Help with Hebrew/English translation

brianskywalker's picture

Hello,
I'm working on a quick calligraphy project for some friends, and it is going to be in both Hebrew and English (one above the other).

The main bit of text will be Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (King James Version):

9 Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.
10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.
11 Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?
12 And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

And in Hebrew (The Westminster Leningrad Codex):

9 טֹובִ֥ים הַשְּׁנַ֖יִם מִן־הָאֶחָ֑ד אֲשֶׁ֧ר יֵשׁ־לָהֶ֛ם שָׂכָ֥ר טֹ֖וב בַּעֲמָלָֽם׃
10 כִּ֣י אִם־יִפֹּ֔לוּ הָאֶחָ֖ד יָקִ֣ים אֶת־חֲבֵרֹ֑ו וְאִ֣ילֹ֗ו הָֽאֶחָד֙ שֶׁיִּפֹּ֔ול וְאֵ֥ין שֵׁנִ֖י לַהֲקִימֹֽו׃
11 גַּ֛ם אִם־יִשְׁכְּב֥וּ שְׁנַ֖יִם וְחַ֣ם לָהֶ֑ם וּלְאֶחָ֖ד אֵ֥יךְ יֵחָֽם׃
12 וְאִֽם־יִתְקְפֹו֙ הָאֶחָ֔ד הַשְּׁנַ֖יִם יַעַמְד֣וּ נֶגְדֹּ֑ו וְהַחוּט֙ הַֽמְשֻׁלָּ֔שׁ לֹ֥א בִמְהֵרָ֖ה יִנָּתֵֽק׃

They really liked this text, but thought it was a bit long. I was able to shorten it as much as possible, while still retaining the overall meaning:

Two are better than one;
For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow.
Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?
And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

טובים השנים מן־האחד׃
כי אם־יפלו האחד יקים את־חברו׃
גם אם־ישכבו שנים וחם להם ולאחד איך יחם׃
ואם־יתקפו האחד השנים יעמדו נגדו והחוט המשלש לא במהרה ינתק׃

The tricky part is the Hebrew, because of my limited knowledge of Hebrew. I'm not sure if I broke it in terms of syntax, so any input would be appreciated. :)

Thanks in advance!

quadibloc's picture

It's a good thing I caught you just in time!

While an English translation of the Scriptures can be made more idiomatic by being paraphrased, when it comes to the original actual text of Scripture, while one can choose which portions to present, modifications of the sort you are considering are... considered objectionable by many persons of faith.

The operative principle is noted in Revelations 22:18-19 -

Μαρτυρῶ ἐγὼ παντὶ τῷ ἀκούοντι τοὺς λόγους τῆς προφητείας τοῦ βιβλίου τούτου· ἐάν τις ἐπιθῇ ἐπὶ ταῦτα, ἐπιθήσει ὁ Θεὸς ἐπ' αὐτὸν τὰς πληγὰς τὰς γεγραμμένας ἐν τῷ βιβλίῳ τούτῳ· καὶ ἐάν τις ἀφέλῃ ἀπὸ τῶν λόγων τοῦ βιβλίου τῆς προφητείας ταύτης, ἀφελεῖ ὁ Θεὸς τὸ μέρος αὐτοῦ ἀπὸ τοῦ ξύλου τῆς ζωῆς καὶ ἐκ τῆς πόλεως τῆς ἁγίας, τῶν γεγραμμένων ἐν τῷ βιβλίῳ τούτῳ.

For I testify unto every one that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, if any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and [from] the things which are written in this book.

Thus, the welfare of your eternal soul was in great jeopardy there!

david h's picture

There's nothing tricky with the Hebrew; your verses are just shorter (and you're losing the original idea. If your friend doesn't mind...then do it.

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