Learning Biblical Hebrew
7/8/09 at 05:48 AM 0 Comments

The Allegory of the Vineyard- A Wordplay in the Biblical Hebrew

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One of the well-known allegories in the scriptures is the allegory of the vineyard, that found in Isaiah 5:1-7. The Scriptures speaks of a lovely vineyard, placed in a high mountain, called "keren ben shamen"- a vineyard, which that vinedresser put all of his efforts, planted the best kind of grapes there (sorek), removed all the stones from hit, put a fence in order to define it; and steel the grapes that supposed to be the best was the worst, spoilt and smelly as written:

כֶּרֶם הָיָה לִידִידִי, בְּקֶרֶן בֶּן-שָׁמֶן
וַיְעַזְּקֵהוּ וַיְסַקְּלֵהוּ, וַיִּטָּעֵהוּ שֹׂרֵק, וַיִּבֶן מִגְדָּל בְּתוֹכוֹ, וְגַם-יֶקֶב חָצֵב בּוֹ;
וַיְקַו לַעֲשׂוֹת עֲנָבִים, וַיַּעַשׂ בְּאֻשִׁים"

"Let me sing of my well-beloved, a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My well-beloved had a vineyard in a very fruitful hill;And he digged it, and cleared it of stones, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also hewed out a vat therein; and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes"

Certainly that the allegory is one of the best way to understand the situation of this vineyard, and we can ask a lot of questions about the size of it or the place of it (shouldn't it be a down-to-earth vineyard and maybe we, all humanity, should be in the same vineyard?).But, our discussion today is a little beet different -it's on the wordplay that we have at the end of verse 7, after that the identity of the grapes is discovered to us, as written:

" כִּי כֶרֶם יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת, בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל, וְאִישׁ יְהוּדָה, נְטַע שַׁעֲשׁוּעָיו;
וַיְקַו לְמִשְׁפָּט וְהִנֵּה מִשְׂפָּח,
לִצְדָקָה וְהִנֵּה צְעָקָה "

"For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah the plant of His delight; and He looked for justice, but behold violence; for righteousness, but behold a cry"

The wordplay in Hebrew with the letters disappears while we translate the verse into other languages. The theme that the prophet wanted to share with us ,by using alliteration with only one letter that have changed , is that even the slightest change in a letter could be a change in the meaning from positive to negative revealed here.
Every reading in the scriptures is a revelation to me and I wanted to share this revelation with you. The word of The Lord is: learn my friends, listen to the voice of the scriptures and you will experience revelation everyday!!!

main phrases of the post + transcription + translation

Hebrew      Transcription     Translation
כֶּרֶם            Kerem              vineyard
מִשְׁפָּט         mišpāt            Justice
צְדָקָה          tsədāqāh        justice, charity
צְעָקָה          tsə'āqāh           shout
בָּאוּשׁ          Bā'ûš               spoilt
עֵנָב           'ēnāb                grape
כּוֹרֵם          kōrem              vinedresser


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