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Thammuz's avatar

Can someone check if this Hebrew phrase translates correctly to what I think it does?

Asked by Thammuz (8684 points ) February 7th, 2014

The phrase is this: בְּעִצָּבוֹן תֹּאכְלֶנָּה, כֹּל יְמֵי חַיֶּיךָ

It is a part of Genesis 3:17, and it should translate to “in toil shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life.” But I recall Hebrew had some particular rule about this and I’m not sure if you can just cut off a phrase and have it make sense without its context.

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25 Answers

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janbb's avatar

I can understand the words but not the grammatical construct. Sorry.

Where’s Zen when we need him?

gailcalled's avatar

^^ He did check in 6 days ago, so I just sent this question to him.

For some completely useless information, here’s what Googletranslate says, “Neuron will eat all the days of your life.”

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

@gailcalled “Neuron will eat all the days of your life.”

That’s hilariously useless! I’m sitting here, all alone with my dog and computer, literally laughing out loud.

Yetanotheruser's avatar

I don’t know Hebrew, but I was looking at parallel translations on The Bible Gateway and found an it interesting that the English translation of the Orthodox Jewish Bible uses one word (itzavon,) which is translated as ”([labor], pain)” in the previous verse (3:16) in reference to the pain of childbirth. Then in your referenced verse (3:17) the same word, translated as ”(pain, suffering)” is used in reference to “working the land” (my phrase).

snowberry's avatar

@Yetanotheruser My understanding is that Biblical Hebrew is different than the Hebrew used and spoken today. It would be helpful to know which one this quote is from.

It’s interesting that we translate the same word in Biblical Hebrew into two different words/meanings in English.

JLeslie's avatar

Hopefully, Zen checks in. I think rarebear is good at Hebrew also (I might be remembering incorrectly) you could PM him.

@snowberry So much is changed and altered in translation. Even old English to current English. We have words in English that have different meanings in UK English and American English. It’s one of the reasons following the bible word for word is almost impossible. We aren’t 100% sure of the intention of the writer since language changes, and translation is often difficult.

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Dutchess_III's avatar

@gailcalled‘s research, using Google, is a perfect example of how meanings get changed through the years, until what is written in another language bears no resemblance to what the original author meant!

@snowberry Yes, he left.

janbb's avatar

@Dutchess_III Actually, Gail’s research is more of an example of not to rely on electronic translations rather than how meanings get changed over the years.

flutherother's avatar

Google translate isn’t so bad. If you click on a translated word it gives alternative translations. Sorrows rather than neuron in this case.

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Dutchess_III's avatar

@janbb, the electronic translation codes were written by humans. Google translated because of something a human wrote in the code, or thought it should be written in the code. The same thing can apply over generations…assumptions or attempts to understand.

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hearkat's avatar

[Mod Says] This post is in the General section. Please remember that comments must be helpful and on-topic. Thanks!

gailcalled's avatar

Google is pretty good but can’t often handle the idioms. I remember my HS French teacher telling of her experience as a student herself in Paris when the bus didn’t wait for her. She ran alongside it, shouting, “Je suis gauche derrière”

Hebrew, both biblical and modern, is so far removed, linguistically and grammatically and even alphabetically as to make translations complicated.

“Hebrew words are formed from roots by changing vowels and by adding a wealth of prefixes and suffixes to that root. Prefixes can be prepositions.., articles…, or other things. Suffixes can be pronouns, possessives…,, or can indicate gender and number….Because of the way these prefixes and suffixes are added to the root, a single word in Hebrew might be translated into English as several words.” Source

An efficient language, one might say. Often in printed Hebrew the vowel signs are left out, being added only for children and people learning the language.

” People who are fluent in the language do not need vowels to read Hebrew, and most things written in Hebrew in Israel are written without vowels.” Sourc

janbb's avatar

@gailcalled In your first sentence, Hebrew is far removed from what?

Dutchess_III's avatar

I assume ”....so far removed from the original” @janbb. Much as modern English is so far removed from original Old English from 2000 years ago as to be almost unrecognizable.

janbb's avatar

@Dutchess_III No but the sentence as read doesn’t make sense grammatically. You would have to add ” are so far removed from one another” for it to mean that. And then you wouldn’t say “both” in that case. And also, they aren’t that far removed although modern Hebrew has many more new words.

Dutchess_III's avatar

We’ll wait and see what @gailcalled meant then.

gailcalled's avatar

so far removed from English…, old, middle or modern.

Thammuz's avatar

Sorry for not chiecking in sooner guys, in the end we managed to find a person IRL to check it for us, and yes, it was the part we were looking for. Thanks anyway to everyone.

snowberry's avatar

So, what’s the proper translation? Please?

Thammuz's avatar

someone already said that the first word can indeed be translated to “sorrows”. The structure of the phrase in ancient hebrew is largely context based, i’ve been told, so the translation in the question details is indeed correct.

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