Gen. 39:9 - How did the ESV flub this up?

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by jonathan.borland, Jan 26, 2012.

  1. jonathan.borland

    jonathan.borland
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    Hi Everyone,

    Speaking of Pharaoh:

    Gen. 39:9 (ESV): "He is not greater in this house than I am, . . ."

    Gen. 39:9 (HCSB): "No one in this house is greater than I am. . . ."

    The ESV translation of Gen. 39:9 is inconsistent with 39:19-20. The other translations (generally "No one" or "There is no one," etc.) allow for one to assume the exception of Potiphar, but the explicitness of the ESV does not allow for such.

    Sincerely,

    Jonathan C. Borland
     
  2. Jerome

    Jerome
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    Because the starting point for the ESV 'translators' was the text of the National Council of Churches' Revised Standard Version:

    Gen. 39:9 RSV
    he is not greater in this house than I am. . .
     
  3. Deacon

    Deacon
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    And the point is: "who" is "he".

    A quick look at a lexicon is a bit more revealing.
    It can mean “he,” “she,” or “it.”

    Simple Hebrew really.

    Other translations that use "he" include, the RV and the NRSV.
    I personally think "he" fits the context better but both are correct.

    Rob
     
  4. jonathan.borland

    jonathan.borland
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    Dear Rob,

    Then Joseph was quite delusional since a few verses later Potiphar shows him what for.

    If the Hebrew means what you say it does, why didn't the composer begin 39:9 with a waw-conjunctive and subject before the predicate article, such as, ". . . והוא איננו"? That he did not suggests that the meaning is indeed "There is not one who . . ."

    Sincerely,

    Jonathan C. Borland
     
  5. Oldtimer

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    Gen 39:7-9 KJV
    7And it came to pass after these things, that his master's wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me.

    8But he refused, and said unto his master's wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand;

    9There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?

    FWIW.....
     
  6. Deacon

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    What is Joseph saying about Potiphar and Potiphar’s house?

    In Potiphar’s house, Joseph was Potiphar’s image, excepting his wife.

    Joseph held all of Potiphar’s power and authority.

    I personally don’t see a great distinction between the two different ways that the verse is translated. The meaning is the same.

    “He (Potiphar) is not greater in this house…”

    “No one is greater in this house…”

    Rob
     
  7. Deacon

    Deacon
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    My boss has given me the authority to order the supplies for my workplace.
    I have been given all the authority that the boss has over purchasing.
    Before my suppliers I am my boss’s image.

    "He is not greater in this office (concerning ordering) than I am."

    "No one in this office is greater (in purchasing) than I am"

    It is an unexpressed assumption that if I were to purchase something out of the will of the boss, my power would be taken away.

    So too with Joseph, if he stepped out of Potiphar's image, he would suffer the consequences.

    Rob
     
  8. jonathan.borland

    jonathan.borland
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    Dear Rob,

    I see what you're saying, but I still see a big difference. In the HCSB, Potiphar is not necessarily included in the "no one." In the ESV, Potiphar is the only one included! I also think the ESV/RSV translators flubbed up on the semantics of this Hebrew expression.

    Sincerely,

    Jonathan
     
  9. Deacon

    Deacon
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    I think the problem lies in our English understanding rather than the Hebrew text.

    Hebrew is less precise than the English.

    An "essesntially literal" translation might be more prone to use the "he" where a less literal might not but as I noted they are both acceptable translations.

    I personally like to be jarred out of my complatency and struggle with a translation to see if there might be something I've overlooked.

    But there's not much here IMHO.

    Rob
     
  10. Van

    Van
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    Let me see if I understand this: The ESV translates a Hebrew word as "he" referring to some specific individual, whereas the other well regarded translations go with "no one" referring to a non-specific group.

    Since the "he" (in the second part of the sentence) refers to someone specific not giving Joseph his wife, it seems rather obvious that someone other than Master is in view. One might also note "in this house" as excluding the Master "over the house".

    So it is yet another muffed translation. The more you study the ESV, the less you like it.
     
    #10 Van, Jan 28, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 28, 2012
  11. Deacon

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    “nether ony thing is, which is not in my power, ether which `he hath not bitake to me, outakun thee, which art his wijf; how therfor may Y do this yuel, and do synne ayens my lord?” (John Wycliffe Bible 1185)

    “He him selfe is not greatter in the house than I ad hath kepte nothige fro me but only the because thou art his wife. How than cam I do this great wykydnes for to synne agaynst God?” (Tyndale Bible 1534)

    “he is not greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back anything from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (1901 ASV)

    “he is not greater in this house than I am; nor has he kept back anything from me except yourself, because you are his wife; how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?”” (RSV)

    “He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except yourself, because you are his wife. How then could I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?”” (NRSV)

    “he is not greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?’” (Jewish Publication Society 1917)

    “He wields no more authority in this house than I, and he has withheld nothing from me except yourself, since you are his wife. How then could I do this most wicked thing, and sin before God?”” (JPS Contemporary translation)

    “He wields no more authority in this house than I do, and he has withheld from me nothing but yourself, since you are his wife. How, then, could I commit so great a wrong and thus stand condemned before God?”” (NAB)

    “he himself has no more authority here than I have! He has held back nothing from me except you yourself because you are his wife. How can I do such a wicked thing as this? It would be a great sin against God.”” (The Living Bible)

    “He treats me as an equal. The only thing he hasn’t turned over to me is you. You’re his wife, after all! How could I violate his trust and sin against God?”” (The Message)

    “I have as much authority in this house as he has, and he has not kept back anything from me except you. How then could I do such an immoral thing and sin against God?”” (GNB)
     
  12. jonathan.borland

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    And all these make Joseph sound foolish since a few verses later we see just who has authority over whom. All unnecessary since the Hebrew can easily mean "there is not one who."
     
  13. Deacon

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    Well not exactly, the Hebrew can be read in a non-gendered way - but it stlll means someone - not "no one" or "none".

    “There is none greater in this house than I;
    neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife:
    how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9, AV 1873)

    In mid-verse, the "he" refers back to someone mentioned earlier in the verse... in the ESV it would be "he" which is understood as the master.

    Those versions that translate it "none" or "no one" leave the "he" standing alone: perhaps refering back to "no one"?

    Still an awkward sentence IMO.

    Rob
     
  14. Jerome

    Jerome
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    No, the antecedent is master, as it is for both the ESV he's.

    For the ESV you go outside "the verse" to locate an antecedent ["which is understood as the master"] when you encounter he. Why don't you simply do the same for the KJB?
     
  15. Van

    Van
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    I know nothing of Greek and much less of Hebrew, but here goes:

    I think the word we are discussing is transliterated as "e-nen-nu" and identifies the absense of a person or action, hence no one, or none or did not and was not. So I am ignorant of where the first pronoun "he" is found in the text.
     

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