Ki Tisa: Language and Translation

Exodus/Shemot 32:25, part of Moses’ confrontation with Aaron regarding the Golden Calf, contains two interesting words for which there are a range of translations. One is a hapax legomenon, a word that appears only once in the Tanakh; the other a common verb, with a root that encompasses three and half columns in my concordance:* […]

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Tetzeveh: Great Source(s)

“And it [a robe hemmed with bells] shall be upon Aaron when he serves, so that its sound shall be heard when he comes into [v’nishma kolo b’bo-o] the sanctum before the Lord and when he goes out, that he shall not die.” — Exodus/Shemot 28:31-38, Alter* translation [bracketed material added] R. Simeon ben Yohai […]

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Terumah: A Path to Follow

As for the tabernacle, make [ta-aseh] it of ten strips of cloth; make these of fine twisted linen, of blue, purple, and crimson yards, with a design of cherubim worked into them….Five of the cloths shall be joined to one another. Make loops of blue wool…make fifty loops on one cloth, and fifty loops on […]

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Va-eira: Language and Translation

Exodus/Shemot 6:30-7:1 And Moses said before the LORD, “Look, I am uncircumcised of lips [ani aral sephataim], and how will Pharaoh heed me?” And the LORD said to Moses, “See, I have set you as a god to Pharaoh [elohim l’pharo], and Aaron your brother will be your prophet [n’vi-echa].” — Alter* Moses appealed to […]

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Va-eira: Great Source(s)

God [Elohim] spoke to Moses and said to him, “I am HASHEM [YHVH]. I appeared [va-eira] to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as El Shaddai, but with My Name [u-shemi] HASHEM I did not make myself known [nodha’ti] to them. —Shemot/Exodus 6:2-3 (Stone translation*) There is a raft of commentary on just these two […]

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Shemot: Language and Translation

The children of Israel proliferated, swarmed, multiplied and grew more and more.* [Exodus/Shemot 1:7] This is a very odd verse, stylistically. There are four almost synonymous verbs of increase that seem to gain momentum till climaxed by the double-barrelled adverbial intensifier of me’od me’od [note**]. –Nechama Leibowitz, Studies in Exodus*** Leibowitz discusses classical views of […]

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Shemot: Great Source(s)

The entire episode of the midwives [Exodus/Shemot 1:15-21] is likewise presented poetically, in a manner beloved of ordinary folk. Conversations of this nature between the great king, who was revered by the Egyptians as a deity, and the Hebrew midwives (Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, etc.) would not be conducted […]

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Toldot: A Path to Follow

This portion includes an episode (Breishit/Genesis 26:1-11), beginning “Now there was a famine in the land,” which closely mirrors a similar story in Breishit/Genesis 12:10-20. Isaac involves Rebecca in a “say you’re my sister” experience in Gerar which is very akin to the one through which Abraham put Sarah in Egypt.

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Noach: Great Source(s)

‘…I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall serve as a sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth, and the bow appears in the clouds, I will remember my Covenant between Me and you and every living creature among all flesh, so that […]

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