[b-hebrew] one-to-one rendering of olam (was: Song of Songs 1:12)

fred burlingame tensorpath at gmail.com
Thu Dec 9 23:09:57 EST 2010

Hello Steve:

Thanks for taking the time to respond and offer your comments.

Please permit me to respond.

1. Interesting e-mail address you have.

2. I am 1,000 years removed from the authors of the masoretic text. To say,
I know for sure what they intended, would be presumptuous on my part.

3. Hence, you could be right in your conclusions.

4. I am however, left with the firm understanding of olam as follows; and
after having examined all instances of it and its corresponding greek word

a. The parent hebrew verb appears defined and used as "concealed." Witness
numbers 5:13, by way of example.

b. The hebrew people described by the masoretic text generally appeared more
concerned with immediate, daily, issues of survival (food, water,
shelter, physical security, etc.) than we are today. Hence, what transpired
in the next valley or the next decade (past or future) carried less import
to them, than with us today.

c. Numerous time related facts therefore became identified in the masoretic
text but not defined with precision, because such circumstances were "olam"
or beyond the field of vision and immediate need for survival.

d. "a" - "c" leave me with the conclusion of "olam" = "hidden" or
"concealed;" and as more specifically applied to matters of time, meaning an
unknown period of time.

5. Many people see the necessity of "olam" graduating to eternal because of
its use with יהוה . I don't see a problem retaining the "concealed" meaning
of olam in this context. That description no more excludes the eternal,
than does the statement אלהים  of abraham, isaac, and jacob preclude and
exclude elohim of everyone else.

6. The phrase you mentioned: "le-olam v-ad" or "olam ad olam" seems to me to
mean simply and respectively, "to hidden and until" and "concealed until
concealed" as a way of emphasizing time or even multiplying it; but not
moving it to eternity; anymore than "kodesh hakodashim" graduates from
temporal to eternal.


I keep returning to 19th century rabbi hirsch's guide post; which I
paraphrase as follows: don't get esoteric with the hebrew language; look at
the literal plain meaning of the words; and take your understanding of the
language from those simple cues.


fred burlingame

On Thu, Dec 9, 2010 at 9:04 PM, Steve Miller <smille10 at sbcglobal.net> wrote:

> Fred,
> I think lolam or ad-olam means until the age or forever depending on the
> context. If you want to unambiguously say "forever" in Hebrew, then you say
> something like le-olam v-ad or olam ad olam, which KJV translates as for
> ever and ever. I think olam is less ambiguous than "a very long time" or "an
> unknown time".  In Jonah 2:6, Jonah thought he was dead for sure, and he
> would be there until the resurrection at the end of the age.  This is
> similar to Exo 21:6 where the slave will serve his master lolam.
> Sincerely,
> -Steve Miller
> Detroit
> www.voiceInWilderness.info <http://www.voiceinwilderness.info/>
> Blessed is the man who walks not in
> the world's counsel of sin,
> nor standeth in the sinners' way,
> nor with the scornful stays,
> because he delights in the law
> of the Lord, and in awe
> he meditates both day and night.
> His mind is being made right. (Psalm 1:1-2)

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