Lost in Translation?


#1

I'm currently taking a class on the literature of the Old Testament/ Hebrew Bible (so bear with me everyone because I'll be posting a lot of questions that this academically-minded class is raising in me).

In one of the texts we're reading as a supplement to the Scripture in this class, I saw that in Exodus, the Hebrew phrase used to describe the Red Sea is "Yam Sup" (missing the accent over the u there). According to this text- A Short Introduction to the Hebrew Bible by John C. Collins- that phrase is better translated as "Sea of Reeds," not the Red Sea.

In addition to that, judging from the geography of the Hebrews escaping Egypt and such, it doesn't geographically make much sense for them to have gone to the Red Sea to escape the Egyptians.

So why does our tradition persist in saying that Moses led the Hebrews through the Red Sea? Is there other extra-biblical evidence that supports this?

(Not trying to undermine anything here... just looking for answers so that I don't end up getting confused or deceived by the nonreligious perspective of this class).


#2

Read chapter five of Kreeft's You Can Understand the Bible.

books.google.ca/books?id=FuhKw_DOhOQC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false


#3

The Reed Sea is a narrow northern arm of the Red Sea, between mainland Egypt and Sinai. So in a sense, they did cross the Red Sea.

Many modern Bibles have the correction. It's not something new.

ICXC NIKA


#4

Thank you so much, both of you!

Both of your answers were extremely helpful to me! I feel much better on that subject now.

Thank you again, and God bless!


#5

The phrase “Red Sea” is a carryover from the Greek Septuagint (which translates yam-sûf, “reed sea” as erythra thalassa, “red sea”) and the Latin Vulgate (mare rubrum). Apparently the Greek translator of Exodus understood the crossing as happening in that general area, and Jerome followed this particular translation decision. (Note that the term was already applied to the body of water we call by that name for some time: in fact, the Greek historian Herodotus understands “Red Sea” to encompass the whole body of water in the South - including what we would now call the Arabian sea and the Indian Ocean.) That yam-sûf is better translated as “reed sea” is not a new idea: the medieval rabbi Rashi had already suggested it in the 11th-12th century, pointing out how the word for “the reeds” in Exodus 2:5 is ha-sûf. (“Among the reeds” in verse three is vocalized slightly differently: ‘al-śəfaṯ. Note that the word is also used in Isaiah 19:6.)

Now I should point out that one knows the exact location of the “reed sea” of Exodus (seriously, there are a lot of conflicting theories in this regard), but yes, AFAIK no one suggests that they crossed the Red Sea proper. Where the “reed sea” is held to be is usually determined by where one situates the biblical Mount Sinai (the actual location of which no one also knows).


#6

[quote="patrick457, post:5, topic:312450"]
The phrase "Red Sea" is a carryover from the Greek Septuagint (which translates yam-sûf, "reed sea" as erythra thalassa, "red sea") and the Latin Vulgate (mare rubrum). Apparently the Greek translator of Exodus understood the crossing as happening in that general area, and Jerome followed this particular translation decision. (Note that the term was already applied to the body of water we call by that name for some time: in fact, the Greek historian Herodotus understands "Red Sea" to encompass the whole body of water in the South - including what we would now call the Arabian sea and the Indian Ocean.) That yam-sûf is better translated as "reed sea" is not a new idea: the medieval rabbi Rashi had already suggested it in the 11th-12th century, pointing out how the word for "the reeds" in Exodus 2:5 is ha-sûf. ("Among the reeds" in verse three is vocalized slightly differently: ‘al-śəfaṯ. Note that the word is also used in Isaiah 19:6.)

Now I should point out that one knows the exact location of the "reed sea" of Exodus (seriously, there are a lot of conflicting theories in this regard), but yes, AFAIK no one suggests that they crossed the Red Sea proper. Where the "reed sea" is held to be is usually determined by where one situates the biblical Mount Sinai (the actual location of which no one also knows).

[/quote]

Thank you, Patrick!

This was very informative. I had no idea that the ancient Greeks, etc. considered those other oceanic areas to be a part of the Red Sea as well... that's a perspective I hadn't thought to consider.

All of this information has been super helpful! You guys rock =). Thanks again so much!

God bless!


#7

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