[b-hebrew] Ruth 1: 12 too old for a husband

Yigal Levin Yigal.Levin at biu.ac.il
Mon Jul 22 06:57:32 EDT 2013

Hi Chris,

זקנתי להיות אשה would be "I am too old to be a woman", which is of course nonsense, because even an old woman is still a woman. A speaker of modern Hebrew would say something like אני זקנה מדי להיות עם איש, "I am too old to be with a man", since לאיש, "of/for a man" implies that the woman is possessed by the man, and while this reflects the situation in antiquity perfectly, it is not the way most couples in modern society like to express their relationship. Also, a speaker of modern Hebrew might prefer גבר instead of איש, since איש is often used for "anyone" generically, while גבר is used for "man" specifically. So להיות עם איש would sound like "to be with anyone", while להיות עם גבר, "to be with a man", would hint at a sexual relationship, which of course is exactly what Naomi is talking about. 

Yigal Levin

-----Original Message-----
From: b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org [mailto:b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Chris Watts
Sent: Monday, July 22, 2013 1:28 PM
To: b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
Subject: [b-hebrew] Ruth 1: 12 too old for a husband

The part of verse 12:  זקנתי  מהיות  לאיש  concentrating on the mem prefix.  Looking down my lists of how מן  is used I have presumed to fit it into the "Causal" category, (from arnold and choi ref heb syntax book).  Literally translated in idiomatic way:  "I am too old from being for a husband."  It's interesting to see how modern hebrew would say this:  אני זקן מכדי שאהיה לי הבעל  they have also that nuance of 'from' followed by the verb  
'being'.  It is interesting to note that she does not say :    
זקנתי להיות אישה

Chris Watts

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