Saturday, September 24, 2005

More thoughts on Leviticus 10:10

Yesterday, I mused about how to read Leviticus 10:10, considering first Hebrew parallelism and then a chiastic structure.

But in looking more closely at the Hebrew text, I noticed something else:


בין הקדש

ובין החל

ובין הטמא

ובין הטהור׃

One could read this simply as items in a series. Literally:

"And distinguish

between the holy

and between the profane

and between the impure

and between the pure."

Put into better, more normally formatted English:

"And distinguish among the holy, the profane, the impure, and the pure."

Such might appear to nullify all of my musing about parallelism and chiasm, but I don't think so, for reading this verse as items in a series means that one not only distinguishes each item from the other three but that one also sees connections of the sort that I noted yesterday.

Moreover, these items in a series lend themselves rather easily to a reading in terms of parallelism or chiasm (or both), as the early translations into Greek and Latin suggest.

Septuagint Text: Greek:


ανα μεσον των αγιων και των βεβηλων


ανα μεσον των ακαθαρτων και των καθαρων

Translated literally:


between the holy and the profane


between the impure and the pure."

Vulgate Text: Latin:

et ut habeatis scientiam discernendi

inter sanctum et profanum

inter pollutum et mundum

"And that you might have knowledge to discern

between the holy and the profane

between the impure and the pure."

From these early Greek and Latin renderings of Leviticus 10:10, we see that readers readily grouped the four items into a pattern suggesting either parallelism or chiasm (or both).

Knowing how the early rabbis understood the structure of the Hebrew text -- as simply items in a series, as parallelism, or as chiasm -- would be interesting, so if anyone knows, please post a comment.

Perhaps I'll post more on this verse tomorrow . . . and probably lose my few remaining readers.


At 12:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

as my grandfather would put it..."it seems to me to be one or the other"


At 5:18 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I guess that he'll have to add "another" to that:

"It seems to me to be one or the other . . . or another."

Hmmm . . . that's what I was afraid of.


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