Saturday, January 30, 2010


I have to do some immediate work on Proverbs 8 - as usual my rendering is structural and therefore married to the poet's sort order. Do not read poetry at speed. If there is only one thing I have learned from translating, it is to slow down and read a little rather than to skim and fail a lot. In what follows grammar is green - other colours mark the repetition of a word - the notes show an abstract form of the parallels in the poetry. It is easily seen that the poem is intricately wrought.

Wisdom is of course one of the sefirot. Many others are mentioned in this poem: understanding, knowledge, strength, determination, rule ... I do love numbers too (sfr means to enumerate) but that's not why I am reading this today - we are to read it on Monday at Bible Study - and this is my preparation. What does this chapter tell us about the Lord - the Spirit as teacher?

a literal order translation
א הֲלֹא-חָכְמָה תִקְרָא
וּתְבוּנָה תִּתֵּן קוֹלָהּ
does not wisdom call
and understanding give her voice
does not a b || [does not ] a' b'
a||a' and b||b'
or read understanding as receiving from wisdom
ב בְּרֹאשׁ-מְרֹמִים
בֵּית נְתִיבוֹת
from the hilltops
on the way
where the roads meet
she takes her stand
Notice the three parallel places -
i.e. everywhere in the country
c||c'||c'' a d
(lit - a house of roads = roadhouse?)
ג לְיַד-שְׁעָרִים
מְבוֹא פְתָחִים
right by the gates
at the mouth of the town
from the entry of the doors
she sings
here hear again three places -
wisdom is not excluded from the city
e||e'||e'' a f
ד אֲלֵיכֶם אִישִׁים אֶקְרָא
וְקוֹלִי אֶל-בְּנֵי אָדָם
to all humanity I call
my voice to the children of humus

g e(a) || e'(a') g'
the plural is oddly regular!
(I did not render the conjunction)
ה הָבִינוּ פְתָאיִם עָרְמָה
וּכְסִילִים הָבִינוּ לֵב
understand, O naive, shrewdness
O simpletons, understand heart

b h i || h' b i'

ו שִׁמְעוּ כִּי-נְגִידִים אֲדַבֵּר
וּמִפְתַּח שְׂפָתַי מֵישָׁרִים
hear for princely things I will speak
and from the parting of my lips things that are upright
j k a || a' k'
ז כִּי-אֱמֶת יֶהְגֶּה חִכִּי
וְתוֹעֲבַת שְׂפָתַי רֶשַׁע
for truth I muse with my gums
and an abomination to my lips is wickedness
l a a'||not a a'' not l
ח בְּצֶדֶק כָּל-אִמְרֵי-פִי
אֵין בָּהֶם נִפְתָּל וְעִקֵּשׁ
of righteousness are all the words of my mouth
there is nothing in them twisted or perverse
l a a'||not a'' not l//
ט כֻּלָּם נְכֹחִים לַמֵּבִין
וִישָׁרִים לְמֹצְאֵי דָעַת
all of them transparent to one who understands
and upright to those who find knowledge
a k'' b||k b'
י קְחוּ-מוּסָרִי וְאַל-כָּסֶף
וְדַעַת מֵחָרוּץ נִבְחָר
receive my discipline and not silver
and knowledge rather than gold of choice
j' a''' not m||b' not m'
יא כִּי-טוֹבָה חָכְמָה מִפְּנִינִים
וְכָל-חֲפָצִים לֹא יִשְׁווּ-בָהּ
for better is wisdom than rubies
and all things to be desired are not to be compared with her
n comp a-o||o' not comp a
יב אֲנִי-חָכְמָה שָׁכַנְתִּי עָרְמָה
וְדַעַת מְזִמּוֹת אֶמְצָא
I wisdom live with shrewdness
and knowledge of purpose I find out
a p i || b'' p'
- KJV witty inventions is hilarious!
יג יִרְאַת יְהוָה שְׂנֹאת-רָע
גֵּאָה וְגָאוֹן וְדֶרֶךְ רָע
וּפִי תַהְפֻּכוֹת שָׂנֵאתִי
the fear of יְהוָה
to hate evil
pride, arrogance, the way of evil
and the mouth of falsehoods I hate
q _ r s t||t'...s
יד לִי-עֵצָה וְתוּשִׁיָּה
אֲנִי בִינָה
לִי גְבוּרָה
to me is counsel and success
I am understanding
to me is strength
a u v||a b||a v'
טו בִּי מְלָכִים יִמְלֹכוּ
וְרֹזְנִים יְחֹקְקוּ צֶדֶק
by me kings reign and rulers decree righteousnessa w w||w' w' a
טז בִּי שָׂרִים יָשֹׂרוּ
וּנְדִיבִים כָּל-שֹׁפְטֵי צֶדֶק
by me leaders lead
and princes, all the judges of righteousness
a w''||w''' w'''' a
יז אֲנִי אהביה (אֹהֲבַי) אֵהָב
וּמְשַׁחֲרַי יִמְצָאֻנְנִי
I - all those loving me - I love
and those who seek me will find me
(written) loving her
and this is a real identifiable piel! a participle
יח עֹשֶׁר-וְכָבוֹד אִתִּי
הוֹן עָתֵק וּצְדָקָה
wealth and glory are with me
substance of old and righteousness
עָתֵק rare superb works, movable, durable, ancient -
יט טוֹב פִּרְיִי מֵחָרוּץ וּמִפָּז
וּתְבוּאָתִי מִכֶּסֶף נִבְחָר
better is my fruit than gold or fine gold
and my coming than silver of choice
חָרוּץ is a very strange metaphor for gold - cutting? see above 'm' -
they are part of Job's Leviathan! (Job 41:30)
his underparts are sharp potsherds
he spreads cuttings (חָרוּץ) in the dirt
כ בְּאֹרַח-צְדָקָה אֲהַלֵּךְ
בְּתוֹךְ נְתִיבוֹת מִשְׁפָּט
in the path of righteousness I walk
in the middle of the roads of judgment
x y a || x' y'
I have run out of letters but you probably get the point already!
כא לְהַנְחִיל אֹהֲבַי יֵשׁ
וְאֹצְרֹתֵיהֶם אֲמַלֵּא
to allot to those loving me what is
and their storehouses I will fill
to them who received him gave he power to become children of God
כב יְהוָה קָנָנִי רֵאשִׁית דַּרְכּוֹ
קֶדֶם מִפְעָלָיו מֵאָז
יְהוָה acquired me as the beginning of his way
before his works of old
acquire - cf Ruth 4:10, beginning - cf Genesis 1:1
כג מֵעוֹלָם נִסַּכְתִּי
from everlasting I was established
from the beginning
from before earth
נסך to be anointed; to pour out as a libation
כד בְּאֵין-תְּהֹמוֹת חוֹלָלְתִּי
בְּאֵין מַעְיָנוֹת נִכְבַּדֵּי-מָיִם
when there were no depths I was begotten
when there were no fountains heavy with water
cf Genesis 1:2
כה בְּטֶרֶם הָרִים הָטְבָּעוּ
לִפְנֵי גְבָעוֹת חוֹלָלְתִּי
earlier than the mountains were sunk
in the presence of the hills I was begotten

כו עַד-לֹא עָשָׂה אֶרֶץ
וְחוּצוֹת וְרֹאשׁ עַפְרוֹת תֵּבֵל
as yet he had not made earth, the outside or the beginning of the dust of the world
כז בַּהֲכִינוֹ שָׁמַיִם שָׁם אָנִי
בְּחֻקוֹ חוּג עַל-פְּנֵי תְהוֹם
when he established the heavens, there was I
when he inscribed a circle on the face of the deep
it's the same establish as psalm 90
כח בְּאַמְּצוֹ שְׁחָקִים מִמָּעַל
בַּעֲזוֹז עִינוֹת תְּהוֹם
when he encouraged the clouds above
to strengthen the fountains of the deep

כט בְּשׂוּמוֹ לַיָּם חֻקּוֹ
וּמַיִם לֹא יַעַבְרוּ-פִיו
בְּחוּקוֹ מוֹסְדֵי אָרֶץ
when he set to the sea his decree
that the waters should not pass over his bidding
when he inscribed the foundations of earth
his bidding - lit. his mouth
ל וָאֶהְיֶה אֶצְלוֹ אָמוֹן
וָאֶהְיֶה שַׁעֲשׁוּעִים יוֹם יוֹם
מְשַׂחֶקֶת לְפָנָיו בְּכָל-עֵת
then I was beside him - faithful
and I was his delights
day by day
at play in his presence
at all times
presence - lit faces
another identifiable piel participle
לא מְשַׂחֶקֶת בְּתֵבֵל אַרְצוֹ
וְשַׁעֲשֻׁעַי אֶת-בְּנֵי אָדָם
at play in the world, his earth
and delighting in the children of humus

לב וְעַתָּה בָנִים שִׁמְעוּ-לִי
וְאַשְׁרֵי דְּרָכַי יִשְׁמֹרוּ
so now children, hear me
for happy they that keep my ways

לג שִׁמְעוּ מוּסָר וַחֲכָמוּ
hear discipline and be wise
and do not let go

לד אַשְׁרֵי אָדָם שֹׁמֵעַ-לִי
לִשְׁקֹד עַל-דַּלְתֹתַי יוֹם יוֹם
לִשְׁמֹר מְזוּזֹת פְּתָחָי
happy is the human who hears me
keeping watch at my portals daily
guarding the posts of my doors

לה כִּי מֹצְאִי מצאי (מָצָא) חַיִּים
וַיָּפֶק רָצוֹן מֵיְהוָה
for who finds me finds life
and will obtain acceptance of יְהוָה

לו וְחֹטְאִי חֹמֵס נַפְשׁוֹ
כָּל-מְשַׂנְאַי אָהֲבוּ מָוֶת
but who sins against me does violence to self
all hating me love death


scott gray said...

i do love the beginning of this chapter, how wisdom shines brightest at the liminal points-- the moments just before conversion, before converging, before taking careful mindfulness to pass through doorways-- such lovely dynamic imagery at moments of stepping off the curb, or into the deep end of something.


Bob MacDonald said...

Hi scott - It is good to hear from you. We had a good study on this a week ago. Reading the whole poem out loud in this translation (see next post) focused us after an initial review of several translations. There is an aspect of listening and waiting that I think summarized our response.