Today's lesson is brought to us by the letter ל from the scroll of Ruth מגילת רות
This is another letter with several roles. Let us look at the examples to see the roles. A good place to start is with a phrase we saw in several earlier posts
The preposition occurs frequently and is most often translated by 'to' in English. So in Ruth 1:7
כִּי-אִתָּךְ נָשׁוּב לְעַמֵּךְ and they said to her
for with you we will return to your people
and so on.
Well - doesn't it just mean 'to' then. Not so fast. BDB lists more than 25 differing uses. We are just on the surface. We have two uses: with the verb - but infinitives don't require a preposition, so it is not exactly like English, and with nouns and pronouns. The correspondence between English and Hebrew verbs and their use of prepositions is varied. Sometimes it seems that Hebrew requires the preposition and English doesn't and sometimes it is the other way around. Lots of examples below for reading practice.
Ruth 1:12 and a similar use of לְאִישׁ in Ruth 1:13
Ruth 1:20 has the use of the preposition where we omit it in English and a separate preposition I have translated as 'to' also
אַל-תִּקְרֶאנָה לִי נָעֳמִי
קְרֶאןָ לִי מָרָא
כִּי-הֵמַר שַׁדַּי לִי מְאֹד
do not call me Naomi
call me Mara
for bitter is the Sufficient to me - greatly so
Ruth 2:1 has two more examples which I would render 'for' or 'of' in a awkward moment. 'Of' is a common usage particularly in the headings of the psalms.
Ruth 2:14 has one attached to a time word
Ruth 4:3 has an interesting pair
Ruth 4:6. These examples make me ask why the second verb does not take a pronoun as object directly. There's a feel for the language here that I don't yet have. One exercise that might be useful is to list all the various ways one might say the same thing.
Ruth 4:13 almost at the end of the whole story
וַיִּתֵּן יְהוָה לָהּ הֵרָיוֹן וַתֵּלֶד בֵּן
and he came to her
and יְהוָה gave her conception and she bore a son
Ruth 4:16 a final example - I think there is no correspondence between the preposition and 'his'. It just came out that way!
and set him in her lap
and became for him his support
Note 1: Henceforth no more transcription. (There are transcriptions in the previous posts in this series from dalet to kaf. ד ה ו ז ח ט י כ. And there are transcriptions in the series on Psalm 119 א ב ג ד ה ו ז ח ט י כ ל מ). John Hobbins even wants to wean us from נְקֻדּוֹת the nikkudot, all those little dots and dashes, but I am not going there yet. Maybe after I have visited Israel in the fall but I doubt it even then - you can generally hum and haw between letters and beats but the diacritics help me see some patterns that are otherwise invisible (like most of that piel conjugation).
Note 2: I will continue to put my translations close to the Hebrew. That's the state I am in at the moment with respect to understanding. Reading is easier than a year ago, but memory is lagging. I don't want to trouble my readers with more difficulty than I can manage.
Begin soapbox. By the way, I might be wrong. Where I remember an acknowledgment, I will note it. If I forget you, shout. Hitherto note also - I am a devoted servant of the Beloved whose Name is blessed and who makes me happy in the midst of trouble. Happy as written in Psalm 1:1 and Proverbs 8:34, confident as noted in Psalm 91:15. There is no arguing this even if I fall away into depression and skepticism. Therefore I am not first a scholar, if indeed I will ever be one. I study the Bible but I am not first doing Biblical Studies because I am not disinterested. Professionals, squirm if you must. I have been trained in recognizing my errors and I know how to leave things incomplete but do not hesitate to correct me. I like interaction and I don't get much of it. It may be that the Bible in the hands of amateurs is like loaded weapons in the hands of children, but perhaps that is the nub of our problem. I make no apology to those who are objective and distanced from text or life. I don't see either as an option. End soapbox.