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

Harold R. Holmyard III hholmyard at ont.com
Thu Dec 30 20:26:53 EST 2004

Dear Peter,

>>>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.

HH: That was not my objection, but now that you mention it, according 
to Karl's explanation, the channels of water represented women, and 
Karl took the imperfect as a jussive. He phrased it imperatively as 
"be dispersed." So if the waters are some tempting women that the man 
sees, then someone or something has to cause them to be diverted away 
from the man's eyes. But anyway, what I was finding odd was the idea 
of waters being dispersed away from someone's eyes. What sense does 
that make? What in reality does it link to?

>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.

HH: It is not applicable to the context.

>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.

HH: The point has already been made that there are unmarked questions 
in Hebrew. There are a considerable number of them. They are almost 
always signaled by the context. So I have no problem with considering 
this verse as a question. That's not a hang-up at all.

>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 

HH: PUC means be dispersed, be scattered.

					Harold Holmyard

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