[b-hebrew] watered ground & forming dust

Naama Zahavi-Ely nxzaha at wm.edu
Tue Nov 10 14:44:30 EST 2009


The problem is that you are dealing through English with something for which there is no good English term.  I run into this problem every year as I read the text of Genesis 1-3 with intermediate Hebrew students.  "Afar," which is translated as "dust," is actually not (dry, wind-blown) dust but rather earth/soil as material -- that is, the collective term for particles of earth that one can pick up and pinch between one's fingers.  It can be dry or moist, and it can be formed.  I have not been able to find a better English word -- every possibility I can think of has other connotations that are misleading (ground?  earth?  soil?).  

I also agree with Yigal's reasoning -- you can't apply Aristotelian logic to the Hebrew Bible (or for that matter to most usage of any language).  But in this case, the argument is not necessary.

Best wishes

Naama Zahavi-Ely
College of William and Mary

>Message: 3
>Date: Mon, 9 Nov 2009 17:59:46 -0700
>From: Gerry Folbre <gfolbreiii at gmail.com>
>Subject: [b-hebrew] watered ground & forming dust
>To: B-Hebrew <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
>	<a79631010911091659rf59c74ewaf2c29d1d0c10644 at mail.gmail.com>
>Content-Type: text/plain; charset=UTF-8
>I would like to discuss what I perceive as incongruent anomalies composed
>within Gen. 2:6b & 2:7a.
>Gen. 2:6b ????? ???????????????? ...  {and irrigated [watered/made wet] the
>whole face of the ground).
>Gen. 2:7a ... ????? ???? ????? ??????? ??? ????????  {and it formed the
>human archetype of dust from the ground ...)
>Gen. 2:6b states that the entire face (surface) of the ground is irrigated.
>But then Gen. 2:7a not only describes ?dry, loose earth (or dust)? being
>found upon the newly irrigated surface of the ground, Gen. 2:7a also
>apparently stats that somehow this ?dry, loose earth (dust)? can somehow be
>?formed?.  However, ?dust (dry, loose earth) from the ground? is not an
>earthly substance that lends itself to being ?formed {like a potter forms a
>If there is anyone who may have some constructive insight into these
>contextual anomalies, I look forward to discussing these subjects with you.
>Gerry Folbre

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list