[b-hebrew] Deut 33:6 ... and let not his men be few

Schmuel schmuel at bigfoot.com
Wed May 22 07:22:02 EDT 2002

Shalom b-hebrew,

Plesae allow me to pull this over from b-trans, where they are a little 
busy :-)
I have tried to clarify the question a bit too...

>>Deuteronomy 33:6 (KJV)
>>Let Reuben live, and not die; and let *not* his men be few.

>Ex 33.6  Y:XiY R:)W.B"N W:)aL_YfMoT
>We have a poetic stich here.  The 2nd line being a parallel to the 
>1st.  Note the similarity between YfMoT [YMT] of line 1 and M:TfYW [MTYW] 
>of line 2. The "let him not die" is played off against "his loins."
>The first line reads Let Reuben live and not die
>This is a jussive with the negative.  The second line of the stich does 
>not have the negative.  MiS:PfR (= "number"> SfPaR "to count") with the 
>negative it means "without number, innumerable", but without the negative 
>means "few."  <snip>


Thank you :-) and to Peter too for pointing out different elements in the 

I understand the parallel stitch, and thanks for the explanation, a friend 
the same idea in aramaic, and many translations utilize it,
however my question for the forums continues as follows...

Since mispar means basically "number" or "count", in a way that can be 
(e.g.Young's Literal Translation..Let Reuben live, and not die, And let his 
men be a number.)

.. and at least one Jewish commentary even talks about being (in) the 
count... the census ....
   ... .(Reuben would have enough men to be included in the census)

So, *if* one did not accept the double-duty negative,
    (which there is some difference of opinion on )
...and if one was just translating independently the second part of this 

  I see at least three alternative translations, differing widely in meaning
    "may his men be few"
    "may his men be a number"  (implication - many)
    "may his men be (in) the count"

The result of (b) would be logically the same as the KJV verse ...

     Deuteronomy 33:6 (KJV)
      Let Reuben live, and not die; and let *not* his men be few.

   ... (allowing for a poetic negative in the KJV)

   ... while the other double-duty negative usage would also agree with the 
       though for different reasons...
(though I don't understand fully why "not-mispar" becomes "not few" rather 
than "not a number")

It looks from the lexicon word count and a quick analysis, that mispar becomes
"few" or "many"/"abundant" either contextually and/or if there is a related 
qualifier in
the phrasing ....
otherwise the usage is closer to  the ambiguous "number", or "count" as in 
Youngs above ..

Is this (b-above) a valid alternate reasoning for the many translations 
that translate
like the KJV .. some like the Emphasized use the double-duty negative,
while others like Young's do not, yet both end up with very similar meanings...

e.g Emphasized Bible - Rotherdam
   Let Reuben live and not die, ---
   nor his men be easily counted

Young's Literal Translation
Let Reuben live, and not die, And let his men be a number.

Thanks.. rest included just for additional related research...
>The Targum Onkelos reads "May Reuben live an everlasting life and not die 
>a second death."

I found some interesting commentary on this, I think it was John Gill on 
relating the Hebraic idea to the Revelations idea of a second death......
>Jouon-Muraoka, _A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew_, §160q (p. 609) states "The 
>negative of a verb can extend its force to a second juxtaposed verb . . ." 
>Examples from passages follow which does not include  Dt. 33.6 although no 
>claim is made to being exhaustive.

Strong evidence, allowance, for the KJV and similar translations ..
Polycarp was especially helpful and sent me the actual Jouon-Muraoka 
examples ... thanks ..

Schmuel at bigfoot.com


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