[b-hebrew] That piece of halibut was good enough for YHWH

Jane Peters janepeters13041939 at yahoo.co.nz
Sat Jan 26 17:11:55 EST 2008


> >  Uri Hurwitz:
> >  tov hayah b'eynei elohim

> Jane:
>   Some of the humour of the saying in 'The Life of Brian' is in the
image of YHWH eating
> fish (for which the person gets stoned). I think b'eynei elohim loses
some of that direct
> meaning.
  > Yitzhak Sapir:
  > But the "in the eyes of God" is also an idiomatic expression, and if
one were to say "this
> fish will be good enough for the eyes of Yahweh" I don't think one
loses anything at all.
> The emphasis on the joke is not on the fact that poor Matthias views
Yahweh as human,
> but rather that a quite harmless comment meant to compliment the
cooking of his wife
> is an offense punishable by stoning by overly eager women.  
   
  Jane:
  It's interesting the various issues for translation this short sentence raises. Nothing is very straightforward when it comes to translation.
   
  The way I hear the expression "good enough for Jehovah" in 'Life of Brian' is that it means "good enough for Jehovah [to eat]". The 'blasphemer' has just "had a lovely supper", so the clear implication is that the supper was good enough for Jehovah *to eat*. As I understand it, b'eynei elohim is idiomatic for divine favour. But I don't want to convey that the fish is considered good by Yhwh, but that the halibut is good enough for *his eating*. I think b'eynei elohim is too general to convey that emphasis.
   
   
  > Yitzhak Sapir:
  > This is also the reason why
> in the first mention of Yahweh, Yahweh ought to be at the end of the
sentence.  The
> listener is held in suspense before he hears the word that is so wrong
to say.
  Jane:
Good point. You've convinced me. The secret of good comedy is in the ... timing. ;-)
   
  
>   On: the language:

> >  Yitzhak Sapir:
> >  why Biblical Hebrew?  During the time of Jesus, a form of Mishnaic
Hebrew as
> > well as Aramaic and Greek were spoken.

> Jane:
>
> It was just for the fun of turning it into Biblical Hebrew. I was
going to say something
> about this, and I guess I should have.
  >   Yitzhak Sapir:
> The point is that it is quite anachronistic.  For example, how would
the Emancipation
> Proclamation sound in Chaucer's English?  We can try to reconstruct
it, but it doesn't
> really provide us with anything that anyone ever said.  Also, you seem
to want to
> concentrate on spelling rather than pronunciation, even though in this
case -- the
> sentence in question is one that probably wouldn't have been written
down anyway.
> My purpose was to reconstruct the Hebrew equivalent of the sentence as
it would have
> been spoken in the time in question.
   
  Jane:
I agree, what I'm doing is anachronistic. Although, unlike Mel Gibson, I'm being anachronistic on purpose. I think it's funny.
  

> Yitzhak Sapir:
> I will not criticize other translations provided on here.  
   
  Jane:
I was actually hoping you would, though.
   
  > Yitzhak Sapir:
  > However, your chosen translation
RQ )MRTY KY +WB L)KLH LYHWH HPW+YT  HHY'
where the aleph is transliterated by ) and ', is not only clumsy, it
is wrong.  +WB is an
adjective that should match the object (PW+YT) in gender and number.
Furthermore,
you are already here getting very close to Mishnaic Hebrew because in
earlier Hebrew,
instead of an adjectival construction, you'd have had a verbal
construction:
.... yy+b hdg hzh l?klh gm lyhwh

> As for the translation of "pw+yt," in Modern Hebrew most speakers
prefer a direct
transliteration "hlybwt."  The fish is apparently not native to the
Mediterranean
Sea, and other water sources near Israel, so some places I looked at
recommended
in replacing it with other fish in recipes.  I really don't think that
this is part of the
joke.  Again, the point is a harmless sentence about a fish course at
dinner, and
while for British viewers halibut may have sounded perfectly normal,
it is not that big
a deal that we must keep it.
   
  Jane:
  Oops - 'good' did not agree in gender. I quite like the fact that the transliteration HLYBWT is more commonly used than PW+YT, so would personally still favour this over the generic DG.  And adding gam makes it sound better. So, taking on your points, the adjectival construction would be this(?):
   
  RQ  'MRTY  KY  +WBH  HHLYBWT  HHY'  L'KLH  GM  LYHWH 
   
  And the verbal construction would be:
   
  RQ  'MRTY KY  YY+B  HHLYBWT  HHY'  L'KLH  GM  LYHWH 
   
  I wonder if it is possible to make 'KL infinitive: L'KL ? My concern is that L'KLH may be too wooden.
   
   

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