Gene 41 notes


וַיְהִי בַבֹּקֶר וַתִּפָּעֶם רוּחֹו וַיִּשְׁלַח וַיִּקְרָא אֶת־כָּל־חַרְטֻמֵּי מִצְרַיִם וְאֶת־כָּל־חֲכָמֶיהָ וַיְסַפֵּר פַּרְעֹה   41:8

 לָהֶם אֶת־חֲלֹמֹו וְאֵין־פֹּותֵר אֹותָם לְפַרְעֹה

Gene. 41:8  And it happened in the morning that his spirit was troubled and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt and all its wise men, and Pharoah told his dream to them, but there was no interpreting them for Pharoah.

There is some interesting and informative Hebrew in this verse that has come up for the first time, so I will discuss them at this point in the translation.  Many biblical Hebrew nouns are treated as both feminine and masculine in gender and their pronouns can be of either gender.  Sometimes a noun of this type will take a feminine pronoun and sometimes a masculine pronoun, often for no obvious reason.  And occasionally the number of nouns and their pronouns (plural vs. singular) do not match.  In keeping with the tacit but general consensus that the biblical scribes were probably “loose” with their grammar, most, if not all, of the translators generally (but not always) ignore these apparent irregularities.  In this verse there are two such instances, and they illustrate what I believe to be the reasons for their occurrence.

The first is AxêWr ~[,PTiw: near the beginning of the verse, translated as “… that his spirit was troubled.  The other is ~tAa rteAP-!yaew> Amêl{x]-ta, ~h,l. h[or>P; rPes;y>w: toward the end of the verse, translated as “… and Pharoah told his dream to them, but there was no interpreting them….”

In the first case, his spirit would usually be masculine, but the adjective troubled is feminine.  I believe the reason for this is that the scribe (and the society of his time) must have associated troubled with a womanly emotion, so spirit is identified by its adjective here as feminine.

In the second case, his dream is singular but the pronoun them, referring back to this noun, is plural.  I believe that this mismatch can be explained in the following fashion:  The scribe was trying to indicate that Pharoah imagined the dreams to be one dream, implying that he didn’t fully awaken between them.  But the magicians and wise men hearing the two incidents saw them as two different dreams.

Numerous such examples exist throughout the bible, and I will discuss them when we encounter them.  They often result in some interesting conjectures.              [Back]