[b-hebrew] Interpretation of Biblical Hebrew, or Harold, is this your methodology?

Karl Randolph kwrandolph at email.com
Thu Jul 15 04:45:43 EDT 2004

Dear Peter:

Since you sent this letter, I’ve been thinking about the best way to render )RX into English.

When I think of “road”, I’m reminded of a trip I made some years ago where I wanted to visit some Spanish ruins in New Mexico: it was shown on the map as a fairly important tertiarary road across country. But when I started down the road, it was two ruts barely noticeable on rocks skirting around between two mountain ranges. The road twisted and turned until it reached flat land in the valley. There it had been graded to remove the brushwood and no more. It had recently rained and all the low spots had turned to mud. I was glad I had 4-wheel drive, otherwise I doubt I could have driven through the mud holes, even so, my white car was completely covered in brown mud by the time I reached my destination over 100 miles distance.

El Camino Real, the most important “road” from El Paso up the Tularosa Basin, was merely two ruts suitable for no faster than ox carts until it was replaced by the railroad in the late 1800s.

When I think of ancient roads, I doubt they were as well developed as that road: fording rivers and following the lay of the land. The modern concept of road almost always has bridges and embankments, which were called “highways” until they were added to almost all roads starting less then a century ago. Automobiles changed expectations.

You are probably right that “trail” is probably the best modern word to use, to refer to a road for long distances, mostly travelled on foot, though sometimes on beasts of burden and even wagons. It was unimproved, no embankments nor bridges to make it easy. “Trails” snaked from town to town, often up to hundreds of miles in length.

Like a path, a trail is mostly unimproved. Like a road, a trail is for long distance travel. There is a certain amount of crossover between the three terms.

Thanks, Karl W. Randolph.

----- Original Message -----
From: Peter Kirk <peterkirk at qaya.org>

> On 09/07/2004 23:27, Harold R. Holmyard III wrote:
> > ...
> >
> >> Concerning Proverbs 1:19, )RX has as its root meaning the concept of 
> >> travelling long distances from place to place. Path or way, at least 
> >> in American English, has the concept of being only local. What word 
> >> would you use to carry road and long distance travel?
> >
> >
> > HH: You disagree with the lexicons again. The verb )RX in BDB means to 
> > wander, journey, go. In DCH it is journey or go, with the participle 
> > meaning wanderer, traveller. Yet both lexicons state that the noun )RX 
> > means way or path. Perhaps they felt that the noun had a specific 
> > sense according to its contexts. BDB says that only in Judges 5:6 does 
> > the word have the sense of highways. So your limitation seems 
> > unnecessary. I am used to the word having the meaning path.
> Karl may well have a good point here. We are used to travelling long 
> distances on wide highways (or by air!) and so a narrow path suggests 
> something local. But in ancient times even the most important highways 
> may well have looked more like paths to us. So while "path" may be the 
> most accurate translation from a purely denotational perspective, it may 
> also have misleading connotations of short distance and short duration 
> travel. And so "road" might be a better translation, at least in more 
> metaphorical contexts where what is in focus is not the width and 
> surface of the path/road but the length of the journey.
> In the UK we have long distance paths or footpaths, for those who want 
> to walk in the countryside, and so paths are not necessarily local. What 
> would you call such things in the USA? Trails? That might work in some 
> contexts.
> -- 
> Peter Kirk
> peter at qaya.org (personal)
> peterkirk at qaya.org (work)
> http://www.qaya.org/
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