Thursday, May 5, 2016


I am back to commenting a bit. I really wanted to translate today but instead I got a tree to put in the house (euphemistically called a houseplant).

It's very tall. And it has moved since this placement closer to the window. (It's on wheels. Our ceilings are about 20 feet high).

A second tree found its way into the strata foyer and a third went to my downtown office.

These are recovery plants abandoned by their very rich owner who had no room for them in their new 2 bedroom apartment.

The whole family knows about these new gifts to the household. So the news is around the world. And I sit here listening to my daughter's performance of the Bach Organ Mass, Clavierbung 3. Why am I working when I could listen to such all day. If only I had practiced the piano when I was young. Discipline - was a word you could not use in those days - it meant punishment instead of discipleship. Such distortion!

You see why I translate for myself. Why would I trust those who could not possibly understand good order.

Here's a comment on translation related to the Hebrew chayil, XYL in my simple letters. The stimulus is here on Rachel Held Evans' blog.

Those glosses for Hebrew words - I have not translated this poem (Proverbs 31) yet. It is the only acrostic left for me to grind my mind on to try and imitate it in English. But some Hebrew words just won't fit into one English gloss. chayil (חַ֣יִל) occurs 3 times in Ruth. 

The first time is in Ruth 2:1 and is stated of Boaz אִ֚ישׁ גִּבּ֣וֹר חַ֔יִל a person of valor and ability is how I glossed it. I have made very careful choices with help from computer programs that tell me when I have overlapped the English with multiple Hebrew roots. 

This isn't the way language actually works for lots of reasons, but it is a way to puzzle out the ancient patterns in a language no longer changing through daily usage. So I chose valour (Canadian eh) and all the other related valiant, prevail etc for the verbs and nouns related to GBR גבר - that means I cannot chose that gloss for XHL חיל. Nonetheless, chayil has lots of glosses associated with it. 

In its second use in her well-noted place about Ruth, Boaz notes that all my people of the gate know that you are a woman of ability. I can use the same gloss here for the sense. In the third use we are after the scene at the gate (Ruth 4.11) and here the assembly at the gate is blessing Boaz that Ruth may be as those (Leah and Rachel) who built the house of Israel (it is not just men who build houses) and they command Boaz to make chayil. I have rendered this (translation is like a meat packing operation) as you make wealth in Ephratha

Altogether so far (1/3 through the Hebrew bible) several words are too hard to fit into one English gloss and XYL is one of them: force, wealth, ability, weal, bulwark and words related to these like reinforce, enforcement, - some of which will survive the critical (computer software driven) process of the next 3 (or more) years and some of which might not. 

Isn't it odd how a gloss would change what we perceive? So the KJV has these three: wealth for Boaz, virtuous for Ruth, and worthily for chapter 4, (I have not used any glosses related to worth yet in 100,000 words). Wealth is like one of my choices but I would not place it here. Whatever qualifies Ruth must qualify Boaz and vice versa. Because the context and sense is the same. The blessing is a little different - given the parallel of house building, the blessing to Ruth is clearly apt since she undoes the curse against Moab and her house is still celebrated over two millennia later.