[b-hebrew] Meaning of the words "sons" and "daughters"

Karl Randolph kwrandolph at email.com
Fri Jun 23 16:00:26 EDT 2006


Reading your answer below, I get the impression 
that "sons and daughters" could even include 
people who had no familial relationship at all, so 
could include even those slaves born into the 
household. It is known that Jacob had many slaves, 
both male and female, besides his own children, 
thus they could be meant, unless I misunderstand 
what you meant.

Probably the most accurate thing to say is that 
from our understanding of Biblical Hebrew use, 
the word "daughter" neither proves nor disproves 
that Jacob had more than one daughter.

Karl W. Randolph.

> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Yitzhak Sapir" <yitzhaksapir at gmail.com>
> It has been suggested here that the Hebrew words bn "son" and bt "daughter"
> are also used to refer to s/d-in-law and grand-s/d.  Further, those 
> making these
> claims have been asked to provide evidence for these claims.  The evidence
> they provided has been less than satisfactory.
> Karl, for example, suggested Ruth 2:22 and 3:1 as examples of bt in reference
> to "daughter-in-law."  But Boaz in Ruth 2:8 also calls Ruth "my 
> daughter."  The
> fact is that the words bn/bt in Hebrew double as words for 
> "boy"/"girl."  Boaz's
> address is a reference to Ruth as "my girl", or perhaps in English 
> it would work
> better as "my child."  Naomi's use of the word in reference to Ruth is
> not proven
> by these verses to be anything different.  What this means is that
> bn/bt have two
> meanings: 1) son/daughter, 2) boy/girl.  The second meaning can be used in a
> wider sense.  For example, "bnot yerushalaym" of Song of Songs.  In this
> case, when used with an ethnic, tribal or geographical term, the 
> word refers to
> the men/women of that ethnic/tribal/geographical area.  It is the second word,
> which is a collective that gives the bn/bt its wider meaning.
> It is for this reason that examples such as Gen 46 are problematic.  Jacob is
> not just a person -- it's an ethnic term.  Jacob's children, 
> grandchildren, etc.
> are not just his "children" but they are "bnei yisrael."  That is,
> Jacob, in being
> not just a person, but also a tribal/ethnic term, allows the term 
> bn/bt to carry
> a wider sense.  It is the second definition above of bn/bt that is 
> invoked, not
> the first, and there is no proof of bn/bt meaning grand-s/d or 
> s/d-in-law.  Gen
> 46 is also problematic for another reason, the text doesn't say 
> "all of Jacob's
> sons and daughters were 33," but rather "all the souls of Jacob's sons and
> daughter's were 33."  The grandsons/daughters can be included in the term
> "souls", leaving "Jacob's sons and daughters" to refer only to his direct
> immediate sons/daughters.  Other terms in Gen 46, such as yocey yreko
> (Gen 46:26) or "banaw wbney banaw itto, bnotaw wbnot banaw wkl zar(o"
> (Gen 46:7) suggest that Gen 46 is not using bn/bt to refer to grand-s/d or
> anything beyond immediate sons and daughters and this is why it must
> resort to other terms to include other people.
> Because of the tribal/ethnic double meaning of Jacob or most of the names
> in Genesis, and perhaps the whole Pentateuch, it is unlikely to me that any
> conclusive proof can be derived from the Pentateuch for bn/bt (meaning 1)
> referring to something beyond immediate sons and daughters.
> It is also clear Genesis rarely mentions the daughters being born.  This is
> clear from the lineage from Adam down to Noah, where women are mentioned
> (Lemekh's two wives, for example), but the only hint we have of them being
> born is the generic "wayoled banim wbanot" in Genesis 5 throughout, even
> for people mentioned earlier as having given birth to only a few sons (such
> as Adam, whose only sons being mentioned by name are Cain, Abel, and
> Seth).
> In light of all this, it seems unlikely to assume that because Genesis doesn't
> mention Jacob's other daughters besides Dinah, that he had only one
> daughter, or that the term "bnotaw" in reference to Jacob must refer to more
> than his immediate daughters (although, as said before, Jacob's function as
> a tribal name complicates this issue).
> Yitzhak Sapir
> http://toldot.blogspot.com

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