Vayechi: Language and Translation

Genesis/Breishit 50:24:

Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die, but God will surely remember [pakod yifkod] you and bring you up out of this land to the land that He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” — Stone* translation

Joseph then said to his kin, “I am dying, but God will surely take care of you [pakod yifkod] and bring you up out of this land to the land that [God] promised to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” — JPS/Stein* translation

Yosef said to his brothers:
I am dying,
but God will take account, yes, account of you, [pakod yifkod]
he will bring you up from this land
to the land about which he swore
to Avraham, to Yitzhak, and to Yaakov. — Fox* translation

And Joseph said to his brothers “I am about to die, and God will surely single you out [pakod yifkod] and take you up from this land to the land He promised to Isaac and to Jacob.” [Abraham inexplicably missing here]
— Alter* translation
[bracketed bold material added];
“[God]” appears in the JPS/Stein translation

Adele Berlin, in The Torah: A Women’s Commentary (TWC),* notes two other prominent uses of the Hebrew root peh-kuf-dalet “literally ‘take notice'”:

Moses will use the same verb and construction when he introduces the idea of the Exodus to the Israelites (“taken note,” Exodus 3:16). The same verb appeared earlier in Genesis when God fulfilled a promise to Sarah: she became pregnant with Isaac (“remembered,” 21:1). — Berlin, TWC

In comparing these translations, also note Fox’s characteristic mimicking of the Hebrew repetition, while other translators employ the adverb “surely” to render this emphatic structure into English.

*Please see Source Materials for complete citations and more details on translations.

The “Opening the Book” series was originally presented in cooperation with the independent, cross-community Jewish Study Center and with Kol Isha, an open group that for many years pursued spirituality from a woman’s perspective at Temple Micah (Reform). “A Song Every Day” is an independent blog, however, and all views, mistakes, etc. are the author’s.

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Virginia blogs on general stuff a and more Jewish topics at "A Song Every Day. Manages is on hiatus.

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