Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Numbers 5 (translation): before it gets extremely sexist

Below are the first four verses of Numbers 5, as translated into the imperial linguafranca, Greek, in the kingdom of Egypt established by Alexander the Great - a translation by Jews from their Hebrew (written by Moses outside of Egypt, as received from God in some language, maybe Egyptian, maybe Hebrew).

And the verses are further translated into English by three of us: Sir Lancelot Brenton, Peter W. Flint (for the NETS Septuagint), and me. I'll give more commentary later and elsewhere (which I'll link to here); let me just say this:

Before Numbers 5 gets into the really sexist part, these first four verses are not necessarily as benign to women and girls as they might seem. There are interesting differences between the Hebrew and the Greek, the latter bringing to light perhaps the phallogocentrism of the empire. My English works within the play in the words to show the possibilities of sexist language and attitudes of the text. That's enough for now. Here it is:

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