HEBREW EXEGESIS

BBL301

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HEBREW EXEGESIS

OF

GENESIS 37-50


Instructor:  Dr. Jin Hee Han

 

Course Web: nyts475.tripod.com/hebrewexegesis.htm

 

Course Description

 

This is a Bible reading course.  As we work through Genesis 37-50 in the Hebrew text, we will continue to foster our love for the biblical language, sharpening our skills in exegesis. With the intricate prose and the challenging poetry, these last chapters of the book of Genesis will prove to be an inviting venue for the minds that seek to see a world where a common good is found as God works in mysterious and unobtrusive ways.  In this course, we will have opportunities to observe how the original biblical language can illuminate our understanding of the Scriptures.

 

Prerequisite:  Introductory Biblical Hebrew

 

 

Required Textbooks

 

Elliger and W. Rudolph, Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia.  Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1977.
ISBN 3438052180          Ref BS715 1983 E-055414

Claus Westermann, Genesis 37-50: A Commentary.  Translated by John J. Scullion.  Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1986.

ISBN 0806621974          BS1235.3 .W3713 1986

Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis 16-50.  WBC.  Dallas, TX : Word Books, 1994.

ISBN 0849902010          BS491.2 .W92 v.2

 

 

Course Assignments

  1. Faithful attendance and participation are expected.Be prepared to read, translate, and discuss the Hebrew text of Genesis 37-50.  It is understood that we are to keep up with the reading of relevant portions of the two commentaries.  In addition to the scheduled time of class, the workload will require about 8-10 hours per week, more or less depending on the student’s preference in terms of study methods.
  2. There will be weekly quizzes that cover assigned passages and readings.The quizzes will include vocabulary items and grammatical points. Some of the quizzes may be take-home; they are due on the next session of the class.
  3. There will be a final take-home exam (not yet available). It is scheduled be posted on the web early November.  You can work on it at your pace, but be sure to turn in the completed exam on or before Dec. 4 (the penultimate session).   Final exams turned in after Dec. 4 may cause the course grade to be recorded on a pass or fail basis.  Your exam will be returned on Dec. 11.  Extension may be granted only in the case of medical emergency.

 

Course Evaluation

 

  1. Participation                      20%
  2. Reading quizzes                 50%
  3. Final exam                         30%

 

Course Schedule

  1. September 3
    Exegetical Methods
    Review of Grammar
  2. September 10
    Read Genesis 37.  quiz
  3. September 17
    Read Genesis 38.  quiz
  4. September 24
    Read Genesis 39.  quiz
  5. October 1
    Read Genesis 40.  quiz
  6. October 8
    Read Genesis 41.  quiz
  7. October 15
    Read Genesis 42.  quiz
  8. October 22
    Read Genesis 43.  quiz
  9. October 29
    Read Genesis 44.  quiz
  10. November 5
    Read Genesis 45.  quiz
  11. November 12
    Read Genesis 46-47.  quiz
  12. November 19
    Read Genesis 48.  quiz

    November 26       (No class)
    November 27       Thanksgiving

  13. December 3
    Read Genesis 49.  no quiz
  14. December 10
    Read Genesis 50.  quiz
    Simchat ha-Torah

Final Exam is now available (click here) 

http://nyts475.tripod.com/hxfinal2003.pdf

 

Enrichment Sessions

Throughout the semester class hours may be replaced with various activities including field trips.  Please note that the enrichment sessions are part of the class, not social events; therefore, participation is mandatory.


Relevant Journals

Bible Review
Biblica
Biblical Theology Bulletin
The Bible Translator
Biblical Archaeology Review
Bulletin of the American School of Oriental Research
Catholic Biblical Quarterly
Expository Times
Harvard Theological Review
Interpretation
Israel Exploration Journal
Journal of Biblical Literature
Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha
Journal for the Study of the Old Testament
Journal of Near Eastern Studies
Journal of Semitic Studies
Literature and Theology
Semeia
Vetus Testamentum
Zeitschrift für die alttetestamentliche Wissenschaft

Books on Reserve
(some on permanent reserve)

Campbell/O’Brien 1993 Sources of the Pentateuch

Fox 1995 The Five books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy

Friedman 1987 Who Wrote the Bible?

Friedman 2001 Commentary on the Torah with a New English Translation

Hamilton 1982 Handbook on the Pentateuch

Kugel 1997 The Bible as It Was

Plaut 1981 The Torah: A Modern Commentary

Wenham 1994 Genesis 16-50

Westermann 1986 Genesis 37-50: A Commentary

 

Additional Resources

 

Lexica

 

William L. Holladay, A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans, 1971).  A handy lexicon based on the highly reliable Koehler-Baumgartner lexicon.  Easy to use due to its alphabetical arrangement.

 

Clines, David J. A., The Dictionary of Classical Hebrew.  Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993-2001.  5 vols.  The dictionary utilizes a synchronic linguistic approach, as it examines the function of Hebrew words within the Hebrew literature.

 

Köhler, Ludwig, Walter Baumgartner, and Johann Jakob Stamm, The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament.  Translated and edited by M. E. J. Richardson et al.   5 vols.  Leiden Brill, 1994-2000.  Now the standard lexicon for linguistic studies in Hebrew.  N.B.  The library has the CD ROM version of this lexicon.

 

Lexical Aids

 

Terry A. Armstrong, Douglas L. Busby, and Cyril F. Carr, eds., A Reader’s Hebrew-English Lexicon of the Old Testament (4 vols.; now available vols. 1 and 2 bound together).  An indispensable help for the accelerated reading of the Hebrew Bible.

 

George M. Landes, Building Your Biblical Hebrew Vocabulary: Learning Words by Frequency and CognateAtlanta, GA: Society of Biblical Literature, 2001.  Its earlier version A Student’s Vocabulary of Biblical Hebrew (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1961) is still useful.  It lists words according to the number of occurrences as well as by cognate.

 

Larry A. Mitchel, A Student’s Vocabulary for Biblical Hebrew and Aramaic (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1984).  A vocabulary list by frequency of words appearing ten times or more in the Hebrew Bible.

 

Grammars

 

Gesenius‘ Hebrew Grammar (17th ed.; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983; a.k.a. GKC).  As edited and enlarged by E. Kautzsch and A. E. Cowley.  This is a comprehensive reference grammar, though some parts are outdated.

 

Joüon, Paul.  A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew.  Translated and revised by T. Muraoka.  2 vols.  Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1991.  Currently, the most detailed grammar.

 

Thomas O. Lambdin, Introduction to Biblical Hebrew (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1971).  A very clear, solid teaching grammar; the author claims it is designed for a year of college grammar course, but probably more for an intermediate Biblical Hebrew.

 

Waltke, Bruce K. and M. O’Connor, An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax.  Winona Lakes, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1990.  A detailed intermediate grammar with a special emphasis on syntax.

 

Concordances

 

Solomon Mandelkern, Veteris Testamenti Concordantiae Hebraicae atque Chaldaicae (8th ed.; Jerusalem: Schocken Books, 1969).  Written in Latin and Hebrew only, and list words by binyan.

 

Gerhard Lisowsky, Konkordanz zum hebräischen Alten Testament (Stuttgart: Württembergische Bibelanstalt, 1958).  Easy to use, though not complete. Beautifully handwritten.

 

Abraham Even-Shoshan, ed.  A New Concordance of the Bible: Thesaurus of the Language of the Bible; Hebrew and Aramaic; Roots, Words, Proper Names; Phrases and Synonyms (Jerusalem: “Kiryat Sefer” Publishing House, 1985.  This concordance lists all Hebrew and Aramaic words of the Bible in one continuous alphabetical order.  You will need the cardinal numbers in Hebrew.

 

Other Aids

 

Gorman, Michael J., Exegesis of Biblical Exegesis: A Basic Guide for Students and Ministers.  Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2001.

 

Kelly, Page H., Daniel S. Mynatt, and Timothy G. Crawford, The Masorah of Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia: Introduction and Annotated Glossary. Grand Rapids, MI/Cambridge, UK: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1998.

 

Scott, William R., A Simplified Guide to BHS: Critical Apparatus, Masora, Accents, Unusual Letters & Other Markings.  Berkeley: BIBAL Press, 1987.

Stuart, Douglas.  Old Testament Exegesis: A Primer for Students and Pastors (2nd ed.; Philadelphia: Westminster, 1984).

 

Wonneberger, Reinhard, Understanding the BHS: A Manual for the Users of Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia.  Translated by Dwight R. Daniels.  2nd ed. Rome: Editrice Pontificio Instituto Biblico, 1990.

 

P.S.  Advertisements displayed with this web page are brought solely by www.tripod.com, which has provided free service for the page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chagigah Daf 11

Daf Notes is currently being dedicated to the neshamah of

Tzvi Gershon Ben Yoel (Harvey Felsen) o”h

 

The Gemora cites a braisa: The laws of negaim (tzaraas) and oholos (corpse tumah transmitted by means of a roof) have few Scriptural allusions, but many halachos.

 

The Gemora asks: Aren’t there many Scriptural passages regarding negaim?

 

Rav Pappa answers: The braisa meant to say the opposite; the laws of negaim have many Scriptural allusions, but relatively few halachos.

 

The Gemora asks: What difference does this make?

 

The Gemora answers: If one is uncertain regarding a law pertaining to negaim, he should look in Scripture; if one is uncertain regarding a law pertaining to oholos, he should look in the Mishna. (11a)

 

The Mishna had stated: Monetary laws have Scriptural support and are regarded as fundamentals of the Torah.

 

The Gemora asks: Monetary laws are explicitly mentioned in the Torah; why does the Mishna state that there is merely Scriptural support?

 

The Gemora answers: The Mishna is referring to cases similar to the following halachah from Rebbe: Even though it is written (regarding a man who intended to hit another man and mistakenly killed a woman): And you shall award a life for a life; nevertheless, the punishment is not life, but rather monetary compensation. (11a)

 

The Mishna had stated: The laws of sacrificial services have Scriptural support and are regarded as fundamentals of the Torah.

 

The Gemora asks: Aren’t there many Scriptural passages regarding these laws?

 

The Gemora answers: The Mishna is referring to the halachos of bringing the blood to the Altar, as it was taught in the following braisa: And they shall bring. This refers to the receiving of the blood. The Torah referred to the receiving of the blood in an expression of ‘bringing,’ as it is written: He shall bring it all…and cause it go up in smoke on the Altar; and the master explained this verse to be referring to the bringing of the limbs to the ramp. This teaches us that the service of bringing the blood should not be excluded from the laws that govern the receiving of the blood. (11a)

 

The Mishna had stated: The laws of purity and contamination have Scriptural support and are regarded as fundamentals of the Torah.

 

The Gemora asks: Aren’t there many Scriptural passages regarding these laws?

 

The Gemora answers: The Mishna is referring to the amount of water needed for a mikvah (forty se’ah), which is not explicitly stated in the Torah. The Torah states that a person must immerse himself in an amount of water that is sufficient for his entire body to enter the water at one time. The Gemora states that the ritual bath must contain at least three cubic amos of water since a person’s average height is three amos and his width is one amah. The Chachamim concluded that this measurement is equivalent to forty se’ah. (11a)

 

The Mishna had stated: Monetary law, the laws regarding sacrificial offerings, the laws of purity and contamination and the laws concerning illicit relations all have Scriptural support and are regarded as fundamentals of the Torah.

 

The Gemora asks: Are only these halachos fundamentals of the Torah and not the other halachos mentioned before?

 

The Gemora answers: Rather, let us say that both these and those halachos are fundamentals of the Torah. (11b)

 

WE SHALL RETURN TO YOU,

HAKOL CHAYAVIN

 

The Mishna states: We do not expound the laws of illicit relationships among three people, nor do we discuss the Account of Creation among two people and we do not expound Maaseh Merkavah (Account of the Chariot) even by one person, unless he is a wise man and can understand these matters by himself.

 

The Mishna continues: Whoever analyzes the following four things, it would have been better if he never entered this world: What is above and below (the Heavenly angels), what is before and after (beyond the universe). Whoever is not concerned for the honor of his Creator, it would have been better if he never entered this world. (11b)

 

The Mishna had stated:  We do not expound Maaseh Merkavah (Account of the Chariot) even by one person, unless he is a wise man and can understand these matters by himself.

 

The Gemora asks an apparent contradiction in the ruling of the Mishna: If a person has the ability to expound on Maaseh Merkavah himself, he obviously is a scholar, and yet the Mishna states that he is prohibited from studying this himself; however, the Mishna concludes that if he is a wise man and can understand these matters by himself, he may expound by himself.

 

The Gemora answers and explains the Mishna in the following manner: We do not expound the laws of illicit relationships to three other people, nor do we discuss the Account of Creation to two other people and we do not expound Maaseh Merkavahto one other person, unless he is a wise man and can understand these matters by himself. (11b)

 

The Gemora discusses the Scriptural source for the Mishna’s halacha that we do not expound the laws of illicit relationships to three other people.

 

Rav Ashi explained the Mishna’s ruling as follows: We do not expound upon the secret details regarding the laws of illicit relationships (forbidden unions that are not stated explicitly in Scripture) to three other people. The reason for this is because we are concerned that when one student is conversing back and forth with his teacher, the other two students will talk among themselves and will not learn the halacha that their teacher is saying; subsequently they might eventually permit an illicit relationship.

 

The Gemora asks: Why don’t we apply this ruling (prohibition against teaching three students) to all areas of Torah study?

 

The Gemora answers: Stealing and illicit relationships are two transgressions that one especially desires.

 

The Gemora asks: If so, the halachah should apply by the laws of stealing, as well?

 

The Gemora answers: A person has a powerful desire for an illicit relationship whether the object of his desire is in front of him or not; a person only has a desire to steal when the opportunity is in front of him. (11b)

 

 

 

INSIGHTS TO THE DAF

AVERAGE AMAH

 

The Gemora had stated: A person must immerse himself in an amount of water that is sufficient for his entire body to enter the water at one time. The Gemora states that the ritual bath must contain at least three cubic amos of water since a person’s average height is three amos and his width is one amah. The Chachamim concluded that this measurement is equivalent to forty se’ah.

 

The Chasam Sofer comments: Every person has his individual measurement of an amah (from his shoulder to the tip of his middle finger). The height of each and every person (excluding his head) is equivalent to three of his personal amos and not the size of the average amah. The Chasam Sofer said that he can attest to this for he personally investigated this and confirmed it many times.

 

The measurement of a mikvah follows the average amah (three cubic amos) and not the amah of each unique individual.

 

The Bach (Y”D 120) states that Biblically, one can immerse himself in a mikvah that contains water sufficient for his entire body to enter at one time even if there isn’t forty se’ah; the Chachamim decreed that the mikvah must contain forty se’ah.

 

The Chasam Sofer asks: Even if the Bach is correct regarding the measurement of water required for a person to immerse himself in; he is also referring to the immersion of new utensils, where the Torah requires its immersion in a mikvah fit for a niddah to immerse in. It is evident that the Biblical amount of water needed for a valid mikvah is measured according to the average person (niddah) and not according to each individual, for otherwise, to whom is the Torah referring to when it states that the water needed for the immersion of utensils should be water sufficient for a niddah. He concludes that the words of the Bach are extremely perplexing.

 

DAILY MASHAL

 

OVERWHELMING DESIRE

 

The Gemora had stated: A person has a powerful desire for an illicit relationship whether the object of his desire is in front of him or not. It is because of this that it is forbidden to teach three students the secret details regarding the laws of illicit relationships; we are concerned that when one student is conversing back and forth with his teacher, the other two students will talk among themselves and will not learn the halacha that their teacher is saying; subsequently they might eventually permit an illicit relationship.

 

The Rambam in Hilchos Issurei Biyah (22:20) writes: Therefore, it is incumbent on each and every person to acclimatize himself to increased levels of sanctity and pure thoughts at all times in order to refrain from sinning in these matters, where there is an overwhelming physical urge to sin.

 

Reb Moshe Feinstein (Y”D III: 80) cited this Gemora and Rambam as proof to his ruling regarding a Beis Yaakov in Baltimore, that they cannot build their new school adjacent to a Yeshiva for boys. He states that we must be vigilant in these areas for otherwise, it can result in the spiritual destruction of this world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 L’zecher Nishmas HaRav Raphael Dov ben HaRav Yosef Yechezkel Marcus O”H