Biblical Names, Lost in Translation

Even the best translations can’t accurately capture all the layers of meaning in a text, particularly a great one. Aviya Kushner explains how renderings of the Hebrew Bible—beginning with the oldest, the Septuagint—obscure the significance found in personal names:

[Historically], many Jews weren’t keen on translating their holy book. One ancient source calls for a fast on the anniversary of the Septuagint’s publication, saying that when it appeared, “darkness descended on the world for three days.”

They had ample justification for worrying over distortions and omissions. Hebrew names, one of the richest parts of the Bible, were often transliterated instead of being translated into Greek. Meaning-laden names thus lost their meaning.

What we call ourselves matters. A name in the Bible is supposed to capture its bearer’s essence. God names the first person in the Bible Adam for adamah, or earth. In Hebrew, adam is also the word for human. But an English reader would never know that, in Hebrew, Adam is immediately understood as rooted in the very earth he walks on, labors in, and returns to.

Read more at Wall Street Journal

More about: Hebrew, Hebrew Bible, Religion & Holidays, Septuagint, Translation

What Is the Biden Administration Thinking?

In the aftermath of the rescue of four Israeli hostages on Friday, John Podhoretz observes some “clarifying moments.” The third strikes me as the most important:

Clarifying Moment #3 came with the news that the Biden administration is still calling for negotiations leading to a ceasefire after, by my count, the seventh rejection of the same by Hamas since Bibi Netanyahu’s secret offer a couple of weeks ago. Secretary of State Blinken, a man who cannot say no, including when someone suggests it would be smart for him to play high-school guitar while Ukraine burns, will be back in the region for the eighth time to urge Hamas to accept the deal. Why is this clarifying? Because it now suggests, here and for all time, that the Biden team is stupid.

Supposedly the carrot the [White House] is dangling in the region is a tripartite security deal with Saudi Arabia and Israel. Which would, of course, be a good thing. But like the stupid people they are now proving to be, they seem not to understand the very thing that led the Saudis to view Israel as a potential ally more than a decade ago: the idea that Israel means business and does what it must to survive and built itself a tech sector the Saudis want to learn from. Allowing Hamas to survive, which is implicitly part of the big American deal, will not lead to normalization. The Saudis do not want an Iranian vassal state in Palestine. Their entire foreign-policy purpose is to counter Iran. I know that. You know that. Everybody in the world knows that. Even Tony Blinken’s guitar is gently weeping at his dangling a carrot to Israel and Saudi Arabia that neither wants, needs, nor will accept.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Antony Blinken, Gaza War 2023, Joseph Biden, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship