Friday, January 9, 2009

Generation of Animals & Alexandrian Idol

Genesis 30 as translated into Greek (by the Hebrews of Alexander's Great City in Egypt) is reminiscent of another text: Aristotle's Generation of Animals. You know, it's the text in which he writes with scientific certainty:

Ἔοικε δὲ καὶ τὴν μορφὴν γυναικὶ παῖς, καὶ ἔστιν ἡ γυνὴ ὥσπερ ἄρρεν ἄγονον· ἀδυναμίᾳ γάρ τινι τὸ θῆλύ ἐστι τῷ μὴ δύνασθαι πέττειν ἐκ τῆς τροφῆς σπέρμα τῆς ὑστάτης

(Now a boy is like a woman or wife in form, and the woman or wife is, as it were, a childless impotent male; for it is through a certain lack of ability that the female is female, being unable to concoct the nourishment in its last stage into seed or semen.)

ὥσπερ γὰρ καὶ ἐκ πεπηρωμένων ὁτὲ μὲν γίγνεται πεπηρωμένα ὁτὲ δ’ οὔ, οὕτω καὶ ἐκθήλεος ὁτὲ μὲν θῆλυ ὁτὲ δ’ οὒ ἀλλ’ ἄρρεν. τὸ γὰρ θῆλυ ὥσπερ ἄρρεν ἐστὶ πεπηρωμένον·

(Just as the young of mutilated parents are sometimes born mutilated and sometimes not, so also the young born of a female are sometimes female and sometimes male instead. The female is, in fact, a mutilated male.)

τὰ δὲ καὶ δύο ἔχοντα αἰδοῖα, τὸ μὲν ἄρρενος τὸ δὲ θήλεος, καὶ ἐν ἀνθρώποις καὶ μάλιστα περὶ τὰς αἶγας. γίγνονται γὰρ ἃς καλοῦσι τραγαίνας διὰ τὸ θήλεος καὶ ἄρρενος ἔχειν αἰδοῖον—ἤδη δὲ καὶ κέρας αἲξ ἔχουσα ἐγένετο πρὸς τῷ σκέλει

(Again, they may have the body parts doubled, both male and female; this is known in humans and especially in she-goats. For birthed babies called ‘billy goats’ are such because they have both male and female procreative birth parts; there is even a case of a she-goat being born with a horn upon its leg.)

Listen now to Genesis 30:41:

ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν τῷ καιρῷ, ᾧ ἐνεκίσσησεν τὰ πρόβατα ἐν γαστρὶ λαμβάνοντα, ἔθηκεν Ιακωβ τὰς ῥάβδους ἐναντίον τῶν προβάτων ἐν ταῖς ληνοῖς τοῦ ἐγκισσῆσαι αὐτὰ κατὰ τὰς ῥάβδους·

(And in time, here's what was birthed: the sheep received in the belly a craved conception, and when they did Jacob put the rods in front of the sheep in the troughs -- the cravings for their conceptions according to the rods.)

And listen more:


καὶ ἔδωκεν αὐτῷ Βαλλαν τὴν παιδίσκην αὐτῆς αὐτῷ γυναῖκα· εἰσῆλθεν δὲ πρὸς αὐτὴν Ιακωβ. καὶ συνέλαβεν Βαλλα ἡ παιδίσκη Ραχηλ καὶ ἔτεκεν τῷ Ιακωβ υἱόν.

(She gave him Balla her female-child-slave, his wife-womb-woman. Entering into her is Jacob himself. Together, Balla the female-child-slave of Rachel, takes him in and conceives, birthing a babe to Jacob, a son to him.)

And this goes on and on. Female after female, bearing male after male. The Greek adding verbs of conception where in Hebrew they aren't always needed. And the sons are named. Once, a translation is added (in Genesis 30:18):

καὶ ἐκάλεσεν τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ Ισσαχαρ, ὅ ἐστιν Μισθός.
(She calls his name Is'sachar -- pssst, it means "Reward.")

So in Greek, the possessions, the wages, females, child-slaves and sheep and goats and the like, are claimed as μισθός. And one of the boys of the sperm-father has "mandrakes": τῶν μανδραγορῶν τοῦ υἱοῦ σου, which buy an evening, for the generation of more than animals.


For Genesis 31, I'm running out of time for this post. Maybe I'll come back to it. Maybe not. There's the interesting thing of the idol, the gods. τὰ εἴδωλα, τοὺς θεούς. And of Rachel sitting on them after the manner of womb-women, and saying publicly that she can't be strip searched. τὸ κατ' ἐθισμὸν τῶν γυναικῶν.

So Laban just wishes he could have sent them off singing songs and such, sort of like American Idol in Alexandria, Egypt (Genesis 31:27) :

καὶ εἰ ἀνήγγειλάς μοι, ἐξαπέστειλα ἄν σε μετ' εὐφροσύνης καὶ μετὰ μουσικῶν, τυμπάνων καὶ κιθάρας.

(If you'd just been more angelic to me and told me first, then I'd have sent you away with blessed, joyful music, strings, drums, a big bang, and the whole she-bang.)

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