[b-hebrew] Genesis 20: 1

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Sun Oct 7 02:14:35 EDT 2007

Dear Shoshanna,

This kind of outburst does absolutely nothing to further study of the Hebrew 
Bible and the language in which it was written. This list is meant for open 
discourse, within the bounds of accepted etiquette and within the topics 
described in the list rules. The list is open to people with different 
backgrounds and beliefs. No-one needs either academic or divine authority to 
propose anything he or she wishes. If you have any real objection to Jim's 
proposal, please state them. If not, don't. You can either accept these 
ground rules or unsubscribe (for which I personally would be sorry, since 
you have made interesting contributions in the past).

Yigal Levin

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Shoshanna Walker" <rosewalk at concentric.net>
To: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Sunday, October 07, 2007 5:20 AM
Subject: [b-hebrew] Genesis 20: 1

> Why would you think that you have the authority to propose a NEW
> translation of our Torah??
> Who are you, what are you credentials?
> Shoshanna
> 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
> sense.
> 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
> 'ÄúKadesh'Äù
> 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
> 'ÄúS(h)ur'Äù
> 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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