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If a word occurs thousands of times, it must be a “particle” right?


(eth) 11,000 occurrences

“eternal self” or “untranslatable particle of accusative”?

 אשר דבר

(asher dibber)

“which he spoke” or “he spoke straightly”?


(asher) 5,500 occurrences. Particle of relation or, “straight”?

These words are among the top four or five most frequent in all of the Hebrew text. Eth is the most frequent of all. Follow the vowel pointing of the Masoretes from the 7-10th centuries and the tradition is “fixed” for over a thousand years. But reading without the vowel points, what then?

Common usage and context vary based on factors such as language register, literary style, cultural background, and individual interpretation. Depending on contexts or translations, “אשר דבר” (asher dibber) can be rendered as “he spoke straightly” or “he spoke directly,” if the translator is aiming to convey a specific nuance or tone that aligns with the broader context of the text. So what is the right context? If context is the key, who holds it?

Who is the intended Audience?

Ultimately, translating a phrase involves considerations of both linguistic accuracy and conveying the intended meaning effectively, and different translators may make different choices based on their understanding of the text and the audience for whom they are translating.

When it comes to translating religious or literary texts, which often carry deep symbolic or theological meanings, translators must navigate these complexities to convey the original message accurately while also making it accessible to their intended audience.

However, due to the subjective nature of language interpretation, different translators interpret the same text differently, leading to variations in translation choices. These variations can stem from differences in linguistic expertise, theological beliefs, cultural background, and the intended audience. As a result, multiple translations of the same text may exist, each with its own nuances and interpretations.

These variations in translation contribute to differences in understanding and interpretation among readers or communities. Depending on how a particular translation resonates with a group or individual, it may influence their beliefs, practices, and even their sense of identity. Over time, these differences in interpretation lead to the formation of distinct denominations, sects, or schools of thought within countless religious traditions.

Disagreements over translation choices then lead to debates, divisions, and conflicts within religious communities. Different groups advocate for the validity of their preferred translation or interpretation, leading to tensions or schisms.

The eventual result, the older the same religious text grows, is one gargantuan Sea, impossible to swim, impossible to drink, impossible to navigate. Thus the saying (in so many words), “Find a boat, float, and wait for deliverance, and pray you don’t sink in a storm!”

קדימה (qadimah) “the east wind” or “the front of herself”? Two valid translations. Context determines.