[b-hebrew] barak (bless? curse?) in the Book of Job

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Thu Jan 29 14:28:18 EST 2009


On Thu, Jan 29, 2009 at 7:55 AM, Harold Holmyard
<hholmyard3 at earthlink.net>wrote:

> Karl,
> >
> > …. I don't read English translations
> > for my personal readings, why should I read English for my scholarly
> > studies?)
> >
> HH: Because failure to do so can leave a person uninformed and misguided.
> >
What? Almost all that I know about the text, I learned from reading it in
Hebrew. I don't know it in translation. So for me to look at those examples
from translations leaves me in unfamiliar territory. Why go there?

But seeing from your silence when asked if you had ever read the text even
once through, cover to cover, in Hebrew, indicating that you never have,
does that not leave you to being uninformed and misguided through ignorance?

> > And there are reasons to deny that they were deliberate changes.
> >
> > 1) There is no record that a change was ever affected.
> >
> HH: There is a record that changes exactly like this were made. They are
> called tiqqune sopherim.
> OK, you are contradicting yourself.

First you said that there were only 18 places, in 17 verses, where the
Masoretes admitted to changing the text. These verses were not included in
those 17.

Now you are saying that there were more changes admitted to, including these

Which is it? Or are you including suspected changes which were not
specifically admitted to?

> > 2) Words don't have one meaning, and its opposite.
> >
> HH: They can, if the history of the word develops in that way. The
> English word "bad" is sometimes used to indicate something good. This
> sort of thing happens. Words can also be used ironically or
> sarcastically with just the opposite of their apparent meaning.

You took my words out of context, I said outside of slang usage. Your
example comes from slang. I further said I see no such usage of slang in the

> 3) Comparing the use of the idiomatic phrases in the verse with their use
> in
> > other verses gives no compulsion for a change. In other words, it makes
> > perfect sense as written.
> >
> HH:  It does not make perfect sense as written, nor do the other texts.
> That is why modern translations do not translate these verses, about six
> of them in the Bible, the way you are suggesting. The jerry-built
> solutions you offer for these texts are not believable. And  )M L) has a
> pattern of usage in the Bible that shows what the likely sense is in
> Satan's speech, where )M L) evidently means "surely." And you have Satan
> not saying that Job will do anything wrong.

Harold, you are losing credibility here. That is not what I said. Didn't you
read it?

What I said, and I'll repeat myself here, though rewording so that maybe you
will understand, is that as long as God blesses Job, Job has no reason not
to bless God in return. What Satan states is that if God allows misfortune
to come upon Job, then Job will sing a different tune. This is the meaning
in the text, keeping )M L) as "if not" instead of "surely" and BRK as
"bless". This is from the Hebrew use in other verses as well as these

Now how best to translate it, is a different question.

Could it be that most modern scholars and translators, because they are more
familiar with the text in translation instead of the original Hebrew, that
they are the ones, to use your terms, are "uninformed and misguided"?


> > Or did his
> > "blessing" for the king turn out like that friendly encouragement of the
> > prophet Mikiyahu in the next chapter?
> HH: There is nothing said about Mikiyahu in relation to Naboth. Mikiyahu
> is neither God nor the king.

Huh? Your response makes no sense.

> >  Or in 1 Kings 21:13 was this an
> > imperative, and when Naboth was unable to fulfill the command completely,
> > i.e. the "blessing" for the king stuck in his throat, that he was then
> > executed for civil insubordination?
> HH: Then the accusation would be that he did not bless the king.

Exactly, and it needn't be spelled out in the text.

> Where is the necessity that the only way
> > to understand this verse is through claiming that it is a euphemism?
> >
> HH: Other explanations don't really make sense

Neither does yours. Don't you see that's what I am saying? Why else would I
entertain other explanations?

> >
> > Are you not taking this out of context? Does not the context indicate
> that
> > this is an improper blessing due to error?
> >
> HH: No, the context does not indicate that it is an improper blessing
> due to error. There is nothing said about such ideas. There is mention
> that the children may have sinned. What in the world is an improper
> blessing, anyway?

Do you think God would be pleased if praised for sin that someone did? That
God is so great because one is a glutton or drunkard (both condemned in the
Bible)? Do you not see how blessing God for an error is an improper

> >
> >> . The euphemistic use of the verb
> >> "bless" seems to fit the
> >> context very well.
> >>
> >>
> >
> > And there are a few reasons that this is not true, among which:
> >
> > I already mentioned that (L PNY in none of its other uses has the concept
> of
> > "to your face" in the English sense of the phrase. To give it that
> meaning
> > only here is bad linguistics.
> >
> HH: The phrase means "to your face" in Job 6:28. The meaning is given in
> the lexicon. The phrase has a wide range of meanings that could apply,
> including "in front of," "before," and "in the sight of."  See, for
> example, Jer 6:7; Ex 33:19; Gen 32:22; Job 4:15; Lev 10:3; Ps 9:20.

Did you not read earlier postings? I wrote )L PNY has three basic uses: 1)
upon the surface of, 2) related to #1, in the presence of, of which before,
in front of are subsets of presence, and 3) when bowing down, face to the
ground. Job 6:28 fits meaning #2. Likewise Job 1:9, 2:5.

> > The sentence here is not in the context of an oath or promise, rather a
> list
> > of actions. In a list of actions, the phrase )M L) has the meaning of "if
> > not [action] then [action]" where in these verses the first action is
> > assumed from the context.
> >
> HH: It is called a suppressed oath formula. Satan is emphasizing how
> certain it is that Job will curse God.

You grammarians make mountains out of molehills. There's no oath here, just
simple action and consequence. Why not just take things at face value?

> >> 3. Euphemistic Usage in the Speech of Job's Wife: Did Job's wife say
> >> "Curse" or "Bless God
> >> and die"? …
> >
> > Spoken like a true, 21st century, sensitive American male. But is that
> the
> > way Job and his wife interacted? The LXX added extra verses here bringing
> > out some of this idea, but I understand it more in the sense of
> accusatory
> > action.
> >
> HH: The writing above assumes that there is an accusation, and that is
> exactly why the idea of "bless" does not fit. If Job's wife had told him
> to bless God and die, then there would have been no real reason to
> accuse his wife of speaking like one of the foolish women.

Look at the context! In the immediate previous words, Job's wife accuses him
in an exclamatory question. There's a lot that can be read into those words,
but her following words, "Bless God … and die!" is the opposite of
laudatory. Instead it sounds like exasperation.

> > I already gave my translation, showing why there is need neither for a
> > scribal amendation nor a euphemistic rendition.
> >
> HH: Your various solutions for these numerous verses are not credible.
> You would not have Satan saying that Job would do anything wrong. You
> would have Job offering sacrifices because his children might have
> blessed God. You would have Job accusing his wife of talking like one of
> the foolish women because she said, "Bless God and die." You would have
> the town accusing Naboth and putting him to death, because he blessed
> God and the king.

And how do you think your credibility is standing up, when you accuse me of
saying the opposite of what I actually said? Where your knowledge of Hebrew
looks more like book larnin and not experience? Where you take out of
context or don't read carefully? Sometimes I think you go out on a limb,
merely because you want to prove me wrong.

> Yours,
> Harold Holmyard
> >
Karl W. Randolph.

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