George Athas gathas at
Sun Aug 29 19:35:06 EDT 1999

peter_kirk at wrote:

> I wonder if the best single English equivalent might be "guardian". In
> English, normally only an orphaned child would have a guardian
> (commonly a close relative), but in some cultures an orphan's
> guardian's responsibilities continue at least until the orphan is
> married. This is not so far from the situation in Ruth.

That's one of the better suggestions, I think, Peter. However, 'guardian' doesn't quite capture the
full role of the go'el, who also acted as an avenger of blood. The go'el had the following traits:

(1) a relative
(2) a guardian
(3) a legal representative
(4) an avenger of blood
(5) a redeemer
(6) a restorer of familial order

I suggested "vindicator" to Matthew privately, but I wonder if "defender" might also suffice? This
takes in the idea of "guardian" which Peter suggested, but adds the role of 'avenger' too.

The difficulty in translating this word is that our language is not adapted to an ancient culture
and its social structures from 3000 years ago, so we'll always have some deficiency in translating
this. It is a label for a specific cultural role which we don't have in our current western

Best to all.
 Dept of Semitic Studies,
 University of Sydney
Tel Dan Inscription Website is at

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