[b-hebrew] Unpointed

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Tue Jun 15 02:37:18 EDT 2010


I did give a couple of examples.

One, because the mail server messed up my message, I quote again, concerning
Proverbs 1:19:

Let’s use the example of Proverbs 1:19.

The first step, strip away the points. The points were not original are
sometimes wrong. Even if they are wrong as few as 1% of the time, that is
too often for me. From a seat of the pants impression, the points are wrong
2–5% of the time. If one tries to keep to the points when they are wrong, it
can lead to some real mental gymnastics. It’s no problem if the points are
correct, but we can’t assume that. In this example, that gives us:


כן ארחות כל בצע בצע את נפש בעליו יקח

The next step is to analyze this grammatically. Do we have complete
sentences (possibly it is a continuation of a previous verse, or it
continues into the next verse, so context is part of this step)? From the
context, we see that this is a stand alone verse, so the complete
sentence(s) are internal.

Concurrently with this step, look for any words in their contexts that may
take two or more pointings, hence two or more divergent meanings. In the two
partial sentences below, none of the words will give a problem, so I won’t
go very much into this question with this verse.

Do the first three words make up a sentence?

KN )RXWT KL  כן ארחות כל

While the first word KN can have an implied “to be” making another verb
surplus, it can also have another verb: the context asks for more than just
these three words. It does not make sense as a complete sentence in this

Do the final four words make up a complete sentence?

)T NP$ B(LYW YQX  את נפש בעליו יקח

Here we have a verb and an object, but no subject—incomplete sentence.

As pointed, BC( BC(  בצע בצע are a compound verb, but as a compound verb, do
they fit either partial sentence? If attached to the second, that gives two
verbs but still no subject. If attached to the first, it gives us a verb
where grammatically we expect to see a noun. But without points, we have
other options. If both are nouns, we now have two simple, complete
sentences, where each is the subject of its respective sentence. I read the
first as a participle acting as a noun, the second as a shegolate noun. Thus
the two sentences are:

KN )RXWT KL BC(  כן ארחות כל בצע

Such are the roads of all those taking a cut


BC( )T NP$ B(LYW YQX  בצע את נפש בעליו יקח

a cut takes the life of its master

A couple of additional notes to clarify matters more: “cut” when it stands
alone as in this context, is used in the same way as in English “a cut of
the profits” or “gain” (e.g. Genesis 37:26) or “a cut of the loot” or
“illegal gain” as in this and most other cases in Tanakh. Secondly, this is
poetic, with KN with its implied “to be” and YQX acting as the parenthesis
of the verse, with the subjects in the center with the added benefit for
poetic use that they are from the same root. (A similar poetic mirroring is
found in verses 26 & 27 of the same chapter.)

A final translation, smoothed out in English with a bit a paraphrasing,
could very well be, “Such are the roads of those who take a cut of the loot;
unjust gain takes over the life of its owner.”

Usually, the reading that makes the simplest sentences has the correct
meaning, but not always.

Reading the context, the verses surrounding the verse in question, gives the
final say. The context of this verse shows that this is the final verse of a
passage talking about people going out and illegally taking from others. The
two verses immediately preceding this verse indicates that such actions end
up giving problems to the actors. Again, it fits.

After doing all these steps, you may find that the points were correct all
along and usually that’s the case, making the first step unnecessary, but we
can’t assume that.

Another example is Isaiah 30:14 which I brought up in a few messages,
starting at:

It turns out that apparently I am the only one on this list who has done any
metal smithing (I’ve done both black smithing and copper smithing) so I
ended up bringing in personal experience as well as disregarding the points.

There are probably several other verses as well, but here are two to start
out with.

Karl W. Randolph.

On Mon, Jun 14, 2010 at 9:55 PM, Pere Porta <pporta7 at gmail.com> wrote:

> A special message to Karl Randolph.
> Dear Karl,
> often you claim that you disagree -not always, of course-  with the
> masoretic pointing of the Tanakh and you say that you usually read the
> biblical text in its unpointed version.
> I think you may be right but I think also it would be good for the list if
> you give us two or three samples of this.
> Would you be so kind to do so and clearly show how the different pointing
> conveys a meaning of the text that is different  -either a little or very
> different-  of the traditional meaning shown in most versions into today
> languages?
> Pere Porta
> (Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain)
> _______________________________________________
> b-hebrew mailing list
> b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
> http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/b-hebrew

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