Thursday, September 07, 2006
So then, last night at my youth group meeting, we're studying Genesis 21 and reading it aloud. One of the readers had a decidedly older translation of the text than my NRSV, and so when they got to verse 9 (which says in my NRSV, "But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, playing with her son Isaac,") she read the word, "mocking", instead of "playing". I recalled the aforementioned history of the Sunday school lesson and almost blanched. Instead, I made a mental note of the verse number and told myself to look it up in Hebrew later.
So, today I did that. The Hebrew is a pun, as it so often is. The word translated as "mocking" in the KJV and as "playing" in the NRSV is matsacheq, which generally means "playing", "sporting", or "jesting", and is a derivation of the same root word for Isaac's name - Yitschaq, which means "laughter".
So, years later, I solved the mystery. The Sunday school lesson was using a different translation, a less amicable translation. I had no doubt it said that in the resource manual, I just couldn't figure out why. Now, I know, thanks to the Youth Group kids and some Hebrew classes. Now I can laugh with the Genesis author(s).
I always give thanks for Hebrew class.