[b-hebrew] Re: Prov. 30:19

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Mon Oct 6 19:24:20 EDT 2003

On 06/10/2003 16:01, Karl Randolph wrote:

>Dear Rodney: 
>I am a little surprised at the response I am getting from this thread. 
>To start out, I have never been able to make heads or tails out of this verse. What sort 
>of road does a man have in a virgin? The moment of a physical entrance of a man in 
>knowing a woman, she is no longer a virgin. Therefore, we cannot be talking about 
>the physical action. But if we are not talking about a physical action, how does the 
>man remain the subject? Is not the subject then really the virgin's hopes, expectations 
>and dreams? 
Two answers to this one. One is that `alma does not mean strictly a 
virgin in the medical sense, rather  a young unmarried woman who was 
generally assumed to be a  virgin. See any discussion of Isaiah 7:14. 
The other is that according to your argument no one can ever be accused 
of "deflowering" or raping a virgin because she is no longer a virgin 
after the act - but that is no defence as what matters is that she was 
one before the act. And  a  third one: we may not be talking about the 
sex act  itself, but rather about the man's active part in winning the 
girl's attention and affection. The suggestion that this is about "the 
virgin's hopes, expectations and dreams" doesn't really fit with the 
male-dominated world of  Proverbs.

>I proposed that a different definition for (LMH consistent with the unpointed text and 
>grammar would give a reading consistant with the parallelism of the rest of the verse.  
>As I understand the response, it is that one cannot go against 2000 years of tradition. ...
I think this shows that you have totally misunderstood the response. 
References to older versions etc have been meant to show you that there 
is no evidence at all for your understanding of the word and so it must 
be totally speculative. You can reject tradition if you like, but you 
need something to put in its place if you are to read the Hebrew Bible 
itself. You can't just say that each word means what you want it to mean 
or what you think fits the context best. I suppose you could try to 
decipher the text from first principles without reference to 
dictionaries or older translations, but I don't think you'll succeed - 
Champollion relied on an ancient translation when he deciphered Egyptian 
hieroglyphs, and Ventris on his knowledge of Greek when he deciphered 
Linear B. So in one way or another you are dependent on tradition.

>... Why not? After all, the LXX, which predates the 2000 year old tradition, has a 
>different reading. If my proposed definition is wrong, and it could be, why not consider 
>the LXX translation? It also fits the grammar, parallelism and unpointed text. Yes, I 
>know there are problems with the LXX, but why not at least hear them out on this 
>verse? ...
The LXX reading is certainly worth considering, but I would reject it 
because it offers no real parallel to sky, rock and sea, whereas the 
understanding as young woman offers an excellent parallel and makes this 
into a very vivid image. I just can't understand why you persistently 
reject this image. Do you perhaps have problems with the idea that there 
might be sexually explicit language in a holy book? Well, whether you 
like it or not there is, and much more so than this passage.

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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