[b-hebrew] Genesis 3:15 and order of ideas

Heard, Christopher Christopher.Heard at pepperdine.edu
Tue Dec 21 22:28:55 EST 2004

On 12/21/04 5:55 PM, "Revdpickrel at wmconnect.com" <Revdpickrel at wmconnect.com>
> "zara, in both its verb and noun
> Transliterated: zara'
> Text:  "to sow, scatter seed, make pregnant."

1. Text of what? What are you quoting here?

2. Can you cite actual Tanakh verses where the transitive sense "make
pregnant" is demonstrable, at least with a male as the subject?

> forms. This is found in Num. 5, which describes the law of trial by ordeal in
> the case of a wife accused of infidelity. If she was found innocent, it was
> declared: "... She shall be free, and shall conceive [zara] seed [zera]" (Num.
> 5:28). This phrase is literally: "She shall be acquitted and shall be seeded
> seed," or "She shall be made pregnant with seed."

Or "She shall conceive," on the analogy with Lev 12:2. I am not sure that
Num 5:28 is particularly revealing. Zara( in Num 5:28 appears in the niphal;
as such, the passive form of the verb leaves the agent of the zara(-ing
unstated. I do not think we are entitled to assume, from the passive form,
that an associated male does the zara(-ing, unless we have specific
attestations of a transitive zara( meaning "to impregnate." In Lev 12:2, as
previously discussed on this thread, we have the conceiving woman as the
subject of a hiphil zara(. So in Num 5:28, we do not necessarily have better
warrant for thinking the male does the zara(-ing as to think that the woman
zara(-s her own zera(. The translation "she shall be seeded with seed" is
unrevealingly literal, since Lev 12:2 suggests that she could "sow" herself;
the translation "she shall be made pregnant with seed" is tendentious,
insofar as it presumes a masculine agent for zara(-ing the woman, though the
verse does not directly attest such.

I cannot find any demonstrable instance in the Tanakh of zara( taking a
masculine noun or pronoun as its subject and meaning "to impregnate." Can
someone point me to attestations that I have overlooked?

R. Christopher Heard
Assistant Professor of Religion
Armstrong Fellow in Religion
Pepperdine University

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