[b-hebrew] Proverbs 5:16 - a declaration or a question ?

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Thu Dec 30 19:50:34 EST 2004

On 30/12/2004 23:38, Harold R. Holmyard III wrote:

> ...
>> That would make the translation "Be dispersed away from your eyes 
>> outwards into the broad streets (broad areas?) the channels of 
>> water", in other words a poetic way of saying not to look at other 
>> sources, so within the context not to be looking at other women?
> HH: This does not work for me. Perhaps some other list members can 
> approve it for you, but the water is not a symbol of other women but 
> of the man's own possession. Nor does the translation work, for it 
> does not function on a literal level. Nobody disperses channels of 
> water away from someone's eyes. So it cannot work on the figurative 
> level. You have tried to combine the literal with the figurative. ...

Harold, I really don't know whether Karl's suggestion is any better than 
the common translation. But your objection that the verb doesn't make 
sense as a passive holds no water at all (sorry about the pun). As you 
recognised in your earlier rephrasing, the subject of the verb on Karl's 
interpretation is "channels of water", and the verb is Qal, so there is 
no question of anyone's activity in dispersing the channels.

How about this rendering of Karl's version: "May channels of water 
spread from your eyes outwards into the streets". This seems to me to 
fit the grammar and to function at a suitable figurative language. The 
trouble is, it doesn't fit the context, which is not of lamentation and 
abundance of tears, but a strongly sexual one.

> ... The common translation, which you have spurned, although it makes 
> perfectly good sense and is grammatically possible, works on both a 
> literal level and a figurative level.

In the context, it works only if it is turned into a question, for which 
there is no grammatical justification. Nevertheless, this is probably 
the best interpretation.

Or could the verb have a meaning in this context something like "dry up" 
or "depart from"? If so, there is a reasonable non-interrogative 

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

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