[b-hebrew] Isaiah 53: pierced?

unikom at paco.net unikom at paco.net
Sun May 16 01:53:17 EDT 2004

Dear Peter,

I use Hebrew text. I don't care about any translations made from it. I
don't consult LXX. We used to laugh at this lame translation with my
friends before, but not it's boring.
I guess it's an convention among scholars to give priority to Hebrew text
in case of divergences. If this is not your view, you may just as well use
KJV. Nothing to argue about.

>Well, it looks to me from the Hebrew as if the "him" must be the same as
the one "whom they have pierced"<

And one more thing. They did not "pierce" anyone. This translation is off
the mark.
The common translations wounded, cut through or killed are incorrect. The
word is never used with those meanings in Tanakh. Isaiah's use is modeled
upon Job 26:13, 'His hand holelah the serpent.' Serpent here is the
traditional nahash, copper colored snake, the tempter, with no implication
of the mythical monsters Tiamat or Leviathan. Is27:1 tells the same story
in the same words, distinguishing nahash from the sea serpent. After
successfully tempting Eve, the serpent was cursed, deprived of the
covenant God gave to living beings. The serpent's life was made miserable,
and he was emptied.
Isaiah 51:9 'Are not you [the arm of God] the one cutting the monster
[Egypt], meholelet the crocodile [pharaoh]?' The next verse clarifies the
meaning by mentioning the passing through the Reed Sea. The Torah is
explicit that Pharaoh did not die pursuing the Israelites. He was what
could be described as emptied, losing his chariots: the cream of his army.
Cutting, incidentally, is incorrect, because the word has a positive,
creative connotation, like cutting stone, but not destruction. The correct
meaning is made the one who cut the stone [made the pyramids], showing
that God can give power to the pharaoh and empty him of it.
In Proverbs 26:10, the rendering of mhll as killed is wrong. The proverb
compares someone who hires a criminal or passer-by with rav mhll kol. The
correct sense of the latter phrase is not archer who kills everyone (which
does not have immediate relation to the hire of passer-by), but master who
empties all, presumably by foolish management. The correct translation,
therefore, is Like a master who empties all is he who hires a criminal or
passer-by, meaning that such employer would be emptied of his wealth.
In Ezekiel 32:26, the word in question is mehulal, not meholal, like in
Is53. The difference is of importance, since mehulal is constructed from
the whole root hll, while meholal is made up of the different ain-ain root
hol. However, even if Ezekiel's mehulal means the same as Isaiah's
meholal, mhll in Ezekiel is not killed, because killed is denoted
everywhere in Ez32 with hll. The difference is also evidenced by that mhll
is employed only toward Meshech and Tubal, the only two tribes in the
list, not described as smashed anywhere in Tanakh. That Ezekiel also did
not consider them dead is clear from his continuation, with its sense,
Shouldn't they have been among the dead, too?
Killed would have also been illogical, since the next verb in Isaiah's
phrase refers to a live person.


Vadim Cherny

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