[b-hebrew] Translating Ezekiel 16:26

Heard, Christopher Christopher.Heard at pepperdine.edu
Sat Jul 30 16:10:21 EDT 2005

I am working through Ezekiel and I am not sure how to take the phrase  
גדלי בשר [GDLY B&R] "those being great of flesh" in Ezekiel  
16:26. It's clear enough from the context that the speaker is  
referring to male genitalia, and the use of בשר [B&R] in Ezekiel  
23:20 confirms this. However, I am not sure whether to understand  
גדלי בשר [GDLY B&R] as a reference simply to large genitalia  
per se, or to _enlarged_ genitalia, that is, erections. NIV, NRSV,  
and JPS all take it in the latter sense, and translate it as  
"lustful." The LXX has a fairly literalistic translation,  
µεγαλοσάρκος [MEGALOSARKOS], "big-fleshed." Neither the  
Hebrew word-pair nor the Greek word appear elsewhere in the Tanakh or  
LXX, so I don't have any comparative data there to work with. Does  
anyone know of any good evidence, e.g. uses of the Hebrew phrase or  
Greek word in extra-biblical sources, or similar phrases in cognate  
languages, that would help me solidify this translation, or is it an  
irreducible ambiguity? Anybody know why NIV, NRSV, JPS read this as  
they do?
R. Christopher Heard
Assistant Professor of Religion
Pepperdine University
Malibu, California 90263-4352

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