[b-hebrew] gen 16:12
lbr at sprynet.com
Sun Feb 13 03:29:50 EST 2011
Thanks for your very helpful elucidation. Perhaps I was being too literal-mided, but your message on which I was commenting had indicated “typical English translation of PR) )DM as ‘wild ass’”, whereas your adduced examples document translations that would have seemed plausible to me: “wild ass of a man”.
That in English “wild ass” may sound pejorative seems to me only to highlight the lamentable but unavoidable fact that translations are treacherous. Translating PR) as “stallion” would have its own difficulties, as English readers would incorrectly assume it referred to a horse.
From: jimstinehart at aol.com [mailto:jimstinehart at aol.com]
Sent: Saturday, February 12, 2011 2:34 PM
To: lbreich at alum.mit.edu; b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] gen 16:12
1. You wrote: “I have never seen PR) )DM translated as ‘wild ass’….”
It is often translated “wild ass of a man”, or some similar phrasing. Here are the first 7 translations I found:
NIV: “He will be a wild donkey of a man.”
ESV: “He shall be a wild donkey of a man.”
ASV: “He shall be as a wild ass among men.”
Darby: “And he will be a wild-ass of a man.”
Young’s Literal: “and he is a wild-ass man.”
KJV: “And he will be a wild man.”
JPS 1917: “And he shall be a wild ass of a man.”
2. You said: “This is consistent with B. Chan’s suggestion that that Ishmael will be a free-ranging creature, untrammelled by earthly authority. People untrammeled by earthly authority generally end up in conflict with others, so I think that in effect Mr. Chan is saying the same thing, but may not be willing to draw the conclusion that people living wild and free generally have a lot of conflict with others in their way of life.”
3. You wrote: “The description of someone living wild and free in the desert, raiding others and subject to attack himself, would not sound pejorative to a Bedouin, I think.”
I agree. The problem I was pointing out is that in E-n-g-l-i-s-h, “wild ass” sounds terribly pejorative, like a straightforward curse, which is not a fair and balanced translation of what the Hebrew text intends to convey.
I think most of us are more or less agreeing as to what the Hebrew text says. The problem lies in the misleading English translations, which are unambiguously negative, whereas the Hebrew text is ambiguous and could be viewed positively. Rather than “wild donkey” or “wild ass”, which are too pejorative in English, I think “wild stallion” would better convey the meaning in English.
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