God Didn't Say That

Bible Translations and Mistranslations

May I have my ear back, please?

Give Ear

At BBB, Wayne notes the oddity of the English phrase “give ear” for the Hebrew he’ezin.

I think it can be useful to look at what went wrong here.

The Root of the Problem

Hebrew has at least two words for “hear/listen.”

The first is shama. We find it, for example, in the imperative in the famous passage from Deuteronomy 6:4: “Hear [shma], Israel…”

The second is he’ezin. As it happens, that verb shares a root with the word “ear,” ozen. Accordingly, some translators (wrongly, in my opinion) feel the need to translate the word into an English word or phrase that contains the word “ear.” That’s where we get, for example, the odd “give ear, O Shepherd of Israel” for Psalm 80:1 (a.k.a. 80:2) in the KJV and others.

The Reasoning

The reasoning is flawed.
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August 22, 2010 Posted by | translation practice, translation theory | , , , , | 1 Comment