25 02 2011

Quite some time ago, I wrote a post about an interesting difference between the Masoretic Text (Genesis 42:1) and two of the Aramaic translations: Targum Pseudo-Jonathan and the Peshitta. What interested me about them was that they had both understood the word תתראו as תתיראו: “[you pl.] looking at one another”, vs. “[you pl.] are afraid”. It seemed to me, if not to others, that the Aramaic/Syriac version was superior to the version in the Hebrew, which never really satisfied me in context. Turns out that there’s another instance, very similar to that one!

Almost exactly one year ago, Dov Bear wrote a post about Exodus 32:5, in which he indicated his confusion over precisely what it was that Aaron is said to have seen. In this instance, Targum Pseudo-Jonathan keeps the same Hebrew verb as we find in the Masoretic Text (although he does add details that concern what Aaron saw), but the Peshitta, again, renders this as √דחל, “to fear”. In this instance, however, the anonymous translator would not have had a text that featured an additional letter, but was merely vocalising differently those letters that he had.

This all reminds me of the fact that I really should read more of the Peshitta. I wonder how often it renders “look” as “fear”? The root √ראה turns up almost four hundred times in the Torah alone, and as I don’t have the Peshitta on my copy of Accordance, I expect that this experiment might take more time than I am prepared to commit. Until I update my hopelessly outdated software, I wonder if anybody in possession of a newer version would like to take a stab at this? Does the anonymous translator of the Peshitta specifically have a thing for the horror genre?

15th World Congress of Jewish Studies

23 07 2009

ManuscriptBoy, at Hagahot, has just gushed a little, regarding some of the exciting papers that are going to be presented at the upcoming World Congress of Jewish Studies. I know where he’s coming from! You can download the 217-page program yourselves, from here. Truly amazing! There are a number of sessions that have me almost clapping my hands with excitement, but by far the most amazing are the seven sessions on synchronic and diachronic approaches to Biblical Hebrew. What is one to do! In the interests of sharing my schedule (and possibly boring several of you to tears – although nobody is making you read it), the following papers constitute highlights for me:

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The End of Days; or, “Why I Love the Targum”

30 09 2008

In Genesis 49:1, Jacob tells his children to come near:

ויקרא יעקב אל־בניו ויאמר האספו ואגידה לכם את אשר־יקרא אתכם באחרית הימים
And Jacob called his sons and he said, “Gather around and let me tell you what will occur to you at the end of days”.

According to the Babylonian Talmud (bPes 56a), Jacob wished to tell them about the messianic era, but was suddenly stricken with forgetfulness and so simply blessed them all instead. In case we didn’t get the relationship between “end of days” and the messianic era, the following is how Targum Pseudo-Jonathan ‘translates’ this same verse into Aramaic:

וקרא יעקב לבנוי ואמר להום אדכו מסואבותא ואחוי לכון רזיא סתימיא קציא גניזיא ומתן אגרהון דצדיקיא ופורענותהון דרשיעיא וטלניתא דעדן מה היא כחדא מתכנשין תריסר שבטי ישארל ומקפין דרגשא דדהבא דרביע עלה ומן דאתגלי איקר שכינתא דיי קצא דעתיד מלכא משיחא למתי איתכסי מנה ובכן אמר איתו ואיתני לכון מה דיארע יתכון בסוף יומיא

And Jacob called his sons and he said to them, “Be cleansed of your impurities and I shall tell you the secret mysteries, the hidden end-times; the giving of the rewards of the righteous and the punishments of the wicked, and what the pleasures of paradise are.” The twelve tribes of Israel gathered as one, and surrounded the golden couch on which he lay. But as the essence of the presence of God began to reveal the time of the coming of the Messiah, it was hidden from him. So he [only] said, “Come and let me tell you what will occur to you at the end of days”.

And who says that this Targum is paraphrastic! Seems pretty literal to me…

Ridiculous Hebrew Tattoo

28 09 2008

Tyler Williams has several posts on horrid Hebrew tattoos, which can be found by scrolling down to “Tattoos” on the left-hand side of his blog page. Here is one that I recently found somewhere on the internet:

Trinity Tatt

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NAPH 2007, Redux

6 11 2007

It has been some time now since I attended my first academic conference and, while I have still not finished converting my paper into a published article, I thought that I might share with you what that paper actually was. It was entitled, “The Biblical Hebrew Locative-Heh: A Fresh Look at the Evidence”, and you can read the abstract here. The following is the text of my actual presentation, coupled with the hand-outs that the attendants were given. I will take this opportunity here just to note that the abbreviations EBH and LBH stand for “Early” and “Late Biblical Hebrew”, respectively.

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NAPH: A Sneak Preview

1 07 2007

The National Association of Professors of Hebrew is holding their 25th “International Conference on Hebrew Language, Literature and Culture” at the University of Sydney, from the 2nd to the 4th of July. I am to be helping out behind the registration desk for those three days but there are a few papers that I am interested in attending, and one that I am to be delivering myself. The two papers that are most crucial to me, vis-à-vis my current research proposal, are those that are to be delivered by my supervisor, Dr Ian Young (“Is the Prose Tale of Job in Late Biblical Hebrew?”) and one of his PhD students, Ms Robyn Vern (“A Re-Evaluation of the Linguistic Evidence for the Antiquity of Moses’ “Song of the Sea” in Exodus 15″). Others that I would like to attend, if I am able to get away from the registration desk, are those given by Dr Shani Berrin (“A Literary Fugue in Leviticus 25-27: Divine Sovereignty, Sabbath Observance, and Reverence for the Sanctuary”), Mr Luis Siddall (“A Geographic Analysis of the Injunctive in the Amarna Letters from Syria-Palestine”) and Assoc. Prof. Ghil’ad Zuckermann (“Hakhanút ptukhá veikár shkiná batakhtoním: Ideologically Manipulative Secularization of Hebrew Terms in Socialist Zionist Israeli”).

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Don’t be Afraid

30 04 2007

While my lecturer expounded upon the semantic range of Greek verbs in the middle voice, I found myself trying to come up with a Hebrew cognate. Something about the middle fascinates me – perhaps because I still don’t really understand it – and I was trying to think of passive/reflexive Hebrew verbs that possess an active meaning. Now, before you Grecians jump down my throat and tell me that this is not what the Greek middle does (on second thoughts, go ahead; I’d like to know what the Greek middle does), I am going to speak a little about the first Hebrew word to have come into my head. In fairness, this is not a grammatical post – rather, this is an exegetical post, as shall become evident.

The word is תתראו.

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The (Mostly) Hebrew Bible

30 04 2007

Everybody knows that, despite being referred to as the Hebrew Bible, some of the text is composed in Aramaic. Such sections are to be found in Daniel, Ezra, Jeremiah and Genesis, and together they constitute the corpus of “Biblical Aramaic”, the name being allocated on the basis of this fact. Differences (to varying degrees) may exist between Biblical Aramaic (BA) and other forms of Classical or Imperial Aramaic (to which it is presumed to belong), but this is not to suggest that BA was a purely isolated dialect. The Aramaic corpus, like many ancient corpora, is reasonably scanty; for all we know, Biblical Aramaic was thriving at a particular point in time and may have even constituted a spoken tongue. This would be testified to by its usage in both Genesis and Jeremiah: in the former there are two words in Aramaic that constitute a toponym as named by the Aramean Laban, and the second comes in the form of a single verse, lambasting an Aramaic-speaking people.

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22 04 2007

Th lphbt s hrd t mstr;
Rdng bck t frnt’s dsstr.
Nlss h’s rd th clssfds,
whr trth, bbrvtd, hds,
th wld-b rdr f th Bbl,
prsntd wth th txt, s lbl
t trn nd rn wth shrks nd hwls-
th hbrw Scrptrs hv n vwls!

Jessica Shaver


10 03 2007

As mentioned, I have just started studying Ugaritic at Sydney University. Unlike many other ancient languages, Ugaritic is still very much open to interpretation. In order to demonstrate this, I have decided to post a short text in Ugaritic, about which I know absolutely nothing. If anybody has any suggestions as to its meaning (it looks like a list of items to me, perhaps an inventory), then I welcome your opinion! Due to font problems, I have typed it up on Mellel but have attached it here as a picture. Seems that, of the many languages that WordPress might enable one to use, Ugaritic is not one of them.

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