Va-yera: Language and Translation

Scholars and translators seem more or less evenly split on reading Genesis/Breishit 22:13 “v’hinei-ayil achar [“and behold-a ram behind”]. Many commentators point out that “behold–a ram behind” is a bit odd. Acharav — “behind him” — would make more sense grammatically.

Many approach the oddity midrashically. (see, e.g., discussion of this in Zornberg’s The Murmuring Deep and/or “Look Behind You.” Others believe the final letter in achar, the reish, should be read as a dalet — as Alter notes, below, the letters are very similar in block script — making the word “echad” and the phrase “behold — one ram.”

Here are some translations and corresponding translators’ notes:

When Abraham looked up, he saw behind him a ram caught in the thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering in place of his son. — Aigen Machzor

Abraham lifted his eyes: he now could see a ram [just] after it was caught by its horns in a thicket. Abraham went and took the ram and offered it as a burnt-offering in place of his son. — JPS/Stein

And Abraham raised his eyes and saw – behold, a ram! — afterwards, caught in the thicket by its thorns; so Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as an offering instead of his son.–Stone

Avraham lifted up his eyes and saw:
there, a ram caught behind in the thicket by its horns!
Avraham went,
he took the ram
and offered it up as an offering-up in place of his son.
[NOTE: Some read “one ram caught”] — Fox

When Abraham looked up, his eye fell upon a ram, caught in the thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering in place of his son. — JPS/Plaut

And Abraham raised his eyes and saw and, look, a ram was caught in the thicket by its horns, and Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up as a burnt offering instead of his son. — Alter
[NOTE: The Masoretic Text reads “a ram behind [ahar],” but scholarship is virtually unanimous in following numerous ancient versions in reading echad, “one,” a very similar grapheme in Hebrew.]

And teh angel wazd liek “OH HAI, ABOUT TAHT KILLIN UR SON…J/K LOL!1 Ur win cheezburgrz 4evr” [13] And teh angel sed “We downgrazden youz 2 a RAM” An Abraham tukd ram an burnd it. — LOLcatbible

See Source Materials for citations.

One thought on “Va-yera: Language and Translation

  1. Pingback: Going Forth til God Appears | L'Chaim v'Yayin (To Life and Wine)

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