[B-Greek] Josephus' "Son", War 5:272

Randall Buth randallbuth at gmail.com
Thu Aug 19 04:53:07 EDT 2010

I started a different thread so as not to distract from the different
thread on Acts 21-22.

>It is fairly obvious that `eBen Bo' אֶבֶן בּוֹא "a stone is coming", especially
when shortened to בֶּן בוֹא BeN BO' would be subject to being misinterpreted as
"the son comes."  It is also true that such is not possible in Aramaic.  That
anyone who understood this would translate the phrase as "the son is coming" is
incomprehensible unless one presupposes that he is jesting.  If he is jesting
then the reader must be presumed to be aware of the fact or must have it
explained.  That it is simply rendered as "the son is coming" without further
explanation can only be explained on the grounds that the one who
wrote this did
not himself understand the wordplay and was relying on a translation by another
who did not himself fully understand it.>
gfsomsel >

(First a minor correction, it is אֶבֶן בָּאָה "even ba-a" in full Hebrew. I
wondered where 'bo' comes from because I found similar mistakes
in Maurice Casey's Aramaic reconstructions in his books on Mark:
e.g., "yad shob" where Casey got both the gender and the tense
form wrong, and in more than one example and with discussion.)

Now to Josephus.
His note suggests that the phrase became slang within the city
and that the rebels started calling a missle 'a son'.
Picture a 20th century equivalent:
Sitting at a sidewalk cafe, one rebel to another: 'sure hope they
don't send another 'son' while we sip our coffee.'
It was a joke within the city that Josephus records for the
Greek speaker.
In fact, we had examples of 'dark humor' during the 91 Gulf
War when 39 scuds were fired at Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Dimona,
from Iraq. Some people in Jerusalem would watch the meteor
streak overhead and the 'boom's were heard in the Judean

As Life 9 and 198, and all of the references to Hebrew, Aramaic
and patriarchal language show, Josephus knew and correctly
differentiated Hebrew. See
Grintz “Hebrew as the Spoken and Written Language in the
Last Days of the Second Temple,” JBL 79 (March 1960,
32-47). Especially the last part dealing with Josephus.
Perhaps Grintz would be listened to more carefully if
he said "a" language instead of "the" language in the title.

Randall Buth, PhD
randallbuth at gmail.com
Biblical Language Center
Learn Easily - Progress Further - Remember for Life

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