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

Thursday, January 28, 2010


ך כ
Kaf occurs frequently in its prefix and suffix roles. In its final form, besides being the last letter of some common words like king מלך and way דרך and walk הלך, it is the ubiquitous second person singular personal pronoun suffix.

Ruth 1:15 has many examples of ך
here it is twice as the second person singular pronoun as object of the verb

וַתֹּאמֶר רוּת אַל-תִּפְגְּעִי-בִי לְעָזְבֵךְ לָשׁוּב מֵאַחֲרָיִך
 vàto)mer rvut )àl-tipg`y-by l`azbék lashvub mé)àxarayik 
and Ruth said, do not force me to leave you, to turn back from following you
and in the next example it is as the last letter of the root ילך - the first occurrence is second person singular feminine, the second occurrence first person singular (both imperfect). The final form appears in the second instance since the word ends there. The non-final form appears in the first instance because of the feminine suffix that is part of the imperfect. (Note also the first letter of the common conjunction, ki, indicating cause or reason or just a particular form of coordination.)
כִּי אֶל-אֲשֶׁר תֵּלְכִי אֵלֵךְ וּבַאֲשֶׁר תָּלִינִי אָלִין
ky )el-)asher télky )élék vubà)asher talyny )alyn
for wherever you go I will go and in whatever you stop over I stop over
and in these two statements, it is the possessive second person singular pronoun 
עַמֵּךְ עַמִּי וֵאלֹהַיִךְ אֱלֹהָי
`àmék `àmy  vé)lohàyik )elohay 
your people my people your God my God
I have not colored green all the grammatical letters above - I wonder how quickly recognition will become automatic.

Now to look at the prefix Kaf in Ruth, here are some of its uses. The first is in Ruth 1:4
וַיֵּשְׁבוּ שָׁם כְּעֶשֶׂר שָׁנִים
 vàyéshbvu sham k`ser shanym
and they lived there about 10 years
Usually I think of the prefixed kaf as the word 'like' or 'as' but as with all prepositions, it refuses to stay in one box.
יעשה יְהוָה עִמָּכֶם חֶסֶד
כַּאֲשֶׁר עֲשִׂיתֶם עִם-הַמֵּתִים וְעִמָּדִי
y`aseh yy `imakem xsed
 )asher `asytem `im-hàmétym v`imady
may יְהוָה deal with you with mercy
as you have dealt with those who died and with me
In its role as 'as' it is perilously close to the separate conjunction ki, also used in Ruth of course and very common - about 27 times in this story alone, as common as the use of  'for' in English. In the above verse, unmarked, there is another use of kaf as a grammatical letter - the first letter of the suffix כֶם meaning you plural masculine or in this case the possible dual feminine. - Let's wait for mem and nun before pursuing this lead. I don't want to make things up without examples.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Two Powers?

There's lots of talk about two powers in the created order. I had not come across this phrase before. And it strikes me as wrong. I have not personally translated the verses M. Heiser is using for his argument, but my ears are blocked almost immediately. I prefer Harold Bloom's reading of Yahweh and Jesus than a kind of two-headed positive dualism. Traditional +/- dualism is also rejected in the OT. The archetypical rejection for me is the absence of the accuser in the epilogue of Job. One might also cite Revelation - the accuser of our companions is cast down. This makes Job a nice type of Jesus. But - remember this - I don't read theology, but I can't help doing it.

Over the past two months since a time of a strange command to me, I have been frequently heard to mutter - 'I don't know' as if I niftily listen to a silent question but know not the answer, the future, or how to respond. So I say to myself - am I under test? Who is the tester? Pick your power! I live through it with doing, waiting, hoping - if in fear, I hear - do not be afraid.

Some time later I wrote this scribble:

The Judge of all the earth is in human form.
Will the Judge of all the earth do wrong?
If you are the judge of all the earth,
why do you do what is hateful?
The world is telling you what is hateful to itself.
You say: the world rejected the Judge of all the earth.
No, it did not and does not.
It just knows when you are on a power trip.

What is the world that you have so judged it?
This thing was not done in a corner.
You say: are you greater than the Beloved disciple?
Not at all - does he speak of a second power?
Perhaps as world - the things of the world...
But any negative second power is defeated
because you the Judge of all the earth have in human form
expressed and lived the question of wholeness before all.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Psalms 90 and 91

Any thoughts on these psalms - please join or kick off a discussion here.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Early Morning Thought

The New Testament story in Greek, in its canonical form with all its argued uncertainties, the whole thing, is a translation, on behalf of the Gentiles, of the Hebrew experience of election. The Jews are the people who found these words. They are not the only people to have known election. The joy of their story is expressed throughout the Old Testament. How then should we view the anointing of these Scriptures both old and new? Not as magic. Fully human. Sufficient to reveal the purpose. Do other traditions help? To the extent that our shared humanity teaches us to listen.

Later - I was so moved by the post-communion hymn today. Four verses of Deck thyself my soul with gladness. It is as if my Lord was reminding me of the overabundance of his goodness in translation to the Greeks and to the English also.

Deck thyself, my soul, with gladness,
leave the gloomy haunts of sadness,
come into the daylight's splendor,
there with joy thy praises render
unto him whose grace unbounded
hath this wondrous banquet founded;
high o'er all the heavens he reigneth,
yet to dwell with thee he deigneth.
Sun, who all my life dost brighten;
Light, who dost my soul enlighten;
Joy, the sweetest man e'er knoweth;
Fount, whence all my being floweth:
at thy feet I cry, my Maker,
let me a fit partaker
of this blessed food from heaven,
for our good, thy glory, given.
Now I sink before thee lowly,
filled with joy most deep and holy,
as with trembling awe and wonder
on thy mighty acts I ponder;
how, by mystery surrounded,
depths no man hath ever sounded,
none may dare to pierce unbidden
secrets that with thee are hidden.
Jesus, Bread of life, I pray thee,
let me gladly here obey thee;
never to my hurt invited,
be thy love with love requited;
from this banquet let me measure,
Lord, how vast and deep its treasure;
through the gifts thou here dost give me,
as thy guest in heaven receive me. 
Words: Johann Franck, 1645; trans. Catherine Winkworth, 1863 Music: Schmücke dich 

If my early morning thought is a germ of truth, then I need a lot of work on my understanding of the NT. In particular, I need to note the connection of the Eucharist with the anointing and election in the Old Testament. After all, he gives us his body to eat and his blood to drink. This is more sweet even than words.

Prophets and kings desired to know these things.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


When I highlight yod in the book of Ruth, I get a mass of colour in every verse. Tet occurs a very few times in comparison.Yod is as frequent as vav but where vav begins only one root, itself, yod is the first letter of many roots.

I wonder how many verses we need to explore to get a representative sample of the functions of yod. I have picked one - Ruth 4:4 - let's see where it takes us. I have retained the transcription - just don't depend on it - cover it if you need it and learn to read the block letters. How many yods? How many functions of yod?

and I myself had said
I will disclose in your ear to say
וַאֲנִי אָמַרְתִּי
אֶגְלֶה אָזְנְךָ לֵאמֹר
        và)any )amàrty )egleh )aznka  lé)mor
will you buy before those sitting here
קְנֵה נֶגֶד הַיֹּשְׁבִים
        qnéh neged hàyoshbym
and before these elders of my people
וְנֶגֶד זִקְנֵי עַמִּי
vneged ziqnéy `àmy
if you will redeem, redeem
and if he will not redeem,
אִם-תִּגְאַל גְּאָל
 וְאִם-לֹא יִגְאַל
)im-tig)àl g)al v)im-lo) yig)àl
tell me and I will know
הַגִּידָה לִּי וְאֵדְעָה
hàgydah ly v)éd`ah
for there is none except you to redeem
כִּי אֵין זוּלָתְךָ לִגְאוֹל
ky )éyn zvulatka lig)vol
and I myself after you
וְאָנֹכִי אַחֲרֶיךָ
        v)anoky )àxareyka
and he said I myself will redeem
וַיֹּאמֶר אָנֹכִי אֶגְאָל
vàyo)mer )anoky )eg)al
In line 1 we have a yod that is part of אֲנִי the standalone first person singular pronoun. The long form of this pronoun אָנֹכִי appears twice more (lines 7 and 8). I am wondering if, in this context of the meeting at the gate, this word has legal connotations.

In line 1 still there is a yod as the first person suffix of the qal perfect. In line two, those sitting here - or the inhabitants יֹּשְׁבִים from ישב shows the masculine plural (in which yod takes part) and the use of yod as an opening consonant. (Note its very own dagesh also.) In line 3 the two trailing yods of זִקְנֵי עַמִּי have different functions. The one on עַמִּי is a first person possessive pronoun. The other one (find it) is an abbreviated masculine plural which is often shortened or implied in a construct relationship - when two nouns are 'joined' to each other in succession.

In line 4 we have the function of yod in יִגְאַל as the third person singular masculine of the prefix conjugation, the imperfect.

Then in line 5 we have two new functions of yod - whew. The first is its appearance in the conjugation of נגד. This is in the word הַגִּידָה, the hiphil imperative. What's this - grammatical letters inserting themselves into the middle of a word! Perhaps this is an instance of a mater lectionis, a reader's helper.  I can't find the form in Lambdin - but I do see some yods in some of the paradigms and they look like vowels. The second use of yod in this line is its attachment to the preposition לִּי as if he might have said 'say so to me'.

I had conniptions for a moment that tet was going to steal a place on the grammatical team - but I don't think so. But it is not a typo on page 277 of Putnam's online grammar. [Note that ט tet sometimes does replace ת taf after metathesis in the hithpael of verbs whose first letter is the sibilant צ tsade. This is the only case I have found of a true secondment of a letter from team 2 to team 1.] Again I have not found mention of this in other grammars that I have to hand.

In line 5 also, there is a missing yod, for as the first character of a root, it sometimes disappears in the imperfect (ידע is the root of אֵדְעָה). This is a subordinate clause and could be rendered 'so that I may know'.

In line 6 the two yods are just parts of the word - both acting as vowels really.  In line 7, the yod appears to soften the link between the preposition and the pronoun. Line 8 has one yod as part of the preterite (imperfect with vav in the story line).

It seems that one verse was all we needed for this representative sample of the functions of yod. With 14 yods, 15 if you count the missing one, (check my counting), we have yod as a consonant, as a vowel, as a person pronoun, as the ending of the first person imperfect of the verb, as the masculine plural (with mem but also without) and as a smoothing of the sound between a preposition and its pronoun.

Well, well the Old Bishop in New Shoes?

I was testing backup and things - and restore simply doesn't work in Blogger - get a crazy message - bX-qm5h6h - I know how backup and restore with XML is tricky - too many escape sequences sometimes. But blogger's doesn't work. So I explored the XML a bit and discovered a tag that went on for ever with the entirety of its content escaped - probably exceeded a tag limit somewhere. I scanned some content to see if the text is backed up - and it is - pretty well as are all retained comments.

While I was exploring the content - what should pop out but a comment in 2007 by nt Wrong - what? He didn't exist in those days. Well I will keep his current identity secret. But the current NTW was a prolific commenter in those days. And his secret is not secret.

I don't miss NT Wrong or his imitators. But I miss Iyov. There was a person who loved and encouraged. And where is scott of the lower case and Kathy?

Tet - don't leave me out


Why a second 't' in the middle of the letters? This I do not know. Why are there three s's and ts to boot? If there were not then the division into two groups of 11 would not work! There would be fewer letters to form the second team. Samech, Tet, Tsade sidelined! How unfair. This turned out to be a much longer post than I anticipated. The highlighted word is significant in Biblical teaching.

In Ruth there are almost more ט letters in the numbering system (9, 15, 16, 19 all have tet as part of the symbol)  than there are in the text! But there are a few words - two stand out in particular: טוֹב + יָטַב five times and לָקַט to glean - which gets 10 hits in chapter 2 of Ruth out of of 37 in the Bible. Gleaning and harvest must be a theme of chapter 2 in this book. It sounds as if the story-teller is stressing the gleaning.

So here is the grammar of ט in Ruth. From it we see several forms of the verb, לָקַט. Let us first green the letters that form the affixes.

אֵלְכָה-נָּא הַשָּׂדֶה וַאֲלַקֳּטָה בַשִּׁבֳּלִים
)élkah-na) hàsadeh  và)alàqa+ah bàshibalym
let me go please to the field and glean grain
Here we have a subordinate use of the imperfect - וַאֲלַקֳּטָה In English this might be rendered with "in order that I may glean" or "and glean" or "so I can glean" or "to glean" and probably even the literal "and I will glean" though this one depends on recognizing and as a conditional pronoun (which it can be in some languages). Is it frequent that the imperfect is used in this way?
וַתֵּלֶךְ וַתָּבוֹא וַתְּלַקֵּט
)élkah-na) hàsadeh  và)alàqa+ah bàshibalym
and she went and she came and she gleaned
This reminds me of Caesar's veni, vidi, vinci - we have three first person imperfect verbs in a row connected by vav - each one preterite or 'converted' to the perfect. Each one is a completed part of the story.
וַתֹּאמֶר אֲלַקֳּטָה-נָּא וְאָסַפְתִּי בָעֳמָרִים אַחֲרֵי הַקּוֹצְרִים
vàto)mer )alàqa+ah-na) v)asàpty ba`amarym )àxaréy hàqvocrym
and she said, please let me glean and gather among the sheaves after the reapers
Now we have the same word as in the first example this time in reported rather than direct speech. The reporting has a feel of accuracy to it because of the repetition of 'please' and the following usage of vav introducing a subordinate clause. In my reading, she is already gleaning from permission granted by the lad. Boaz will confirm his decision and the implied delegated authority within the social reality of the time. (That reality is noted in the blessing and response - if the Lord is with them, surely they too can make good decisions.)
אַל-תֵּלְכִי לִלְקֹט בְּשָׂדֶה אַחֵר
 )àl-télky lilqo+ bsadeh )àxér
do not go to glean in the field of another
Here again two consecutive verbs, the second as infinitive with a preceding preposition. The nature of this commandment is to confirm security. This will take some more pondering. The opening אַל-תֵּלְכִי is not an imperative but has the force of a strong invitation. Its context is elaborated on in the next verse - which we must leave until it is time for the story. (Aren't you impressed? I am actually reading this letter by letter before telling the story! Usually I act first and think later.)
וְטָבַלְתְּ פִּתֵּךְ בַּחֹמֶץ
 v+abàlt piték bàxomec
and dip your piece in the vinegar
I mustn't leave this one out - what will be the significance of the shared meal. This is a good restaurant. Hot bread and dip at the meal. A second person feminine ending of the qal perfect - but preceded by the vav, a subordinate aspect yielding a present or future continuing action rather than a past event.
וַתָּקָם לְלַקֵּט וַיְצַו בֹּעַז אֶת-נְעָרָיו לֵאמֹר גַּם בֵּין הָעֳמָרִים תְּלַקֵּט
vàtaqam llàqé+ vàycàv bo`àz )et-n`arayv lé)mor  gàm béyn ha`amarym tlàqé+
and she arose to glean and Boaz commanded his lads even between the sheaves let her glean
Back to gleaning - she arose - 3rd person feminine singular imperfect - preterite - the story continues. The glean following לְלַקֵּט is again infinitive with the preposition (though prepositions are not always used with the infinitive as they are in English). And Boaz commands his lads to make her job easy. The final glean in this phrase is taken as jussive - third person 'imperative'.
תָּשֹׁלּוּ לָהּ מִן-הַצְּבָתִים וַעֲזַבְתֶּם וְלִקְּטָה
tasholvu lah min-hàcbatym và`azàbtem vliq+ah
draw out for her from the bundles and leave and she will glean
Again we have two consecutive verbs at the end of the sentence, the second of which is the desired subordinate consequence of the action commanded by the first. It would be rendered "in order that she may glean".
וַתְּלַקֵּט בַּשָּׂדֶה עַד-הָעָרֶב וַתַּחְבֹּט אֵת אֲשֶׁר-לִקֵּטָה
vàtlàqé+ bàsadeh `àd-ha`areb vàtàxbo+ )ét )asher-liqé+ah
and she gleaned in the field till evening and she beat out what she gleaned
The story continues - third person feminine preterite at the beginning of the sentence and third person feminine perfect at the end. (OK it's piel - but I can't tell the difference between piel and qal.)
וַתֵּרֶא חֲמוֹתָהּ אֵת אֲשֶׁר-לִקֵּטָה
 vàtére) xamvotah )ét )asher-liqé+ah
and her mother-in-law saw what she gleaned
The piel is repeated for her mother in law.
 אֵיפֹה לִקַּטְתְּ הַיּוֹם וְאָנָה עָשִׂית
)éypoh liqà+t hàyvom v)anah `asyt
where did you glean today and where work
 Two instances of the second person singular qal - the taf suffix form without the following 'a' vowel.
וַתִּדְבַּק בְּנַעֲרוֹת בֹּעַז לְלַקֵּט עַד-כְּלוֹת קְצִיר-הַשְּׂעֹרִים וּקְצִיר הַחִטִּים
vàto)mer na`amy )el-rvut kàlatah +vob bity ky téc)y `im-nà`arvotayv  vlo) yipg`vu-bak bsadeh )àxér
so she stayed close with the lasses of Boaz to glean to the completion of the barley harvest and the wheat harvest
There a ט in the wheat too. And here are the uses of good. I will leave these for exercises in colouring and analysis. Copy the Hebrew by hand on paper and colour the letters of the grammar team. Which are verbs, which implied verbless single word clauses, which just an adverb.

טוֹב בִּתִּי כִּי תֵצְאִי עִם-נַעֲרוֹתָיו
+vob bity ky téc)y `im-nà`arvotayv
good my daughter to go out with his lasses

בִּתִּי הֲלֹא אֲבַקֶּשׁ-לָךְ מָנוֹחַ אֲשֶׁר יִיטַב-לָךְ
bity halo) )abàqesh-lak manvoàx )asher yy+àb-lak
my daughter do I not seek for you rest that it may be good for you

וַיֹּאמֶר בְּרוּכָה אַתְּ לַיהוָה בִּתִּי הֵיטַבְתְּ חַסְדֵּךְ
vàyo)mer brvukah )àt là-yy bity héy+àbt xàsdék
and he said you are blessed of יהוָה my daughter you have made good your mercy

אִם-יִגְאָלֵךְ טוֹב יִגְאָל
 )im-yig)alék +vob yig)al
if he will redeem, good, let him redeem

 כִּי כַלָּתֵךְ אֲשֶׁר-אֲהֵבַתֶךְ יְלָדַתּוּ אֲשֶׁר-הִיא טוֹבָה לָךְ מִשִּׁבְעָה בָּנִים
for your daughter-in-law who loves you and bore him is better to you than seven sons
Are those transcriptions useful? I am almost getting to the point where I can read them, but I hate reading transcriptions because I am never quite sure what they are putting in or leaving out in terms of sound. Besides you have to read forwards and backwards at the same time to understand them in relation to the Hebrew letters!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Translation Challenge

The colorful God Didn't Say That blog has issues a challenge for Isaiah 28:16.

This is verse I lost years ago. I remembered it as 'the righteous are not in a hurry'. The sense of the verse to me relates to the idea of 'waiting'. It is critical skill in many contexts. Some problems go away without any action being taken. Some need to mature before intervention is going to be effective.

So here is the section of text:

לָכֵן כֹּה אָמַר אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה
הִנְנִי יִסַּד בְּצִיֹּון אָבֶן
אֶבֶן בֹּחַן
פִּנַּת יִקְרַת מוּסָד מוּסָּד
הַמַּאֲמִין לֹא יָחִישׁ
The first thing I note is that יָקַר is used 3 times in the corpus (Isaiah 13:12, 43:4). בֹּחַן is a unique usage of בָּחַן, to try or prove, examine, scrutinise. Joseph uses this word when proving his brothers (Genesis 42:15-16). Such proving is a theme in Job, the Psalms and Jeremiah. Next within this passage there are some repeated words. מוּסָד and אֶבֶן and they are not surrounding anything - just repeated twice in a row (though, on second thought, it is better to see יסד as repeating twice and surrounding the center - the center being 'tried and precious') . Also in this passage we get a proclamation from אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה the 'Lord God' or Adonai Hashem or My Lord Hashem. Also to be noted is that we do not have 'behold' but rather 'look at me'. That word hinneh seems to have a personal pronoun attached to it. I wouldn't throw it away - at least not till I had seen examples where it is a throwaway. The last word - יָחִישׁ - make haste is used frequently in the Psalms for the Lord making haste to help - so if Hashem is hasting, the believer need not. Job uses the word in his own defense (Job 31:5) in contrast to Zophar who tumbles over himself to say little (Job 20:2).

Therefore - thus says my Lord Hashem
Look at me - I establish in Zion a rock
a proven rock
a precious corner foundation established
the one believing will not be in a hurry

Heth - a strong guttural

This strong guttural ח is difficult to see and distinguish from ה in small text. Why would a language need all these letters that sound the same? It will become obvious that they are two very distinct letters. In contrast to ה, the letter ח does not take part in grammatical affixes and suffixes. The sound of ח occurs in Ruth in bread and mercy, the bread of Bethlehem בֵּית לֶחֶם and the mercy חֶסֶד of the covenant. Well perhaps I should not forget the name of מַחְלוֹן or the first הָאַחַת of the Moabite wives. The distinction between the two similar 'h' letters is clearly seen in the following three word snippet

לָתֵת לָהֶם לָחֶם
 latét lahem laxm
to give to them bread
The word in the middle לָהֶם is 'to them' - preposition + pronoun affixed to it, comprised entirely from the set of 11 letters that take part in such close encounters of the grammatical kind. The final word לָחֶם is a noun all by itself without any grammatical affixes at all. The first word is from נתן - to give with only one letter left from the root due to the tendency of nun's to disappear.

Perhaps the central word of the Old Testament, a word meaning covenant mercy, lovingkindness, or even reproof, is this one, חֶסֶד that occurs three times in Ruth
יַעַשׂ יְהוָה עִמָּכֶם חֶסֶד
 ya`ash yy `imakem xsed
may יְהוָה deal with you with mercy
That letter ח plays a part in rest also, a word used twice in Ruth.
יִתֵּן יְהוָה לָכֶם וּמְצֶאןָ מְנוּחָה
yitén yy lakem vumce)na mnvuxah
may יְהוָה give to you and may you find rest 
and ח is part of mother in law not to mention various other nouns and long prepositions
וַתִּשַּׁק עָרְפָּה לַחֲמוֹתָהּ
and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law
vàtishàq `arpah làxamvotah
בִּתְחִלַּת קְצִיר שְׂעֹרִים
 bitxilàt qcyr s`orym
at the commencement of the harvest of barley
חֶלְקַת הַשָּׂדֶה לְבֹעַז
xlqàt hàsadeh lbo`àz
on the part of the field belonging to Boaz
וְהָלַכְתְּ אַחֲרֵיהֶן
vhalàkt )àxaréyhen
and you go behind them
אֲשֶׁר-בָּאת לַחֲסוֹת תַּחַת-כְּנָפָיו
 )asher-ba)t làxasvot tàxàt-knapayv
to whom you came to take refuge under his wings
But the words that begin with het - mercy and grace and life - not a bad lot
אַחַר אֲשֶׁר אֶמְצָא-חֵן בְּעֵינָיו
)àxàr )asher )emca)-xén b`éynayv
after the one in whose eyes I will find favor
 אֶת-הַחַיִּים וְאֶת-הַמֵּתִים
)et-hàxàyym v)et-hàmétym
for the living and the dead
Tet ט is yet to come.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The son of a friend - first solo flight

Check it out here

Zayin - a non grammatical letter

O how impatient - to think you can do three letters at once, zot! - as if non-grammatical letters are unimportant. You can't. חט will have to have their own posts as wellWhy are you so anxious to get to the next letter of the first 11 when you know so little about anything? And ז is the first sibilant. What does grammar surround if not the substance?

Did I learn English grammar at one go? No - it took years and lots of repetition and I used the language with native unconscious feel and without the self-referential absorption of study. Sounds just were - neither spelled, nor analysed,  nor even pondered.

There are some important words in Ruth that begin with these three letters. One at a time, here are some examples. The first usage for ז is the word for old. In this verse too is a form of construct of the infinitive of 'to be'. Besides vav, I think that the construct is another way of connecting words and I wonder to what extent it happens with sounds that are easy to elide.

כִּי זָקַנְתִּי מִהְיוֹת לְאִישׁ
 ky zaqànty mihyvot l)ysh
for I am too old to have a husband
The elders זָקֵן occurs 4 times in chapter 4 balancing this one bitter aged woman in chapter 1. E.g. in this phrase from Ruth 4:4
וְנֶגֶד זִקְנֵי עַמִּי
vneged ziqnéy `àmy
and before the elders of my people
The pointers, demonstrative pronouns, זֹאת and זֶּה occur. There is a collection of these at the end of chapter 1 and the beginning of chapter 2.

וַתֹּאמַרְנָה הֲזֹאת נָעֳמִי
vàto)màrnah hazo)t na`amy
and the women said - is this Naomi?
לְמִי הַנַּעֲרָה הַזֹּאת
 lmy hànà`arah hàzo)t
to whom the lass this one?
זֶה שִׁבְתָּהּ הַבַּיִת מְעָט
zeh shibtah hàbàyit m`a+
this sitting of her in the house a little
וְגַם לֹא תַעֲבוּרִי מִזֶּה
 vgàm lo) tà`abvury mizeh
and even do not stray from this one
In reading the BDB section on this word, we might be tempted to think that in other Semitic languages, ז became a member of the first 11, playing a serious grammatical role even as a relative pronoun! There are other letters one might second to the team as well - like ח heth in order to include all the stand-alone pronouns in the grammatical word group. But I don't want to throw out Saadya's 10th century thesis too soon even if I have identified the wrong teams! Splitting 22 letters evenly into 2 groups has already been too useful a help to the eye and ear to aid understanding of this very foreign force.

The sibilant zayin plays an internal role in several words in this story - notably Bo'az, בֹּעַז, which of course occurs frequently. Is this name related to 'ear'? No - the ear is the slowest to grow, and this word might mean quickness.
וַאֲנִי אָמַרְתִּי אֶגְלֶה אָזְנְךָ
 và)any )amàrty )egleh )aznka
and I myself will disclose in your ear
There are more words with zayin in Ruth related to seed and winnowing. I will leave them for a discourse on the story as a whole some day - perhaps concerning the fruitful harvest that comes from a suitable redemption.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Post number 666

Haha - the last one missed by one. Rabbi Wolf is one I almost always read - here it is - the digital age and the presence of Hashem. Read it and enjoy.

Where were you when I created him gay?

There has been a conversation here which like the dialogue in Job has multiple sides. There is little hope that people will stop misreading the creation narratives or the law. It is part of our growth to read and misread. Those who read wrong must learn to read right through the mercy or misery of others, and in the meanwhile they will dig themselves in as Eliphaz and his pals did to defend a view of God that is not how God works.

When Hashem responds, he is clear on two things. He is the creator even if creation is overbearing and brutal in its loveliness. And, secondly, he is the one who invites Leviathan and Behemoth to play. It is this that finally tips the balance for Job - who was right all along in his insistence that the Deuteronomic curses were applied to him in spite of his wholesome behaviour. Perhaps he had not known his own inner beast. Job learns from God as we also must - 'they shall all be taught by God'. And 'you have no need that any man should teach you'.

Part of the problem is whether we make ourselves judges and stop Jesus from saving people in the way he chooses to save them - and that includes our being saved as well. Why do we have this 'problem' of homosexual behaviour? Because we are to learn from it especially how to avoid some kinds of judgment about creation and redemption. Do I determine how God can act? How can I obey the faith in this situation? I can certainly get as overheated and allow myself to be as misread as anyone else.

There are those who say I have given up and that I should judge this 'sin' their way. It is not my research into the texts that stops me reading their way. Moreover, for me to succumb to argument would be to give in to wrong answers. I would be as those who search the scriptures like Eliphaz but fail to see the Beloved portrayed in them. Search the scriptures, by all means (literally, historically, philosophically, theologically) - but it is not in our laws and logic nor in our force that we find eternal life.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

On the wisdom of praying

When people tear into each other, it is always wise to pray. Take your time. Tearing into each other can be devastating even in the online world. One might be terminally embarrassed.

I am reading a lovely book - The Sisters of Sinai, by Janet Soskice. This is a light but substantial introduction for me into the history of 19th century knowledge acquisition in Oriental studies. The particular story is the discovery of a palimpsest of the four gospels in Syriac (1892). It reads like a travelogue and so is light and enjoyable as any Grand Tour hosted by a good travel writer. But there is a serious core of introduction to Biblical Studies in the period including some hasty actions by the righteous but non-academic Presbyterian sisters, old scholars jealous of claiming credit where they think it is due, and indignant monks. Janet Soskice is our lecturer here at UVIC over the next two weeks. I may give you a lowdown on her talks. (If I can still write after all this grammar study!)

It is true to say that credit and pride, knowledge and character, and some incumbent vulnerability are all on display in the blog world. And some actions - like labeling people or deleting comments that are not spam but with which you disagree, or whatever other horrible lack of cyber-hospitality you can imagine, might actually have deleterious effects.  In the early days of 'online' when email was the rage, I knew people who 'had to take some offline time' - all the energy and fear and so on.

By the way - I like being corrected. So if you see any howlers in my posts, do say so. As I noted recently, I blog to learn. I do not have the limitations that 19th century people had since I can cross the Sinai with a good book and never have to learn to sit on a camel. (We are going to Israel in October - to see the RWB perform - and to see Israel. It should be warmer than Winnipeg.)

No sooner had I posted this than a similar invitation came from Bishop Alan - nice coincidence. Also grateful for the timely plug for Janet Soskice's book from Living Wittily.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Some random thoughts

Here's a quote from baritone Thomas Hampson, 2010 New Year's interview. The performer is an antenna - bringing a message from the composer. His songs of Aaron Copland were a delight to hear. (example here.) Was it Copland who said, work like a dog so you can get out of the way?

Is this the job of a translator: pick up the message meant to be performed and recreate it for today's ears? Work like a dog so you can get out of the way. Or is it harder - must the translator create the very ear it seeks?

Friday, January 1, 2010

Vav - connector par excellence

Vav is the shortest section
8 columns in BDB
7 taken up with itself.
Of the other 10 words,
all are proper names or
unique textual misfits
except וָו the hook.

Clearly this letter names itself and itself only.  In my Hebrew Latin concordance, listing every textual meme in TNK, Vav occupies 1/2 of a column in 6000 columns - that's about 0.000001 %. It lists 3 words, vav, vzr (?) Proverbs 21:8 and vlk - without definition, thought to be a misprint for ylk, whom we have met already. How errant that word is! (Joke). And vav itself is used only in Exodus for the building of the tabernacle.

Was vav the easiest letter to engrave and so a divider that became a hook? For all its rarity in the beginning of roots, I bet that vav begins more 'words' in Scripture than any other letter! It is everywhere as connector. And it is everywhere in differing roles.

וְהָיָה הַנַּעֲרָ אֲשֶׁר אֹמַר אֵלֶיהָ הַטִּי־נָא כַדֵּךְ וְאֶשְׁתֶּה
vehaya hana`ar 'asher 'omar 'eleyah hati-na kadek v'eshtah
and let it be that the lad! lass to whom I will say - give please your jar that I may drink
Just look at all that grammar going on in this verse! That first word, וְהָיָה some would not divide since the vav defines the verb as preterite. But it is still a vav + a verb that could be recognized on its own as 3rd person masculine singular perfect, and the phrase vav-conversive, as if we are converting perfect to imperfect, is common in the literature. It is clear that it is the backbone of narrative. And here too it is translated in the jussive, like a third person imperative.

It was tricky to find an occurrence of 'I will say' that is not preterite in an English Bible. It occurs in direct speech. (This verse should have been more fully dealt with under aleph). And note that the text has the male form of lad נַּעֲרָ instead of the female form, lass נַעֲרָה - that we have seen so clearly in Ruth. (where is the 'he'?) It is read as lass though writ as lad.  And what about those hooks? - One joins the text to the surrounding narrative and the other acts as a relative pronoun!

BDB lists several meanings for vav - and, or, but, and many more. But vav is not limited to connecting phrases with each other, it also plays significant grammatical roles as suffix - third person singular possessive for instance. So in Ruth we have already seen
וְשֵׁם אִשְׁתּוֹ נָעֳמִי
veshem ishto naomi
and the name of his wife, Naomi.
and for a plural example
אַחַר אֲשֶׁר אֶמְצָא-חֵן בְּעֵינָיו
'axar 'asher 'emtsa-xen be`eynaiv
after the one in whose [his] eyes I will find favor
lit: after the one that I will find favor in eyes of him
And vav is the third person plural ending for verbs - right across the board of all paradigms in all the conjugations. So when Mahlon and Chilion die - it reads
and they died.
Hey - how do you pronounce this letter - it is all over the map! ve, va, u, o, v! Sometimes it behaves like a pure vowel and sometimes like a consonant. There are rules but I am lousy with rules. I simply can't remember them at my age (about 4). I think they have to be heard rather than visually memorized so that the light dance of the vav is known against the heavier gutturals of the other letters. Vav is like the fool in the Tarot pack - everywhere and yet nowhere - except in the tabernacle.

Besides the third person plural suffix of verbs, it also is in the second person masculine plural suffix of verbs in the imperfect. (I didn't find an example in Ruth - so none given for this exercise.) And with nun (always nu) it is in the first person plural perfect. This form does not occur in Ruth but the pronoun 'our' - with the same form nu occurs in Ruth 2:20
קָרוֹב לָנוּ הָאִישׁ מִגֹּאֲלֵנוּ הוּא
 qarov lanu ha'ish migo'elnu hu
near to us is the man and he our redeemer
Hopefully this will allow me to see and hear more clearly what role vav is playing in the word whether attached in front of or after the root. I think that is enough for a first pass at this complex letter. We will see it again with taf in the formation of the feminine plural of a noun. Here's one from Ruth
with his lasses -
vav in two roles. It is a remarkable letter.

He - what the!

Have we got a lot to learn about the fifth letter?  Probably, and I won't go too deep for a first foray. 'He' is first 'the' letter. It has its own word in the interjection הא (The first few do also: Aleph is itself a thousand, bet is almost a house, gml is payback, getting what you deserve, dalet - poor, weak - with a little help from a taf.)

The first use presented of ה in the grammar books is that of the definite article. Right at the beginning of Ruth, it appears in this construct phrase:

  שְׁפֹט הַשֹּׁפְטִים
shpot hashoftim 
 in the judging of the judges
and immediately thereafter
וְשֵׁם הָאִישׁ אֱלִימֶלֶךְ  
ve shem ha'ish 'elimelek -
and the name of the man was Elimelek.
Notice how English requires the definite article twice where Hebrew has it only once. What other uses of ה are in Ruth? Early in Ruth we get the standalone pronouns, hu הוּא for he (Ruth 1:1)

הוּא וְאִשְׁתּו וּשְׁנֵי בָנָיו 
hie ve'ishto ushenei banaiv
he and his wife and his two sons
and hie הִיא for she (Ruth 1:3)
וַתִּשָּׁאֵר הִיא וּשְׁנֵי בָנֶיהָ
vetisher hie ushenei baneah
and she was bereaved and her two sons

In this last phrase we find a new usage of ה as a suffix indicating 'her' rather than the vav ו that is 'his'. With Elimelek's death, the sons have become her sons that were his sons. The trailing ה is very common in this story and very often indicates an aspect of the feminine whether of conjugation - third person singular, or second or third person plural or third person singular possessive pronoun.

In Ruth 1:11 we find the second major use of ה, the interrogative
הַעוֹד-לִי בָנִים בְּמֵעַי וְהָיוּ לָכֶם לַאֲנָשִׁים
ha`od li banaim bima`i lakem l'anoshim?
are there yet to me sons in my body that they might become husbands for you?
Here ה leads the sentence and indicates a question. There are several more questions in chapter 1 ending with this one:
הֲזֹאת נָעֳמִי
hazot na`omi
Is this Naomi?

In chapter 2, besides many definitives and interrogatives, I see this strange spelling of earth -
וַתִּשְׁתַּחוּ אָרְצָה
vetishtahu artzah
and she gave him a bow on her earth
She what! She gave him a curtsy? Well, it must be referring to her in order to get a third person out of it? I see it parsed as if it were a third person feminine singular hithpael form - i.e. reflexive. And hithpael is an interesting usage of ה but in the third person feminine, it disappears and becomes a taf. And why does this verb have that extra vav on the end of it? It doesn't look like hithpael to me - that would require no vav and an additional taf תִּתשְׁתַּח. So! I think it might be 'she gave him a bow on her earth' - or something to that effect. I had hoped Campbell might say something about this word but - not a word. I must be misreading the forms. Maybe someone will answer...

Most of the rest of the uses of ה in Ruth are definite, or feminine markers, or interrogative. BDB lists 13 subdivisions of the definite. I won't list them all - maybe in a deeper, later post, though one (the vocative BDB I.i. p 208) came up in discussion of Psalm 117 here. In Ruth we have at least one instance of 'tonight' (I.c. p207) = 'the night' הַלַּיְלָה and here is another that may fit somewhere:
לְעֵת הָאֹכֶל גֹּשִׁי הֲלֹם
le`et ha'okel gishi halom
at the time of eating draw near
The eating. A generic regular occurrence made specific. As another variation, Ruth 1:17 makes death definite (I h. p208)
כִּי הַמָּוֶת יַפְרִיד בֵּינִי וּבֵינֵךְ
ki hamavet yaphrid beini ubeinek
for only death will separate me and you
In Ruth 2:18 there is a new use of ה asking for recognition
וַתֹּוצֵא וַתִּתֶּן־לָהּ אֵת אֲשֶׁר־הֹותִרָה מִשָּׂבְעָהּ
vatotse vatiten-lah et asher-hotirah misavah
and she brought out and gave to her what she had left over after she was sated
The new one is the hiphil perfect prefix of  יתר to be left over. Hiphil makes the root 'causative'. I have not yet dealt with the form or the grammar of verbs that lose letters when the grammatical ones become attached. This must be the I-yod form - and it looks as if it behaves according to what is expected of such a verb (Lambdin chapter 45). In the Hiphil, the yod becomes a vav! Aren't those grammatical letters something else! We must return to this when we get to yod.

A little tidbit on the bottom of page 222 in Lambdin notes how the hiphil of halek looks as if it were the hiphil of yelek. I already encountered this confusion of two verbs that are treated as one in the Hebrew concordance that I have. See note on Ruth 1:15-18.

And Happy New Year to you all.