[b-hebrew] Genesis 20: 1

biblical hebrew jcr.bhebrew at gmail.com
Tue Oct 16 04:59:17 EDT 2007

Hi Jim,

thanks for the lengthy reiteration of points you have already made in other
posts to other list members but I think you may have misunderstood what I
wanted. What I was requesting was a basic plain English, colloquial and
understandable rendition of Genesis 20:1 so that I could see what you are
proposing the translation should be without the confusion of punctuation
schemes that, to be frank, don't work in English.

Are you suggesting an understanding of the following kind?:

And Abraham went out from there down towards the south of the land. And he
set up camp at Gerar between Kadesh and Sur.

James Christian Read - BSc Computer Science
http://www.lamie.org/hebrew       Thesis 1 - Aleppo codex machine translation
http://www.lamie.org/lad-sim.doc  Thesis 2 - language acquisition simulation

On 10/15/07, JimStinehart at aol.com <JimStinehart at aol.com> wrote:
> James Christian Read
> Thanks for your nice post.  I  will use two posts of my own to answer your
> post.
> 1.  You wrote:  "Firstly, I would like to say that the  concerns raised
> with
> regard to inseperable Hebrew constructions are valid  concerns and any
> translation you offer should be in harmony with them. At this  point I
> would like to
> request that you provide a colloquial English translation  of what you are
> proposing, as the punctuation scheme you seem to be offering  does
> nothing, in my
> mind, to illuminate new meaning to the verse but does  everything to
> completely obscure any sensible meaning from it."
> I realize that the reading of Genesis 20: 1 that I am  proposing stretches
> Hebrew grammar.  In most all cases, and perhaps in all cases, when a new
> clause
> begins  with a vav and a verb in Biblical Hebrew, that new clause will not
> be
> picking up  words from the preceding clause.  And in most all cases, and
> perhaps in all cases, a comma or break would  not follow the Hebrew word
> for
> "between".  But in my view, it is the author of the Patriarchal narratives
> who is
> straining the Hebrew grammar here.  For example, any normal Hebrew
> analysis of
> the name "Reuben" would say  that the name means "Behold -- a son!".  And
> that
> analysis would also seem very natural for Jacob's firstborn  son.  But
> instead, the author of the  Patriarchal narratives strains the Hebrew
> language and
> comes up with an  alternative pun that is far, far from obvious:  "And
> Leah
> conceived, and bore a  son, and she called his name Reuben; for she said:
> 'Because the LORD [YHWH] hath  looked upon my affliction;  for now  my
> husband will
> love me.'"  Genesis  29: 32  That to me shows an author  who is wedded to
> clever Hebrew wordplay (which is incessant throughout the  Patriarchal
> narratives),
> and who often forces us to look for non-obvious  constructions of the
> Hebrew
> wording.
> Here at Genesis 20: 1, under normal Hebrew grammar, one  would think that
> the
> references to "land" and "south" have nothing to do  whatsoever with the
> next
> clause, which clearly states that Abraham "settled  between Qadesh and
> S(h)ur".  I am  straining the Hebrew syntax (as the Hebrew author strains
> to get his
> pun on  "Rebuen" above) to get the references to "land" (or "region") and
> "south" in the  preceding clause to modify the following clause, so that
> the
> hidden meaning is  that Abraham settled in the southern region of the land
> between
> Qadesh and  Sur.  On that reading, Abraham went  to Sur in southern
> Lebanon
> as the place where Sarah would bear Isaac.  I admit that my reading of
> Genesis
> 20: 1  strains Hebrew grammar, but I see my reading as being the hidden,
> intentional  meaning of the author.  The reason  why the author uses this
> roundabout wording is that the author wants us to first  think that
> Abraham appears to
> be meekly following in Hagar's path from Genesis  16: 7, 14 in leaving
> Hebron.
> But  instead, in light of the rest of chapters 20, 21 and 26 of Genesis,
> we
> eventually figure out that Abraham in fact went in the opposite direction
> than  Hagar, with Abraham going north from Bethel/Ai to Sur ("Tyre") in
> southern
> Lebanon.
> The "strained" translation that I myself use, which makes  my meaning
> clear,
> but which admittedly is not normal Hebrew grammar, is as  follows:
> "And departed from there Abraham to the southern region of, and
> he  settled
> between, Qadesh and Sur, and he sojourned in Gerar."
> 2.  You wrote:  "Finally, a polite request. Could you  please separate
> your
> paragraphs with empty lines and in some way signify where  your quotation
> of
> another list member ends (preferably also with a line space  and some sort
> of
> indication of where your comments start)?"
> I try to do that, but for some unknown reason, my E-mails show up on the
> b-Hebrew list with no spacing between paragraphs.
> Jim Stinehart
> Evanston, Illinois
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