Gen 4:23

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Michael W Abernathy
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Gen 4:23

Post by Michael W Abernathy »

I ran across two very different translations of Genesis 4:23.
וַיֹּ֨אמֶר לֶ֜מֶךְ לְנָשָׁ֗יו עָדָ֤ה וְצִלָּה֙ שְׁמַ֣עַן קוֹלִ֔י נְשֵׁ֣י לֶ֔מֶךְ הַאְזֵ֖נָּה אִמְרָתִ֑י כִּ֣י אִ֤ישׁ הָרַ֨גְתִּי֙ לְפִצְעִ֔י וְיֶ֖לֶד לְחַבֻּרָתִֽי׃
The usual translation goes something like “Lamech said to his wives, ‘Adah and Zillah, listen to my voice, wives of Lamech give hear to my because I killed a man for wounding me and a boy for striking me.”
Rashi translated it like this, “Now Lemech said to his wives, "Adah and Zillah, hearken to my voice; wives of Lemech, incline your ears to my words, for I have slain a man by wounding (him) and a child by bruising (him).”
The JPS Torah commentary suggests this is possible if you take the suffix subjectively and gives the idea that, “My mere wounding/bruising of my combatant is fatal.” Is there another example of this use in the Bible?
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Jason Hare
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Re: Gen 4:23

Post by Jason Hare »

Here is Rashi's commentary:

hearken to my voice: For his wives separated from being intimate with him because he had slain Cain and Tubal-cain, his (Lemech’s) son. [The story was] that Lemech was blind, and Tubal-cain was leading him. He spotted Cain, who appeared to him as an animal, and he told his father to draw the bow, and he killed him. As soon as he learned that it was his grandfather Cain, he clapped his hands together [in anguish] and clapped his son between them and killed him. So his wives separated from him, and he attempted to appease them.

hearken to my voice: to hearken to me to agree to live with me, for was the man I killed, killed because of my wounding? Did I wound him intentionally, that the wound should be attributed to my name? And the child I killed, was he killed by my bruising, i.e., on account of my [intentional] bruising? This is a question. Did I not do it inadvertently and not intentionally? This is not my wound, and this is not my bruise. פֶּ֫צַע is a wound inflicted by a sword or an arrow, machadure in Old French.

שמען קולי: שהיו פורשות ממנו מתשמיש לפי שהרג את קין ואת תובל קין בנו, שהיה למך סומא ותובל קין מושכו, וראה את קין ונדמה לו כחיה ואמר לאביו למשוך בקשת, והרגו. וכיון שידע שהוא קין זקנו, הכה כף אל כף וספק את בנו ביניהם והרגו, והיו נשיו פורשות ממנו והוא מפייסן.

שמען קולי: להשמע לי לתשמיש וכי איש אשר הרגתיו לפצעי הוא נהרג, וכי אני פצעתיו מזיד שיהא הפצע קרוי על שמי, וילד אשר הרגתי לחבורתי נהרג, כלומר על ידי חבורתי, בתמיה, והלא שוגג אני ולא מזיד, לא זהו פצעי ולא זהו חבורתי.

פצע: מכת חרב או חץ מקאדור"ה בלע"ז.
--

I'm not sure that I see what you're saying. I mean, yes, Rashi says that it should be read as if Lemech were the one who wounded the others (and it should be read as two people - a man and a child), but I don't see exactly what you're saying in your question. It would seem that the traditional reading would be to take פצעי as an infinitive construct, but in that case, it would seem more likely to have the nun energicum inserted (פצעני) to show that it's an object. Maybe Rashi's suggested reading has merit.
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kwrandolph
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Re: Gen 4:23

Post by kwrandolph »

Without preconditioned reading, I always understood this passage as Lamech recognizing that in his killing of another person, that therefore he would be punished.

As for “man” and ילד mentioned, that is the same person mentioned in poetic parallelism.

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Andrew Chapman
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Re: Gen 4:23

Post by Andrew Chapman »

Jason Hare wrote: It would seem that the traditional reading would be to take פצעי as an infinitive construct, but in that case, it would seem more likely to have the nun energicum inserted (פצעני) to show that it's an object.
I thought the traditional reading was to take פצעי as a noun with a possessive suffix: 'my wound'?

As BDB - פֶּצַע, masculine noun. Likewise Delitzsch. Clearly this would correspond to the passive sense - if it's his wound, then he is the one who has been wounded.
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Jason Hare
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Re: Gen 4:23

Post by Jason Hare »

Andrew Chapman wrote:
Jason Hare wrote: It would seem that the traditional reading would be to take פצעי as an infinitive construct, but in that case, it would seem more likely to have the nun energicum inserted (פצעני) to show that it's an object.
I thought the traditional reading was to take פצעי as a noun with a possessive suffix: 'my wound'?

As BDB - פֶּצַע, masculine noun. Likewise Delitzsch. Clearly this would correspond to the passive sense - if it's his wound, then he is the one who has been wounded.
Absolutely. I was thinking of פָּצְעִי when I wrote that. I'm not sure why that was in my head instead of פִּצְעִי. Mea culpa.
Jason Hare
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www.thehebrewcafe.com
Nihil est peius iis, qui paulum aliquid ultra primas litteras
progressi falsam sibi scientiæ persusionem induerunt.

— Quintilian
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