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Exodus 11:1b in the Revised English Bible (REB) has: When he finally lets you go, he will drive you out forcibly as a man might dismiss a rejected bride. The simile seems most unusual. Was it in the original language?

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Admittedly, my Hebrew is rusty but, as I read Exo. 11:1, the difference in how to read the word is not in its voweling but its spelling; e.g., KaLaH vs. KaLLaH. More specifically: both the unpointed Masoretic Text (MT) and the Westminster Leningrad Codex (WLC) show כלה (KLH) to be read as "completely". If the Hebrew word for "bride" was in that verse, then the spelling of that word would be כּלּה (note dagesh Lamed or L, transliterated as KLLH). –  Pat Ferguson Jul 14 '13 at 22:53

1 Answer 1

The Hebrew for this passage is:

אַחֲרֵי-כֵן, יְשַׁלַּח אֶתְכֶם מִזֶּה: כְּשַׁלְּחוֹ--כָּלָה, גָּרֵשׁ יְגָרֵשׁ אֶתְכֶם מִזֶּה.

Here's a phrase-by-phrase translation (mine, guided by the linked one):

אַחֲרֵי-כֵן -- afterwards

יְשַׁלַּח אֶתְכֶם מִזֶּה -- he will send you from this (anaphora unresolved, but from context "here")

כְּשַׁלְּחוֹ -- when he will send you

כָּלָה, גָּרֵשׁ יְגָרֵשׁ אֶתְכֶם מִזֶּה. -- altogether he will surely thrust you out from this (anaphora again)

Some notes: where I translated "send" many say "let you go"; it's a causitive verb, so both of those work. The "surely thrust" translation comes from the doubling of the verb גָּרֵשׁ; when we see this pattern it's usually an intensifier, and "shall surely (verb)" is a common way to render that.

But the apparent source of the difficulty in the translation you quoted is the word כָּלָה, Strong's H3617, which means here "altogether" or "completely". This word is very similar to the word for bride, כַּלָּה, which is Strong's H3618 (note the difference in the first vowel, and the dageish in the lamed). I suppose if a translator understood the word to be "bride" then he might come up with something like the REB translation, which would (with some punctuation changes) call for rendering the last part of this as a comparison to a bride rather than "he will surely thrust you out", referring to Paro sending the Israelites out of Egypt.

But wait, you might say, vowels aren't original to the text, so maybe it did say "bride" and the Masorites changed it. I'm not fluent in Aramaic myself, but I note that Rashi talks about Onkelos's translation (targum) into Aramaic in the first century of the common era:

completely: Heb. כָּלָה [Onkelos renders: גְמִירָא. כָּלָה is therefore the equivalent of] כָּלִיל, complete. [I.e.,] He will let all of you out.

Finally, I note that the compilers of Strong's lexicon read it as כָּלָה (altogether), not כַּלָּה (bride).

Please note: This answer was written for a neutral, academic audience and is not intended to be interpreted in the context of a religious belief or doctrine.

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