Friday, June 26, 2015

New and old ground, letting words grow, לחה וקרב

Working on the books of the Bible that I have sort-of worked on before is harder than working on books that I have not yet read in Hebrew. When I am on old ground, I have to recognize all the decisions I made 4 or 5 years ago that I would not make the same way today. My computer aided concordance rules were not written in those days (they began in 2012) so the number of unnecessary and conflicting synonyms in that earlier work is very high in these 'drafts'. Whereas when I work on what is to me virgin ground, my automated translation prompts are a real aid and new things open up about words I thought I knew. Sometimes they get more than half a verse more or less usefully glossed. And they stop me from using random synonyms.  (I am now extending my automation to pairs of words to pick up constructs and other multi-word phrases. I hope eventually to combine all my root derivation and grammar algorithms into one package.)

These are the counts by length of stem for the 25% of the Bible that I have in my data.
Length, count
1 3, these are the three pre-clitic prepositions ל, ב, and כ.
2  203, e.g. the one I note below לח.
3  1616, e.g. as also noted below, קרב.
4  260
5  117
6  27
7  5
8  1, e.g. נּבּוכּדּנּצר, Nebuchadnezzar 

The current distribution of these roots across the 60,000 or so words in my data so far is this
1  1171, these are typically prefix + pronoun
2  13904, 23%, these include a number of grammatical words
3  39692, 65%
4  4653
5  996
6  149
7  43
8  2
You can see that Hebrew is predominantly a tri-literal language.

I find myself working across several books at once. Here for instance is some of my recent history.
2 SAMUEL-12.202015.06.22
1 KINGS-17.142015.06.22

Numbers and Deuteronomy are new ground for me. Lamentations and Job are rework and therefore slower. Psalms 108 changed in that I had inadvertently switched to English verse numbering rather than Hebrew.

As I discover new conflicts in my own limited freedom with synonym usage, some earlier decisions have to be changed. One word I wrestled with in the past 24 hours is the rare לח, from an unused tri-literal root לחה. (So maybe I should list it as among the three letter roots, but it's in my length 2 list).

According to my Hebrew-Latin concordance, this root occurs 7 times, as sucus, humor, vigor aetatis in Deuteronomy 34:7, as humidus, recens in Genesis 30:37, and Ezekiel 17:24, 21:3, and in the plural in Numbers 6:3, Judges 16:7-8. You can confirm this with online resources such as the Blue letter Bible, the 6, and the unique once. What gloss will do for these? Is it green in the sense of unripe, or wetness, or vigour, or new? Could we read it in any sense as equivalent to these concepts in our language? One usage is uniquely applied to Moses at age 120, of the remaining half-dozen, another considers the Nazirite vow in Leviticus 1. It is an important word though rare. It could confirm suspicions of the impact of faith, that motive that causes the human to approach the Holy.

So what did I do (so far) with this word. I picked 'fresh' for the Nazirite vow - no fresh grapes, nor dried ones (raisins). No byproduct of the grape at all in the diet. Green could be used if one accepts the homonyms of green in English, but I think it is not what is considered here, and I already use it for the colour green in Psalm 52 (רענּןּ) and also the sense of luxuriant (that may be a luxury in my usage which I may remove later), And there is another word in Job 8 (רטב) that is green sometimes - but what sense of green in that passage from Bildad? There it may be simply 'wet' as in a wet blanket, (in spite of the sun).

In contrast, working in Leviticus 1, I have been noticing the tri-literal stem קרב, qof, resh, bet. It is rich in its reach as a word: approach, near, inner, close combat, innards, oblation, even inner thought or mind. This stem is used 17 times in the 17 first chapter of Leviticus. Leviticus describes the cult of sacrifice, i.e. how to approach the mystery with your offering (remember corban קרבן, in Mark 7:11).

קרב assignment of domain so far
Before I had seen Leviticus, I had thought of קרב as a word of approach and as a preposition. But its depth is only just opening up to me. In the chart, you can see that is occurs as preposition by itself and with a pronoun over 50% of the time in my data so far, and as a sense of approach and closeness most of the rest of the time, but Leviticus changes that perspective. In some sense it should not surprise me, for approach is one of five keywords that inform the epistle to the Hebrews in the NT.

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