[b-hebrew] Isaiah 53: In his death?

unikom at paco.net unikom at paco.net
Sun May 16 07:17:43 EDT 2004

Dear Schmuel,

>show that plural forms in Hebrew have major and substantive differences
than plurals in English<

Not to the extent you seem to imagine There are few anomalities in any
developed language; cf. sheep, men. This doesn't imply we should twist
99.99% other words instead of applying their plain meaning.

The issue of im in Elokim has nothing to do whatsoever with the argument,
and belongs to quite another area of study.

I believe I answered every letter. If I miss anything, please let me know.

I replied on plurals. Here it is again:

Plural in motaw cannot point to intensity. Ez28:10 is really simple,
mentioning "deaths of the uncircumcized." Both words are in plural, of
Ez28:8: They would bring you down to Sheol, and you would die, emptied by
[the] deaths, in [the] heart of [the] seas
"You" here refers not to a single man, like in Isaiah 53, but to the
nation, thus "deaths" in plural is only appropriate. The collective plural
is very common in Hebrew (e.g., lamo, or in the commandments). Job33:22
employs the word memitim in exactly the same way: their lives to those who
bring deaths.
As you can see, Ezek27-28 clearly addresses people as a whole, even while
nominally addressing a ruler in the chapter 28. Likewise, Ezek28:20
addresses Sidon as a collective plural. The prophet specifically says ngid
in the second verse, a somewhat unusual word (verse 12, starting a
seemingly different speech, employs standard melekh); even if ngid is
taken for "leader," the connotation is "one who assembles [the people]."
So no doubt that "deaths" is employed towards the collective, not a single
person, which is an explicit meaning of Is53.
Still another problem with "death" is that the translation "he was given"
is, of course, incorrect: it is "he gave." Obviously, it cannot be said,
"he gave in his death[s]."
Isaiah never use impersonal verb in the chapter, and I don't remember him
fond of this form at all. Even in the verse 3 he is careful to clarify,
[despised] by men, although "the men" is clearly excessive.
Moreover, even if you take "he gave" as "one gave," you immediately have a
problem with suffix waw in bemotaw. To say "one gave him death" (a very
unusual construction, indeed), Isaiah would probably say mot lo. However,
it is moto here; thus, "one gave his death." Overall, "one gave in his
death with rich" bears more than a tint of twisting.

Rabbis have their agenda not unlike Christians. Many of them honestly
tried to understand bemotaw but failed, since they viewed the chapter as
prophecy, and there boma is quite meaningless.
Besides, I'm talking not of the history, but of the grammar. No point in
referring to authorities. The text is there for everyone to read, and not
in some obscure unintelligible language.

Can you argue on grammar? If not, just hold on to your faith.


Vadim Cherny

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list