veil

Lewis Reich LBR at sprynet.com
Mon Jul 13 00:41:38 EDT 1998


On 8 Jul 98, at 13:45, B Rocine wrote:


> 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.

This, it seems to me, is a theological interpretation rather than a translation.  
The function of the parokhet is not to bar the human face from a face-to-face 
communication with the Lord.  Such communication is strictly at His option.  
The parokhet delimits the boundary between the Holy and the Holy of Holies 
of the Temple. Any possible difference between the symbolic function of the 
parokhet and other fabric hangings would be more accurately conveyed, it 
seems to me, by "partition" rather than "barrier".  Even so, those two English 
words, conveying as they do the notion of something solid rather than flexible 
as fabric, are still inferior to "curtain", which, it seems to me, still quite 
adequately gives the sense of partition.



> 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_.

I'd be curious to know what evidence there is that the root means "to be 
harsh, severe" other than the rather enigmatic use of the word "b'pharekh" to 
describe the labor imposed on the Israelites.  

> 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. 

Since "barrier" in English connotes something solid rather than a fabric, it 
seems to me rather less accurate than, say, "curtain".  


Lewis Reich
LBR at sprynet.com



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