[b-hebrew] Gen 2.18

A Becker ABecker at nerdshack.com
Sat Oct 27 10:10:37 EDT 2007


Edward,

 

First off, let me revise your transliteration since it seems you have not
used the usual transliteration standard. (for information on this standard,
please see http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/beta/key.html)

 

VY)MR YHWH )LHYM L) +WB HYWT H)DM LBDW

 

I recognize instantly that the "unnamed translation" in your post is the New
World Translation used by Jehovah's Witnesses. Translations of the wayyiqtol
such as "and...went on to say" are always a dead give away because the New
World Translation does not recognize the waw-consecutive (wayyiqtol) form to
be distinct from the imperfect with simple waw (weqitol). Note what the
forward of the New World Translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, Vol. 1 (1953)
says:

 

"For our part we do not recognize the Hebrew waw as having any conversive
power over the verb with which it is ‎combined, even when causing that verb
to have a certain mark (da-gesh' for'te) or to change its tone or to shorten
‎its form. In all cases we recognize and try to bring out the inherent
meaning of the verb form, perfect or imperfect, ‎even with waw conjunctive
or waw consecutive. Thus, without following any arbitrary or artificial "waw
conversive" ‎theory, we can translate an imperfect verb into the past,
present or future time according to the context and at the ‎same time show
its action or state as imperfect or uncompleted. Likewise we can translate a
perfect verb into past, ‎present or future time and yet show its emphatic
nature and its being completed or its being a dead certainty, as if it ‎were
already accomplished when foretold or promised."

 

This can only mean that for the translators the wayyiqtol form and the
weqitol form are exactly the same which to me does not address why they are
differentiated in the Hebrew. Look through the previous postings for the
long discussions on the wayyiqtol by Rolf Furuli (one of Jehovah's
Witnesses) to see the most vigorous arguments against the wayyiqtol from
that perspective. So in the first place I would disagree that VY)MR is
"lit[erally]" "and he is saying" as your post states and I think the NWT
does not accurately reflect VY)MR in its translation "and...went on to say."
The ASV, ESV, NASB, and HCSB all reflect the wayyiqtol correctly in my
opinion.

 

As for the main part you asked about, L) +WB HYWT H)DM LBDW, this is
literally (not preserving word order) "the man's being alone [is] not good"
or in better English syntax, "It is not good for the man to be alone." HYWT
is an infinitive construct working with LBDW and simply means "being alone."
The New World Translation's "to continue by himself" is paraphrasic, whereas
the other versions keep things much simpler. The noun LBDW simple means
"alone" and in itself tells us nothing about Adam's feelings.

 

Turning to the context, and this will no doubt case argument, I see that the
creation of animals in Genesis 2 was done BECAUSE Adam was alone. What I
mean is that verse 19 should read something like “Then Yahweh God formed
(WYCR) out of the ground...”

 

The wayyiqtol, here WYCR, is usually used in narrative sequences to show
sequence of actions. So the most straightforward way to read the next verse
is "then...formed." Of course this will go down the road to the "Does
Genesis really contain two creation accounts?" debate. Those who believe in
the unity of Genesis 1 and 2 take the wayyiqtol here in a different sense.
Thus the New World Translation, for example, rather than say "And Jehovah
God proceeded to form" as it would normally do, translates here "Now Jehovah
God was forming" as if the action of forming animals was still in the
process. Similarly the ESV, which is really an evangelical rewrite of the
RSV, has "Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed" (RSV: So out of the
ground the LORD God formed; notice the difference?). This rendering takes
the action of forming animals as having happened previously (see also NIV).
What translations such as these are trying to do is harmonize Genesis 2 with
1 so that the creation of animals follows the creation of man. Of course
these translations all have justification for why they translate the way
they do and it is for you to review those arguments to see which one makes
the most sense. My point is this: to ask the list about the context in this
passage is going to cause some problems as people view that context
differently.

 

However, on my reading of the context I see that in verse 18 God sees Adam
is alone and so decides to make “a helper fitting for him.” Then God creates
the animals, but out of them Adam does not find that helper (vs. 20). So
then God creates woman (vs. 21) and Adam rejoices that he now has such a
helper (vss. 23, 24). While the word LBDW merely relates that Adam was alone
and in itself does not say anything about Adam’s feeling of loneliness, I
think that loneliness is at least implied in the text by the concern of God
that Adam is all by himself and so tries to make for Adam a helper who is
fitting for him ultimately succeeding with the creation of Eve.

 

I spent too much time on this and will leave others to answer you animal
question.

 

Anthony




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