Sep 8, 2011

Notes from Class 9/7/11 - Deeper look at Nefesh and "After she/they ate"

Nefesh – Beth related Hannah's bitter nefesh to Creation –
The actual language in Gen 1:7 is that God breathes into the nostrils of the adam the breath of life: nishmat chayyim. This life force that comes from God is not so different from nefesh perhaps, so the idea that Beth expressed, that Hannah’s bitter nefesh comes from feeling she is without God’s lifegiving force is still an informative connection.

1 Samuel 1:9: 
וַתָּקָם חַנָּה, אַחֲרֵי אָכְלָה בְשִׁלֹה וְאַחֲרֵי שָׁתֹה

This verse is translated in several ways:
Robert Alter The David Story
And Hannah arose after the eating in Shiloh and after the drinking.
Alter says (The Art of Biblical Narrative, note on page 83): “I vocalize ‘eating’ differently than does the Masoretic text, which seems to make Hannah the subject, something contraindicated by the indication that she is breaking a fast in verse 18.”
Everett Fox Give us a King (no annotation)

Hannah arose after eating at Shiloh and after drinking.
JPS Tanakh (no annotation)
After they had eaten and drunk at Shiloh, Hannah arose
Artscroll Tanach (no annotation)
Hannah arose after eating in Shiloh and after drinking.
Etz Hayim (note: “Literally, ‘After she had eaten (akh’lah),' namely Hannah")
After they had eaten and drunk at Shiloh, Hannah arose

אַחֲרֵי אָכְלָה : Acherei ach’lah – this is the Hebrew in our text and is a simple feminine past tense in Modern Hebrew.  We would think it should be translated “after she ate.”  However, all of our translators read either “after eating” or “after they ate.” 
According to P.Kyle McCarter in 1 Samuel (Anchor Bible), the Septuagint reads “after eating. ”
This is the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible, also called LLX, from about 300 BCE to 100 CE, which is thought in some cases to reflect an older Hebrew text than the Masoretic Text, or MT, from about 7th to 10th centuries CE.

 וְאַחֲרֵי שָׁתְתָה: After she drank – Acherei shat’tah – this is the simple Hebrew past but it is NOT the Hebrew in our text. 
The Hebrew in our text is
וְאַחֲרֵי שָׁתֹה.  V’acharei shatoh. This is known as the infinitive absolute form of the verb, but is used in a peculiar way. 
Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar, in reference to this verse, states that
וְאַחֲרֵי שָׁתֹה" is impossible Hebrew, and as the LXX shows, a late addition.”  In other words, it is violating all the rules of grammar.

I would conclude that our translations, do not say “After she ate and after she drank” for the following reasons:
·         There is an immediate textual problem because one verb is in past tense and one verb is in a verb form which is “impossible in Hebrew.”   Therefore, one cannot simply give both verbs as “She ate and she drank.”
·         According to LLX, “after eating” is the original form of ach'lah.
·         According to verse 18, Hannah eats after her prayer is completed and after Eli has given her his peace blessing.
·         It would appear that in order to make sense of verse 18, and in order to make sense of some impossible Hebrew, and in keeping with the LLX translation, our modern translators have chosen to translate either “they ate and drank” or “after eating and drinking.”  The latter translation, chosen by Alter, Fox and Artscroll preserves the ambiguity of the text, because it does not state clearly who ate and drank.  The JPS and Etz Hayim translations, “After they had eaten and drunk” do not give you the flavor of the ambiguity.

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