A New Bible Translation, and the Enduring Legacy of the Old Ones

Oct. 25 2022

In his review of a new edition of the Hebrew Bible, produced by the Orthodox Israeli publishing house Koren, Yosef Lindell puts it in the context of Jews’ previous renditions of the sacred text in English:

In 1845, Isaac Leeser, the Philadelphia-based communal leader and writer, lamented Jewish reliance on “a deceased king of England, who was certainly no prophet, for the correct understanding of the Scriptures,” yet these words were written in the introduction to his own King James-inspired translation. In 1881, Michael Friedlander published the Jewish Family Bible, which amounted to the King James minus the Christology.

It was only in the latter half of the 20th century that wholly new translations appeared. Between 1962 and 1985, JPS published a new translation (NJPS) with a team of academic scholars working more or less from scratch. It was meticulously researched and more concerned with Modern English idiom than word-for-word equivalence with the Hebrew—less “formal” and more “functional,” as scholars often put it. Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan’s The Living Torah broke new and rather different ground in the 1980s with its Orthodox approach and colloquial style (yom ha-sh’vi’i, the seventh day, sometimes became “Saturday”). Meanwhile, ArtScroll’s 1996 Stone Edition Tanach sought word-for-word correspondence.

The new [Koren] translation is completely reimagined, reads smoothly, and is not unlike the NJPS in its willingness to depart from literal translation. It is the work of a team of translators and academic reviewers, and it is particularly notable that other than the late Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks (who translated the Pentateuch) and Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb of the Orthodox Union, all the other translators are women, including Jessica Sacks (Jonathan Sacks’s niece). Also of note, Will Lee, professor emeritus of English at Yeshiva University, served as the literary editor. The result is a crisp, contemporary, and thoroughly readable translation.

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Read more at Jewish Review of Books

More about: Hebrew Bible, Translation

 

UN Peacekeepers in Lebanon Risk Their Lives, but Still May Do More Harm Than Good

Jan. 27 2023

Last month an Irish member of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was killed by Hizballah guerrillas who opened fire on his vehicle. To David Schenker, it is likely the peacekeeper was “assassinated” to send “a clear message of Hizballah’s growing hostility toward UNIFIL.” The peacekeeping force has had a presence in south Lebanon since 1978, serving first to maintain calm between Israel and the PLO, and later between Israel and Hizballah. But, Schenker explains, it seems to be accomplishing little in that regard:

In its biannual reports to the Security Council, UNIFIL openly concedes its failure to interdict weapons destined for Hizballah. While the contingent acknowledges allegations of “arms transfers to non-state actors” in Lebanon, i.e., Hizballah, UNIFIL says it’s “not in a position to substantiate” them. Given how ubiquitous UN peacekeepers are in the Hizballah heartland, this perennial failure to observe—let alone appropriate—even a single weapons delivery is a fair measure of the utter failure of UNIFIL’s mission. Regardless, Washington continues to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into this failed enterprise, and its local partner, the Lebanese Armed Forces.

Since 2006, UNIFIL patrols have periodically been subjected to Hizballah roadside bombs in what quickly proved to be a successful effort to discourage the organization proactively from executing its charge. In recent years, though, UN peacekeepers have increasingly been targeted by the terror organization that runs Lebanon, and which tightly controls the region that UNIFIL was set up to secure. The latest UN reports tell a harrowing story of a spike in the pattern of harassment and assaults on the force. . . .

Four decades on, UNIFIL’s mission has clearly become untenable. Not only is the organization ineffective, its deployment serves as a key driver of the economy in south Lebanon, employing and sustaining Hizballah’s supporters and constituents. At $500 million a year—$125 million of which is paid by Washington—the deployment is also expensive. Already, the force is in harm’s way, and during the inevitable next war between Israel and Hizballah, this 10,000-strong contingent will provide the militia with an impressive human shield.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Lebanon, Peacekeepers, U.S. Foreign policy