[b-hebrew] Where Is Jacob's Ladder?

dwashbur at nyx.net dwashbur at nyx.net
Fri Nov 9 15:21:22 EST 2007

On 9 Nov 2007 at 14:51, JimStinehart at aol.com wrote:

> Dave  Washburn: 
> You  wrote:  "Here we go again; I  did not say this.  I mentioned that the 
> Masoretic pointing was somewhat at  odds with your translation, nothing more.  I 
> also pointed out that, with or  without the pointing, the grammar of the 
> clause supports the translation "a  certain place" which you reject.  Hence, your 
> view is at odds with the  actual grammar of the passage.  NOTHING is based on 
> "reliance on the  medieval Masoretic pointing system."  It's based on grammar, 
> nothing more,  nothing less." 
> I feel very bad that I seem to have misrepresented what you said.  My 
> apologies again. 

Good enough.

> Could you please explain to me the basis for the following key contention  of 
> yours? 
> "[T]he grammar of the clause supports the translation 'a certain  place'...." 
> I am obviously missing something here.  Are we looking at the same Hebrew  
> letters?  Or am I missing the  significance of one Hebrew letter in the text?  
> Why "a certain place", instead of "a  place"? 

Because this is how biblical Hebrew indicated such a thing.  See under Speiser below.

> I note that Young's Literal Translation oddly puts the  word "certain" in 
> brackets.   
> "and he toucheth at a [certain] place" 

Yes, because it's not explicit in the text.  But Hebrew didn't say "a certain place" that way.

> Most translations do in fact say "a certain place".  The JPS1917, which is 
> often the best  translation, instead says "the place". 
> E.A. Speiser says:  "a  certain place.  The attribute is  implicit in the d
> efinite article of Heb." 
> What am I missing here?  Is the B considered a definite article  here? Why?  
> And if so, why "a  certain place" rather than "the place"? 

No, the patach under the B indicates the assimilated definite article.  I didn't go there 
because you've already said you reject the pointing.  At the same time, you must have some 
kind of pronunciation pattern, so whether it's the Masoretic or something else is pretty much 
academic.  Karl reads unpointed text as well, but I suspect he probably reads a definite 
article here, as well.  He can correct me on that if I'm wrong, because I'm essentially 
guessing :-)  It's the difference between B'MAQOM and BAMAQOM, whether you actually 
notate it or not.  Basically, the literary meaning is "THE place [that we're going to talk about 
in this part of the story].  It's better English idiom, and hence more readable for the average 
English reader, to say "a certain place."

OTOH, if you eliminate the definite article, you have "a place [which is where this story 
happens], which again amounts to "a certain place" in good English.  The difference is one 
of focus: with the article, the place is something prominent, as in this case; without the 
article, it's just a place for the prominent events to take place.  Does that clear it up?

> My guess is that maybe I am not the only one confused about this.  Could you 
> please explain the grammatical  rule that suggests, but apparently does not 
> mandate, adding the word "certain"  before the word "place" in Genesis 28: 11? 

I hope I've answered your question.

> I am sorry that I have not yet understood the precise grammatical point  you 
> are making.  I did not mean to  misrepresent what you said. 

Accepted and  forgiven.

Dave Washburn
As a French hippie might say, "Je ne creuse pas!"

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