[b-hebrew] "Mizan el zan" in Ps. 144:13

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Thu Aug 23 04:29:01 EDT 2007

Dear all,

Ps. 144:13a reads "Our larders are full, producing 'mizan el zan'". This is my translation, attempting to render the Hebrew as literally as possible. 

I know that the precise translation of the word that I rendered "larders" is disputed, but I want to focus on the second part. The word "zan" appears only in this phrase, and maybe in 2 Chr. 16:14 (although I'm not convinced that it's the same word). Most translations understand the word "zan" as "kind" or "sort". Many commentaries cite "zan" here (and in 2 Chr. 16:14) as either an Aramaic or a Persian loanword. Indeed, in the targumim, "zan" is the common translation of the Hebrew word "min" - "species" (for instance, in Gen. 1:11 etc.). And so the unique phrase "mizan el zan" is understood literally "from kind to kind" and rendered "of all kinds" and the like.
Accordingly, the verse is usually translated "That our garners may be full, affording all manner of store" (KJV); "May our barns be filled, with produce of every kind" (NRSV); "Our barns will be filled with every kind of provision" (NIV) and the like.

However, the LXX does not. There, "mizan el zan" is rendered "ek toutou eis touto", apparently preserving a Hebrew "mizeh el-zeh" - "from this to that" or "from here to there".
In the MT, the verse seems incomplete - the translations added the word "store", "provisions" and the like, but it's not there in the Hebrew. 

Finally, my questions:

1. Does anyone know of an Old Persian word "zan" or the like, that could have been borrowed by the Hebrew and the Aramaic as "species"?

2. Is there any other indication (presumably linguistic) that this psalm is late enough for such borrowing to have happened?

3. In any case, how do y'all explain the syntax of the Hebrew?

Much thanks,

Yigal Levin

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