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

Chris Watts dekruidnootjes at eircom.net
Mon Jul 22 08:19:55 EDT 2013

Ok positive proof that my modern hebrew needs some serious  
negotiation.  I never meant 'too old to be a woman' but that is  
obviously what I wrote quite funny since this is how I would have  
said it in conversation and been laughed at.  (made a similar mistake  
in dutch many years ago when starting to learn - I ordered chips with  
hot peanut butter sauce and onions - I instead asked for chips and  
peanut butter sauce with lots of cows udders please!  instead of  
onions because the two words are only different by a single letter,  
and I pronounced that single letter obviously)

Anyway it seems that by the framing of the language a woman's self  
worth was heavily dependant upon being married?  This is important  
for me to understand because I am wondering whether naomi's lack of  
self worth here is expressed or whether this would have been the  
normal way of expressing a desire to be married?

Chris Watts

On 22 Jul 2013, at 11:57, Yigal Levin wrote:

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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