[b-hebrew] Directions with MIN

Steve Miller smille10 at sbcglobal.net
Wed Apr 8 22:23:29 EDT 2009

Thank you for an excellent thought-provoking question and observation. My
thoughts below.

-Steve Miller
Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than
for him. (Prov 26:12)

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Charles Grebe
> Sent: Sunday, April 05, 2009 5:42 PM
> When the preposition MIN is used with a direction like QEDEM (east) or
> TSAPHON (north), how do you know when it means "direction from" or
> "direction towards"?
> For example, in Genesis 13:11, MEQEDEM pretty much has to mean towards the
> east. After Lot chose the plain of the Jordan, he travelled east from the
> high country between Bethel and Ai (v. 3). 

[Steve Miller] I don't think it has to mean "towards the east". We know from
the context that Lot departed toward the east, but that is not necessarily
what the verse is saying. The verb NASAH (departed) is used many times in
the Tanach with the preposition "MIN", and in every case the direct object
is what is being departed towards while the object of MIN is what is being
departed from. I believe the same rule should apply here: Lot departed from
the east, that is, he departed from a location east of Abraham. An
exhaustive list of verses that use NASAH with MIN are: Gen 11:2; 13:11;
20:1; 35:16; 37:17; Exo 12:37; 13:20; 14:19; 15:22; 16:1 ;17:1; 19:2; Num
10:33-34; 11:31,35; 12:16; 20:22; 21:4; 11-13; 33:3,5-48; Deut 1:19, 40;
10:6,7; Josh 3:1,3,14; Jud 18:11; 2 Kg 3:27; 19:8; Ezr 8:31; Ps 80:8; Isa
The only time that the direct object of NASAH is not what is being departed
towards is when the verb is hiphil, since then the direct object is the one
being caused to depart. Also, I only saw one use of NASAH where a
preposition, el, was used to designate the place being departed towards,
instead of it being the direct object. That was Num 10:29 because Israel was
not departing to the place the Lord gave them directly, but after 40 years
round about in the wilderness.

> See also Genesis 12:8 where
> Abram camps east of Bethel (or eastward from Bethel).

[Steve Miller] This use of MEQEDEM is consistent.
> In Genesis 11:2, however, should MEQEDEM be understood to mean "from the
> east" or "to the east" or even "in the east", and more importantly, how do
> you determine which it is? There are examples of all of these in the
> English translations for this verse.

[Steve Miller] This uses the same verb as 13:11, so the same argument
applies. The context also makes sense that they journeyed from the east
because Ararat is east of Babel. I do not understand why NAS, ASV, JPS and
AMP translated it as "to the east", except that those translations are not
my favorite translations for the Old Testament.
> I had a look at IBHS 11.2.11.b.2 but it didn't help much. Thoughts?

[Steve Miller] What is says is correct, but it doesn't explain the problem
with Gen 13:11. (Thanks to Yitzhak for posting the online version of this.)
> Thanks,
> Charles Grebe
> Director of Distance Learning
> Briercrest College and Seminary
> Caronport, SK
> Canada

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