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Title spelled for recognizability. Forgive me.

In Gen 22:14, Abraham names the place where the LORD provided a sacrifice in place of Isaac, calling it:

יְהוָ֣ה ׀ יִרְאֶ֑ה אֲשֶׁר֙ יֵאָמֵ֣ר הַיּ֔וֹם בְּהַ֥ר יְהוָ֖ה יֵרָאֶֽה׃

The LORD will Provide (yirʾeh). And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided (yērāʾeh) .” (NIV)

I’m hung up on two translational/interpretive issues here.

  • It’s not obvious to me what “it” is. It appears to refer to the ram provided for Abraham, but it seems strange to use that imperfectively, translating into English as a future tense.

  • The qal of rʾh (here yirʾeh) has the basic meaning “he sees” and the niphal of the same root (here yērāʾeh) has the passive sense “he is seen” or “he appears.” The KJV hedges on the first one but translates the second this way:

Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen.

Two questions:

  • How was it decided in the NIV (as in most modern translations, and more than one song) that rʾh means “provide” (nif: “be provided”) here? Is it used this way elsewhere?1

  • Is it clearly wrong to do what seems most obvious to me, understanding har as absolute and yhwh as the subject of yērāʾeh: “the LORD will appear”? 2


1. I understand that the same word in v. 8 pretty much requires that understanding. We do have this idiom (?) “see to” in English, though, which seems to work: “God will see to a sheep as a whole burnt offering for himself…”

2. This (ignoring the aorist) is unambiguously what the LXX does: Ἐν τῷ ὄρει κύριος ὤφθη. This is a teeny bit more difficult for us since har is not pointed with the definite article in the MT. Okay okay, that probably indicates that they understood it as construct...

3

Your difficulties in translating Genesis 22:8 and 22:14 are a result of insisting on a certain English translation which may not consistently capture the meaning of the entire passage.

The verb ראה usually means "see" or something closely related to seeing. According to Strong's Concordance, the only instance where the verb ראה means "provide" other than Genesis 22:8 and 22:14 is Deuteronomy 33:21. However, even in these instances we can still translate ראה using a meaning related to "see" and retain our understanding. Here are three verses pertinent to this question, where I have translated ראה in the sense of "discover" or "find":

22:8
וַיֹּאמֶר אַבְרָהָם אֱלֹהִים יִרְאֶה לּוֹ הַשֶּׂה לְעֹלָה בְּנִי וַיֵּלְכוּ שְׁנֵיהֶם יַחְדָּו
"Abraham said 'The L-rd will discover the ram for himself, my son,' and the two of them left together."

22:13
וַיִּשָּׂא אַבְרָהָם אֶת עֵינָיו וַיַּרְא וְהִנֵּה אַיִל אַחַר נֶאֱחַז בַּסְּבַךְ בְּקַרְנָיו וַיֵּלֶךְ אַבְרָהָם וַיִּקַּח אֶת הָאַיִל וַיַּעֲלֵהוּ לְעֹלָה תַּחַת בְּנוֹ
"Abraham lifted up his eyes and discovered..."

22:14
וַיִּקְרָא אַבְרָהָם שֵׁם הַמָּקוֹם הַהוּא יְהֹוָה | יִרְאֶה אֲשֶׁר יֵאָמֵר הַיּוֹם בְּהַר יְהֹוָה יֵרָאֶה
"And Abraham called the name of the place 'The L-rd will discover' as it is still being said today 'on the mountain of the L-rd it will be discovered.'"

The modern translations which use "provide" as a meaning aren't wrong, because this is the secondary meaning of ראה in this context. But using "see" or a derivative of "see" also works with no issues.

As to why 22:14 uses the imperfect יֵרָאֶה "it will be discovered" instead of the perfect, we can look to other examples in Tanach. When Jacob had finished wrestling with the angel in Genesis 32:29, the angel called him יִשְׂרָאֵל, using the imperfect, despite that he had just prevailed, in the perfect tense. It must be kept in mind that the imperfect denotes actions that have not yet been completed. This could imply the English future, but it can also imply the English imperfect. In Genesis 32:29, it does not make sense to translate יִשְׂרָאֵל as "you will struggle with G-d," since he already finished wrestling. But it makes good sense to translate it as "you were struggling with G-d." Similarly, in Genesis 22:14 we can translate בְּהַר יְהֹוָה יֵרָאֶה as "on the mountain of G-d it was being discovered." And to your final point, this phrase must be translated as "mountain of G-d" because בְּהַר is in the construct.

  • Thanks! FWIW, I didn’t intend to insist on any particular translation. In fact, the point of my question was that I didn’t understand the translation decisions made in the NIV that I quoted. And now a question arising from my ignorance: is בְּהַר unambiguously in construct? I get that there’s no article, and from what I can tell, הר + ב seems to be usually either a) in construct or b) articular (--> בָּהָר). But is there a reason why the form here can’t be anarthrous but absolute? – Susan Apr 3 '15 at 4:42
  • The unpointed text בהר יהוה יראה could mean either "on the mountain the L-rd will appear" or "on the mountain of the L-rd it will be seen." It is only the nikkud of the Masoretic text which tells us which one is the traditonal understanding. Ironically, the Chabad online translation is "On the mountain, the Lord will be seen," and I disagree with this. – Tim Biegeleisen Apr 3 '15 at 4:57
  • @TimBiegeleisen - A.) I was wondering if you could elaborate a little on your statement, "this phrase must be translated as "mountain of G-d" because בְּהַר is in the construct." B.) I added another answer - offering a different point of view - trying to point out the most authoritative Jewish translations do not seem to agree with this argument, (I didn't reference the LXX). C.) Thanks for the patience! – elika kohen May 19 '16 at 13:27
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1. Question Restatement:

In Genesis 22:14 - the Hebrew text uses a the word, "יראה" - literally from, "See", or "Appear" - So, is it valid to translate this as "Provide", in this one case?

Genesis 22:14 - And Abraham called the name of that place: "the Lord Will Provide / יראה" ...

Or, Alternatively - ... called ... that place: "the Lord Will Appear / יראה" ...


2. Answers:

"Provide" is valid pragmatic interpretation, and paraphrase - which suitably reflects the intent, and purpose, of "God's Appearance"; But, "Provide" is not an accurate translation.

Specific Questions:

  • Q.1.) Are there clear Scriptural examples of "See" used idiomatically for: "Provide"? A.) In this context and others, "Divine Sight" is used as a Necessary Condition for provision - never used interchangeably: B.) In Genesis 21:19, (in Aramaic; in Hebrew), "Divine Insight" is necessary to provide water to Hagar; C.) In 2 Chron. 1:7, God "Appears" to Solomon - to provide for him; etc.

  • Q.2.) Could "See / יראה" be interpreted idiomatically to imply a sense of "Provision" as it does in English? A.) "Sight" is often used Idiomatically for "Divine Revelation" - as shown in the Onqelos' Aramaic Translation of Genesis 22:8: The Hebrew "ראה" is translated into Aramaic as "גְּלֵי" - which means: "reveal, uncover, or appear"; B.) This translation occurs consistently - to convey "Divine Insight", (Genesis 26:24, (in Hebrew; in Aramaic, etc); C.) These Terms are not used interchangeably with those that mean: "to Provide"; D.) Figuratively, the word "See" could imply a sense of "provision" - but only if used with other words, or within contexts, "of Provision" - such as: "to Nourish", (from אֲכַלְכֵּ֥ל in Genesis 50:21), or "Provide", (from אֶֽעֱשֶׂ֥ה in Genesis 30:30); etc.

  • Q.3.) Is it reasonable to translate "יראה" as "Provide" - to convey a sense of "Foresight"? A.) Yes, but as an interpretation or paraphrase; B.) In prophetic contexts: "ראה / to See" and the English: "Provide" could be considered compatible - when/if the text conveys: "divine insight and provision" - as it does here, and concerning Hagar, (Genesis 21:19); C.) In Genesis 22:12 & 16, God explicitly commanded Abraham NOT to provide, (תַּ֥עַשׂ) anything - because Abraham withheld nothing - even his own son; and also because Abraham trusted that: "God would Appear" so they wouldn't need to provide anything; D.) In Genesis 12:12, "תַּ֥עַשׂ" explicitly denotes "to Provide"; (Clearly, as in Genesis 30:30: "to provide for a house"); E.) In Genesis 22:13 - It is clearly understood that "God's Provision would be substituted of Abraham's own: "In the Place of", (תַּ֥חַת), and "As [ransom] Against his son", (from the LXX: "εἰς ὁλοκάρπωσιν ἀντὶ Ισαακ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ") F.) But, translating "ראה" as "Appear" would be internally consistent with the rest of Hebrew Scripture, (below); G.) Further, in this Context: "Reveal", or "Uncover" seems the most accurate reflection of how people understood the passage - in ancient times - and conveys a much greater prophetic sense;

  • Q.4.) Is "בהר יהוה" required to be translated as "In the Mountain of God" - from the Hebrew Construct State? A.) First: Very authoritative ancient translations reject this translation - so no: it isn't required, (see below); B.) Even so, it would probably be more accurate, as a place name: "In Mount: 'God Will Appear' " - since the text explicitly states it is the name of a place;


2. Consistently Translating "ראה" as "Appear":

Although "ראה" is translated inconsistently - The Aramaic, "גְּלֵי" affirms the sense of "Divine Insight, a Divine Appearance, and Divine Provision".

Consequently, it is necessary for the translation to convey more than "literal sight":

Genesis 22:8: Quick Translation, (See Interlinear) - And Abraham declared: "God will appear himself - a lamb to be offered up, my son."

Note: This prophecy of Abraham - was not fulfilled on that mountain, and a Ram was provided instead of a lamb, (Genesis 22:13).

Or, Alternatively - And Abraham declared: "God will appear for himself - [as] a lamb to be offered up / (לְעֹלָ֖ה), my son."

Genesis 22:14.A. : Quick Translation, (See Interlinear) - And Abraham called the name of that place: "the Lord Will Appear", (יהוה יראה).

Important Note: This place is also known as Mount Moriah, (Genesis 22:2); Mount Zion; the Holy Mountain; the Temple Mount; the Mountain of God; etc.

Genesis 22:14.B: Quick Translation - therefore, (אֲשֶׁר֙) it will be declared, (יֵאָמֵ֣ר) this day in the mount: "God Will Appear", (יהוה יראה, Also in Zechariah 9:14, as: עֲלֵיהֶ֣ם יֵֽרָאֶ֔ה; i.a.: the prefix yod, in: יֵרָאֶֽה).

Similar Texts Regarding that Mountain, and God's Appearance:

NASB, 2 Chronicles 3:1 - Then Solomon began to build the house of the Lord ... on Mount Moriah, where the Lord had appeared to his father David ...

NASB, Malachi 3:1-2 - “Behold, ... the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; ... He is coming,” says the Lord of hosts. 2 “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears, (בְּהֵרָֽאוֹת֑וֹ)? ...


3. Historic and Jewish Translations of the Hebrew Text:

Septuagint, Genesis 22:14: Quick Translation - And Abraham called the name of that place: "God has seen"; thus it may be said today in the mount: "God has seen".

Notes: A.) The Greek is clearly not "Mountain of God", (as in Exodus 4:27 - ἐν τῷ ὄρει τοῦ θεοῦ); B.) Setting aside how "seen" should be translated here - the Septuagint, (as other translations) - conveys that the promise: "God will appear" became a memorial to the people.

Targum Onkelos ~100 C.E: Genesis 22:14: Quick Translation - ... and Abraham worshiped, and bent down there, in that place, and declared before God: "Here, it will come to be, (הָכָא יְהוֹן): The Everlasting, (דָרַיָא) will serve." Thus, it will be declared in this day: "In this mountain, Abraham served before the Lord."

Note: My translation departs from some others: A.) For "דָרַיָא", I used "Everlasting", instead of "Generations" - following Daniel 4:31, (See the Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon). This is to represent the mention of the "Divine Name" which occurs in the Hebrew Text. B.) "Worship" and "Serve" are used interchangeably in my translation. C.) Regardless - "הָכָא יְהוֹן" / "Here, it will come to be" - is clearly prophetic: the last clause in the verse is Abraham's response, and what others say - in reciprocation for what he foresaw would come to be.

Etheridge Translation of Targum Pseudo-Jonathan, 900+ C.E.: Genesis 22:18 - And Abraham gave thanks and prayed there, in that place, and said, I pray through the mercies that are before Thee, O Lord, before whom it is manifest that it was not in the depth of my heart to turn away from doing Thy decree with joy, that when the children of Izhak my son shall offer in the hour of affliction, this may be a memorial for them; and Thou mayest hear them and deliver them, and that all generations to come may say, In this mountain Abraham bound Izhak his son, and there the Shekina of the Lord was revealed unto him.

Note: Regardless of the merits of the translation - its structure affirms prophetic significance, and necessity to remember; It also very clearly affirms a future act of "service" by God himself.

  • This does a good job of resolving 22:8 and 22:14 and the use of "יראה" in both. Thanks! Even if we don't take it as strongly prophetic in v8 as you suggest, God still "appeared" in the sense of making his presence known and impactful. So the point isn't God's provision, but that He acted. Abraham's God is a visible God that you can see moving, not an idol that is visible but just sits there. – Joshua May 20 '16 at 0:09
  • Thank you for this! Just came across this verse while studying it for my Bible study group and I was shocked. Am surprised your thorough explanation doesn't have that much upvotes. +1. – Philip May 23 at 6:35

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