Judges 5:30

George Athas gathas at mail.usyd.edu.au
Tue Sep 28 23:28:09 EDT 1999


Henry Churchyard wrote:

> I'm sorry, but I just don't see how it makes all that much sense to
> say that the understanding of this passage should be organized around
> a _rah.am_ vs. _na`arah_ axis,

That's exactly my point, Henry. _Raxam_ needs to be understood solely within the context
of the poem.

> considering that Jael and Deborah are
> simply not _na`aroth_, but rather are married adult women (_nashim_ I
> guess, unless there's some more specific term which is eluding me at
> the moment -- _g at bhirah_ is probably too specific, at least for Jael).

I completely agree. _G:birah_ seems to have the nuance of "Lady", "Mistress" or "Dowager".
I don't think we can apply these terms to Ya`el or Deborah, both of whom are "wives".
(There is, though, a case to be made that perhaps Deborah was a widow because she 'judged'
cases for people.)

> Also, I doubt whether _rah.am_ has some of the connotations you're
> ascribing to it

The irony of Jdg 5 certainly seems to imply that it does. We are dealing with poetry which
makes use of poignant vocabulary.

> -- and even if it did, this wouldn't necessarily
> provide much useful guidance towards coming up with an appropriate
> English translation.

That's the more difficult task. How do we carry the nuance of "wench" or "bimbo" into a
biblical translation? You could use one of those words, but it probably won't go down well
with many people.

Best regards!
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GEORGE ATHAS
 Dept of Semitic Studies,
 University of Sydney
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Tel Dan Inscription Website is at
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