordance to work through the various anah verbs. Skipping the "answer" stuff, of course, which is totally irrelevant here and has nothing to do with the meaning we're discussing. Alternately, I would suggest looking at any dictionary of biblical Hebrew that you like, and trying to figure out why you seem to be the only person reading ענה as being about physical pain rather than status/oppression/poverty. Since you've sworn off any use of sources, my options in a case like this are either to show you the references one by one and basically re-do the legwork of lexicography that was easily settled at least two hundred years ago, or else to just wait until you've read more of the Hebrew Bible and are more familiar with its use of anah. For now, instead of spelling it out, I think I'll leave a curated list of places where an oppression/submission reading is easy but a physical pain reading would be difficult: Genesis 16:9; Exodus 10:3; Deuteronomy 8:3, 16, 21:14; Judges 16:5, 6, 19; Psalm 35:13; Ecclesiastes 3:10; Isaiah 31:4; Isaiah 58:5; Lamentations 5:11; Ezekiel 22:11; Daniel 10:12. On the other hand, I don't know of any passages that require the verb to refer specifically to physical pain, as opposed to oppression or mistreatment more generally. And that's before we even get to cognate nouns and adjectives, which have to do with status, but none have to do with physical pain. Alephb (talk) 13:28, 13 August 2017 (UTC)
I am a regular Joe! I just don't trust the academic consensus, because I've seen that it's broken in many places. I can reconstruct the meaning myself, just as well as those concordance writers. But I haven't read the whole thing, sure, so I'm sucky sometimes.
Regarding "'anah", it has two completely separate meanings, which I can back up: one is physical pain or woe, when it's "'inah" "'anah" or "'aweni". The most obvious reference in Genesis is "Ben-'oni" for "son of my pain", where Rachel gives birth for the last time, and dies in agony.
The same root is also used for poverty. "'ani" is an empoverished person, "'oni" is poverty. The two meanings are separate, and I can see how if you are insisting on giving a unified meaning to the root, you would settle on "submission". But that's not what is going on in mod. Heb., it's just two completely separate meanings, in two completely separate contexts.
I would suggest going over each of your examples, and trying out the dichotomy "pain/poverty". They are different non-overlapping vowel forms, so it should be easy to sort out which is which. I haven't encountered any case of 'nh which I couldn't figure out immediately and without thinking, so I refuse to use a concordance. The meaning is preserved in modern Hebrew perfectly, I believe. I could be wrong, but try to read it that way, I think you'll come to agree.RonMaimon (talk) 13:48, 13 August 2017 (UTC)
All right. For the rest of this particular thread, it will probably work better if we use Hebrew letters. I'm still seeing you mixing up aleph and ayin. Here's Ben Oni: בֶּן־אֹונִי . Here's the biblical word used to describe what Shechem did to Dinah: עָנָה. I fail to see why you keep trying to bring Ben Oni into this. You just acknowledged above that the aleph waw nun root is a different from the ayin nun he root.
I'm also not sure if you realize here what a concordance is. A concordance is a resource, in print or electronic, that calls up a list of every time a particular word is used. A concordance is not a dictionary or a lexicon. When I bring up concordances, I'm not saying you have to start going by dictionary definitions. I'm saying it would really help you if, when your dealing with a word of debated meaning, you would go look at a list of all the times that word appears. I would have imagined that you would love to use a concordance. It's exactly what would help you most reconstruct meanings for yourself, especially considering that you haven't read the whole Bible yet and haven't been exposed to all the uses of the more obscure words. Using a concordance isn't some kind of sign of weakness, and it doesn't mean you're outsourcing your reading comprehension to someone else. It's just a sign of not having a photographic memory. Alephb (talk) 16:58, 13 August 2017 (UTC)
Sorry, you're right on every point. But I am confused. I know the meaning of the words! I don't get confused when reading. I'll have to find more ayin-vav-nun instances, get back soon.RonMaimon (talk) 21:31, 13 August 2017 (UTC)
You do know the meaning of the words, in modern Hebrew. And a lot of the time that's great. Just not for ענה. All that's left (when it comes to verbs) of it is a piel verb and a pual verb for torture and being tortured. It's the remaining stump of what was once a leafy verbal tree. The Bible has a whole cluster of ענה verbs: in paal and piel and niphal and hiphil and hitpael. If you look at the stump, you can see just the slightest hint of the tree it used to be. Torture is, after all, degrading. Think of it this way. If you thought that the English word "humiliate" actually meant "torture," you might see it a number of times in print before you saw that something was wrong. A lot of times, you can replace the word "humiliate" with "torture" and still get a reasonable sentence. Even though it wouldn't be exactly the sentence that the original writer intended, it would still be understandable and wouldn't set off any warning bells in the brain. Alephb (talk) 23:06, 13 August 2017 (UTC)

I looked at Hebrew biblical dictionary Wiki, . Yes, it has connotations of "empoverish", "weaken" and "subdue", but it also has connotations of "cause suffering", both from the Arabic root, and in usage in the Bible. There are passages referring to torture machines in Kings somewhere, and the verb and root is used I believe. I didn't find them yet. In this context, I believe my translation "to cause suffering" is absolutely accurate, and the translation "to humiliate" is simply wrong.RonMaimon (talk) 08:28, 18 August 2017 (UTC)

You didn't find them yet, because there are no passages, using any verb of the ayin nun he root, anywhere in Kings, that involve torture machines. We've now had you make the false claim awen is from the ayin he root, that Ben-Oni is the ayin nun root, and now this nonsense about torture machines, all while convinced that your claims are "absolutely accurate" and that everyone else is "simply wrong." I'm not sure there's really any point in continuing this discussion. If you would use a concordance, or Brown-Driver-Briggs, it would be easy to find all the instances of the verb. There's just four uses in Kings. This is a really basic thing. You should be using basic reference works before you make a claim like that, especially this far into a discussion where you've repeatedly made simple mistakes. Try and think about this from the perspective of someone who's not you -- if you've come up with fake evidence for your point of view three times now, maybe you should re-evaluate whether you're really being reasonable here. Alephb (talk) 03:39, 19 August 2017 (UTC)
I didn't say it was in a verb. Look for "Masreqot Ha-barzel" (Iron Combs), that's the stuff. I will not use any reference works at all, aside from the Hebrew text, as I have repeatedly told you. Making mistakes in the past is not a sign that I am making a mistake now, I am not trying to accrue power, and I'm allowed to say 100 stupid things in a row, so long as the 101st one, the one in the translation proper, is correct.RonMaimon (talk) 06:42, 20 August 2017 (UTC)

El means god[edit]

El is just hebrew for god. Any god. There's no specific god named "El", or rather, it would be any particular god the person had in mind. The translation of El should be "god", not "el", that's what the word means. You link to a Wikipedia page that says what I just said to justify leaving the word untranslated. I'll translate it to "god" everywhere except where it's part of a proper name (like Bethel).RonMaimon (talk) 00:00, 10 August 2017 (UTC)

I agree that El does get used for gods in general -- mi kamoka baelim adonai?, as it says in Exodus 15:11. What I was trying to do was preserve some of a sense that I think shines through here and there, where in Canaanite religion El was specifically the high god, the father of the other deities. Usually the term seems to be used only of the high-god worshipped by the patriarchs, and not generically. In some cases the word seems to be used as a proper noun for a specific deity, and not for deities in general. It also seems to be differentiated from the word elohim. So, for example, Genesis 46:3 says, "I am El, the elohim of your father." That looks like a usage similar to a proper noun in English to my ears, even though it does take the article. But plenty of proper nouns in biblical Hebrew take the article. So it's tricky. In the Elohist version of the Pentateuch, the term "El" is specifically used prior to Moses because in E's mind the "true name" doesn't get revealed till later, and the patriarch's use the Canaanite high god's name. So while El does get used as a synonym for Elohim, it also seems to me to have its own slightly different set of connotations. My goal was to preserve that and let the reader see the uses of "El" where it appears, rather than simply flattening the El/Elohim distinction. I'd have to wait and see where exactly you make the choices between El and god to see whether we're seeing this similarly or whether there's significant differences in how we're taking the word. Alephb (talk) 05:57, 11 August 2017 (UTC)
I totally agree that "El" could be some sort of deity, the problem is the word is so generic for "God" across semitic languages (according to Wiki) that it would be hard to make a proper argument. The sense from reading to a Hebrew speaker wouldn't be to suggest a multiplicity of gods, at least not past the time of Genesis. But I agree completely that you should indicate the flavor of a proper name, so I just left the "El" parts (where they're significant) in parentheses after the English translation, where you had it the other way around, untranslated, and then I put the English translation in parens. It's a very small difference either way.RonMaimon (talk) 07:56, 11 August 2017 (UTC)

(deindent) I found a way to suggest that "El" can be a proper name, and also translate it--- simply capitalize it where it looks like a proper name! That allows the natural reading, along with the El-as-name interpretation, and it's not so intrusive. The text does this now, sort of accidentally, but I like it. Hope it's good with you too.RonMaimon (talk) 13:31, 15 August 2017 (UTC)

Maybe use X for Ch[edit]

The names tend to overlap a lot if you use H for CH, so that Haran and Charan sound the same when they are completely different. Maybe we can make the Ch sound everywhere X?RonMaimon (talk) 09:38, 10 August 2017 (UTC)

I would not like this, mostly for aesthetic reasons. Perhaps we could just go partway and change the H to Ch in names where a possible confusion could exist, like Charan. I definitely would not want Jacob to marry Leah and Raxel, for example, and I wouldn't be thrilled about a town named Xaran. That seems like it would lose English readers. Another possible idea, what if we used the dotted H for chet where it appears? Ḥaran, Ḥeth, Ḥam. It could clue in readers that the name isn't using the regular H, while still leaving the names in mostly-familiar forms. Alephb (talk) 06:00, 11 August 2017 (UTC)
Dotted H is perfect. For Rachel, it could be Rachel with a dotted lowercase h, but I can't form it. Can you place one here, so I can copy-paste?RonMaimon (talk) 07:53, 11 August 2017 (UTC)
Alephb (talk) 16:43, 11 August 2017 (UTC)

Tola'at Shani is SILK!![edit]

שָׁנִי shani is used here, and it means "thread", it's tied around someone's arm. "Tola'at Shani" is worm-thread, and it's a form of silk.RonMaimon (talk) 10:04, 10 August 2017 (UTC)

I would go in a slightly different direction on this one, though what our views have in common is that we both read tolaat shani and shni tolaat as referring to a kind of high-quality fabric. I would take tolaat shani as referring not to silk but to scarlet or crimson-died cloth, specifically to kermes dye or murex dye. As I read it, the word tola both refers to the critter (kermes or murex, take yer pick) and to the dye color, while the term shani refers just to the color crimson. So the composite phrase is like "worm-crimson." There's a few reasons that I think make a cumulative case. For one, silk trade from China shows up late in the biblical period. For two, the term tolaat shani usually appears in a formulaic color list in the Bible -- techelet v'argaman v'tolaat shani, which I think runs from blue, to purple, to reddish-purplse. Sometimes the list contains four elements: zahav v'techelet v'argaman v'tolaat shani, still all referring to colors. Definitely it is associated with wealth and the Temple in the Bible.
I think there's two verses that demand a color-based interpretation more than the rest, and both place the color somewhere in the neighborhood of read or purple, which fits the color-lists in Exodus and Leviticus well. In Shir haShirim 4:3, the male voice says, k'chut hashani shiftotayik -- your lips are like a shani thread. Then Isaiah 1:18 places the word in parallel with tola the verb adam "to be read" --
L'ku na w'nukcha yomar adonai
im-yihyu chata'eikem kashanim
kasheleg yalbinu
im-yadimu katola
katsemer yihyu
"Come on now, let's work through this, says Yahweh. Even if your sins are like shanim, they will become white as snow. Even if they are red as tola, they will become like wool." Alephb (talk) 03:15, 11 August 2017 (UTC)
Oh, very good! It's really hard for me to read your Hebrew though, allows you to click-type Hebrew, but if that's too much of a hassle, can you indicate Ayin with something like backtick? I accept your arguments, they are airtight.RonMaimon (talk) 15:00, 11 August 2017 (UTC)
I can touch-type Hebrew. If you want Hebrew letters, I think I could oblige you. I'll probably keep including transliterations in there too, just for anyone who might try to educate themselves on biblical Hebrew by following our discussions later. Alephb (talk) 17:08, 11 August 2017 (UTC)
Yeah, then every wannabe Biblical scholar with zero Hebrew education is going to start editing this. No thanks. It's a miracle you have two people with no religious axes to grind translating. I thought I'd have to do everything alone (and it's a shitload of work that I don't have time for).RonMaimon (talk) 20:09, 11 August 2017 (UTC)
Well, you may not have a religious axe to grind, but you are religious enough to believe in miracles! This whole exercise is making me realize just how few people have any knowledge or interest in biblical Hebrew online. Especially given the decent press this article received at the start, I would have expected people to make pretty quick work of the drafting, and then settle down to argue about details. But it's basically a ghost town. Very strange. My guess is that a lot of the people who know anything about biblical Hebrew are academics, and are focused on their academic publishing and don't want to do something like this project, which is very time-consuming and where they have no real editorial control. As people who don't do Hebrew Bible stuff for a living, and who are interested in things like the exact connotations of gazal in Genesis, which has probably no obvious theological implications, we're in a very, very small minority here. When you say, "No thanks" I figure you're requesting Hebrew letters but no transliterations? Alephb (talk) 21:12, 11 August 2017 (UTC)

(deindent) No, you can transliterate, but long passages I have to laboriously decipher when you write them in English letters, while with Hebrew letters I just read it normally. Whatever, it's no big deal. It only happened once so far. Your sociological analysis is completely right about the Hebrew parts, but the "ideal process" you describe is EXACTLY what happened with the New Testament! A dozen or two people put up a skeleton draft in a few weeks (in a hodgepodge of styles), so if you read Mark or Matthew, these are all complete, but the translations are really inconsistent and spotty, and I'm not sure of the reliability of the tone or the imagery.

Not to pat my own back, but since nearly all the Hebrew until you came is mine, it's consistent. Sometimes crappy. But consistent. And since I read it normally, it's pretty faithful to the imagery and pacing (except where I screwed up totally, which you found already like two dozen places).

I have a theory here: since ancient Greek is specialized, there are no current native speakers (modern Greek is very different), people had no problem just getting up and putting up half-assed translations. Also there are a ton of Christians who know ancient Greek. But with Hebrew, it's mostly Jews, and if they're religious they don't want "Yahweh", they don't want a secular setting, and if they're not Jews, they're scared some Israeli is going to come in and say crap like what I'm saying (No! No! That's all wrong!) and they won't be able to justify. Maybe, it doesn't matter. In my opinion, after you efforts at "naturalizing" the English, and my efforts to shrink the syllable count to match the Hebrew, I really think Genesis is approaching "final draft" status, and I'd appreciate you reading the whole thing, end to end, and placing all your disagreements on this page, so we can work them out (and fixing all the typos, inconsistent punctuation, etc.)

Then, once it's finalized, we can outvote some nitwit who comes here with a religious axe to grind, and the moderators will be on our side. Just a thought. But you have to believe in the translation, 100%, so I don't want us to disagree on anything at all.RonMaimon (talk) 09:36, 12 August 2017 (UTC)

I'm very skeptical that we'll hit anything like 100% agreement. I mean, I believe in the power of dialogue and all, but I don't know if we would have enough time in our lives to sort through all that. Alephb (talk) 01:05, 13 August 2017 (UTC)
It's not that much left, considering how little you changed in the later chapters, I accepted several your style points, regarding "and" and so on, but I hope you come to accept the requirement to modify as little as possible, and preserve as much real ambiguity as possible (and preserve the prosidy approximately).RonMaimon (talk) 10:37, 13 August 2017 (UTC)

Bara Laasot, Round 2[edit]

All right. After much hunting, I have come up with a few examples of where biblical Hebrew seems to use constructions somewhat analogous to bara laasot. These were probably rattling around somewhere in the back of my head when I said that the phrase didn't seem so strange to me. In all these cases, the expression X l-Y, where X and Y are verbs, seems to jam the meanings together, producing something like, "He Y-ed in an X-ing way." That's a very approximate and crude way of reducing a somewhat more natural Hebrew expression to English. I found this list in an ancient 19th-century classic work on Hebrew grammar, and adapted it a bit to show how I take the phrases, so take it for what it's worth.

wayyosef ledaber -- he added to speak, he spoke in an adding way, he spoke again.

1 Samuel 1:12 hirbah lehitpallel -- he did much to pray, he prayed in an doing-muchly way, he prayed a lot

Joel 2:20 higdil laasot -- he did greatly to act, he acted in a great-ly way, he acted arrogantly

Jonah 4:2 qiddamti libroah -- I did-before to flee, I fled in a doing-beforely way, I fled right away in anticipation

Isaiah 29:15 he'emiq lastir -- he went deep to hide, he hid in a going-deeply way, he hid deep

Deuteronomy 2:16 tammu lamut -- they have finished to die, the have died in a finishing way, they are all dead

Leviticus 19:9 killah liqstor -- he finished to reap, he reaped in a finishing way, he finished reaping

Esther 9:23 hehelu laasot -- they began to do, they did in a beginning way, they did for the first time

2 Chronicles 26:15 hifli lehe'azer -- acted wondrously to deliver, he delivered in a wondrously-acting way, he wondrously delivered

So we can "pack together" bara laasot and get something that, crudely, translates into English as "made in a creating manner," "made in creation," "made as he created."

I'm sure some of those translations could be tweaked, but I think it does a decent job of introducing the phenomenon of this odd grammatical construction as a real thing in biblical Hebrew. I couldn't think of examples before, but those should be a good start. Alephb (talk) 06:35, 11 August 2017 (UTC)

Ok, but all of these constructions are natural, and sound great to my ear, and "Bara la'asot" sound totally different from all of them and terribly, terribly wrong. I can't explain it yet, because it's not from study, just from knowing the grammar instinctively. I'll give it a shot after I work out parts of speech.RonMaimon (talk) 09:20, 11 August 2017 (UTC)
Ok, I can try to explain it now (it really sounds like crap). In your examples, "Hitchil la'azor" "hechelu la'asot", I think that in all of these the first verb is acting as an auxiliary verb. Analogous in english is "He kept going" or "He was sleeping" where kept and was are auxiliary. Hebrew has a much wider range of verbs that can do that, lots of verbs can be auxiliary, but you can't say "He slept going" or "He banged sleeping", unless your meaning that he was sleeping while he was going, or he was banging the abstract verb sleeping.
With "Bara elohim la'asot", the only natural interpretation is "God created so as to make". But this is exactly the type of construction which you criticized me as being too modern when I used it in "Yihieh hamachaneh leplita", which I interpreted as "The camp will be for me to flee (to)", and you intepreted as "The camp will be for me, it will be fleeing". As you I believe correctly pointed out there, the natural interpretation is the second. But in the second the "Bara elohim la'asot" becomes "God created, it will be making" which makes no sense.
Also the "Asher" interacts with this grammatical analysis in a way I don't understand. Bear with me, I don't know Hebrew grammar in any formal way, and my analysis might be totally wrong. But I know it's weird.RonMaimon (talk) 09:40, 11 August 2017 (UTC)
Actually, "Asher Bara Elohim le'asiyah" would be the analog of the machane leplita, and that sounds perfect to my ears, and it would mean "Which God created for the making". But it's different (by the way, "Vaihieh hamachaneh liphlot" would be EXACTLY as wrong in the same exact way as Barah Elohim La'asot). I can't understand Bara Elohim La'asot except God created (so as) to make, and the point is to find (past-tense) X (infinitive) where it means X (past-tense) so as to (infinitive).RonMaimon (talk) 09:51, 11 August 2017 (UTC)
The modern criminal justice systems relies on a paid group of professional police officers. Out of all the people, a certain number are definitely police officers and the rest definitely aren't. There's a clear defining line. In the olden days there were posses -- ordinary people were suddenly drafted into police status for temporary use as auxiliaries. The question, I think, is whether the auxiliary verb system in biblical Hebrew is reliant entirely on a permanent and well-defined staff of professional verbs, or whether random verbs can sometimes be drafted into use as auxiliaries when the need arises. If I had to guess, I'd say that the Hebrew verbal system is flexible enough to use a posse system now and then, and that in this case, the speaker just wanted to get both the creating verb and the making verb together into the sentence that sums up the whole creation sequence. If it turns out that all those other verbs are more or less professional auxiliaries and biblical Hebrew is not like the wild west, then we do have a weird situation on our hands. I mean, it's weird either way, but I think you find it to be weirder than I do. Alephb (talk) 21:19, 11 August 2017 (UTC)
Look, I know it's flexible. It's a problem because I can't justify myself in formal terms very well. It sounds totally wrong, except in the one meaning "Which God created (so as) to make", which is ok in modern Hebrew, but it's a sort of short form in English and Hebrew both, it should be "Which God created so as to make" in English, and "Asher bara elohim be'ad la-asot" in Hebrew. That's why I don't like this interpretation. And this construction without the "be'ad" (or something equivalent, like "bichdei") is unique so far. I don't think it is ancient Hebrew. I'll look out for it. But none of your examples are similar at all. Your examples are so natural, and this one so weird, that I don't think you analyzed it completely correctly yet.RonMaimon (talk)

(deindent) I deluded myself into making this natural, by ignoring that this is an infinitive, and splitting off the "le" in "le'asot" and interpreting it as "le 'asot" for making, where "making" is an archaic form (it could be). I'm trying it out. I know that this is the standard interpretation, but I'm still 50/50 on whether it's grammatical in ancient Hebrew. Be aware that nearly all previous translators simply assumed there are no grammar mistakes in the text. The mistakes are sometimes deliberate, as Moses speaks ungrammatical broken Hebrew, perhaps a decision by the author to reflect his Egyptian speaking upbringing.RonMaimon (talk) 10:09, 16 August 2017 (UTC)

None of the commentaries or resources that I consult on any regular basis (except for Rashi) make the assumption that there are no grammatical mistakes in the text. Most of the major translations are built with an understanding that there are some grammatical mistakes in the Masoretic text, but then they always emend the text to get something workable, and so the result is a smoothly polished English text. But whether there's a grammmatical error or irregularity of some kind here, I think the gist has to be that the (singular) God is the one doing the creating and making, even if we translate the terms "create" and "make" as having some kind of dysfunctional relationship with each other. So I approve of how you recently got rid of the "whereupon God[s] created to make" or whatever the wording was before. Alephb (talk) 13:33, 16 August 2017 (UTC)
That was a literal placeholder until I figure it out, not a serious proposal for meaning.RonMaimon (talk) 07:21, 18 August 2017 (UTC)

וְאַל-יִחַר בְּעֵינֵיכֶם[edit]

The usage of yichar in this passage, where it definitely means "regret", shows you that when it's "yichar" without the "in the nose", it's not fury, but just general bad-vibe-ness. This is significant for the Yichar back in the Kain section, where I was arguing for "crestfallen" and "upset", while you had "fury". I think the yichar-apo (snarling fury) is contaminating the general yichar (upset), yichar apo is I guess sort of like "I've had it up to my neck with you", while yichar is more like "I'm feeling shitty". I think it's this root that gave rise to "shit" (Charah) in modern Hebrew (NOT SUGGESTING SHITTY AS TRANSLATION! Just context.).RonMaimon (talk) 08:55, 12 August 2017 (UTC)

Wait a minute. Are we talking about Genesis 31:35 here? Alephb (talk) 09:34, 12 August 2017 (UTC)
Gen 45:5 when Joseph is telling them not to regret sending him down. That's where I reached in the review, I'll be done with the book by tommorrow.RonMaimon (talk)
Also check out chapter 49, where Simeon and Levi are criticized for their murder in anger, the word for anger there is "apam", no "yichar". So "apam" is really the main anger element, the yichar plays a supporting role, meaning the darkening mood.
For what it's worth, I imagined that the nose is flared and pulled back, exposing the teeth, like a snarling dog. This makes the imagery makes sense, and my translation for "yichar apo" is "snarl" "snarl his lip" or "snarl in fury" or "snarl in anger". I think that works, let me know if you agree.RonMaimon (talk) 20:54, 12 August 2017 (UTC)
Hmm. First off, let me concede that ch-r-h can refer to a range of emotional states from "furious" and "angry" to "upset." If we can't do "angry" for Cain, I would much prefer "upset" to "crestfallen." Here's how I try to reconstruct the etymology of the phrase.
I start with the verb ch-r-r, which means to burn either in a physical sense or to burn in anger. For various technical reasons I won't bore you with, ch-r-r is exactly the kind of root that would be somewhat unstable, making it entirely likely that it could be the parent of a ch-r-h root, where the duplication of r's disappears and is replaced by an unpronounced he, which is for practical purposes almost not a letter at all here. Or maybe the history goes in the other direction, and ch-r-h is an archaic verb that only appears in the specialized emotional sense, while ch-r-r is its later derivative. Either way, we find a verb ch-r-h which usually refers to anger. At least explicitly, the meaning of physical heat doesn't appear with the ch-r-h root like it does with the ch-r-r, but I think the old meaning of heat is implicit in the most common phrase where it appears -- yichar ap.
Ap is also interesting. Physically speaking, it basically means nose, but there are some cognates, including Akkadian appu, which suggest that it might have once meant "face" or been used where another language would use "face" at least in some times and contexts. So I would suggest that the old literal meaning of the phrase ch-r-h ap would be for the face to get hot, like when you're furious or hot and bothered about something. I'm not saying a biblical writer would have visually pictured that imagery, but I would guess that's what's going on in the deeper history of the phrase.
Can you give examples of "Charar" for burn? I only saw "Soref", the usual modern Hebrew (in the prostitute burning chapter with Judah and Tamar, and in many sections of Leviticus). Charar means nothing to me. I want to learn it.RonMaimon (talk) 11:53, 13 August 2017 (UTC)

I think I could live with "upset" for yichar by itself wherever you feel that's appropriate.Alephb (talk) 01:33, 13 August 2017 (UTC)

It's for future reference regarding "yicar" and "aph", the current wording sounds perfect to me, and has "fuming" for yichar without the aph, and fury for with, except in God's response to Kain, which it is crestfallen, to reflect the change in countenance and to moderate the fuming a little.RonMaimon (talk) 10:29, 13 August 2017 (UTC)
For charar in a physical sense, Job 30:30; Psalm 69:3, 102:3; Proverbs 26:21; Isaiah 24:6 (?); Jeremiah 6:29; Ezekiel 15:4-5, 24:10-11. In a psychological sense or in a passage that seems like it might be using the physical sense as a metaphor for a psychological sense: Psalm 69:3, Proverbs 102:3, Song 1:6. Alephb (talk) 13:37, 13 August 2017 (UTC)
Re:Charar for burning, "Charav" is make into ruins, destroy completely, so perhaps Charar has a "conflagration" meaning? It has to have a different translation than Soref. But regarding the Yichar, I agree, it's probably burning with anger more than snarling, although the only thing an angry nose can do is snarl.RonMaimon (talk) 07:40, 16 August 2017 (UTC)
In English, the only thing an angry "nose" can do is snarl. But an "af", possibly because it once meant face, or possibly just because its sense of anger moves away from its literal translation as "nose," can definitely burn. As I was working through Deuteronomy 32, I came across Deuteronomy 32:22, which says, כִּי־אֵשׁ קָדְחָה בְאַפִּי וַתִּיקַד עַד־שְׁאֹול תַּחְתִּית , for a fire is kindled in my af, and it will burn to the depths of hell. It will devour the earth and its produce, and engulf the foothills. I would consider this circumstantial evidence that yichar does not have to mean "snarl," and that "af" is perfectly capable of being paired with a word for burning. Alephb (talk) 22:42, 16 August 2017 (UTC)
Thank you! That's one of the top hard-to-translate idioms in the whole Bible. I will use "burning rage", "burning anger", and make sure the imagery is of smoke from the nostrils rather than snarling. I already fixed the Genesis ones, I'll do Lamentations and Psalms later.RonMaimon (talk) 07:19, 18 August 2017 (UTC)

Syllable tricks[edit]

The use of contractions is extremely important to preserve syllable parity. The author uses every Hebrew trick in the book, we should use all the English ones. One of the interesting ideas I toyed with on original translation but didn't have the balls to actually do until now is to rearrange traditional formulations: Sons of Israel -> Israel's sons Land of Canaan -> Canaan's land Land of the Hittites -> Hittites' land

etc. This looks like it only saves one syllable, but if it's "to the sons of Israel" it saves two: "to Israel's sons", and it makes a huge difference in readability flow. It actually makes the chunks as invisible in English as they are in Hebrew. To justify this, I'll point out that there are English places: Lapland, Finland, England, Switzerland, that are contractions of the form I use, and English proper names: Josephson, Robertson, Ericson, which are obvious contractions of the first. I hope the whole translation will use this convention, as this (plus normal contractions) really makes the atomic-bomb for the war with syllable parity. Use it, and that's the end of the war.RonMaimon (talk) 17:18, 12 August 2017 (UTC)

To be even more radical, if you use this convention, you can actually try to say "Het's sons" instead of "Hittites", I think the reader will internalize "Het's sons" into "Hetsons" and understand "Hittite" as both are two syllables.You can use "Israel's sons" instead of "Israelites", just as in Hebrew, as after multiple encounters, it just becomes "Israelsons" (like "The Jeffersons"). It's a proposal. "Sons of Israel" and "Sons of Het" is too bulky, but this is not. The problem is with "Het's daughters", as daughter has one too many syllables in English, but it doesn't occur often.RonMaimon (talk) 17:23, 12 August 2017 (UTC)

On rare occasions, you shouldn't use it, when the English is already too short or too informal for the context. But I think that goes without saying.RonMaimon (talk) 17:25, 12 August 2017 (UTC)

Finished Review[edit]

Ok, I went through the chapters you didn't fix, chapters 39-50 now the English is natural and everywhere the same, I fixed my glaring errors in chapters 49 and 50, and I think with one more run through by fresh eyes, with the minor changes like dotting the h's (perhaps dotting other letters too), this can be proposed as a final draft. Let me know what you think. It was much more tedious the second time through.RonMaimon (talk) 20:52, 12 August 2017 (UTC)

I'll start working through, dotting the h's and taking notes as I go. If you want me to go over every point where I disagree, as you said above, I think you might be frustrated by the sheer number of places we'll find ourselves at odds, but I'll start drawing up a list and maybe drop them in installations. I can't discuss them all at once, though. I've only got so much bandwidth for this project, and I really do think at this stage that we would do best if we provisionally leave you in charge of some books and me in charge of some until some kind of draft exists all over and/or other people show up. I really do think we'll go round and round in circles and get nowhere on some things unless we have other people or some kind of tie-breaking system in place. For now -- I like the status quo, where I don't edit Genesis (for example) without getting agreement first and you don't edit Deuteronomy (for example) without getting agreement first. I think this could allow us to work together most productively. I'm thinking of replacing backticks for ayin with the symbol ʿ , if you're okay with that. Alephb (talk) 01:40, 13 August 2017 (UTC)
Please man, read the whole thing, start to finish, ignore the Hebrew, then compare to your version in the history, and write the disagreements down. I swear there will be no more than a dozen or two. I kept nearly all your substantive changes, because I misread (there were also other places I misread that you missed). Your crazy symbol for 'ayin looks ok and unobtrusive (it needs to be thin and nearly invisible, like the dot on the H's, so as not to repel readers familiar with the usual names). I hope it displays correctly for everyone. Also, I didn't mean to delegate grunt-work, I already read it once through today doing punctuation, format, and consistency, and dotting some h's.
If we don't agree on everything, it's going to end up like the New Testament here, inconsistent in tone. I don't see why we can't agree on everything, I don't see your version of things as so different.RonMaimon (talk) 09:47, 13 August 2017 (UTC)
All right. Fairly shortly I'll start a new thread which lists the places where I would recommend making a change, just for Genesis 1-11. I think you'll agree that, given how long it takes us to work through each individual issue, we simply aren't going to agree on each of the differences in a reasonable amount of time. And yes, I do think that means we'll have to live with inconsistency until such time as there is a third person here to cast a tie-breaking vote. Alephb (talk) 17:03, 13 August 2017 (UTC)
This isn't a democracy, it's not about voting. It's about being accurate. It doesn't take us long at all comparatively. I don't believe in democracy, I believe in discussing until everyone agrees, and if it takes a long time, it shouldn't. I think we sort through each issue in about 1 hour, and there can't be too many issues. The Hebrew is pretty obvious in meaning, we nearly always agree on Pshat.RonMaimon (talk) 21:28, 13 August 2017 (UTC)
Ideally, yes. Everyone agrees on everything. When that does not occur -- and I will be extremely surprised if we work out all disagreements -- a minority of editors should not try to impose their will on a majority. That's more or less the general operating procedure across Wikimedia articles. But you already know this. As you said, "Then, once it's finalized, we can outvote some nitwit who comes here with a religious axe to grind, and the moderators will be on our side." Alephb (talk) 21:42, 13 August 2017 (UTC)
No "ideally". So far, I can't imagine that we could be stuck on an issue irreconcilably, it hasn't happened yet, and I think it can't reasonably happen, because in those cases where I can't persuade you, then I start to think that I must be wrong, because I know you're reasonable.
The issue is when a religious authority comes here, a reverand, a rabbi, and seeks to impose doctrine. Such people cannot be swayed by arguments about Hebrew grammar and usage examples, they will stick to their interpretation no matter what. This means the translation drifts to more and more inaccurate or verbose language.
Regarding "Democracy" on Wikimedia, it's NOT Democracy! It's "whoever happens to be there ocracy", which is completely different, and you should know that. Two people who agree have VASTLY more power than one, because they can outvote anyone who comes in! I know from experience. The person then gets discouraged and leaves, and since there is never a coordinated attack of multiple people coming in simultaneously, it never changes. Further, the people who stay are people who like what's already there, so you get a stable strong community by nature, determined by the first contributors.
The point is that each location has it's own spontaneously generate authority structure, which is composed of whoever feels comfortable contributing. This is established early, and in this case, it's you and me (and that's it). The ease of stacking votes on sites like this means it's dangerous to hold formal votes on disagreements. I am an honest person, but it is easy to get as large a number of voters as necessary to force an issue one way or another, and such politics destroys Wikipedia articles and sites.
So I suggest that no matter how difficult, that we iron out ALL our difficulties. I am reasonable, and I know for sure that you are too. If we can't come to 100% agreement, there's something very wrong. We must, I think, for the translation to succeed. So far, we are converging on every point I see. We'll see what happens next.RonMaimon (talk) 23:08, 13 August 2017 (UTC)

Some Lines I Found Confusing[edit]

I'm new to this project and wanted to point out some lines that initially confused me when I read them. This is mostly because they involved unusual grammatical constructions, although these might also be present in the Hebrew original. My complaints begin in Chapter 11 where Abram is introduced.

1. Ch. 11, Line 31. "And they went until Haran, and settled there." This is confusing because Haran is introduced earlier in this chapter as a person, and now we have a mention of a place called Haran.

2. Ch. 12, Line 5. "And Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his nephew, and all the property which they had purchased and the souls they had gotten in Haran". The phrase "and the souls they had gotten in Haran" sounds weird and kind of poetic in English; I guess it's talking about servants? Does it sound the same in Hebrew?

3. Ch. 14, Lines 22 and 23. "And Abram said to the king of Sodom, "I have raised my hand to Yahweh, Highest God, creator of sky and land, 23 not even a thread or a shoelace." The phrase "not even a thread or a shoelace" at the end is confusing.

4. Ch. 17, Line 3. "And Abram fell on his face". Does he literally fall down on his face? (Compare this with Line 17, where we have "And Abraham fell face down".) The way it's phrased in Line 3 sort of suggests his face falling in a show of disappointment, which doesn't fit the context very well.

5. Ch. 17, Line 4. "I... Here's my pact with you: you would be the father to a lot of peoples." Yahweh speaks in a strangely colloquial-sounding manner here, especially with the hesitant-sounding "I..." at the beginning.

6. Ch. 18, Line 2. "And he lifted his gaze and he sees". Is the change of tense in the original?

7. Ch. 18, Line 5. " I will get a loaf of bread, and eat to your heart's content." Something like, "I will get a loaf of bread, and you can eat to your heart's content," sounds more natural in English.

8. Ch. 18, Line 10. "And said, "Turn, return to you I will in one gestation time, and here: a son from your wife Sarah." And Sarah hears at the tent's opening, just behind." There's a sudden change to present tense in "Sarah hears", and also there's the Yoda-ish, "Turn, return to you I will in one gestation time."

9. Ch. 23, Line 13. "If only you — please hear me — I'm giving you the money for the field." It's weird how it starts with a sentence fragment.

10. Ch. 24, Line 6? 7? The lines between Line 5 and Line 8 aren't labelled here for some reason. Here Abraham says, "Yahweh, the god of the skies, who took me from the house of my father, and from the land of my birth, and who spoke to me, who swore to me, saying, 'To your offspring I will give this land.' He will send his angel before you". I think this reads slightly better if it's just one sentence with a comma before the "He". This gets rid of the sentence fragment.

11. Ch. 24, Line 30. "When he saw the the nose-ring and the bracelet's on his sister's hands, and when he heard the things his sister Rebecca was saying, "So the man said to me", he came to the man. And there he was: standing by the camels at the well." It confused me how we have the quotation from Rebecca in the middle of the sentence.

I'm not sure how much of this sounds weird in Hebrew, but I hope what I've pointed out helps the translators. 04:52, 14 August 2017 (UTC)

Hello, new contributor! Great to have you with us. In order to keep everything straight, we have a habit here of signing our posts with four tildes. A tilde is this symbol ( ~ ). So if you type ~ four times in a row at the end of your post, like so, ~~~~ , it will sign the post for you, so that we can keep track of who is doing what. We can always use more people to help us see where things might be awkward or confusing -- this is a work in progress.
11:31. Me and another editor were just talking recently about how to solve this problem. In the Hebrew, there's two different Harans. Haran the person starts with a letter that is like the English H. Haran the place starts with a letter that is like a harsh throat sound. So they're two totally different names in Hebrew, but in English they look the same. Me and the other editor have agreed to use a little dot to help distinguish the H's. It also might be a good idea to have a footnote explaining the situation so that other readers don't get confused. I'll give some attention to the other cases you brought up in a bit. Alephb (talk) 19:37, 13 August 2017 (UTC)
Thanks! Your comments have been addressed, they were all spot on! Please sign your posts, though, you can do it when anonymous.RonMaimon (talk) 21:22, 13 August 2017 (UTC)
Hey AlephB, I went through all of them and changed them as little as possible to address the defect. We'll see if it works for IP.RonMaimon (talk) 21:25, 13 August 2017 (UTC)

More Lines IP Found Confusing[edit]

Glad you liked my comments. Sorry for not signing the earlier comment; I've edited it now. Here are some other awkward things I've noticed in reading the later chapters.
12. Ch. 26, Line 28. "Seeing as we've seen" would possibly sound better if it were "Given that we've seen" or something like that. The repeated "see" sticks out otherwise.
13. Ch. 26, Line 28 again. "If you will do us wrong when we have not touched you, and have done you only good, and we're sending you away in peace." This sounds awkward because of the "and we're sending you away in peace". Does it sound that way in Hebrew as well?
14. Ch. 26, Line 32. Why is there a superscript "f" after "Seven"?
15. Ch. 29, Line 31. "Leah conceived and bore a son, and named him Reuben(see-son), because she said, "Because Yahweh has seen(ra-a) my suffering. But now my husband will love me."" The repetition of "because" is slightly jarring here.
16. Ch. 30, Line 20. "And Leah said, "God has endowed me with a good dowry.[182] This time my husband will yizbel me, because I have borne him six sons." So she called his name Zebulun." What does "yizbel" mean? Also, "called his name Zebulun" sounds slightly awkward.
17. Ch. 30, Line 35. "So on that day he removed the striped and multicolored male goats, and the dotted and splotched female goats, all that were partly white, and all the brown sheep, and handed to his sons." I think "handed them to his sons" would sound better.
That's all for now. 04:52, 14 August 2017 (UTC)

(deindent) Wow! Thanks again. Your uber-great comments have been addressed (you're the best, man). The superscript f has been extended it to "fem", perhaps now it's obvious. If not, I can explain, but lets see if you get it now without explanation. Also the meaning "oath" is incorrect for this precise form of the "Shiv'ah", it's a little off, and perhaps this should be indicated by a superscript "app" for "approximate", not sure, because that would then appear in a lot of places and might ruin readability.

The "yizebl" has now become "will zabel me" with italics to indicate that this is a verb that has been lost and can't be reconstructed, so is left without translation. If I had to guess based on roots and modern Hebrew, I would guess "trash", like "my husband will throw me out as trash", but it makes no sense at all in context. If I had to guess using all-book context, I would guess it's something to do with the sea or baths, because Zebulun is later associated with boats, so if it's like "Yissachar" (wage-man), it's going to be something like "bathe me". If I had to guess based on root-knowledge constrained by context, I would guess "Zbl" is a variant of "Zbch", which is an offering, like an offering to God, because third letters change for related roots, so it might be "offer me gifts". But I don't feel comfortable making a translation on such flimsy speculation. I removed the because repetition, but "ki" (Heb: because) repeats three times there, but it should be a one-syllable repetition, perhaps "for" would work repeated three times.

"Called his name" is a fossil of a previous more literal translation, the phrase has been translated to "named" everywhere else, and now it is here too.RonMaimon (talk) 09:09, 14 August 2017 (UTC)

@RonMaimon -- I agree that the verb can't be reconstructed with certainty because there are no other instances of the verb in the Bible. But, a word zebul does show up. It looks like a poetic word, and it appears in 1 Kings 8:13, 2 Chronicles 6:2, Psalm 49:14, Isaiah 63:15, Habakkuk 3:11. The first two instances are copies of the same passage -- Solomon declares that he has built a Beit Zebul for Yahweh to live in forever. Psalm 49:15 says the wicked will be cast down from their zebul to the grave. Isaiah 63:15 has God looking down from the sky, which is the zebul of his holiness and glory. Habakkuk 3:11, in a poetic or mythological passage, has the sun and moon stand still in their zebul. So . . . if we tie it all together, all the passages see to have to do with a dwelling-place that is high up. Because of the phrase "beit zebul", we might guess that the "high up", "lofty", "exalted" part is the root meaning. Then maybe Leah is hoping that her husband will "exalt" or "praise" her, depending on how much poetic/formal sound we're thinking there might be here.
On the other hand, all the references also have to do with a place someone or something lives. So then maybe there's a root notion of "dwelling." Then maybe Leah is hoping that Jacob will "live with her" or "dwell with her," (instead of Rachel).
My guess would be to go with the "lofty" interpretation in the text, then footnote the "dwelling" interpretation and make it clear in the footnote that the whole question is definitely unsettled. Alephb (talk) 19:48, 14 August 2017 (UTC)
Wow, wow wow! I think we CAN do it then. I am tentatively trying the word "endowment", which fits dowry too, and every instance pretty well, including God's endowment of Heaven. That's from root, and holistic interpretation of the verses in context, but I am not so good with the later stuff (although I did Habakkuk and didn't notice the Zevel there).RonMaimon (talk) 18:36, 15 August 2017 (UTC)

Format Suggestion[edit]

I'm wondering if it might be a good idea to take the bits where we add explanatory material and convert them from parentheses to brackets. So, for example, instead of "And he called the place Beth-el (God house)" read ". . . Beth-el [God house]." This could potentially open up parenthesis for a more regular use when it seems warranted, and it would make clear where the translators are inserting explanations. I would be willing to make the change all the way across the board, since I'm the one asking for it.

Also, I haven't done anything with the ayins yet, but I have an alternate possible idea. This one is a little weird, but it might hit the right balance of visibility with staying out of the way. Let me know what you think.

ˤAbda, Abi-ˤalbon, Naˤamah, Joshuaˤ.

It has just a little more heft than the previous ayin symbol I suggested, but I think it still mostly stays out of the way of the English letters. Alephb (talk) 20:17, 14 August 2017 (UTC)

Your Ayin looks great to me, but it must display for everyone, including those without fancy character-set fonts (I don't know if it does, it looks great on my browser).
I don't like the use of parentheses at all anywhere in Biblical texts, except for the purpose here of revealing the Hebrew behind the English, or the English meaning lurking in otherwise opaque Hebrew. Parentheses create an ultra-modern level-separation style that the authors just didn't have a device for. You can use em-dash bracketing to separate out parentheticals. Parentheses are a device for matching far-away pairs to each other, especially when they're nesting pairs, and the Bible nowhere requires you to explicitly match distant "start/end" pairs to each other to read it, so I think you should use a non-pairing separator. Square brackets are traditionally used for interpolations, of which there are zero left in Genesis now, but in other books there might be. For example "And Yahweh took [it] to the sons of Israel." There used to be some here. Please, I think this is the right convention, parens for letting Hebrew peek out (or meaning peek out where normally it's opaque names or places), and square-brackets for interpolation, and the main text without pairing punctuation at all.RonMaimon (talk) 10:34, 15 August 2017 (UTC)
I think I know why you are suggesting this--- the paren asides look like they are part of the text. I think that can be fixed simply by making them a different text style, italic or red-colored, or something else that makes them look more different than the main text. I'll start with italic, and see if it looks ok to you.RonMaimon (talk) 10:58, 15 August 2017 (UTC)
Also, if the parens are always Hebrew (except for obvious places) then it will make the style consistent. I am switching the places of first-occurence, English in the main text, Hebrew in (italicized parens).RonMaimon (talk) 11:19, 15 August 2017 (UTC)
The ayin I suggested is, I think, part of unicode. I tell you what. I'll stick it in throughout, and then if anyone complains that they can't see it I'll take upon myself the whole job of replacing the ayins myself. I don't know if I've read a single biblical translation yet that indicates all the ayins, and while it might not add a ton of value for most people, at least I don't think it subtracts anything. If I happen to be away from the project for a bit and anyone complains, just post a comment about it on my talk page, and Wikisource will send me an email, and I'll pop in to start changing them pack. You can find a list of fonts that support this weird character here, so I think that really should cover the great majority of users. I'm guessing italics should do fine. As I've translated, I've been using brackets for interpolations, but for some times of absolutely routine interpolations I haven't indicated them at all. So if the Hebrew says literally, "You will go back Egypt," I just tend to put, "You will go back to Egypt" without indicating that the Hebrew didn't strictly speaking use a "to" because it's so obvious and routine. I think italicization will include just enough "foreign" feeling that people will realize we're giving a linguistic alternate form in those cases. I can live with that. I'd really prefer we don't do red type unless we really have to though. I like the italic idea. Alephb (talk) 18:30, 15 August 2017 (UTC)
Ok, italics it is, it's done and changed everywhere. I also added some whimsical meanings of the names (they're real, but unlike the etymologies, usually irrelevant to the story). If you get mad at these, just delete the more outrageous ones, not all of them, because they're all accurate.
Regarding UniCode, everything is part of it, but if you don't have a Chinese character set font installed, the Chinese will display like a question-mark in a box. Generally speaking, if you use something from the first 65,536 code places, it displays everywhere. I just wanted to check that this was true of your Ayin.
If we adopt a dotted Z convention for Tsadik, it would greatly reduce the number of times I have to indicate a Hebrew name is different from the English version. Just an idea. If you accept it, please place a dotted upper/lowercase Z so I can cut/paste.RonMaimon (talk) 18:40, 15 August 2017 (UTC)
Ẓ ẓ. Ṣ ṣ. Here's what I'm thinking -- let me know if this complicates things too much. Where the traditional English name has an S for tzadi, we could use a dotted s, and where the traditional English name has a Z for tzadi, we could use a dotted z. When it comes to name etymologies, I kind of divide names into two groups. In most stories, my default assumption unless I have reason to believe otherwise is that the name either has a Hebrew etymology or, close enough, an etymology in something very much like Hebrew (Canaanite, Moabite, whatever). But when a name appears in the Table of Nations, because so many of those names are foreign names, my default assumption, except for special cases like Japheth, is that there is no Hebrew etymology, and that any Hebrew etymology probably reflects an unconscious forcing of a Hebrew meaning onto a foreign word. Heck, it might even in cases like Japheth. Japheth could be some foreign regional term that Hebrew later attaches an artificial etymology to. Alephb (talk) 19:02, 15 August 2017 (UTC)
Oh, I agree! These aren't etymology claims, they're just what the Hebrew reader sees inside the name. The goal is to make reading the text the same as for a Hebrew reader.
I'm reminded of the German Expressionist film classic "Metropolis", which had a female character named "Helen", whose name was "Hel". In German, you don't notice anything, the word for "Hell" is "Hoell" which is pronounced and spelled distantly. But in the English version, considering her robotic doppleganger, people in the audience started laughing.
The meaningfulness of the names is interesting, although for most it's obviously accidental. For "Enosh", it isn't. His name is used for humanity, "Enoshuth", "Bnei-Enosh", like Adam. For names like "'Er" and "Onan", which basically mean "Horny" and "Masturbator", the name indicates their sin approximately. more or less, in a sort of Gestalt way, as you put it.RonMaimon (talk) 20:21, 15 August 2017 (UTC)
So . . . we good for S/Z then? Alephb (talk) 21:56, 15 August 2017 (UTC)
So . . . I tried putting an ayin in Jacob, and it just looked terrible. I'm thinking maybe it would be better to leave them out of the most common names. Jaˤcob is a bit of a problem, I think. Joshuaˤ, though, I could totally see being okay. Let me know if you have a different impression. Alephb (talk) 22:17, 15 August 2017 (UTC)
Only use it for first occurrence, and only in Hebrew, where you have backtick now. I'm doing the dotted s/z now.RonMaimon (talk) 23:27, 15 August 2017 (UTC)

(deindent). Just to clarify -- I've been putting a bunch of dots on H's. That is something we're putting everywhere, right? Are we putting the s/z everywhere too? Alephb (talk) 23:34, 15 August 2017 (UTC)

Or maybe you're saying that for a common name like Jacob, we should add an occurrence of ayin only on the first time the name is used in Genesis, but that for an obscure name like Naamah or Abi-albon we should just use it anywhere? Alephb (talk) 23:37, 15 August 2017 (UTC)

I'm doing dots everywhere, it's never intrusive. Ayin only if it's not intrusive. Remember that these dots and ayins destroy the ability to do automatic search. You can put it everywhere if the name is close to Hebrew. But "Jacob" and "Ya'akov" are nothing alike (y->j dropped ayin, v->b, a'a concatinated to one sound, AND elongated) the two names are as far as you get, so it makes no sense to put the Ayin. Use your judgement, no in Jacob, ok, in Bela' or Bera'.RonMaimon (talk) 23:51, 15 August 2017 (UTC)

Lines IP Found Confusing Cont'd (Chapter 30 to Chapter 40)[edit]

Here's my next batch of comments. First, a general comment: I notice that while you usually introduce a quotation with a comma (e.g., And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, "We came to your brother Esau, and now he is coming toward you, and four hundred men with him.") there are other places where you introduce it with a colon (e.g., And Jacob said when he saw them: "This is God's encampment", and he named that place Mahanaim(two-camps).) Is there a reason for this? If there is, I apologize, since I think I changed some of the colons to commas yesterday in the story of Abraham. I didn't change any of the colons before block quotes.

The reason? I flip,flopped on the convention, and I think so did alephb. Thanks for making it consistent (and keeping the block-quote colons)! --- RM

18. Ch. 32, Verse 30. "And Jacob asked, and said, "Please tell me your name."" The "asked and said" sounds slightly awkward in English but may be hard to avoid.

The way to avoid this awkwardness is "And Jacob asked, saying ..." It's a common motif. --- RM

19. Ch. 32, Verse 32. "The sun rose as he passed through Penuel, and he is limping because of his thigh." There's a sudden change of tense.

I'll fix it. Biblical Hebrew as a language does a lot of tense shifting like this, to move you into the action, I think this is called "aspect" by linguists, I don't know, not an expert on this, and I tried very hard to preserve this property in the first translation, and it failed. So now we use standard consistent English tense conventions for narration. --- RM

20. Ch. 33, Verses 10 and 11. "And Jacob said, "No, please, if I am all right by you, then take my present from my hands, because this is why I saw your face as if I'm seeing the face of God. You accept me. And please take my blessing, which you deserve, because god had mercy on me, and because I have all." And he insisted, so he accepted." Why is God capitalized the first time but not the second?

Typo! --- RM

21. Ch. 35, Verses 1-3. There's a similar thing going on with God vs. god. The quote is: "And God said to Jacob, "Get up and go to Bethel(God's house), and stay there, and make an altar to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau."

And Jacob told his household, and all with him, "Remove the foreign gods, which are amongst you, and purify yourself, and change your clothes. Let us get up and go up to Bethel, where I will make an altar to the god who answered me on the day of my trouble and was with me as I went on my journey.""

Typo! --- RM

22. Ch. 36, Verse 11. "The Eliphaz's sons were Teman, Omar, Zepho, Gatam, and Kenaz." Is this supposed to be "Eliphaz's sons"?

Yes. --- RM

23. Ch. 36, Verse 13. "These are Reuel's sons: Nahath and Zerah, Shammah and Mizzah. There were Esau's wife Basemath's sons." The "There were" sounds awkward because the mind expects "They were".

Typo. --- RM

24. Ch. 36, Verse 15. "These are the chiefs among Esau's sons, the Esau's firstborn Eliphaz's sons" Here we have this "the[...]Eliphaz" construction again.

Plowed over many times to reduce syllables. It used to by "the sons of Eliphas, the firstborn son of Esau", like King James. --- RM

25. Ch. 36, Verse 18. " These are Esau's wife Oholibamah's sons: Jeush chief, Jalam chief, Korah chief. These were Esau's wife Oholibamah, the daughter of Anah." This sounds weird in English.

needs to be "Esau's wife, Anah's daughter, Oholibamah's." (although she's Anah's granddaughter, and you didn't notice that! I thought that would be worse.)

26. Ch. 36, Verse 25. "These are Anah's sons: Dishon, and Oholibamah Anah's daughter." It sounds awkward having "sons" be plural and then only listing one son.

The Hebrew does that. It sounds weird in Hebrew too. It's interpreted by me that Oholibamah, as a chief, is so notable, she's an honorary son. She's like the buried feminist in there. --- RM

27. Ch. 36, Verse 28. "These are the Dishan's sons: Uz and Aran." Here we have "the Dishan".

Oh that. "The Dishan" used that as a rap name, like "the RZA." But, since it superficially looks like a typo if you don't groove to The Dishan's epic flow, I think we'd better get rid of it. --- RM

28. Ch. 36, Verse 40. "And these are Esau's chief's names, by their families, by their places, by their names". The repeated word "names" sounds redundant.

That can be fixed by "And these are the names of Esau's chiefs: by their families, by their places, by their names." Still repeats, I think now not weirdly. --- RM

29. I didn't notice until this chapter that Esau's nickname, Edom, is also the name of a place. I only figured this out after getting to the last line of Ch. 36 where it says, "He's Esau, Edom's ancestor," and it took me a minute. Is there any way of clarifying this?

It's the name of a peoples, and by extension where they live, which is "Mount Seir, or Mt. Hairy". That's why Esau is red and hairy, because "Edom" sounds like "Adom(red)" and "Seir" means "Hairy". I'll put a slash-Edomites somewhere to make it clear.--- RM

30. Ch. 37, Verse 2. "2 And these are Jacob's lineages:[11] Joseph, seventeen years old, was a shepherd along with his brothers, and he's a teenager along with the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father's wives; and Joseph came with a bad report about them to their father." Here we have a sudden tense change.

Man, I guess you're never going to accept Hebrew aspect as natural :( --- RM

31. Ch. 37, Verse 9. "And he dreamed another dream, and told it to his brothers: and said: "Here, I dreamed another dream, and now, the sun and the moon, and eleven stars bow down to me."" I just think it looks kind of bad to have two colons in a row.

So the first shall be a comma, as it is said: "and thou shalt not put two colons in a row, for they are an abomination. Do not abominate yourselves in colons, and keep colon away from colon, lest you become an abomination, and the text will vomit you up, as it has vomited the previous translators." --- RM

32. Ch. 37, Verse 13. "And Israel said to Joseph, "since your brothers are sheep herding in Shechem — you go, I'll send you to them." and he told him, "Here I am."" There's a typo here, in that either the "and he told him" should be capitalized (in which case it sounds like we've gone from Israel speaking to Joseph speaking) or the "them." should have a comma instead (in which case it sounds like Israel has said everything).

It's clear in Hebrew that Joseph said "Here I am." And Israel had to repeat himself, probably because he's a bratty teenager. --- RM

33. Ch. 37, Verse 15. "And a man found him, and here he's in the wrong field." Tense change.

Aaargh!! Aspect. --- RM

34. Ch. 38, Verse 21. "And he asked the men of the place, asking, "Where is she? the whore at Enaim, on the path?"" The repetition of "ask" stood out.

I'll replace the comma after "place" with a period, it should be ok then. --- RM

35. Ch. 38, Verse 24. "And it was three months later that it was told to Judah: "Your daughter-in-law Tamar whored around, and also conceived, through her whoring. And Judah said, take her out and burn her."" Is the "And Judah said" meant to be outside the quotes here?

Yes. --- RM

36. Ch. 38, Verse 26. "And Judah recognized then". Sounds off because you expect "And Judah recognized them".

Wait til Chapter 49! But this is just a typo. --- RM

37. Ch. 40, Verse 6. "And Joseph came to them in the morning, and saw them, and they are both downcast." Again a tense change. I've gotten used to these myself, but I'm just pointing them out as potentially jarring.

Oh man, if you've gotten used to the aspect, don't point it out! Point out the usage you never get used to because it keeps sounding crappy even after you get used to it. --- RM

38. Ch. 40, Verse 11. "And Pharaoh's cup is in my hands, so I take the grapes and drain them into the Pharaoh's cup, and I put the cup in Pharaoh's palm." We have "Pharaoh" but also "the Pharaoh" here.

It's not in the original, fossil of when it was "the Pharaoh" everywhere. --- RM

39. Ch. 40, Verse 17. "And in the top basket is all Pharaoh's food which is baked. And the birds eat them from the basket over my head." Using "them" for "food" is weird.

Oops! Hey, it's not weird in Hebrew! --- RM

Just 10 chapters left. 02:51, 15 August 2017 (UTC)

Again, thanks a lot, and this thing I did, of commenting under individual comments, is a total no-no, but I did it here to remind myself as I'm patching up, since I don't think any of these will lead to a long discussion, except perhaps the tense-aspect business, which I'll start below (I tried to start it in Exodus, but my unfamiliarity with the jargon ended the discussion before it started).RonMaimon (talk) 10:25, 15 August 2017 (UTC)
Thanks again, IP. Alephb (talk) 19:03, 15 August 2017 (UTC)


The word Rephaim in mod. Heb. means poltergeist, but I can accept it meant giants back then, but it looks like a people settled in the ancient area. Is there a reason to think these are mythological? I changed it to Spirit Giants in the Abraham story to add to the drama, and emhasize the mythological nature of the battle. The fiction nature of the story is emphasized by Sodom and Gommorah's kings, whose names are "Dr. Evil" and "Dr. Wicked".RonMaimon (talk) 06:09, 16 August 2017 (UTC)

Well, here the biblical uses run parallel to Ugaritic and Phoenician uses. The term Rephaim seems to be used for both some class of dead ghosts of the ancient past, and some kind of very tall, very large mythological warriors. Though it might not be obvious at first glance, if you kind of squint at it it's possible to see the two as related. It looks like (at least approximately) a synonym for the term Nephilim, which also gets used for ancient warriors who are now in the netherworld who were very tall (Genesis 6, Numbers 13:33, Ezekiel 32:27 [emendation]). The Numbers passage, in particular equates Rephaim with Anakim, and then Deuteronomy 2:11 relates Anakim to Rephaim, Emims, and so on. Though the Hebrew Bible suppresses ancestor-worship, it looks like nearby cultures consulted consulted the Rephaim for some kind of religious purposes, perhaps for healing. So, for the "giants" interpretation, there's a number of verses pointing in this direction.
First, the Anakim are always found in the time of David or earlier. They disappear by the time we get to the more clearly historical parts of the Bible, and even in the time of Moses they are treated like a group that is dying out -- so this is consistent with a mythological interpretation. Deuteronomy 3:11 says that Og king of Bashan was the last Rephaite, and that his bed was 13 1/2 feet long, but then there's other traditions that also have Rephaim showing up later. On the other hand, Joshua 17:15 assumes that a whole population of Rephaim were living in a forest still at the time of the conquest of Canaan after Moses, and the numbers passage sounds like the Canaanites in general were imagined to be giants. 2 Samuel has a rash of Philistines Rephaim showing up, and 2 Samuel 21:22 associates Rephaim with Gath, Goliath's home town, but by this time it seems pretty clear that the giants are considered individual oddities, not a large population. So I think we're on solid ground reading something like giants. This is also how the Septuagint translators read the term: gigantes.
But the dead spirit interpretation also has some validity. Isaiah 14:19 seems to equate the Rephaim with dead kings in the netherworld, just as Ugaritic literature does. Isaiah 26 uses the term similarly, as does Psalm 88:11, Proverbs 2:18, and a few other passages. There's even a possible mention in where Asa is sick and instead of consulting Yahweh he consults the rp'ym, which the Masoretes read and "Ropheim", healers, but which might be read as "Rephaim" if you put in different vowels. In magical terms, the logic would make sense. Dead spirits, if they are called by a name that sounds like healers, might be consulted for healing. Alephb (talk) 14:03, 16 August 2017 (UTC)
Next time you have a question like this one, there's a number of resources that could have answered your basic question more quickly than waiting for me to write up an essay that summarizes what the entire field of biblical studies has known for at least two hundred years. If you don't trust other people's opinions, what you really need would be a resource that does a good job of showing you a bunch of uses of the word Rephaim. Here's several different ways you could have gone about that.
(1) Wikipedia. Though you can't always trust everything on Wikipedia, typing "Rephaim" into its search bar would lead you to the (oddly named) article Rephaite. It contains a section on each of the two main meanings of the word, and, helpfully, each section contains a list long enough that you could use the references to verify the meanings for yourself. It also contains a little bit on cognate words in Phoenician and Ugaritic.
(2) Brown-Driver-Briggs. You could download a copy of the Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Lexicon, which deals only with biblical Hebrew. It was written in 1906, and doesn't always have every bit of information you could possibly want, but it is very good. You can find a copy here: [4]. The really useful thing about it is that it usually provides all the places where a word can be found in the Bible. It is organized by shoresh, so in this case you'd probably start with the root resh pe aleph. Then you'd find the word rephaim, and it would redirect you to the root resh pe he. Under resh pe he you would find both definitions of rephaim. A very important abbreviation in BDB is the dagger symbol ( † ) which indicates that every example of each meaning is cited. Then you could use that to derive a list of passages for "shades" or "ghosts": Job 26:5, Isaiah 14:9, 26:4, Psalm 88:11, Proverbs 2:18, 9:18, 21:16, Isaiah 26:19. If you got hung up on any of the abbreviations I could explain them. Under "old race of giants," you'd also find a complete listing: Genesis 15:20, Joshua 17:15, 1 Chronicles 20:4 (possibly), 2 Samuel 5:18,22, 23:13, 1 Chronicles 11:15, 14:9, Isaiah 17:5, Joshua 15:8, 18:16, Deuteronomy 2:11,20, Genesis 14:5, Dt 3:11, Joshua 12:4, 13:12, Dt 2:30 3:13. All sorts of extra information is included there.
I'm not saying that you need to routinely use these references -- wherever your native Hebrew works, fine -- but if you need to look something up, it's there. has a work in progress, including about five thousand biblical Hebrew words. For words it does include, it gives a complete list of examples. also gives you the ability to find a complete list of every time a Hebrew word appears.
Using any of these would allow you to look up some of the more basic things on your own. If you looked something up in these and still weren't satisfied, I'd be happy to throw in my two cents, but I think it would save us both time if you used at least one of these resources here and there with obscure words. BDB is especially useful because of the way it lays out all the words from the same root together. So in the case of Zebulun, you'd have been able to find the noun Zebul, which is identical to Zebulun except for the -un. It's also a very humble resource -- it doesn't just give you a guess disguised as a certainty like Gesenius does. So under the verb ZBL, it says "prob[ably] exalt, honour." For the noun, it gives four possible glosses, "elevation, height, lofty abode." Just like in the case with Rephaim, BDB gives every example of the phrase, along with brief explanations of how BDB reads the various shades of meaning. Alephb (talk) 16:39, 16 August 2017 (UTC)
I am not asking you to write an essay, just to say whether the translation to "Spirit Giants" is ok or not! I am not looking to get a PhD in Biblical studies (although what you write is extremely interesting), I just want to make sure the translation is biting, and has the same word-velocity as the Hebrew. That's it. I take it then that you like the Cadarlaomer chapter in its current incarnation.RonMaimon (talk) 23:42, 16 August 2017 (UTC)
I'll try to be more concise, then. My desire to cover all bases might be a throw-back to our earlier, less cooperative period. I haven't looked at the Kedorlaomer chapter lately, but "Spirit Giants" strikes me as mixing two meanings that probably shouldn't be mixed. When the writers speak of the legendary past, several generations before them, the Rephaim are just living legendary warriors. It's only later, in Isaiah and such, that the Rephaim are spirits in Sheol, because they've been long dead. That's how I see it. Alephb (talk) 03:34, 17 August 2017 (UTC)
I see. I'll try Repha Giants for Rephaim and Fallen Giants for Nephilim. Ok?RonMaimon (talk) 06:46, 17 August 2017 (UTC)
In Isiah, maybe "Repha Spirits" will work. I don't know if Nephilim should be Fallen, maybe it should be "Nephil Giants", or just Nephilim. I left it Nephilim.RonMaimon (talk) 08:15, 17 August 2017 (UTC)
I found the perfect term: "Titans", familiar from Greek Mythology, like Griffin, and exactly the same idea. Although whether to use it for Nephilim or Rephaim is beyond my pay-grade. Nefilim can be "Fallen-Titans" perhaps, but right now I have it as Nephilim.RonMaimon (talk) 13:17, 17 August 2017 (UTC)

I settled on this, I think it works:
Nephilim -- Fallen-Titans (caps)
Rephaim -- Titans (caps)
'anakim -- giants (no caps)
RonMaimon (talk) 20:59, 17 August 2017 (UTC)

God and god[edit]

I noticed that the issue of the capitalization of God came up, as it inevitably will on a translation like this. I want to outline the conventions I've been using, and see if anyone has a comment. My goal here is to render accurately what is going on in the Hebrew text without adding any additional theological dressing (either in a pro-religious or anti-religious direction). As it happens, the conventions I'm using basically match the conventions used in some theological/academic works by N. T. Wright, a former bishop in the Anglican Church, who is by no means anyone with an anti-religious axe to grind. For anyone looking in, I thought I might open with this quote from the preface to his book The New Testament and the People of God. Wright says, on pages xiv and xv of the Preface:

". . . I have frequently used 'god' instead of 'God.' This is not a printer's error, nor is it a deliberate irreverence; rather the opposite, in fact. The modern usage, without the article and with a capital, seems to me actually dangerous. This usage, which sometimes amounts to regarding 'God' as the proper name of the Deity, rather than as essentially a common noun, implies that all users of the word are monotheists and, within that, that all monotheists believe in the same god. Both these propositions seem to me self-evidently untrue. It may or may not be true that the worship of any god is translated by some mysterious grace into worship of one god who actually exists, and who happens to be the only god. That is believed by some students of religion. It is not, however, believed by very many practitioners of the mainline monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) or of the non-monotheistic ones (Hinduism, Buddhism and their cognates). Certainly the Jews and Christians of the first century did not believe it. They believed that pagans worshipped idols, or even demons. . . .
It seems to me, therefore, simply misleading to use 'God' throughout this work. I have often preferred either to refer to Israel's god by the biblical name, YHWH (notwithstanding debates about the use of this name within second-temple Judaism), or, in phrases designed to remind us of what or who we are talking about, to speak of 'the creator,' 'the covenant god' or 'Israel's god.' The early Christians used the phrase 'the god' (ho theos) of this god, and this was (I believe) somewhat polemical, making an essentially Jewish-monotheistic point over against polytheism. In a world where there were many suns, one would not say 'the sun.' Furthermore, the early Christians regularly felt the need to make clear which god they were talking about, by glossing the phrase, as Paul so often does, with a reference to the revelation of this god in and through Jesus of Nazareth. Since, in fact, the present project presents a case, among other things, for a fresh understanding of the meaning and content of the word 'god', and ultimately 'God', in light of Jesus, the Spirit, and the New Testament, it would be begging the question to follow a usage which seemed to imply that the answer was known in advance."

Now, Wright was writing on the New Testament, whereas we're working with the Hebrew Bible, and of course I won't be asking other editors to subscribe to Wright's theological views. However, I think he has hit on an important point, which is that the naming conventions often used in modern writing don't match up to the way the term is used in earlier writings.

In spoken English, we slide fairly fluidly, and without any capitalization, between a particular deity named God and the use of god as a generic noun. In written English, there is a habit, out of reverence to write "God" when referring to the deity of monotheists, and "god" when referring to polytheistic gods. The downside of that convention is that, in effect, we are more or less implicitly saying "the-monotheistic-god" or "a-polytheistic-god" every time we bring the word up, and we wind up reading into ancient texts things that aren't necessarily there.

So, hypothetically, suppose we come across, in Hebrew, which also doesn't capitalize, the sentence yhwh elohe israel, v'dagon elohe pilishtim. If we adopt the modern convention, we might translate this sentence as "Yahweh is the God of Israel, and Dagon is the god of the Philistines." By doing this, we read into the Hebrew text a distinction that isn't written there. Of course, the Hebrew writer might think that Yhwh is much better than Dagon in every possible way. I'm not denying that the writer could be a monotheist. I'm just saying that his monotheism doesn't show up in that sentence.

So I would argue that, for this translation, we should translate the sentence, "Yahweh is the god of Israel, and Dagon is the god of the Philistines." On the other hand, where the word elohim is used without qualifiers of any kind, like vayyomer elohim el-noach, then I think we're safe in translating, "And God said to Noah." It would be misleading to translate "And a god said to Noah," because that's not what the text means. So here's a number of sentences as I would read them, when translating from biblical Hebrew in a non-sectarian context:

"And God said to Noah, build an ark."

"I will be your god, and you will be my people."

"And God stands in the congregation of the mighty; he judges among the gods."

"Yahweh God saw the man in the garden."

There are probably places where there is a legitimate argument about whether 'elohim' is used more like a proper noun or an ordinary noun, but that's roughly the framework I've been using. It could be slightly jarring to some readers, but I think it is important enough to match the Hebrew text and not add additional commentary (even commentary in the subtle form of capitalization) that I think it's worth doing it this way. And, when reading aloud, it will always sound just fine, because I'm not actually changing the way anything is pronounced.

If we try to stick to distinguishing monotheistic and polytheistic deities by capitalization alone, then we wind up with some interesting and subtle problems. Consider, "Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary. Who is as great a God as God?" "Is there a God besides me? There is no God, I do not know of any." "Am I a God nearby, says Yahweh, and not a God far away?" "Who is a God like you, who pardons iniquity?"

Or consider when the term elohim is put in the mouth of non-Israelite characters. "And Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, Go and sacrifice to your God in the land." Are we going to put words in Pharaoh's mouth implying that the Israelite god is on a higher level than all other gods? Are we to make Pharaoh a monotheist? I think we can meet the problem better by adopting the conventions above, or something similar.

I welcome any feedback. Alephb (talk) 00:07, 16 August 2017 (UTC)

Your rule, I think it's simple--- when it's used with the intention of being a proper name, you capitalize. When it's used in a non-monotheistic context, you don't. We followed this rule here, and I think it's very easy and absolutely correct.
The thing you write about the text's translators having monotheistic prejudice is for sure correct, but this text itself has a monotheistic prejudice, which grows as you go later in the book series so this monotheistic business is the point of view of the whole text (and the whole of the world since about 1000 AD). That's the point of this text, to spread and standardize this idea, so it is important to treat the transition to full monotheism by Isiah's time as accurately as possible. I have no complaints about the capitalization convention. I agree 100%. RonMaimon (talk) 06:14, 16 August 2017 (UTC)

Lines IP Found Confusing (Chapters 41 to 43)[edit]

Thanks for the comments on the last installment of this!

Ch. 41, Verse 22. "And I saw, in my dream; and here seven wheat bunches are rising on one reed--- full and good." The sentence fragment followed by the semicolon feels kind of awkward.

Ch. 42, Verse 3. "And Joseph's brothers went down, eleven of them, to buy grain, from Egypt." I think this sounds better without the comma before "from Egypt", but I wanted to vet it here before editing it.

Ch. 42, Verse 38. " And if some disaster strikes on your traveling path, and you'll bring down my gray hair, in sorrow, onto the underworld." Awkward because no main verb.

Ch. 43, Verse 7. "The man asked us about us and our birthplace, asking: 'Is your father still alive?'" The "ask" sounds redundant.

Ch. 43, Verse 9. "If I don't bring him back to you, and show him to your face, then have sinned to you until the end of days." It would sound more natural as "then I have sinned to you".

Ch. 43, Verse 11. "Offer as gifts to the man." It would sound more natural as, "Offer them as gifts to the man."

Ch. 43, Verse 16. "And Joseph saw them, saw Benjamin, and said to the steward of his house, "Bring the people to my house, and slaughter slaughter and prepare, because these men will eat with me at noon."" I think it sounds better as "slaughter, slaughter, and prepare" if the repetition is intentional and not a typo.

Ch. 43, Verse 18. "And the men feared, because they were brought to Joseph's house, and they said, "It's on account of the money in our satchels the first time that we were brought here — to surround us and attack us, and take, us as slaves, and our donkeys."" Either there's a typo or I'm supposed to read the last bit as "take us as slaves and take our donkeys". But I think the grammatical construction "take, us as slaves, and our donkeys" is awkward-sounding in English.

Ch. 43, Verse 23. "and he brought Simon out to them." Is this supposed to be a new character or is it a typo for Simeon? I admit I haven't been following which minor characters are related to each other so closely. 05:15, 17 August 2017 (UTC)

All accepted, will correct (slaughter, slaughter, not a typo), except 43:18 where the construction is just the same and just as terrible in Hebrew. Thanks a lot, you were great.RonMaimon (talk) 07:54, 17 August 2017 (UTC)

Lines IP Found Confusing (Ch. 44 to 50)[edit]

Ch. 44, Verse 20. "We have an old father, and a son of his old-age who is young." I think "son of his old age" sounds better.

Little boy to his old age is accurate too, and not awkward. --- RM

Ch. 44, Verse 28. "And one's left me, surely preyed on as prey, and I never saw him no more." The "never saw him no more" sounds like a regional accent in English. Is this intentional?

Intentional, perhaps not successful. Old Israel sounds like a hick. Reworded--- RM

Ch. 44, Verse 30. "And as we now return to my father, your servant, with the lad not with us." This sounds awkward in English because it's not an independent clause.

Rewording. -- RM

Ch. 48, Verse 1. "And it was after these events, and it was said to Joseph, "Here your father is sick."" Similarly awkward.

Try "Look, your father is sick" instead.

Ch. 48, Verse 22. "And I gave to you one shoulder over your brother, of that I have taken from Amorite hands with my sword and with my bow." I'm not sure what the second half of this sentence is saying.

It's because he's talking to Ephraim. Not our fault, it's in the original.

Ch. 49, Verse 7. "Cursed for then is their fury, their transgressions are but hard." "Cursed for then" sounds awkward; could it be a typo for "cursed for them"?

Not a typo! That's the real version. -- RM

That's it! 18:25, 17 August 2017 (UTC)

Thanks again! You helped so much.RonMaimon (talk) 19:59, 17 August 2017 (UTC)

Fun Translator Trivia[edit]

1. Which Occurs more often in Genesis names, Tzadi, or Chet?

2. Which is the more common Genesis idiom: "Ele Toldot" or "Matsa Chen B'eynei"?

3. How many possible meanings of "Hineh" can you find?

I am so sick of this text, I'm going to vomit if I ever see Genesis again. But.... RonMaimon (talk) 20:12, 17 August 2017 (UTC)

Finished Version Proposal[edit]

Ok, dotted all the Z's, went over the punctuation, edited the comments, and introduced a list convention for "and" in list which allows them to be relatively unobtrusive, and also show where they do and don't appear, by using ampersand &. I'm done with this beast. This is my proposal for a final version. Please, list all disagreements below. RonMaimon (talk) 11:43, 17 August 2017 (UTC)

I also took the liberty of putting Chapter titles, so the reader can find their way around. This was extremely useful in Leviticus. I tried to avoid doing any original writing, I did it like Orthodox Jews, using a pithy phrase from near the beginning, except for the last chapter, where it's from the end.RonMaimon (talk) 13:00, 17 August 2017 (UTC)

I won't be able to substantively contribute much here till at least Tuesday, due to various obligations. I won't list all disagreements here, because the list would simply be too long, but I will, as promised, produce a list of verses in Genesis 1-11 where I have concerns. For some of them, just glancing at the verse will make the concern obvious, but I don't know if I'll have the time to discuss more than a few at a time. I don't think Wikisource does final versions, where the text becomes unalterable in the future, though I could be wrong. If you just mean that you're done for now, and you'd like things to sit as they are for a while in Genesis rather than me freely making all sorts of edits, I can live with that. I'd be happy to focus on editing in the non-complete sections till a full translation of the Hebrew Bible exists here. But if you mean that we're close to reaching a version where both of us agree that no further work is needed and the text is ready to go, then I don't think we're there. I think the list of verses from 1-11 will make this clear sometime next week.
Anyhow, we've certainly made a great deal of progress, and while I haven't always agreed, your notes on textual flow have been in some places very helpful. I've definitely done of rethinking of my previous automatic and unthoughtful approach of just translation "A-construct B" as "A of B," instead of looking carefully at whether "B's A" or "B A" can work. That might be the biggest change in my translation methodology I've picked up from you.
On a more trivial note, I noticed that you translated melek bela hi tsoar as "the king of Bela, he's Zoar." But hi is feminine, so Zoar is the place name, thus, "the king of Bela, which is Zoar." Alephb (talk) 05:24, 18 August 2017 (UTC)
Write them as follows: [chapter:verse] (two word summary), e.g. [14:2] fem-Hi, mistranslation (I fixed that one, thanks). Don't say "there are too many", say what there are! There should be "none".RonMaimon (talk) 07:06, 18 August 2017 (UTC)