Saturday, April 25, 2009

Numbers 5: Men talk

I said in the previous post that I'd offer commentary on the translation of the first four verses of Numbers 5. What I started then and continue below is a rephrasing in English that shows some of the sexism in the Greek words in other contexts. It's word play on the order of Mary Daly's play with English, with gyn/ecology. Readers at first, especially reading Hebrew, may doubt that woman is put down in and by the text. After all, every culture, relative to itself, exists and thrives for reasons, for exigencies that sometimes make life difficult - more difficult especially for the outsider looking in. I'm not trying to pretend insiderness or objectivity, even with the Greek. So when the greek has a word for the idea of the camp of the sons and daughters of Israel in the desert outside of Egypt, then I'm interested in how that reads in Alexandria Egypt, back inside Egypt, when there's a military camp nearby by that same Greek name (men only in the army) - translated into English it can be something in rhetoric analogous to a parenthesis in writing. Parembole. But it's slightly phallic, isn't it this rigid insertion? Which makes us English and Western readers think of Freud and Oedipus and the like.

So when God speaks the second time to Moses, as below, he tells him to speak to the sons. Perhaps, this in Greek (and Hebrew) is inclusive, inclusive of the daughters as well. Perhaps. So I'm translating the Greek word usually translated "sins" as "messy misses" - in English - both to commit the classic meaning of a missed target in archery but also to enact a play on the words "mess" and "misses" and "Mrs." as in words that may easily collocate in a gynophobic society. There's more you may find there. I have color coded some of the words to show Greeky structure (and have taken away some of the accent marks and similar aids of punctuation). And you'll find Brenton's and Flint's translations also to compare (with my formatting of paragraphs as if to aid the comparisons). Hope it's more fun than tedious, more serious in a helpful way than pedantic.


  1. I love your translations.

  2. Thank you very much! Such kind words in your post!


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