Friday, October 21, 2016

Fact-Checking the Torah -- Septuagint and Hebrew

In 2014 I discovered a doctoral thesis (approved in 2002) online that explained several points of grammar in Biblical Hebrew, about one of which I had a hypothesis on the meaning.  They show that Brenton is wrong in his claim about the resemblances between Torah, Samaritan Pentateuch and Septuagint, and so was Rev. Fitzgerald.  There is no better demonstration of how crucial grammar is to a good translation.  Be prepared to have your head turned around, unless you have been following my Biblical Hebrew lessons.
All languages have ways of reflecting the attitudes of the “speaker.”  Some languages use auxiliary verbs to do this.  Some use special verbs or descriptive words and phrases.  Some use modifications to the morphology of nouns or verbs.  Linguists call them modalities and divide them into three classes, oblique, deontic and epistemic.
Oblique modality covers subordinate clauses expressing condition, purpose, result, cause and effect.  They ask you to accept as true a subordinate clause, based on the previously accepted truth  of the statement in the main clause.  This is like saying “It’s sunny today, so my clothes will dry quickly on the clothesline.”
Deontic modality is about how the world should be, in the “speaker’s” opinion.  Imperatives fall into the class of deontic modality, because speakers issue commands to change things to the desired situation.  Another form of deontic is called volitive, which reflects how the speaker wishes the world was when clearly it is not.  An example of volitive is “I would like to buy that dress,” when you know you don’t have the money.
Epistemic modality is about the speaker’s investment in the truth of a statement.  In English, we say things like “I think he went to Marrakesh.”
Biblical Hebrew uses morphology to reflect modality in some cases.  It has not only the imperative of deontic modality, but also a volitive modal morphology.
It has an epistemic for absolute certainty, using current conditions as evidence of the factuality of a past action, or introducing the evidence for the truth of what is being said. 
And it has an epistemic for a fact, the truth of which the speaker is not quite certain of, and which may let people off responsibility for what they do or omit to do.  I will call this the nun-final form for a discussion which shows it has significant consequences throughout Jewish literature.
Besides the discussion on my Bit at a time Bible Hebrew page, I discuss examples of modality in depth in Narrating the Torah.
My interlinear comparison shows that Samaritan Hebrew has all the same forms.  In fact, Samaritan Hebrew Pentateuch has them in 80% of the exact same places that Jewish Torah has them. 
Septuagint never translates the nuances of modality.  Not with morphology and not with auxiliary verbs. 
And that’s why Rev. Fitzgerald was wrong, and why Brenton was not even wrong.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Bit at a Time Bible Hebrew -- et 2

If you didn’t see that title coming, you need to read more Shakespeare.
Here I’ll demonstrate some cases illustrating rules 6 and 7 from last week.
Leviticus 7:2-4 rings the changes, as Exodus 29 rang the changes on “passives”.
ב בִּמְקוֹם אֲשֶׁר יִשְׁחֲטוּ אֶת־הָעֹלָה יִשְׁחֲטוּ אֶת־הָאָשָׁם וְאֶת־דָּמוֹ יִזְרֹק עַל־הַמִּזְבֵּחַ סָבִיב:
ג וְאֶת־כָּל־חֶלְבּוֹ יַקְרִיב מִמֶּנּוּ אֵת הָאַלְיָה וְאֶת־הַחֵלֶב הַמְכַסֶּה אֶת־הַקֶּרֶב:
ד וְאֵת שְׁתֵּי הַכְּלָיֹת וְאֶת־הַחֵלֶב אֲשֶׁר עֲלֵיהֶן אֲשֶׁר עַל־הַכְּסָלִים וְאֶת־הַיֹּתֶרֶת עַל־הַכָּבֵד עַל־הַכְּלָיֹת יְסִירֶנָּה:
In verse 2, the olah is referred to here in contrast with the asham and they both take the segol version of et.  The blood is being considered as a specific part of the sacrifice so it does the same.  Same thing for the chelev at the start of verse 3; there is more than one place to get chelev and the et kal shows that each one of them is meant.
The alyah, the “fat tail” is considered as an entire entity, separate unto itself, and there are halakhot that specifically address component parts of it in Mishnah and Gemara.
The kidneys are another entity, like the alyah, and require the tseire version; the segol version is used with the chelev because it is considered in contrast to the actual kidneys and also to the other kind  of chelev.  The yoteret is listed in contrast to the liver of which it is part.
Test yourself.  Go through Torah and watch for the word erets.  I’ll give you the main examples that demonstrate my point.
Genesis 1:1 deals with heaven and earth as wholes.  This is part of the basis for the midrash that the creation story isn’t about the exact order in which things happened.  We don’t get the details.
בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ:
Exodus 20:11.  Notice the contrast with the tseire version in Genesis 1:1; this verse is dealing with the four different parts of the creation – actually five when you get to yom ha-shabbat.  There is no definite article with yom, but it is understood because this is a construct phrase.
כִּי שֵׁשֶׁת-יָמִים עָשָׂה יְהוָה אֶת-הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֶת-הָאָרֶץ, אֶת-הַיָּם וְאֶת-כָּל-אֲשֶׁר-בָּם, וַיָּנַח, בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי; עַל-כֵּן, בֵּרַךְ יְהוָה אֶת-יוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת—וַיְקַדְּשֵׁהוּ
When there’s a restrictive sense to erets, we get the segol version as in Deuteronomy 3:8:
נִּקַּח בָּעֵת הַהִוא אֶת־הָאָרֶץ מִיַּד שְׁנֵי מַלְכֵי הָאֱמֹרִי אֲשֶׁר בְּעֵבֶר הַיַּרְדֵּן מִנַּחַל אַרְנֹן עַד־הַר חֶרְמוֹן:
It’s pretty obvious that the only land concerned here is that of Sichon and Og.  It can’t possibly mean all of the world.  That’s why it has segol. 
We have a problem in Leviticus 26:42.  We have three contrasted covenants using the segol version, and we also have erets as a definite noun with NO et.  Why not?  Beats me.  Unless the emphasis  of the topic order clause  means et  shouldn’t be  used.
וְזָכַרְתִּי אֶת־בְּרִיתִי יַעֲקוֹב וְאַף אֶת־בְּרִיתִי יִצְחָק וְאַף אֶת־בְּרִיתִי אַבְרָהָם אֶזְכֹּר וְהָאָרֶץ אֶזְכֹּר:
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Slight change

The look of Twitter posts is going to change a bit.
The  automatic feed app is going away at the  end of the month.
I'll be posting manually.
This won't affect you as a follower or other Twitter user.
It's the link between Blogger and Twitter that changes.
If somebody publishes another way of  doing this automatically I'll try it  out.
But  my Facebook posts are done manually so this is no big deal.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

I'm just saying -- the sequel

Last week I wrote about how the chickadees' behavior may mean a harsh winter.

Yeah.  Winter is coming.  You're going  to see snow fly.  Get over it.
If you have storage space in your home, you have no excuse not to be prepared for winter.
Stock up now on your canned food, crackers, bottled water, dry roast peanuts, dried fruit, jerky.
Stuff you don't have to cook.
Three weeks' worth. 
We've had back to back storms that kept the tractor trailers outside the Beltway that long.

Toilet paper doesn't go bad; get it.  Lots of it.  NOW.

Buy your calcium chloride and kitty litter.
Get a snow shovel.
De-icers don't work well on snow, they only keep pavement clean when they can get to it. 
You  have to shovel before you spread.

Get your batteries, your LED lamp, your battery powered radio.
Get some long johns, some ski gloves, some snow boots and thick socks, a hat and a scarf.
Get your chimney cleaned if you have a fireplace.
Keep up with your laundry, or buy extras because sometimes you can't get to the laundromat and sometimes a water main breaks.
Get a couple of Mylar emergency blankets for when the heat goes out.

Listen to the news and when it's going to snow, dress for it and drive for it.
Or stay off the roads.

Whining will not be tolerated.

I'm just saying...

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Friday, October 14, 2016

Fact-Checking the Torah -- {{citation needed}}

In 1851 the Bagster edition of Brenton’s English translation of Septuagint included an introduction from the translator, in which he makes a claim about Samaritan Pentateuch – which I believe he never saw.
Brenton claimed that when Samaritan Pentateuch and Torah differ, Septuagint is much more like Jewish Hebrew than it is like Samaritan Hebrew.  Brenton weasel-words this claim by restricting it to “important and material points.”  He never defines what he means by important or material.
He also said that in “many” places where Samaritan Hebrew and Septuagint both differ from Biblical Hebrew, they resemble each other.  As you know, “many” is the classic weasel wording that earns the remark {{citation needed}} in so many places on so many Wikipedia pages.
{{citation found}}, I think.  After digging around online a while, I found an 1848 publication with an article on this exact subject.  The author of the article, Rev. Walter Fitzgerald, said that, taking both similarities and differences into account (my emphasis), he believes that it’s a wash (my phrase) as to which of Septuagint or Samaritan more closely resembles Jewish Hebrew.  Brenton didn’t quote that part. 
And Brenton sneers at the “crooked” letters of the Samaritan alphabet.  I have traced this sneer, I believe, to another 1848 publication which is available online.
I have a sneaking suspicion that Brenton copied this information – and he did it without attribution – and that he not only could not read Hebrew, but he had never seen Samaritan.
To do that, he would have to access Rev. Brian Walton’s Biblia Sacra, also known as the London Polyglot, published by Bagster’s in the 1600s, 2 centuries earlier.  This work had eight versions of the Torah, including the Samaritan Hebrew and Samaritan Aramaic, each with a separate Latin translation.  The polyglot is available free on Internet Archive in 10 sections. 
Not only would Brenton have to see this work, but he would also have to know how the Samaritans pronounce and interpret their Pentateuch to evaluate how much it was like Jewish Hebrew.  He could only do that in his time if he worked among the Samaritans to find these things out.  Apparently Ze’ev ben Hayyim was the first person ever to do this – after 1950 -- and his five-volume work was available only in Hebrew until 2000 CE when an English translation of Volume V was published. 
And so Brenton’s urban legend about the relationship between Torah, Septuagint, and Samaritan requires him to do work that he probably could do only if he could read both versions of Hebrew.  But if he could read Jewish Hebrew and wanted to do an accurate translation from the Greek, he failed abysmally. 
But it gets worse. 
In 2014 I discovered information that shows Rev. Fitzgerald was also wrong.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Bit at a Time Bible Hebrew -- et 1

Possibly one of the most misunderstood elements of Biblical Hebrew – now that we understand the vav prefix – is the particle et.  It seems to show up randomly.  As I keep saying, a language doesn’t invent or use things randomly.  It always means something by what it uses.
In Biblical Hebrew, direct objects of transitive action verbs, when they are definite nouns – they either start with the definite article or are in the construct state – sometimes are preceded by et, spelled alef tav, with either tseire or segol under the alef.  Not all definite direct objects are marked with this particle and a lot of ink has been spilled trying to figure out what’s going on.
Here are the easy rules for et that I have worked out so far.
Rule 1: et only appears after a transitive verb.
Rule 2: et only appears with definite nouns.
Rule 3: et only appears with nouns that are the direct object of a transitive verb AND are not governed by a preposition.
Rule 4: et which is marked with tseire always has a conjunctive trop connecting it to the other words in the accusative phrase, and follows a word marked with a disjunctive trop. (I’ll say more on trop later.)
Rule 5: et which is marked with segol never has trop with it and always connects to its accusative phrase with a hyphen. 
I think I have found two more rules.
Rule 6.  The tseire version appears in  et sarah  ishto and some similar phrases; with kal meaning “all”; with asher and a collective noun phrase, and with something that is being considered as a whole.
Rule 7.  The segol version appears in et achiv et hevel and some similar phrases; with kal meaning “every”; and with something considered as a part, in contrast to or distinction with with something else.  This includes situations with the demonstrative ha-zeh/ha-zot, “this”; ha-hu/ha-hi, “that”; or ha-eleh, “these, those”.  metimes the restrictive modifier is not expressed, such as in cases where the Holy Land is obvious.
Absorb the last two rules over the week and then I’ll show you some examples.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Outdoors -- it's complicated

The crickets and chickadees are sending me mixed messages about winter.

On the one  hand, my annual cricket count stands at three.
Those were in the August/September time frame.
Ought to mean a cold wet period this winter like in December.

On the other hand, the chickadees are never far from my bird feeder.
This is supposed to be a sign of a hard winter.
I found out that the chickadees aren't eating all that food.
They stash food in various places to get to in the winter.
So this bodes ill, especially in the DC region where people have this fantasy that if they make it home without a wreck one day, they're golden for the rest of the winter.
Tow truck operators and body shops are sure to make a killing this winter.
If the chickadees are right.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved