Wednesday, April 26, 2017

HATRED and Bible Translation

Mistranslation Alert

שנואה   SNOOAH in Genesis 29:33 does not mean “hated” (KJV). Rachel was not the hateful, hell-bound Pharisee that the Replacement-Theology King James’ Brit-wits want to promote.

When Leah births and names her second son  שמעון SHiM’[O]WN (Simeon / Heard), she says that the Lord has heard her suffering as שנואה  SNOOAH.  Dictionaries do translate this word as “hated,” but a Bible translation with a modicum of respect would not paint the matriarch Rachel as a monster. There are “bible critics” with Jewish genes who are this demeaning and self-hating, but more gentility toward Hebrew Bible characters is expected from gentiles.

Rachel and Jacob were in love, and engaged for seven years. It took superhuman restraint not to expose her sister Leah at Laban’s bait-and-switch marriage. Rachel must have loved Leah very much, and empathized with her Tamar-like desperation to marry into Jacob’s people, escaping the misogyny and idolatry of Mesopotamian culture, or worse: marriage to Esau.
Leah should not have been shocked that Jacob would still love Rachel the most seven years later, while, as a woman and a sensitive human being, she can feel hurt as second-fiddle.  

Without losing the intensity of Leah’s feelings, a translator has no right to simply render שנואה SNOOAH as  "hated."  The ש-נ Shin-Noon root captures Leah’s feeling second-best (שני SHaiNeey) and thus less-loved, relatively estranged. The new JPS Tanakh upgrades
   שנואהSiNOOAH from the KJV’s repulsive “hated” to the kinder, more correct “unloved.”

Leah may have been SHUNNED by Rachel when their relationship as co-wives became impossibly awkward.  SHUN (to avoid) is traced to Old English scunian (to abhor). The shifting of this שונא  S-N “disdain-abhor” verb to “avoidance” may be captured in S-N words like Albanian shmang (avoid, evade, avert, shun) and  Polish odSuNąć (push away, withdraw, dismiss).   The   שׂ-נS-N theme of being different, strange and hated, feeling second-rate or making another feel so emerges from Greek xenos (foreign, strange). See “XENOPHOBIA.” For all their later rivalry and estrangement, the two sisters were not שונאים  SOANEeYM (enemies). It is wrong, even hateful, to suggest that they were.