[b-hebrew] ejectment vs. extermination

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Thu Dec 9 01:00:02 EST 2010

Fred, you once again do not recognize the difference between "versions" and "interpretations". Since the book of Numbers was originally written in Hebrew, different "versions" would use different Hebrew words. The Dead Sea Scrolls occasionally give us such different wordings in Hebrew. The Septuagint, although it is a Greek translation, can sometimes also reflect a different Hebrew text "version" than the existing MT. 

However in most cases, translations are really interpretations. Since there is often no one-on-one match between words in different languages, and most words can have different meanings depending on context, the translator first has to decide exactly what a word means in the original, and then decide which word in the "target" language best fits that meaning in that context. 

The root YR$ basically means "to take possession". Depending on context, that taking possession can be done peacefully or by force. Notice that in Numbers 33, the verb is used once in vs. 52, and then twice in vs. 53. In verse 52, the context obviously refers to the Israelites' taking possession of the land by force and destroying the inhabitants object of worship. Since "take possession of by force" is a mouthful, various translations, from the Septuagint through the Aramaic targumim to modern English, all give what they think the context demands: "destroy", "drive out", "kill" and "eject" are not really translations, but interpretations.

Now look at vs. 53, which starts with the same word. Here the object of YR$ is "the land", rather than its inhabitants. The Septuagint, at least in the "Apostolic" on-line version, adds the word "the ones dwelling in" so that it can retain the same meaning of YR$. Interestingly enough, so the Targumim. This could, in theory, mean that there was a Hebrew "version" in which these words were also repeated in vs. 53. On the other hand, take a look at this Greek version http://en.katabiblon.com/us/index.php?text=LXX&book=Nm&ch=33, which does not, but simply translates vs. 53 as "inherit". The Vulgate basically has "And you shall inherit the land and inhabit it". And as you have shown, the various English translations each choose what they think the verse should mean. Which is why you should always read the Bible in Hebrew.

Your final link, to the NIV translators notes, is interesting. They admit the necessity of updating their translation every few decades, because of both changes in English usage and because advances in scholarship give us better insights as to what the authors really meant. Although, if they really think that there readers in 2010 do not know that "alien" does not refer to an extraterrestrial they apparently have a very low opinion of their readers. But their claim that they now render "exactly what God wanted to say" is so unspeakably arrogant that I really have no more to say.

Yigal Levin

-----Original Message-----
From: b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org [mailto:b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of fred burlingame
Sent: Wednesday, December 08, 2010 6:11 PM
To: B-Hebrew
Subject: [b-hebrew] ejectment vs. extermination

Hello all:

1. In the 5th century, western language manuscript, translation of numbers
33:52, we have the operative verb "destroy."


2. In the 10th century, original language manuscript, transmission of
numbers 33:52, we have the verb "drive out."


3. In the 15th century, eastern language manuscripts, translations of
numbers 33:52, we have both "kill" and "eject."



4. In the 20th century english language book, the verb "drive out" appears.


5. The expert advises that ..... just as today numerous different versions
of the story circulated; so it was yesterday. And furthermore, the greek
manuscript implies an earlier hebrew text, precedent to and different from
...the masoretic text.


6.  The committee however, observes that a correct version exists and is for


7. All of this effort and energy directed at the little word  ירש ; and yet
we know not whether it means to eject or to exterminate? ... A significant
difference indeed between the two meanings.


fred burlingame.
b-hebrew mailing list
b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list