Translation talk:Leviticus

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

Retranslating Chapter 1[edit]

There was an old translation here.

Old Chapter 1[edit]

1. And the LORD called to Moses, speaking from the tent of the Tabernacle, saying:

2. Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them that if any man brings before the LORD an offering, you shall bring before him a beast of the herd or from the flock.

3. If his offering is to be a burnt offering from the herd, let it be a flawless male brought before the door of the tent of the Tabernacle, in the presence of the LORD.

4. And he shall place his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it shall be accepted for him to make amends for his sins.

5. And he shall kill the bullock in the presence of the LORD. And Aaron's sons, the Priests will bring the blood and sprinkle it around the alter and the door to the tent of the Tabernacle.

6. And he shall carve the burnt offering, and he shall cut it into pieces.

7. And the sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire on the alter, and shall arrange wood upon the fire.

8. And the sons of Aaron the priest shall place the pieces, the head and the fat on the wood which is in the fire upon the altar.

9. And the offal and the legs he will wash in the waters, and then the priest will burn all of it upon the altar, as a burnt offering, an offering made by fire and a fragrance pleasing to the LORD.

10. And if the offering he is giving be of the flock, from the sheep or from the goats, to be a burnt offering, he shall bring a flawless male.

11. And he shall kill it on the side of the alter facing north, before the face of the LORD. And the sons of Aaron, the priests shall sprinkle its blood around the alter.

12. And he shall cut it into pieces, its head and its fat. And the priest shall arrange them upon the wood of the fire which is upon the altar.

13. And he shall wash the insides and the legs in water, and the priest shall bring it all, and burn it upon the altar as a burnt offering, an offering made by fire and a fragrance pleasing to the LORD.

14. And if his burnt offering to the LORD is of the flock, he shall bring forth as his offering turtle-doves or two young pigeons.

15. And the priest will bring this sacrifice before the altar and wring of its head, and will then burn it upon the altar, and its blood shall be poured upon the side of the altar.

16. And he shall remove its crop and pluck it of its feathers, and then shall fling these before the east side of the altar into the pile of ashes.

17. And he shall cut it at the wings, but will not divide it in half completely, and the priest shall burn it upon the wood of the fire which is upon the altar, an offering made by fire and a smell pleasing to the LORD.


The new translation is basically the same, but avoids fixing the tone errors in the original. Some sentences adress someone as "he" and switch to "you" in the middle, other sentences are not perfectly constructed, with sentence fragments and the like. This is not normal, most of the biblical text is written well.

There are some difference though:אֶל-מְקוֹם, הַדָּשֶׁן. in verse 16 is translated as "to the place of ashes", but "Deshen" doesn't mean ashes--- it means something nice. This is clear from Psalm 65. What it really means is where the fat is--- the burning fat that is rendered from the meat. It's where the sweet roasting smell is coming from.

In the same verse מֻרְאָתוֹ is translated as "crop". It seems to mean the whole feathery covering of the skin, but I am not sure. The crop might be too limited.

Another difference is זָכָר תָּמִים, which means "innocent male", but in this context, recalling Genesis adventure of Jacob, means "unmarked male". I think it is better rendered as "plain male", not as "unblemished male", but the meaning is not changed a lot. 05:43, 16 April 2011 (UTC)

רֵיחַ נִיחֹחַ[edit]

I translated this as roasting scent, based on the context and the image of "nichoach" as somehow coming from "sniffing". But after listening to the word read aloud, it sounds like it comes from "Noach", the root meaning comfortable. So I changed it to "comforting scent" from "roasting scent". The same phrase appears in Genesis at the end of the deluge, and in Exodus in several places. 06:05, 16 April 2011 (UTC)

I think you've got this right in attributing it to the root having to do with comforting. Even better, if you wanted to preserve the sense that both words sound similar, would be to translate it into English as "soothing scent." Alephb (talk) 06:31, 7 June 2017 (UTC)


"The wood which is on the fire which is on the altar" I think refers to a makeshift wooden grill arrangement of sticks on which you put the meat to cook as the fire burns below it, fed by the fat running off. This is very similar to a modern barbecue pit, except our grills are metal, not wood. I would guess then that this wood is not consumed by the fire, unlike the wood that feeds the fire, which is described differently later.

Keeping this image in mind allowed me to use of the verb "grill" for "hiktir", which I didn't understand perfectly. This replaces the previous translation of "roast" which didn't work for incense--- you don't roast incense. The proper translation is probably closer to "placed in holy position" rather than "cooked by fire", but I was pretty confident that "grill" is very close to the actual intended image. 04:10, 17 April 2011 (UTC)

I don't see any reason to think that hiktir has to do with the position you put the stuff in on the altar. The verb hiktir gets used in Numbers 16:40, describing the prohibited act where 250 people burned incense in 250 different censers. One wouldn't set up a tiny makeshift grill inside of a censer, would one? Anyhow, what would the "grilling-arrangement" hypothesis do about the similarity in roots between hiktir the verb and qetoret (incense)? If the basic idea of the root is something about arranging something in a particular opinion, how would incense get the name? On the other hand, if the root ktr has to do with producing smoke, or producing a scent, then it would make sense that it is used both for animal sacrifices and the burning of incense. Both produce the olfactory delight for Yahweh that is the point of sacrifice, in the Hebrew Bible's conception of the act. Alephb (talk) 06:39, 7 June 2017 (UTC)
You're totally right. Hiktir must be "raised in smoke". I don't know a good English off the top of my head, maybe "smoked". 15:14, 23 July 2017 (UTC)

Priestly, not Elohist or Yahwist[edit]

The writing here is very low level. It's full of backtracking, grammar omissions, tone mistakes, and just general legalese, and its design is not very spiritual, it just sucks property into the priesthood. You can't attribute this crap to the Yahwist author or to the Elohist, both of whom write great. This is "Priestly", the source for Leviticus. Priestly's contribution to Exodus was probably to tack on "And Aaron too!" whenever Moses does something.

This is not in the literature as far as I know, but there is a mysterious tradition in Judaism that says that Moses is a bad speaker. It's really deep rooted, with several mentions in the bible. Maybe this is designed to explain why Leviticus is written so badly. 19:20, 17 April 2011 (UTC)

Although, to be fair, "priestly" does have the line: "You will love your neighbor as yourself", which is timeless in English and Hebrew both. 22:02, 20 April 2011 (UTC)

Moses says he can't speak good as one of his arguments for NOT going to Pharao when God talks to him from the burning bush JustinCB (talk) 02:25, 10 November 2017 (UTC)

Descriptive titles[edit]

I find it hard to remember what happens in which chapter, so I think a quick summary for a chapter heading would help. This will prevent the insertion of new section breaks into the text, as some translators do, but which is not a very good idea, but maintain the ability to find an episode quickly. 06:45, 20 April 2011 (UTC)

Done and undone(it was decided that this wasn't such a good idea after all) JustinCB (talk) 03:23, 9 November 2017 (UTC)

Chapter 26[edit]

Does chapter 26 exist in Samaritan pentateuch? It reads post-exilic, and 100 times better than anything written by Priestly. It is also a testimony by God given directly to the text, without a "God said to Moses, who said to Aaron, who said to the people..." intro so common in the rest of this most crappy book. This chapter is a well-written work of a prophet of some sort, but who? Thematically, but not stylistically, it has some resemblence to later work of lamentations, which draws on the experience of the seige of Jerusalem. 12:17, 21 April 2011 (UTC)

So it exists in the samaritan pentateuch, but whether it is post-exilic or not, it is 100% certainly not written by "P" who couldn't write to save his life. 12:59, 21 April 2011 (UTC)

The chapter is the subject of detailed study by this theologian. But it doesn't seem that he takes the view that this has a different authorship than 27 or 25, although if you sit down and translate each sentence, it becomes clear as day that 25 and 27 are by the same shitty author, and 26 is by someone a lot more inspired. 13:47, 21 April 2011 (UTC)
Yes, it does exist in the Samaritan Pentateuch. Alephb (talk) 06:42, 7 June 2017 (UTC)

Chapter 27[edit]

The chapter says that one can "consecrate" various things to the priesthood for a certain value in silver, and redeem them at a 20% flat fee over their value for a certain time, and if you don't redeem them, then they are sold on the market for whatever price. This is what we call "pawning" today. Fortunately, I didn't see the hatchet job that other translations have made of chapter 27 before doing mine. King James gives the value of a "vow of persons" as the literal value of the person making the vow!!! It isn't. It is the price of a slave pawned to the priesthood. Understanding this is essential for a proper translation. I didn't get it until I was more than halfway through translating the chapter. Here, P's repetitiveness really helps. 05:17, 22 April 2011 (UTC)

This issue is confused by the fact that the person often is selling himself along with his family into slavery for the priesthood in exchange for the sum of money. The act of "vowing" or "consecrating" something to the priesthood might mean that you get the money on collateral, without actually forfeiting the item in question until the period of time expires and you haven't paid back your debt + 20%, so it might be more like a collateralized loan with a fixed period (of 1 year?) and 20% interest. 00:53, 23 April 2011 (UTC)
It seems that if you don't pay back your loan, with 20% interest, within the appointed time, you are killed. This is the death penalty for loan default!! That's completely out of line with any standards of a civilized society at any time and any place. 01:19, 23 April 2011 (UTC)
Nothing in Leviticus suggests a death penalty for a person who is unable to pay a loan. Alephb (talk) 06:47, 7 June 2017 (UTC)
Death is not for the person who has the debt, it's for the slave he pawned and can't pay back the debt on. Read it again. 15:13, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
I think I'm just going to take a pass on this one. If you want to quote the wording you think indicates that the book of Leviticus kills slaves, I'll comment on that. Alephb (talk) 15:19, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
It's not "kills slaves", it's the part where it says "He will be killed dead" in the translation. That's an accurate translation, and as far as the murky surrounding text (murky in the translation too), it seems that these are the consecrated things to the priesthood which are pawned and not redeemed. It requires careful reading to understand, and I only read enough to be able to translate the individual verses accurately, the whole meaning is still murky. That's why I'm asking you. 16:11, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
Ah, ok. I see how you're reading it now. I think you're talking about a herem situation, the one in Leviticus 27:29, right? If so, I'm reading the chapter like so. Verses 1-25 deal with various ways that one can make a vow (neder) concerning something and then pay a monetary substitute instead of handing over the vowed thing to priests. Of these, verses 2-8 deal with a neder of a human being, 9-13 animals, 14-15 houses, 16-25 inherited agricultural land. With the animals, houses, and land, you can choose to give money instead of the specific item you promised ("redeeming it"), but there's a 20% penalty. I don't see any explicit reference to pawning here, but ancient temples were often involved in money-lending, so I'd have to think about that a lot more. What I think is worth noting, though, is that 2-8, which deal with a human under neder, all specify only the possibility of redeeming, and don't give an option for not redeeming. And verse 8 guarantees that redemption is possible, because the priests have to assess a lower monetary value if the person can't afford the regular rate. So at least for the neder, I don't see any way a person could be in a position of being unable to afford buy-back. So much for 1-25, the neder section.
Next we come to 26-27, which deals with the special case of first-born animals. First-born animals are already, according to various other passages, meant to be property of the priests, so you can't neder them. That would be like sending a "gift" of something you already owe. Still, there's a redemption option for the first-born animals if you don't want to give up that specific animal. You can pay a fee worth 1.2 times the animal's value instead of handing over the animal. It's like if you were coming to repossess my car. I might buy you off with cash, but it would be ridiculous if I decided to "give" you the car as a gift, because you're already entitled to it. Poor analogy, but that's the idea.
28-29 deals with another special case: things or people put under herem. You don't buy back anything under herem; you destroy it. Including people. There's no buy-back option. Nothing under herem can be sold, or redeemed -- it is going to be destroyed, and it is not the subject of economic exchange in any way.
So as I'm reading it, there's no death penalty for anyone involved in a human buy-back scheme of any kind. A person under the neder law is always bought back, period, with whatever financial adjustments have to be made to make it possible. A person under herem law is never bought back, and finances don't enter the picture. So even if there's a possible pawning situation that could develop under some interpretations of the neder regulations, no person involved in a pawning situation gets killed. Alephb (talk) 16:37, 23 July 2017 (UTC)

"Strangers" or "Proselyte" in Leviticus 22:18[edit]

I wish to suggest here a more precise translation of the Hebrew word "ger" in Leviticus 22:18 (in the Wikisource translated as "strangers"). First, though, this background information.

In Lev. 17:15 we read: "And every soul that eats that which died of itself, or that which was torn with beasts, whether it be one of your own country, or a proselyte (Heb. "ger"), he shall both wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even, etc." The Hebrew word improperly translated in most English translations as "stranger" is actually "ger," = גּר (translated as "proselyte" in the Aramaic Targum, by Onkelos). What is rarely understood by many is that the same word, "ger" when used in the Hebrew language, has actually a double-meaning. Sometimes it is used to represent the foreigner who has joined himself to the people of Israel, and who now follows their religion (i.e. a convert or proselyte to Judaism). For this reason, it says in the Torah (Num. 15:16): "One law and one ordinance shall be for you, and for the proselyte ("ger") that sojourns with you."

At other times, the same word, "ger," is used to represent someone who has not yet converted to the Jewish religion, yet lives amongst the Jewish people. Hence: stranger. For this reason, it says of him in another place: "You shall not eat of anything that dies of itself; you shall give it unto the stranger ("ger") that is in your gates, that he might eat it, etc."

Note that in one place (Deut. 14:21) the Torah says that carrion can be given as food to the "stranger" ("ger"), but in a different place cited in the verse above (Lev 17:15) the Torah says that carrion should NOT be given to a "stranger" ("ger"). The Rabbis, seeing this contradiction, said that in one case the word refers to a foreigner was has not yet converted to our religion, while in the other place, the word refers to a proselyte. Thus, we find the words translated accordingly in the Aramaic Targums and in the Greek Septuagint. (The words "stranger" in Exo. 12:49, and in Lev. 22:18, and in Num. 15:15-16, are to be understood as "proselyte")Davidbena (talk) 06:42, 22 November 2017 (UTC)