CLAOTB: More Hebrew Terminology

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Considering Lingual Aspects of the Bible:
More Hebrew Terminology

 
Recall that two Hebrew terms (adam, ish) are translated into the English term “man”.

For instance, in Genesis 9.6 the Hebrew term adam is found translated into the English term “man”.

Consider the KJV verse when it uses the Hebrew term adam:
“Whoso sheddeth adam‘s blood; by adam shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he adam.”

In that instance, the Hebrew term adam is used in a general sense referring to all of humanity.

Yet, it seems that the third occurrence of adam might refer back to the specific man Adam.

Lingually and/or literarily, does the last occurrence of the Hebrew term adam refer to the specific man Adam?

Some might say yes.

But, I say no.

Why?

The overall concept of Genesis 9.6 is referring to all of humanity.

That is both the lingual and literary context.

Since the literary context is general, then that general sense is referring back, not lingually to the man Adam, but lingually to the creation of humanity, which itself is a generic reference to the creation of all “humanity” (Genesis 1.26-27).

Therefore in Genesis 9.6, translating the third occurrence of the Hebrew term adam into an English term like “humanity” makes the verse retain both the context of linguistics and literariness of the Hebrew, but has the added benefit of making gender neutral the English translation of the Hebrew term.

Consequently, lingually and/or literarily, it seems that Hebrew terms like adam can have two distinctive applications.

One application is that the Hebrew term adam refers specifically to the man Adam (cf. my modified translation of Genesis 2.21-25 in the previous section CLAOTB: Hebrew Terminology).

The other application is that the Hebrew term adam refers to all of “humanity” (cf. the above discussion of Genesis 9.6).

Why?

Because, in the Hebrew, the term “humanity” is derived from Adam’s very name.

In the Hebrew, “humanity” and “Adam” function like cognates. That is because in the Hebrew “Adam” and “humanity” have similar linguistic derivation, because both are sourced in the same original Hebrew term: adam.

Importantly though, the Hebrew term adam is never translated into the English term “husband”.

However, the Hebrew term ish is translated into two distinct English terms: “man”, and “husband”.

Because of that, some might postulate that the Hebrew term ish functions similar to the Hebrew term adam, thinking that each Hebrew term has distinctive applications, thinking that it follows that depending on context it is proper to translate the Hebrew term ish into either the English term “man” or the English term “husband”.

However, my response to that is that in Hebrew, the term “man” and the term “husband” are not functional cognates of the Hebrew term ish.

Therefore, lingually, the Hebrew term ish functions differently than the Hebrew term adam.

While some might postulate the English term “husband” is related to the English term “man”, those two English terms relate only because historically in the English the “man” is the “husband”. But the historic English use of the term “husband” is changing, because the slang use of the English term “husband” provides an additional definition (cf. CLAOTE: Modern Definitions of the English term “husband” and the English term “wife”).

In other words, even though a “man” can become a “husband”, the English term “man” does not derive from the English term “husband” nor does the English term “husband” derive from the English term “man”.

As I presented in the section CLAOTE: Archaic Definitions of the English term “husband” and the English term “wife”, in the archaic English the term “husband” meant cultivator, a farmer.

Therefore, the English terms “husband” and “husbandry” and “husbandman” function as cognates, because they have the same English root term: “husband”.

Similarly, the English terms “man” and “woman” function as cognates, because they have the same English root term: “man”.

Some might postulate that the Hebrew term ish has one of two distinct definitions based entirely upon context, where one definition distinctly refers to a “man”, and the other definition distinctly refers to a “husband”.

However, after studying linguistic development, and anthropological history, and Biblical history, I no longer subscribe to the line of reasoning that postulates that the Hebrew term ish can be translated effectively into two different English terms.

Why?

Because that type of translation creates inconsistency for the English reader, because the English reader automatically assumes a one-to-one correlation from English back to Hebrew.

Unlike English, the Hebrew does not have a term for “man” and another term for “husband”.

Some might postulate that because the Hebrew does not have a term for “man” and another Hebrew term for “husband”, then it is proper to translate the distinction into the English.

However, carrying out that postulation maintains confusion for English readers.

Why?

Because English readers assume that there is going to be a different Hebrew term for “man” and a different Hebrew term for “husband”.

Similarly, English readers assume that there is going to be a different Hebrew term for “adam”, a different Hebrew term for “woman”, and a different Hebrew term for “wife”.

To see the impact of taking one Hebrew term into multiple English terms, consider the Hebrew term baal (H1167).

The KJV translates the Hebrew term baal into, at least, three different English terms:
– “owner” (e.g. Exodus 21.34, Exodus 21.36);
– “husband” (e.g. Exodus 21.22, Deuteronomy 21.13);
– “man” (e.g. Exodus 24.14 KJV, Leviticus 21.4 KJV).

So which translation is it?

Does baal mean “owner”?
or
Does baal mean “husband”?
or
Does baal mean “man”?

Interestingly, it appears that in Exodus 24.14, the ESV translates the Hebrew term baal into the English term “whoever”.

Importantly, in Leviticus 21.4 the ESV translates the Hebrew term baal into the English term “husband”.

In doing those translation variants, the ESV not only chose different English terms but also provided a variant reading for English readers, which influences the English readers understanding of each verse.

Returning to what I stated earlier, some supporters of the Hebrew terms being translated into multiple English terms might postulate that context determines how the Hebrew term is being utilized and should be translated into the English.

However, as I stated earlier, after studying anthropological history (the non-Biblical ‘scecs’) and Biblical history (the Biblical ‘scecs’), I am convinced that both the non-Biblical ancients and the Biblical ancients worked from much different operational understandings of their linguistics and their literary texts than we do.

That means for those Biblical ancients, linguistically and literarily:
baal was baal,
adam was adam,
ish was ish, and
ishshah was ishshah.

As I have discussed, context does help determine when the Hebrew term adam refers to the man “Adam” or when the Hebrew term adam refers to “humanity”.

But, as I stated earlier, that is because in the Hebrew “Adam” and “humanity” are cognates, because they are derived from the same root Hebrew term: adam.

Therefore, it seems proper to conclude that when the Hebrew term adam refers to the specific man “Adam”, the Hebrew term adam should be transliterated into English as “Adam”.

But the remainder of the time, when the Hebrew term adam refers to “humanity” the Hebrew term adam should be consistently translated into English as “humanity” (or some similar term).

Why?

Because in the Hebrew “humanity” is a linguistic cognate of “Adam” (even though in the English that cognate relationship will not be seen).

However, currently in the KJV and/or most English Bible translations, translators habitually use two or more English terms to translate one Hebrew term.

With that in mind, consider the impact on translating a Hebrew term with multiple English terms by looking at the Hebrew term baal.

As I stated earlier, in the KJV, the Hebrew term baal is translated with the English term “owner” and with the English “husband” and with the English term “man”.

Why does that reality matter?

Because depending on the English term chosen to translate the Hebrew term, the English term will affect the English reader’s perception of that Hebrew term, and then that English term affects how the English reader interprets that verse.

In Exodus 21.22, if the Hebrew term baal were translated as “owner”, the verse would read significantly different and convey potential social and cultural ramifications that are absent when the Hebrew term baal is translated into the English term “husband”.

What is the textual reality?

In Exodus 21.22 the Hebrew term is baal, and in the Hebrew text baal is baal, whether Exodus 21.22 or Deuteronomy 21.13, or Exodus 21.34 or Exodus 21.36, or Exodus 24.14 or Leviticus 21.4.

But in the English, the translation of the Hebrew term baal changes.

In the KJV, both Exodus 21.34 and Exodus 21.36 translate the Hebrew term baal into the English term “owner”.

In the KJV, both Exodus 21.22 and Deuteronomy 21.13 translate the Hebrew term baal into the English term “husband”.

In the KJV, both Exodus 24.14 KJV and Leviticus 21.4 KJV translate the Hebrew term baal into the English term “man”.

To see the impact of the choice of English translation, in Deuteronomy 21.13 simply replace the English term “husband” with the English term “owner” and one will immediately see the impact of the choice of English terms.

Yet, the reality remains, in the Hebrew baal is baal, and that reality is not translated universally into the English.

Previously, I asked:
Does baal mean “owner”?
or
Does baal mean “husband”?
or
Does baal mean “man”?

The answer to those questions matter, because how the Hebrew term is presented affects the English reader’s understanding of the verse.

That same issue is at hand for the Hebrew term ish and the Hebrew term ishshah.

Does ish mean “man”?
or
Does ish mean “husband”?

Does ishshah mean “woman”
or
Does ishshah mean “wife”?

The answer to those questions matter, because how the Hebrew term is presented affects the English reader’s understanding of the verse.

Some will rely on the postulation that context guides the translation.

I can no longer agree.

Consider that in Exodus 21.22, the Hebrew has the term baal, not the Hebrew term ish.

In the Hebrew, there is a reason for the lingual difference, even if/when we as English readers cannot readily see it or understand it.

Yet, as I have shown in this section, both the Hebrew term baal and the Hebrew term ish are translated into the English term “husband”.

That is why when English readers read the English translation of Genesis 3.6 and the English translation of Exodus 21.22 the English reader can see no functional linguistic difference.

Why?

Because in English both Genesis 3.6 and Exodus 21.22 contain the English term “husband”; but in the Hebrew Genesis 3.6 contains the Hebrew term ish whereas Exodus 21.22 contains the Hebrew term baal. Two different Hebrew terms translated into the exact same English term.

Therefore, in the Hebrew, those verses have a functional linguistic difference.

Since the terms are different in the Hebrew, then the terms should be different in the English, even if/when that goes against the ecclesiastical context and traditional Bible translation context.

To be as faithful to the text as possible, when translating I suggest the following:

1) except for when related linguistically and/or literarily to the specific man Adam, the Hebrew term adam should be translated into the English term “human” (or some similar term);

2) the Hebrew term baal should be either transliterated into the English term “baal” or translated into an English term other than the English term “husband”;

3) the Hebrew term ish should be translated universally into the English term “man”;

and
4) the Hebrew term ishshah should be translated universally into the English term “woman”.

Doing such would retain the linguistic and literary context, which should take priority over any ecclesiastical and/or traditional Bible translation contexts.

Doing that would permit the English reader to read the Biblical narrative for themselves and draw any conclusions about any personal relationship that a “human” (adam), or a “baal” (baal), or a “man” (ish) may or may not have with a woman (ishshah).

Consider Genesis 3.6, the KJV is [emphasis mine]:

And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her: and he did eat.

As presented, the KJV is inconsistent. The Hebrew term ishshah is translated into the English term “woman” while the Hebrew term ish is translated into the English term “husband”.

To have been consistent, the KJV should have either translated the Hebrew term ishshah into the English term “wife” so the verse reads: “…when the wife saw [the] tree… she took the fruit thereof… and gave also unto her husband…”.

Or to have been consistent, the KJV should have translated the Hebrew term ish into the English term “man” so the verse reads: “…when the woman saw [the] tree… she took the fruit thereof… and gave also unto her man…”.

In other words, I implore the Bible translators to be consistent.

Moving more to the discussion about the SCECS Accepted Marriage, in the modern English, English readers read Genesis 3.6 with a legal and religious status.

However, the historic reality is that in the Garden there was no human legal system, and there was no religious institution.

Therefore when translating the Hebrew term ishshah with the English term “wife” and translating the Hebrew term ish with the English term “husband”, the English terminology infuses (i.e. eisegetes) anthropological human development into Genesis 3.6 and functionally alters the narrative of Adam and Eve, portraying them as having experienced life similar to us, but our life and our SCECS is something that they never comprehended, lived, or understood.

Therefore translating the Hebrew term ish with the English term “husband” and translating the Hebrew term ishshah with the English term “wife” is to make Adam and Eve look like modernity, when it is not chronologically possible.

Therefore translating the Hebrew term ish with the English term “husband” and translating the Hebrew term ishshah with the English term “wife” is an error of anachronism, taking into Adam and Eve’s time period behaviors and terminology of our time.

Additionally, translating any occurrence of the Hebrew term ish with the English term “husband” and translating any occurrence of the Hebrew term ishshah with the English term “wife” is also an error of anachronism, taking into Biblical time period behaviors and terminology of our time.

Stated another way, by translating the Hebrew term ish with the English term “husband” and translating the Hebrew term ishshah with the English term “wife” the English translation functionally blends and merges our modern English concepts of the personal relationship by making the Hebrew become analogous, comparable, equivalent, and parallel to our own experiences.

That, too, is an error.

Therefore, by using these English terms we are reading (eisegeting) into the personal relationships found within the Hebrew, reading into those personal relationships our perceptions of how a personal relationship is defined, developed, and understood, and who is assigned which accountabilities and responsibilities.

Additionally, I also want to address Genesis 3.6 in light of the archaic English, in which “husband” could/would be interpreted as a farmer.

In the archaic English sense, translating the Hebrew term ish with the English term “husband” would be -in the archaic English- a mistranslation, because the translation would functionally change the meaning of the Hebrew term for “man” into a term that conveyed an occupation.

When the archaic English translation takes the Hebrew term for “man” and takes that Hebrew term into the English term “husband” (which in the archaic English meant cultivator, farmer) those two terms are not synonymous.

Why?

Because in the English the term “man” referred and still refers to a male person. But in the archaic English the term “husband” referred to an occupation.

Therefore, the archaic English functionally mistranslated the Hebrew term ish.

However, that cannot be claimed with the English term “wife”, because in archaic English “wife” was synonymous with the term “woman”.

Yet, either way, whether conflating modernity’s English term “husband” with the Hebrew term ish (or conflating modernity’s English term “wife” with the Hebrew term ishshah), or mistranslating the Hebrew term ish into archaic English, the English translation of those terms is not adequately conveying the linguistic and literary nature of the Hebrew text.

In the next section, I will continue examining these aspects of translating the Hebrew terms.

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