Genesis 30:37 hazel or almond?

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by Logos1560, Jun 8, 2013.

  1. Logos1560

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    Oct 22, 2004
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    At Genesis 30:37, it has been claimed that the KJV and other earlier English translations were influenced by Rashi and Kimchi in identifying the Hebrew word luz with "hazel." Louis Rabinowitz asserted: "The wrong identification is largely due to Rashi. Making the common mistake of identifying trees and plants in the Bible with those which grew in his own country [Spain], and disregarding (or being unware of) the fact that neither the hazel nor the chestnut is indigenous to the Middle East, he identifies the luz with the hazel" (Torah and Flora, p. 14). This same mistake has been made by others. For example, Moldenke observed: "One of the most frequent errors into which the non-botanically trained preachers and theological writers have fallen in the past--and, surprisingly, continue to fall even at the present time--is that of identifying the plants of the Scriptures with plants growing naturally in the regions in which these men or women happen to be living" (Plants of the Bible, pp. 4-5). Moldenke claimed: "It was the Authorized Version which perpetuated, and, indeed, in some cases, originated, the mis-identification of Biblical plants with common English ones" (p. 8).

    Does the overall evidence support the KJV rendering "hazel" at Genesis 30:37? Rabinowitz noted that "Ibn Ezra quotes Sa'adiah Gaon (10th century) that the luz is none other than the shaked, the almond, since it is so called in Arabic, and Hebrew and Arabic and Aramaic are cognate languages" (Torah and Flora, pp. 14-15). Rabinonwitz maintained that the correct identification of the luz as the almond was already given in the earlier rabbinical literature--in both Talmuds, in the Midrash, and in the Targum (p. 15). M’Clintock and Strong indicated that “this name [luz] was well known to the Hebrews as indicating the almond” (Cyclopaedia, IV, p. 106). Michael Zohary observed: "Since shaked is rendered luz in Aramaic and other Semitic languages, the correspondence between the two is unquestioned. That both of them mean 'almond' is equally sure, especially since luz or lauz is still used by Arabs and Kurdish Jews as the name for the tree" (Plants of the Bible, p. 66). Fairbairn’s Imperial Standard Bible Encyclopedia noted that “there can be little doubt that luz, amongst the Hebrews, as amongst the modern Arabs (who call it louz), was one of the names for the almond tree” (I, p. 130). Smith’s Bible Dictionary as edited by H. B. Hackett maintained that “there can be little or no doubt that it [luz] is another word for the almond, for in the Arabic this identical word, luz, denotes the almond” (I, p. 70). In a note, Henry Alford wrote: “The second tree, rendered hazel in A. V., is more probably as given by the Vulgate, Onkelos, the Samaritan Pentateuch, and the Old Syriac, almond” (Book of Genesis, p. 136). Moldenke pointed out: "It is now generally agreed that the 'hazel' of Genesis 30:37 in the King James Version was actually the almond and not the true hazel" (Plants of the Bible, p. 37). John Balfour affirmed that luz “is considered to be another name for the almond” (Plants, p. 13). Leopold Grindon agreed that luz was another name for the almond (Scripture Botany, p. 237). The Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible noted: "The 'hazel' of Genesis 30:37 (KJV) is actually the almond and not the true hazel" (IV, p. 1703). Tristram maintained that “Celsius and all the best authorities, render it ’Almond tree’” (Natural History, p. 358). Robert Tyas asserted that “Bochart, Celsius, Hillier, Jerome, and Dr. Shaw” considered luz to refer to the almond (Flowers, p. 17). Thaddeus Harris agreed that the luz is the “almond” (Natural History, p. 6). Concerning this verse, William Groser asserted: “The word here used is luz, which the Revisers, following the Rabbinical authorities and the analogy of the Arabic name, translate ’almond tree’” (Trees, p. 88).

    Wilson's O. T. Word Studies, Gesenius' Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon, and Green's Concise Lexicon all defined luz as "the almond tree." Berry's Interlinear Hebrew-English O. T. rendered it "the almond" (p. 118). A Reader’s Hebrew Bible has the note “almond-tree; almond-wood” for this Hebrew word (p. 49). Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary defined it as “almond tree” (p. 963). Green’s Interlinear Bible translated it “the almond” (p. 27). In his 1855 Hebrew and English Dictionary, M. H. Bresslau gave this definition: “an almond or nut tree” (p. 291). Peloubet’s Bible Dictionary asserted that luz was “the almond” (p. 373). The Encyclopaedia Judaica reported that "luz is the less common word for almond or almond tree in Hebrew" (Vol. 2, p. 666). Unger's Bible Dictionary noted that hazel (Gen. 30:37) should be almond (Heb. luz) (p. 1138). The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia listed luz under its entry for almond (I, p. 100). The Bible Cyclopaedia edited by William Goodhugh defined this Hebrew word as “an almond tree (Gen. 30:37)” (I, p. 58). Ellicott’s Commentary also identified the Hebrew word luz as being “the almond-tree” (I, p. 116). Moldenke wrote: "Among people as fond of poetic imagery as the Jews, it is not strange that the word 'shaked,' indicating a wakeful or watchful tree, hastening to put forth its blossoms before those of other trees, should have come to be used as a synonym for 'luz,' the almond tree" (Plants, pp. 37-38).

    The Dictionary of Scripture Proper Names at the end of the unabridged Webster’s New Twentieth Century Dictionary of the English Language defined Luz as “almond-tree” (p. 94). David Cloud’s Way of Life Encyclopedia also gave as the definition for its entry Luz (Gen. 28:19) “an almond-tree” (p. 246). People’s Bible Dictionary also has “almond tree” as its definition of “Luz” (p. 145).

    Believers in their 1842 revision of the KJV translated this Hebrew word at Genesis 30:37 as "almond-tree." The 1864 Jewish School and Family Bible by Abraham Benisch rendered this Hebrew word as “almond.“ The 1917 Holy Scriptures according to the Masoretic Text also translated this Hebrew word as “almond.“ In his 1981 translation based on traditional Jewish sources, Aryeh Kaplan translated it as “almond” (Living Torah, p. 81). The old Wycliffe’s Bible on the KJV-only view’s line of good Bibles had “almond” at this verse. The Peshitta is also on the KJV-only good line, and Lamsa’s English translation of it has “almond” at this verse. Henry Alford translated it “the almond” in his 1872 edition of Genesis (p. 136). The English translation of Genesis 30:37 in Luther’s German Bible in Luther’s Works has “almond” (Vol. 5, p. 379), but that may be a translation of an edition of Luther‘s Bible revised after his death. The 1602 Valera Spanish Bible has “almendro” [almond tree] at Genesis 30:37. The 1877 Revised English Bible edited by Gotch, Davies, Jacob, and Green has “almond” at this verse. The 1808 translation of the Greek LXX by Charles Thomson also has “almond.“ Both renderings [“hazel” and “almond”] are found in the KJV-only view’s pure stream of Bibles.

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