earlier dictionaries? was [b-hebrew] Offend/dealt corruptly - chet bet lamed (nehemiah 1:7)

Karl Randolph kwrandolph at email.com
Thu Jun 24 20:31:14 EDT 2004


Dear Harold:

Don’t boast about the number of word studies you have done, for I (also Reinier de Blois) have done many more than you. For me, a word study starts with taking out a concordance or the electronic equivelant and finding every occurance of a lexeme in Tanakh. However, because I am primarily interested in Biblical Hebrew, I limit myself to Tanakh.

Secondly, some examples you listed below are in Aramaic. I know enough Aramaic to read the Aramaic portions of Tanakh, and no more. Just because Aramaic has a particular meaning for a lexeme, does not mean that Hebrew had the same meaning: a good example being $KX שכח in Hebrew meant to forget, while in Aramaic it meant there is (found) or very similar to Y$ יש in Hebrew. Therefore, why should we expect that the Aramaic XBL חנל has the same meaning as the Hebrew lexeme? As a cognate language, we’re not surprised if it has the same meaning, but again, we’re not surprised if it doesn’t.

I don’t consider the NIV as an authority. As translators, their mission is not to be on the cutting edge of scholarship, but to follow what others have said before them. Furthermore, it is a semi-paraphrase.

XBL חנל in its various forms and derivitives is used around 100 times in Tanakh in Hebrew. The vast majority of the times it is no question that it refers some way to tying up or derivitive meanings of being connected with, such as the territory tied to or connected with  a city, the knotting up of muscles as in cramps or labor pangs, restrictions on people by requirements of repaying debts, and so forth. Fewer than 10% of uses is there question where people use the Aramaic meaning in Hebrew, and some of those read smoothly with the tied to or connected with meaning. Where we disagree is if tradition is correct to say that the Aramaic meaning is also a legitimate Hebrew meaning, which I question.

Isaiah 13:5 one of the meanings I recognized for XBL חנל is to pack up to carry away, in order to despoil the land.

Maybe I’m reading some of my own experiences into the text, but as a person who is not financially well off, I see how the rich are restricting my options as in Isaiah 32:7 (restrict is one of the derivitive meanings that I recognize from to knot up).

Isaiah 54:16 in reference to verse 17, again I see ruination to those who make restrictions.

In Micah 2:12 those who act corruptly end up tying themselves into knots.

Job 17:1 My spirit is restricted, my days are set up as graves for me. ( Z(K זעך is a hapax legomai, are we sure we have the right meaning for it? I’m not sure of its definition. )

Job 34:31 God is not the one who says I lift up but I am not restricted, which I read to say that God finishes what he starts.

Ecclesiastes 5:5 (6) don’t make promises before God that you may not be able to keep, or those that will restrict your options, the work you can do.

Nehemiah 1:7 We are surely connected to you, but we have not followed your commands.

Karl W. Randolph.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Harold R. Holmyard III" <hholmyard at ont.com>(nehemiah 1:7)

> Dear Karl,
> 
> Your work may have many helpful, innovative 
> qualities, such as comparing synonyms. But your 
> thinking about XBL strikes me as immature so far. 
> I just spent nearly a year doing five hundred OT 
> word studies. I know that these lexicons do not 
> necessarily borrow from one another. There are 
> treasures of independent work and many resources 
> available now. When you go off on your own, 
> ignoring the results of everyone else with XBL, 
> perhaps underestimating homonyms and polysemy, 
> and apparently paying little attention to cognate 
> studies, I have no real grounds for confidence. 
> In _The Dictionary of Classical Hebrew_, for 
> example, XBL with the meaning of "act corruptly" 
> has over a column of references, including 
> post-biblical ones. If you don't somehow include 
> that meaning, you strike me as a person who is 
> not thinking correctly. If DCH were alone, there 
> would be more wiggle room, but DCH has findings 
> that match those of HAL, TDOT, TWOT, NIDOTTE, 
> BDB, and Accordance. Who wants to consult a 
> reference work that gives only part of the story? 
> I would seriously reconsider what you're doing 
> with XBL and other such entries.
> 
> Certainly, lexicons are liable to error. Our 
> knowledge grows. We make individual and 
> collective errors and false assumptions. But 
> lexicons are also a storehouse of the collected 
> knowledge of humanity with regard to ancient 
> words. You talk about "earlier lexicographers," 
> but many of the reference tools are recent. With 
> XBL, you are not only ignoring the lexicons but 
> also the translations and commentaries.
> 
> I don't know what you do with XBL in the 
> following verses, but NIV may not agree with you:
> 
> Is. 13:5 They come from faraway lands, from the 
> ends of the heavens - the LORD and the weapons of 
> his wrath - to destroy the whole country.
> Is. 32:7 The scoundrel's methods are wicked, he 
> makes up evil schemes to destroy the poor with 
> lies, even when the plea of the needy is just.
> Is. 54:16  "See, it is I who created the 
> blacksmith who fans the coals into flame and 
> forges a weapon fit for its work. And it is I who 
> have created the destroyer to work havoc;
> Mic. 2:10 Get up, go away! For this is not your 
> resting place, because it is defiled, it is 
> ruined, beyond all remedy.
> Job 17:1 ¶ My spirit is broken, my days are cut short, the grave awaits me.
> Job 34:31  "Suppose a man says to God,  'I am guilty but will offend no more.
> Song 2:15 Catch for us the foxes, the little 
> foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that 
> are in bloom.
> Eccl. 5:6 Do not let your mouth lead you into 
> sin. And do not protest to the [temple] 
> messenger,  "My vow was a mistake." Why should 
> God be angry at what you say and destroy the work 
> of your hands?
> Neh. 1:7 We have acted very wickedly toward you. 
> We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws 
> you gave your servant Moses.
> 
> HH: And XBL seems to mean "destroy" in Aramaic as well:
> 
> Dan. 2:44 ¶  "In the time of those kings, the God 
> of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never 
> be destroyed, nor will it be left to another 
> people. It will crush all those kingdoms and 
> bring them to an end, but it will itself endure 
> forever.
> Dan. 4:23 ¶  "You, O king, saw a messenger, a 
> holy one, coming down from heaven and saying, 
> 'Cut down the tree and destroy it, but leave the 
> stump, bound with iron and bronze, in the grass 
> of the field, while its roots remain in the 
> ground. Let him be drenched with the dew of 
> heaven; let him live like the wild animals, until 
> seven times pass by for him.'
> Dan. 6:22 My God sent his angel, and he shut the 
> mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, 
> because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor 
> have I ever done any wrong before you, O king."
> Dan. 6:26 ¶  "I issue a decree that in every part 
> of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the 
> God of Daniel.  "For he is the living God and he 
> endures forever; his kingdom will not be 
> destroyed, his dominion will never end.
> Dan. 7:14 He was given authority, glory and 
> sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of 
> every language worshiped him. His dominion is an 
> everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and 
> his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.
> Ezra 6:12 May God, who has caused his Name to 
> dwell there, overthrow any king or people who 
> lifts a hand to change this decree or to destroy 
> this temple in Jerusalem. ¶ I Darius have decreed 
> it. Let it be carried out with diligence.
> 
> HH: What do you do with all these verses?
> 
> 				Yours,
> 				Harold Holmyard
> 
> >I have a different philosophy of 
> >lexicography, especially when it applies to 
> >Biblical Hebrew: that the lexeme’s meaning, 
> >hence its definition, is to be recognized by the 
> >action it refers to, only secondarily by the 
> >form that it takes. Even so, most of my entries 
> >have the same or similar meanings as in earlier 
> >lexica.
> >
> >Thirdly, whereever possible, I look for a 
> >unifying meaning that ties all uses of a lexeme 
> >together: root and derivitives. That is not 
> >always possible. After all, a word may have 
> >changed such that it looks as if it came from 
> >one root, when it actually came from another. Or 
> >a word could originally have been a loan word 
> >with a pronunciation that makes it appear that 
> >it is related to one root, when it isn’t. To try 
> >to find a unified meaning, I go through each 
> >occurance of a word in Tanakh asking if, in each 
> >context, does it give a semantically 
> >recognizeable and consistant meaning where all 
> >uses share the same root definition.
> >
> >Where there are synonyms, I tried to find where 
> >they differ in meaning. Not always easy.
> >
> >One problem is the small corpus we have written 
> >in Biblical Hebrew with its large number of 
> >hapax legomai words, idioms and phrases.
> >
> >One of the few words where I differ from earlier 
> >dictionaries is in the meaning of XBL, where I 
> >see no need for a definition including to offend 
> >or deal corruptly. It has many derivitive 
> >meanings, but they all go back to a root meaning 
> >referring to knotting up or tying up. For 
> >example, giving birth comes from the idea of 
> >labor pangs, which are the contractions 
> >(knotting up) of the muscles. Sailors have a 
> >reputation going back to ancient times for their 
> >skill with knots. A loan is something that one 
> >is tied to, even though this is not a physical 
> >knot. And so forth.
> >
> >I looked at earlier dictionaries, I just don’t agree with them all the time.
-- 
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