Psalm 2:12 and Proverbs 31 ben/bar

Peter Kirk Peter_Kirk at
Fri Mar 22 01:08:30 EST 2002

How often do English language poets use French words (that are otherwise
in reasonably common use in English as loan words) to alternate with the
original English words for artistic variation? That's the situation
here, not an actual switch of language.


I have heard it suggested that the Aramaic word is used here because
this is a quotation of words addressed to Aramaic speaking vassals. But
this seems less likely to me than artistic variation.


Peter Kirk


-----Original Message-----
From: Lisbeth S. Fried [mailto:lizfried at] 
Sent: 22 March 2002 08:02
To: Biblical Hebrew
Subject: RE: Psalm 2:12 and Proverbs 31 ben/bar


How often do poets switch languages?

There's no theological reason for translators

not to translate "son" or kissing the feet of the 

son, since the Judaean king is already labeled 

YHWH's son a few lines above. 

Mitchell Dahood, a Catholic priest, 

translates it "Serve YHWH with reverence and

live in trembling, O mortal men!"

He reads O mortal men with no consonental

changes: ne$e qaber, men of the grave,

or men appointed for the grave.

He compares i$ mawet (I kings 2:26)

bene mawet (1 Sam 26:16).

To have "bar" you'd have to consider the poem

to be late, Persian period probably is when the

Aramaisms crept into the language. Levine dates

P Persian primarily by the Aramaisms in P, such

as degel.  Dahood believes the poem is 10th century.


-----Original Message-----
From: Schmuel [mailto:schmuel at]
Sent: Thu, March 21, 2002 11:35 PM
To: Biblical Hebrew
Subject: Psalm 2:12 and Proverbs 31 ben/bar

Shalom b-hebrew

Liz wrote:
> It is extremely unlikely, that the poet would use ben in one verse
> and a few lines later use bar.

Trevor Peterson
Is that because poets don't vary the words they use?


Touche :-) 
I was thinking about this driving back..
Hey dad... c'mon let's go pop....  to the kosher deli.. this is my
father, can we help them..
How does that sound compared to dad, dad, dad... 

Now this may draw gasps here, but, even in translation, the KJV 
deliberately used various words (in the target language) to express
the same Greek (or Hebrew or Aramaic word) .. 

 Your other post, below, with the explanation about the grammar and the
was exactly what I was looking for, a moderately precise explanation of 
the "squirelliness" of making claims about how the grammar of a word 
in one language would move into another... and with enough of the
actual Hebrew and Aramaic that the claimants (who know much less)
might see that the issue is more of an art than a science.. 

Very much appreciated.. the problem is that "grammar claims" 
"this is a deliberate mistranslation <blah blah>" are made
not to really understand the language, but for spiritual agenda..
I just happen to be operating in a realm where I see that most every day

Schmuel wrote:
>>  > In Aramaic, bar is used only as a construct "son of" (Proverbs
> Ezra 5:1-2, 6:14), >  > whereas the absolute form of "son" in Aramaic
is ber'a.
>  > the verse should have read nash-ku ber'a, "kiss the son," not
> bar, "kiss the son of." >> I know that cross-language "rules" are very
>> What do you think of this claim ?


The claim is somewhat muddled. Aramaic, like Hebrew, has three states
nouns (more than that, if you count forms with suffixed pronouns as
from construct): absolute, construct, and determined. An oversimplified
picture for "son" would be:
        Hebrew  Aramaic
abs.    been            bar
csr.    ben             bar
det.    habbeen braa

Of course, those are only the singular forms. The plural in Aramaic
changes stems to match Hebrew. The plural construct, for instance, would
exactly the same in both. Anyway, what I wanted to say about this issue
that the claim above--that the absolute state in Aramaic is braa--is
somewhat misleading. It is true that the determined state is much more
default in Aramaic than in Hebrew. Whereas we normally think of the
determined state in Hebrew indicating definiteness, we could almost
think of
Aramaic as the opposite situation--the independent noun regularly
appears in
the determined state, unless it is explicitly marked for indefiniteness
appearing in the absolute. In the Aramaic of the Targums and in Syriac,
absolute state is quite rare and pretty heavily marked for nouns.

So where I'm heading with this is that I have to wonder whether the
objection is legitimate. True, the absolute state may be rare and
in Aramaic, but does that mean that an Aramaic word used in Hebrew
would have to follow the same patterns? We know that Hebrew avoids its
determined state in poetry, even where the sense is clearly definite; so
wouldn't it make sense to see the same thing with an Aramaic word?

Schmuel at

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