B Rocine 596547 at
Wed Jul 8 13:45:12 EDT 1998

Dear Judith,

I would like to comment on the inadequacy of the translation of _Paroket_ as
"veil."  It would be better translated "barrier."  _Paroket_ is used
exclusively for the barrier which was placed between the holy place and the
holy of holies of both the tabernacle(Exo 26:33) and the Temple(2 Chr 3:14).
We see that the _Paroket_ was fabric and that it would hang from clasps like
the other curtains, and so we may deduce correctly that it was indeed a
curtain or veil.  However, to render it "veil" is to paraphrase the word
rather than translate it.  The root PRK means to be harsh and severe.  It's
a cognate of an Assyrian root meaning to bar or shut off.  In addition, the
purpose of this particular curtain is distinguished from all other curtains
by the exclusive use of _Paroket_ and the exclusive function of the barrier.
It bars the human race from a face-to-face communion with the Lord.  It
symbolizes the harsh judgment of separation from God that is upon us all due
to our sinfulness.

LEST you think I am arguing that we should honor etymology over context in
our translation, let me explain.  My thoughts on _Paroket_ prefer neither
etymology nor context.  The etymology(to be harsh, severe) is consistent
with the context(a barrier between people and the Lord).  In fact, the
context *implies* the etymology.  I believe it is good translatyion and
exegesis carry etymology and context together, and there is no reason why we
can't with _Paroket_.

LEST you think I am merely arguing for a more literal translation than
"veil," let me explain that, too.  There is nothing more or less literal in
either "veil" or "barrier."  "Barrier" is more precise, not more literal.  I
would not always argue for a strictly literal translation(it would depend on
the target audiernce).  As you have said, there are a number of Heb words
translated "veil."  But there is one dedicated Heb word for this particular
hanging, so I think it should be translated with a more dedicated word.  We
often see _Paroket_ used in construct with _masak_("covering") as in Exo
35:12 which I translate "the concealing barrier".  A veil, by definition
covers or conceals.  A barrier?  Not necessarily.  For the concept "veil" to
be in construct relationship with the concept "conceal" is somewhat
tautological and so doesn't make the best sense.  In fact several English
translations of Exo 35:12 sound a bit goofy, IMO.  I don't think the Hebrew
sounded goofy to a native speaker. 


At 10:51 AM 7/8/98 -0400, you wrote:
>I invite discussion on the Hebrew words that have been translated 
>to the English word "veil" and the appropriateness of that 
>translation.  My list so far include (and please forgive any 
>misspelling or vowel errors): mitpachath; mecukkah; macveh (sawan); 
>pahroketh; tsaiyph (tzaan); radiyd; raalah; and cithrah. 

B. M. Rocine
Associate Pastor
Church of the Living Word
6101 Court St. Rd.
Syracuse, NY 13206

work phone: 315-437-6744
home phone: 315-479-8267

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list