Jovial (24 May 2012)
"Was "desired of women" mis-translated, mis-interpreted, mis-understood, etc.? "


The Hebrew word "נשים" can be translated "women", "wives" or even more literally "lifted ones."  In Jewish thought, a woman is considered to be "lifted up" when she marries, thus a married woman is literally being called a "lifted one."  But when the word "נשים" appears in text, does it refer to women "lifted" in Hebrew thought to a state of marriage, a bird flying and thus lifted by the wind, or angels lifted by the wind? 

The root word"נשא" can mean to lift up, to marry, to argue, to destroy or to lead astray and are listed as possible translation words in Ben Yehuda's dictionary.  OK, you could make a lot of jokes about marriage here, but I am going to follow Paul and not do so since he said, "Let all things be done unto edifying" (1 Cor 14:26)  Actually, all joking aside, "lift up" is the literal root, and the other meanings are more figuratively inferred from that in one sense or another.  One can lift up an argument, etc.

"נשיא" is another word derives from this root and it is usually translated "prince", but that is because a prince is lifted up above the common people.

One place where "נשים" probably was rendered as "women" when it meant "lifted ones" is in Zechariah 5:9, which says,

"there came out two women (נשים), and the wind was in their wings" (Zech 5:9, KJV)

This probably should have been translated,

"there came out two lifted ones (נשים), and the wind was in their wings" (Zech 5:9)

Makes more sense, huh?

Dan 11:37 may be the same thing.  It reads like this ....

 וְעַל-אֱלֹהֵי אֲבֹתָיו לֹא יָבִין
, וְעַל-חֶמְדַּת נָשִׁים
וְעַל-כָּל-אֱלוֹהַּ לֹא יָבִין: 
כִּי עַל-כֹּל, יִתְגַּדָּל.

Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers,
nor the desire of women (נשים),
nor regard any god:
for he shall magnify himself above all (KJV)

Both first and third lines discuss gods of some sort, thus it would seem the second line relates to gods of some sort as well.  But are there really gods out there that only women desire?  How many gods are there that women have worshipped while the men in that society shunned?  Makes no sense, huh?  In fact that interpretation may be completely OPPOSITE of what it was trying to say.

It is possible that "women" here is in contrast with "fathers" and the purpose of "women" being there is to remove gender from the equation so that we interpret it as;

 וְעַל-אֱלֹהֵי אֲבֹתָיו לֹא יָבִין
, וְעַל-חֶמְדַּת נָשִׁים
וְעַל-כָּל-אֱלוֹהַּ לֹא יָבִין: 
כִּי עַל-כֹּל, יִתְגַּדָּל.

Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers,
nor mothers ,
nor regard any god:
for he shall magnify himself above all

With this interpretation, "נשים", which can mean "wives", is just gender balance.  Such a thing is rare, but not completely absent from Scripture.  However, with this interpretation, the word "desire" seems to be superflurious to some extent.

But let me explore another possible interpretation.  Replace "women" with "lifted ones", and we get this interpretation

 וְעַל-אֱלֹהֵי אֲבֹתָיו לֹא יָבִין
, וְעַל-חֶמְדַּת נָשִׁים
וְעַל-כָּל-אֱלוֹהַּ לֹא יָבִין: 
כִּי עַל-כֹּל, יִתְגַּדָּל.

Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers,
nor the desire of lifted ones (נשים),
nor regard any god:
for he shall magnify himself above all

Or let me paraphrase a bit to make the interpretation clearer

 וְעַל-אֱלֹהֵי אֲבֹתָיו לֹא יָבִין
, וְעַל-חֶמְדַּת נָשִׁים
וְעַל-כָּל-אֱלוֹהַּ לֹא יָבִין: 
כִּי עַל-כֹּל, יִתְגַּדָּל.

Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers,
nor the desire of those lifted up [as gods],
nor regard any god [whether known in the past, present as a god now, or otherwise]:
for he shall magnify himself above all

In other words, this could be saying he won't regard the God known to his fathers, nor other "gods" lifted up as a god [but not really a god, just 'lifted up' as so], because as the last line said, he will lift himself up as a god above all other gods that have been lifted up before.  The one true God was never "lifted up" as god, for he always existed and is always eternally exalted above all.  With this interpretation, "נשים" as "lifted ones" is there for contrast too, since "the God of his fathers" is a God ALREADY lifted up in the minds of mean, and eternally exalted in yet another sense.  It forms a contrast between past and present, with the third line forming a potential future tense not realized.  since Hebrew does not express tense with verbs like English does, sometimes tense is expressed in other ways, and this contrast could be understood as providing that balance of tense too.

Not only does this interpretation form a past / present / potential but not future tense contrast, but it also fits with the context of the fourth line that says he will lift himself up as a god.

It is possible that God chose this wording because BOTH meanings were intended.  In other words, He may have been trying to provide both male/female gender balance AS WELL AS a balance of tense.

Also, the phrase "חמדת נשים " can be translated "desire (verb) of women" or as "desireableness of women".  In other words, referring to what makes women desireable.  Does context break the tie?

the overall sentence structure of sentences 1 and 3 is....

וְעַלַּ   _________   לֹא יָבִין: 
.


And/Nor concerning __some noun here___ [he] will no regard / understand

Let me do a super literal translation here....

 וְעַל-אֱלֹהֵי אֲבֹתָיו לֹא יָבִין
, וְעַל-חֶמְדַּת נָשִׁים
וְעַל-כָּל-אֱלוֹהַּ לֹא יָבִין: 
כִּי עַל-כֹּל, יִתְגַּדָּל.

And concerning the God of his fathers he will not regard
and/nor/but concerning the (desire/desired/desireableness of women/lifted ones),
nor concerning any god he will not regard, 
for he shall magnify himself above all

phrases 1 and 3 throw the verb at the end, but it's missing from phrase 2. The interpretation by Coverdale / Tynsdale cited yesterday by Angie at http://www.fivedoves.com/letters/may2012/angie523.htm would render this as

 וְעַל-אֱלֹהֵי אֲבֹתָיו לֹא יָבִין
, וְעַל-חֶמְדַּת נָשִׁים
וְעַל-כָּל-אֱלוֹהַּ לֹא יָבִין: 
כִּי עַל-כֹּל, יִתְגַּדָּל.

And concerning the God of his fathers he will not regard
but upon the desire of women,
nor concerning any god he will not regard, 
for he shall magnify himself above all

is entirely possible and provides a consistent interpretation for the structure of all 3 phrases.  There is no "לא יבין" (not regard) in the second phrase, which can be interpretted as suggesting that the parallel thought process is not present and he WILL have regard for women, but the wrong kind. 

Grammar doesn't always translate well from one language to another and there are multiple ways to interpret "וְעַל".  The first letter can be "and", "but" or negate two phrases.  We use different words in English where Hebrew uses the same thing for each context.  "עַל" can mean on, above, rise, beside, upon, near, about, concerning, etc.

There are multiple ways Dan 11:37 could be interpreted.  There is not a clear trump card here that one interpretation is it and the others a misunderstanding.  And sometimes God is intentionally ambiguous to say more than one thing at the same time.  One thing that is certain is that there is too much ambiguity here to draw any firm conclusions one way or another about whether the false messiah will be gay, married, etc, but clear enough to conclude that he won't advocate himself as the follower of any established religion.  There is info here worth watching for, but not info here worth saying the future must fit a particular picture concerning women.

Shalom, Joe