1 Matching Annotations
- Oct 2023
In the case of the binding of Isaac, for instance, Alter not only accepts a previous translator's substitution of "cleaver" for the "knife" of the King James version but also changes "slay" (as in, "Abraham took the knife to slay his son") to "slaughter." Moreover, in his notes, he points out that although this particular Hebrew verb for "bound" (as in, "Abraham bound Isaac his son") occurs only this once in biblical Hebrew, making its meaning uncertain, we can nonetheless take a hint from the fact that when the word reappears in rabbinic Hebrew it refers specifically to the trussing up of animals. Alter's translation thus suggests a dimension of this eerie tale we would probably have overlooked: that of editorial comment. The biblical author, by using words more suited to butchery than ritual sacrifice, lets us know that he is as horrified as we are at the brutality of the act that God has asked Abraham to commit.