[b-hebrew] red heifer

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Wed Dec 22 08:44:47 EST 2004

All very intersting, but my question was, why the translators took such a
general term as "cow" and translated it as the more narrow "heifer". Did
they have any reason to think that this particular cow was special in any
way, besides its color?


----- Original Message -----
From: "Peter Kirk" <peterkirk at qaya.org>
To: "George F Somsel" <gfsomsel at juno.com>
Cc: <leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il>; <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Wednesday, December 22, 2004 2:53 PM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] red heifer

> On 22/12/2004 09:14, George F Somsel wrote:
> > ...
> >
> >I think you are correct so far as the Hebrew is concerned, but you may be
> >mistaken in regard to the English.  1 Sam 6.7 reads
> >
> >W:(aT.fH QfXW. Wa(a:GfLfH Xa:Df$fH )eXfT W.$:T."Y PfRoWT (fLoT )a:$eR
> >Lo)_(fLfH (a:L"YHeM (oL Wa)a:SaR:T.eM )eT_HaP.fRoWT B.f(a:GfLfH ***
> >WaHa:$"YBoTeM B.:N"YHeM M")aXa:R"YHeM HaB.fY:TfH ***
> >
> >Thus it is clear that in Hebrew the PRH could have calved.  My English
> >dictionary (which could stand to be updated) has the definition for
> >"heifer"
> >
> >"A young cow, especially one that has not yet given birth to a calf."
> >
> >
> >
> This is the definition in The American Heritage® Dictionary of the
> English Language: Fourth Edition.  2000, at
> http://www.bartleby.com/61/57/H0125700.html. But I note that English
> translations tend to use "cow" (or "kine") rather than "heifer" at 1
> Samuel 6:7, perhaps because "heifer" is considered inappropriate for a
> cow which has calved.
> >By saying "especially" it would indicate that a young cow which had
> >calved was not totally excluded.
> >
> >
> Not totally excluded, maybe, but not generally included. I would expect
> that a dairy farmer, for whom the distinction between milch cows and
> heifers is a very important one, would soon find fault with a
> translation "heifer" in 1 Samuel 6:7.
> But there are potentially tricky issues here. In Azerbaijani farming
> language, a one year old sheep cannot be called with the regular word
> for a lamb, but a special technical term must be used. But this
> technical term is unknown to city folk, who would use the regular word
> for a lamb. This meant that we had to choose in our translation between
> what was an error to the country folk and what was not understood by the
> city folk. There may be similar tensions in English, for example if the
> red heifer is called a "cow", for the sake of people who don't know the
> word "heifer", if the animal has clearly not given birth.
> --
> Peter Kirk
> peter at qaya.org (personal)
> peterkirk at qaya.org (work)
> http://www.qaya.org/

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