[b-hebrew] Genesis 20: 1

Shoshanna Walker rosewalk at concentric.net
Sat Oct 6 23:20:53 EDT 2007

Why would you think that you have the authority to propose a NEW 
translation of our Torah??

Who are you, what are you credentials?


B Hebrew  List:
I would  like to know if my proposed new translation of Genesis 20: 1 is
grammatically  possible.
Traditional translation of Genesis 20: 1  (JPS1917):
’ÄúAnd Abraham journeyed from  thence toward the land of the South, and dwelt
between Kadesh and Shur;  and he sojourned in Gerar.’Äù
Proposed  new translation of Genesis 20: 1:
’ÄúAnd  departed from there Abraham to the southern region of, and he settled
between,  Kadesh and Sur, and he sojourned in Gerar.’Äù
There’Äôs  no way that Abraham and Sarah would decide to settle or dwell in the
middle of  the Sinai Desert right before Sarah bears Isaac.  Under my
proposed new translation,  Abraham and Sarah sensibly go to southern 
Lebanon to have
the baby.  Abraham and Sarah had been to Egypt and  back in chapters 12 and 13
of Genesis, so they well knew how desolate the Sinai  Desert was.  There is
no way that,  having received the divine promise at Genesis 18: 14 that Sarah
would bear Isaac  ’Äúwhen the season cometh round’Äù, that is, when spring
returns, and knowing that  YHWH was keeping these divine promises, as 
proven by the
sudden destruction of  Sodom and Gomorrah which was also divinely promised in
chapter 18, that Abraham  and Sarah would move to the middle of the Sinai
Desert for Sarah to carry the  child to term and bear the child.  Nor 
would they
settle or dwell in the Sinai Desert and then move to the  Negev Desert, east of
Gaza.  None of  that traditional interpretation of this key text makes any
I  realize that my proposed translation is ’Äústilted’Äù.  That’Äôs 
because it’Äôs
a very literal  translation.  The question is not  whether my proposed
translation is smooth English, but rather whether it is a 
grammatically possible
reinterpretation of Genesis 20: 1.
There  were no commas or other punctuation in the original Hebrew text, so it
seems to  me that one should not give too much deference to the traditional
placing of the  English commas.  By moving the  English commas as I have done,
a formerly nonsensical verse would now make  complete sense.  I view 
as  meaning here the Lebanese city-state of Kadesh ( though elsewhere in the
Patriarchal narratives it is used to refer to Kadesh-Barnea).  I view 
 as referring to the  Lebanese city-state of Sur (Sur in Arabic, Sur or Shur
or Tsur in Hebrew, Surru  in the Amarna Letters, ’ÄúTyre’Äù in 
English, following
the Greek mispronunciation),  although elsewhere in the Patriarchal
narratives it is used to refer to the Shur  Desert on the western 
edge of the Sinai
Desert.  Note that Genesis 25: 18 seems compelled  to mention that 
the reference
in the text there to ’ÄúS(h)ur’Äù means the Shur near  Egypt;  that 
implies that
there is  another Sur that is nowhere near Egypt.  Finally, instead 
of seeing ’Äú
Gerar’Äù as being a fictional locale in the  Negev Desert (which is not, by the
way, ’Äúbetween Kadesh and S(h)ur’Äù in any  event), I view 
’ÄúGerar’Äù as being
historical Garu, a portion of which, per the  Amarna Letters, extended as far
west as the coast of Lebanon.  (The later mention of ’ÄúBeersheba’Äù 
means  little,
as the ’ÄúBeersheba’Äù that Hagar goes to in the middle of chapter 21 of
Genesis is obviously a different place than the ’ÄúBeersheba’Äù to 
which Abraham  goes ’Äú
at that time’Äù [Genesis 21: 22] at the end of chapter  21.)
I am  mainly worried whether the grammatical construction I am proposing for
Genesis 20: 1 is possible in Biblical Hebrew.
Any  thoughts would be very greatly appreciated.
Jim  Stinehart

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