The grammar of social gender in biblical hebrew.
When does the Hebrew Bible's masculine or "male" wording allow for women to be in view? This paper addresses that question via a philological phi·lol·o·gy
1. Literary study or classical scholarship.
2. See historical linguistics.
[Middle English philologie, from Latin philologia, love of learning (inductive inductive
1. eliciting a reaction within an organism.
a form of radiofrequency hyperthermia that selectively heats muscle, blood and proteinaceous tissue, sparing fat and air-containing tissues. ) approach, taking the biblical corpus as a whole and distilling the rules of its linguistic system according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. a plain-sense reading of the text. The investigation focuses on what the biblical text seems to expect of its readers with regard to construing the social-gender import of three linguistic usages: second-person masculine singular address; third-person masculine singular references; and "male" nouns (i.e., those with specifically female counterparts), including [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII ASCII or American Standard Code for Information Interchange, a set of codes used to represent letters, numbers, a few symbols, and control characters. Originally designed for teletype operations, it has found wide application in computers. .] and [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]. It finds that women may be in view given any of these types of language. For all of the usages discussed, this paper supplements or supersedes the standard grammars; it also touches on several implications for translation and exegesis exegesis
Scholarly interpretation of religious texts, using linguistic, historical, and other methods. In Judaism and Christianity, it has been used extensively in the study of the Bible. Textual criticism tries to establish the accuracy of biblical texts. .
When does the Bible's masculine or "male" wording allow for women to be in view? (1) This is a difficult question to answer, partly because standard grammars of Biblical Hebrew say almost nothing about the relationship between grammatical gender and social gender. (2) Likewise, translators and exegetes invoke the topic only spottily and in ad hoc For this purpose. Meaning "to this" in Latin, it refers to dealing with special situations as they occur rather than functions that are repeated on a regular basis. See ad hoc query and ad hoc mode. terms.
In this brief paper, I will attempt to fill the apparent void in methodical me·thod·i·cal also me·thod·ic
1. Arranged or proceeding in regular, systematic order.
2. Characterized by ordered and systematic habits or behavior. See Synonyms at orderly. treatments by looking at three representative grammatical issues: secondperson masculine (2 masc.) address; third-person masculine (3 masc.) reference; and so-called male nouns. (By ordering the three topics in this way, I am saving my most dramatic findings for last.) For simplicity of presentation, I will consider plural language only insofar in·so·far
To such an extent.
Adv. 1. insofar - to the degree or extent that; "insofar as it can be ascertained, the horse lung is comparable to that of man"; "so far as it is reasonably practical he should practice as it sheds direct light on singular and collective usage.
My ultimate interest is in a plain-sense reading of the text--that is, what the text conveys when read according to normal rules of grammar and syntax--in light of ancient reading conventions. This paper's approach is philological (inductive), taking the biblical corpus as a whole and distilling the rules of its linguistic system. (3)
In this paper, I use the term "social gender" to denote the societal categories of "women" and "men," as distinct from grammatical gender.
1. SECOND-PERSON MASCULINE SINGULAR ADDRESS
Let's look first at address to a class of persons (that is, to a category rather than an individual). For example, toward the end of Deuteronomy, Moses delivers a speech in which he lists the blessings that will accrue to the people of Israel if they faithfully obey the Covenant. In part, he says (Deut 28:3):
[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]
You will be blessed in the settlements
He is speaking not to one specific person but rather to whoever fulfills the conditions that he has set. As I will demonstrate, the construction of this passage implies that its 2 masc. address logically must be presuming pre·sum·ing
Having or showing excessive and arrogant self-confidence; presumptuous.
pre·suming·ly adv. females in its target audience. The Torah contains five more such passages, but this one is the most straightforward example, although it, too, will require some explanation. (4) This passage (Deuteronomy 28) contains the book's litany litany (lĭt`ənē) [Gr.,=prayer], solemn prayer characterized by varying petitions with set responses. The term is mainly used for Christian forms. Litanies were developed in Christendom for use in processions. of blessings and curses, a literary unit in which Moses employs 2 masc. address well over two hundred times, almost always in the singular.
The very last verse of this passage (Deut 28:68) depicts a poignant and ironic climax: Israelites who break the covenant will return to Egypt, where they will beg to be enslaved, competing against each other for a slave master to purchase them, so that they do not starve starve
1. To suffer or die from extreme or prolonged lack of food.
2. To deprive of food so as to cause suffering or death. to death. How is this message expressed? As is characteristic of the passage, 2 masc. address starts off the verse:
[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]
God will ship you back to Egypt
which then morphs into both masculine and feminine plurals:
[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] and there you shall put yourselves up for sale as male-slaves and as femaleslaves
The verse interweaves singular with plural, and masculine with feminine. How can this construction be read so as to make the most sense?
I presume that like all authors or editors of texts and their audience, the composers of the Bible and its target audience shared an unstated reading strategy that allowed the text to communicate meaningfully. Part of that shared strategy was for the audience to read the text in such a way that references to the same party would be coherent. If so, then we seem to have a problem, because this text is at first glance not being consistent with its address, in terms of number.
That problem can be solved by presuming that the ancient shared strategy included a particular approach to decoding 2 masc. address. I take Deut 28:68 to evince e·vince
tr.v. e·vinced, e·vinc·ing, e·vinc·es
To show or demonstrate clearly; manifest: evince distaste by grimacing. this part of the conventions of reading. That is, if we were ancient Israelites, we would have known all along--throughout this passage, including the [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] a of 28:3--that Moses was addressing both men and women directly. (5) That is something that we readers are supposed to know already; it is part of what I am calling the "grammar of social gender."
Here is the unstated rule: when the 2 masc. address is to a class of persons, I cannot infer from grammatical gender alone that the audience is male. (6)
Let me now move from discussing a class of persons to a particular individual. So far as I know, the Bible contains no examples of second-person address to anyone whom the text clearly indicates to be neither male nor female in social gender. Thus we can neither prove nor disprove disprove,
v to refute or to prove false by affirmative evidence to the contrary. that when pointing to an individual, Biblical Hebrew's 2 masc. address necessarily means that the speaker believes that the addressee (communications) addressee - One to whom something is addressed. E.g. "The To, CC, and BCC headers list the addressees of the e-mail message". Normally an addressee will eventually be a recipient, unless there is a failure at some point (an e-mail "bounces") or the message is is male. For the situation is not binary: Let us say that I am standing on a theater stage, and you are in the audience, and you hear me call offstage to someone whom you yourself cannot see, and I say (in proper Biblical Hebrew) "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]." From that utterance--with its grammatically masculine possessive pos·ses·sive
1. Of or relating to ownership or possession.
2. Having or manifesting a desire to control or dominate another, especially in order to limit that person's relationships with others: suffix--you might try to infer the social gender of my addressee, but your choices are not only male or female. Rather, my addressee's social gender may not be known to me; or I may believe the addressee to not possess one definite gender (intersexual in·ter·sex·u·al
Having both male and female characteristics, including in varying degrees reproductive organs and secondary sexual characteristics, as a result of an abnormality of the sex chromosomes or a hormonal imbalance during embryogenesis. ); or I may consider the addressee to be by nature "beyond" gender classification ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] having been the first words
First Words is a Canadian hip hop group, consisting of Halifax beatmaker Jorun, DJ STV and emcees Sean One & Above. in the Bible addressed to God; Gen 3:10); or I may be using the singular language collectively, addressing a mixed group of males and females. All that you can say for sure is that I as the speaker believe my addressee to be not female (or not comprised solely of females).
Before I go on to third-person usage, let me restate re·state
tr.v. re·stat·ed, re·stat·ing, re·states
To state again or in a new form. See Synonyms at repeat.
re·state the basic rule for 2 masc. address: it means that the speaker believes the addressee's social gender to be not (solely) female, yet I cannot infer that the addressee's social gender is specifically and exclusively male.
2. THIRD-PERSON MASCULINE SINGULAR LANGUAGE
As before, I will first discuss the case of reference to a class of persons. In a narrative passage in Exodus, Moses (on God's behalf) solicits the Israelites for donations of materials to construct what will become the Tabernacle (Exod 35:5):
[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] Take from among you gifts ... Everyone whose heart is so moved shall bring them (then follows a list of materials).
Moses employs 3 masc. language to characterize who should take action. Tellingly, though, Exod 35:22 echoes this language while supplying explicitly gender-inclusive terms, as it describes the Israelites' response to Moses' call:
[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] Men and women, all whose hearts moved them, came bringing (then follows a list of materials).
In the story, the women donors among the Israelites construe construe v. to determine the meaning of the words of a written document, statute or legal decision, based upon rules of legal interpretation as well as normal meanings. God's invitation as including them, even though Moses neither mentions women nor uses feminine language. (7)
But my spotlight is on what it is that the reader is expected to understand: In order for the story to seem plausible, the shared reading Shared Reading as an instructional approach during which the teacher explicitly teaches the strategies and skills of proficient readers. Students have an opportunity to gradually assume more responsibility for the reading as their skill level and confidence increase. strategy must be that any 3 masc. language employed in reference to a class ("to whom it may concern") is gender inclusive, by default.
Now let me move on to where 3 masc. language points to a particular person. The paradigmatic See paradigm. case is in Genesis 38, as Tamar is about to give birth. The midwife has determined that the prospective mother is carrying twins. One of the fetuses puts out its hand and then draws it back in--before being born. While I have just referred to the subject of the action in English with a neutral pronoun pronoun, in English, the part of speech used as a substitute for an antecedent noun that is clearly understood, and with which it agrees in person, number, and gender. ("it"), the Hebrew text uses grammatically masculine language (Gen 38:28-29):
[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] While she was in labor, one of them put out a hand, and the midwife tied a crimson thread on that hand, to signify: This one came out first. But just then it drew back its hand, and out came its brother
GKC GKC Gilbert Keith Chesterton (English critic and author)
GKC Gennera Knab & Company
GKC Grassy Knoll Crowd
GKC Group Key Controller cites this case as an instance of an "indefinite subject" ([section] 144d). I question that classification. True, the possessor of that tiny little hand is nowhere specified by a substantive and is hardly visible in the scene. Yet seven masculine inflections and pronouns all refer to the same subject that is un7 doubtedly present in the scene and is situationally unique: namely, a particular one of the aforementioned twins that are definitely inside Tamar's womb. What is indefinite and unknown is the subject's sex. (8)
Construing the 3 masc. language in question as "gender agnostic ag·nos·tic
a. One who believes that it is impossible to know whether there is a God.
b. One who is skeptical about the existence of God but does not profess true atheism.
2. " is not the only way to read this passage. (9) However, it is plausible and also consistent with Rabbinic Hebrew Rab·bin·ic Hebrew
See Mishnaic Hebrew. , which employs masculine language matter-offactly to denote specific persons who are hermaphrodites Hermaphrodites
half-man, half-woman; offspring of Hermes and Aphrodite. [Gk. Myth.: Hall, 153]
See : Androgyny or of indeterminable sex. (10) In my view it is the most likely reading.
On these grounds I infer that when the Biblical Hebrew 3 masc. refers to a particular individual, this does not necessarily mean that the speaker believes that the referent ref·er·ent
A person or thing to which a linguistic expression refers.
Noun 1. referent - something referred to; the object of a reference is male. Such usage does rule out the possibility that the referent is thought of as female (or a group comprised solely of females), but a male is not the only alternative possibility.
Before I go on to "male" nouns, let me restate the basic rule for 3 masc. language: it rules out solely female social gender; but because the social gender is not specified further, women are not necessarily excluded from view.
3. "MALE" NOUNS
Of course, many of the Bible's masculine verbal inflections, pronouns, and adjectives correspond to what are often called "male" nouns, in the sense that they have female counterparts. Here are the exemplars:
Male Female [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]
This time, I will look first at references to a particular individual. The rule for "male" nouns runs along the lines already described for 2 masc. and 3 masc. language: Reference to a particular individual signals that the speaker ascribes to the referent something other than female social gender. This is true only provided that the reference is literal rather than figurative fig·u·ra·tive
a. Based on or making use of figures of speech; metaphorical: figurative language.
b. Containing many figures of speech; ornate.
2. . (11)
I can tabulate this schema via a step-by-step procedure that may seem trivial in this situation, yet it will prove useful for more complex comparisons later. To construct the table, I first note that the reference is to an individual, which--grammatically speaking--can take place in one of two ways:
Deixis Referential (pointing) function Definite Particular or Unique Indefinite Specific
Either way, the result is that the utterance specifies social gender:
Social gender Deixis Referential per grammar (pointing) function (denotation) Definite Particular or Unique Not female Indefinite Specific Not female
The referent's maleness is specified regardless of what else is going on in context:
Social gender Social gender Deixis Referential per grammar per context (pointing) function (denotation) (connotation) Definite Particular or Not female -- Unique Indefinite Specific Not female --
Finally, I will illustrate the two possibilities using the noun jDa as an example:
Social gender Social gender Deixis Referential per grammar per context (pointing) function (denotation) (connotation) Definite Particular or Not female -- Unique Indefinite Specific Not female -- Examples: Deixis [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE (pointing) IN ASCII.] Definite Gen 4:2 [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] Indefinite Gen 24:29 [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]
Now, for references to a class of persons, let us consider how the book of Jeremiah Noun 1. Book of Jeremiah - a book in the Old Testament containing the oracles of the prophet Jeremiah
Old Testament - the collection of books comprising the sacred scripture of the Hebrews and recording their history as the chosen people; the first recounts an episode in which the king and Jerusalem's elite together covenanted to free their male and female slaves (Jer 34:8-16):
[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]
Such language appears three times in this passage (34:8-10), specifying both genders of the slaves involved. Shortly thereafter, the narrator NARRATOR. A pleader who draws narrs serviens narrator, a sergeant at law. Fleta, 1. 2, c. 37. Obsolete. quotes God's restatement Restatement
A revision in a company's earlier financial statements.
The need for restating financial figures can result from fraud, misrepresentation, or a simple clerical error. to Jeremiah of the relevant directive as had been stated to the Israelites "when I brought them out of the land of Egypt" (34:14). Here, the text reads differently:
[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] each of you shall let his brother Hebrew go free who has been sold to you and has served you for six years--you must set him free
Grammatically speaking, the divine wording is decidedly and thoroughly masculine. But just as obviously, Jeremiah is supposed to construe that legal directive as gender-inclusive, for the temporary "covenant" as was carried out by all of Jerusalem--presumably in response to the same directive--clearly included female slaves as well as male.
More important is the matter of a shared reading strategy that will produce a coherent text: it must be the case that the reader is expected to take for granted the gender-inclusive force of the word [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] in this legal utterance. (12)
But how does this work? It works because of the noun's referential function, which is definite but not particular or unique. That is, the noun points to a class--which in this case is then defined by the adjective and by the relative clause that follows it.
My claim is this: When a "male" noun points to a class, the referent's social gender is always grammatically unspecified. What is happening in our verse, in terms of the semantic components of our noun, is that the sentence construction evokes the "kinship" meaning-component of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] while it suppresses the noun's "male" meaning-component.
It's important to notice that the audience for such an utterance disambiguates the social gender of the referent by beginning with a lack of gender exclusiveness. Procedurally speaking, the grammatical construction prompts the reader to undertake the following steps:
1. Recognize that the social gender is not solely female.
2. Look for (contextual or situational) evidence that it is solely male.
3. In the absence of such evidence, conclude that the utterance remains non-exclusive.
In other words Adv. 1. in other words - otherwise stated; "in other words, we are broke"
put differently , the construction is gender-inclusive by default. (13) This finding prompts me to expand my earlier table for [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.], by inserting a new row to account for the usage in our verse:
Social gender Social gender Deixis Referential per grammar per context (pointing) function (denotation) (connotation) Definite Particular or Not female Male Unique Class Unspecified Inclusive Indefinite Specific Not female Male Examples: [TEXT NOT Deixis Referential REPRODUCIBLE (pointing) function IN ASCII.] Definite Particular or Gen 4:2 [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN Unique ASCII.] Class Jer 34:14 [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] Indefinite Specific Gen 24:29 [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]
In Jer 34:14, then, the adjective, two verbal inflections, and pronominal pro·nom·i·nal
1. Of, relating to, or functioning as a pronoun.
2. Resembling a pronoun, as by specifying a person, place, or thing, while functioning primarily as another part of speech. suffix suf·fix
An affix added to the end of a word or stem, serving to form a new word or functioning as an inflectional ending, such as -ness in gentleness, -ing in walking, or -s in sits.
tr.v. are all masculine only because they refer to the grammatically masculine word [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]. What at first glance appeared to be hirsute hirsute - Occasionally used as a humorous synonym for hairy. masculinity is a matter of grammatical gender concord only.
Of course, when the referent's social gender is unspecified, it can also turn out (from the context of situation or from co-text) that only males are in view after all. To account for both possibilities, I should expand my table still further, as follows.
Social gender Social gender Deixis Referential per grammar per context (pointing) function (denotation) (connotation) Definite Particular or Not female Male Unique Class Unspecified Male Inclusive Indefinite Specific Not female Male Examples: Social gender [TEXT NOT Deixis Referential per context REPRODUCIBLE (pointing) function (connotation) IN ASCII.] Definite Particular or Male Gen 4:2 [TEXT NOT Unique REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] Class Male Inclusive Jer 34:14 [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] Indefinite Specific Male Gen 24:29 [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]
But this is still not the only grammatical possibility. Nouns can refer to a class (or genus) also when they are indefinite. These constructions, too, allow for gender-inclusive force, depending again upon the context. To account for these further possibilities, I will expand the table yet again, adding two rows at the bottom:
Social gender Social gender Deixis Referential per grammar per context (pointing) function (denotation) (connotation) Definite Particular or Not female Male Unique Class Unspecified Male Inclusive Indefinite Specific Not female Male Generic Unspecified Male Inclusive Examples: Social gender [TEXT NOT Deixis Referential per context REPRODUCIBLE (pointing) function (connotation) IN ASCII.] Definite Particular or Male Gen 4:2 [TEXT NOT Unique REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] Class Male Inclusive Jer 34:14 [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] Indefinite Specific Male Gen 24:29 [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] Generic Male Anclusive
And now I will fill in the table with examples for each possibility:
Social gender Social gender Deixis Referential per grammar per context (pointing) function (denotation) (connotation) Definite Particular or Not female Male Unique Class Unspecified Male Inclusive Indefinite Specific Not female Male Generic Unspecified Male Inclusive Examples: Social gender [TEXT NOT Deixis Referential per context REPRODUCIBLE (pointing) function (connotation) IN ASCII.] Definite Particular or Male Gen 4:2 [TEXT NOT Unique REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] Class Male Gen 13:11 [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] Inclusive Jer 34:14 [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] Gen 9:5 [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] Indefinite Specific Male Gen 24:29 [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] Generic Male Gen 29:15 [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] Inclusive Jer 9:3 [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]
(Note that in the category in which Jer 34:14 belongs, I have now supplied two additional examples, to show that our paradigmatic example is not unique. (14))
Let me observe from this table that the word [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] functions differently than does the English word "brother." In contemporary English usage, "brother" in the singular never connotes gender inclusiveness, whereas [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] can do so. In this respect, [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] works akin to the English word "actor." Like [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.], "actor" has a feminine counterpart ("actress"); and much like [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.], it nevertheless functions regularly as a gender-inclusive term. In both languages for the words in question, the semantic component that refers to function is separable sep·a·ra·ble
Possible to separate: separable sheets of paper.
sep from the meaning-component that refers to social gender. In situations where the focus is on function rather than on gender, the male meaning-component temporarily disappears.
Even so, the Biblical Hebrew noun [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] (in reference to a class) is not "gender neutral" as we use that term to speak about English words. For ex14 ample, an impresario could call an audition for local actors, and if only women happen to show up, an English speaker can still refer to them as "actors." In Hebrew, however, the word [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] is agnostic regarding gender only up to a point, for its referent is never solely female. (That is what the feminine counterpart [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] is for.)
What is true for [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] is equally true for the other Hebrew personal nouns that have a female counterpart. Scholars widely recognize that [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] can have a gender-inclusive sense in some contexts; (15) my table for [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.], which for simplicity shows only the types of reference that point to a class (or genus), (16) offers insight into when and how such a phenomenon occurs: in certain kinds of grammatical constructions, the maleness of this noun itself is simply not salient.
Social gender Social gender Deixis Referential per grammar per context (pointing) function (denotation) (connotation) Definite Class Unspecified Male Inclusive Indefinite Generic Unspecified Male Inclusive Examples: Social gender [TEXT NOT Deixis Referential per context REPRODUCIBLE (pointing) function (connotation) IN ASCII.] Definite Class Male Num 30:11 [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] Inclusive Lev 14:11 [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] Deut 27:15 [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] Indefinite Generic Male Gen 24:16 [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] Inclusive Gen 11:7 [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] Gen 39:11 [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] Exod 21:12 [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] Exod 21:20 [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] Lev 27:2 [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]
Now, you and I may disagree about whether a given instance of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.], in context, retains its initial gender-inclusive scope. We might have different understandings of ancient Israelite gender roles, or how to interpret other words in the passage in question. If we disagree, the important thing is to notice that our disagreement belongs in the fourth column of my table--not in the third column.
I was able to complete similar tables to my satisfaction for the frequently used nouns [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.], [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.], [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.], (17) and [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] (see appendix). assure myself that no matter how "male" the noun in question, the grammatical principle holds up.)
But how far does the principle extend? Is it only for nouns that designate human social roles, like the ones shown here? Almost any grammatically masculine noun in Hebrew can form a grammatically feminine counterpart! What about grammatically masculine nouns whose semantic content is not so obviously male? I will now present two such examples to test the principle.
According to Judges 11, the Israelite chieftain Jephthah sacrificed his daughter after he made an infamous vow (Judg 11:30-31) as he went into battle:
[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]
In her 1984 book Texts of Terror, Phyllis Trible included a chapter "The Daughter of Jephthah: An Inhuman in·hu·man
a. Lacking kindness, pity, or compassion; cruel. See Synonyms at cruel.
b. Deficient in emotional warmth; cold.
2. Sacrifice," and many feminists since have assailed this story as a prime example of the lamentable la·men·ta·ble
Inspiring or deserving of lament or regret; deplorable or pitiable. See Synonyms at pathetic.
lamen·ta·bly adv. lot of women in ancient Israel. Yet how many of them have thought to appreciate Jephthah for being politically correct politically correct Politically sensitive adjective Referring to language reflecting awareness and sensitivity to another person's physical, mental, cultural, or other disadvantages or deviations from a norm; a person is not mentally retarded, but enough to couch his vow in gender-inclusive language?--Ah, but how was it gender-inclusive? The operative term (the object of the vow) is [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] ("whatever/whoever comes out"), and it is grammatically masculine. Nevertheless, as our story proceeds, Jephthah understands that his vow applies to his only child after she otherwise fulfills its conditions (Judg 11:34-40).
It could hardly be true that the text's audience was expected to react by saying, "Oh, what a fool that Jephthah was! Look at the masculine language that he used! He could have spared his daughter simply by claiming that he had only a male in mind when he made his vow." The fact that Jephthah does not do so--when it would save his daughter's life and his legacy from ruin--enables us to safely infer that both the composer(s) of the text and the text's ancient audience shared an understanding of the unassailably genderinclusive sense of 3 masc. wording in which the reference is to a class, not to an individual. (19)
Notice that [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] is not even a "real" noun; it is a verbal participle par·ti·ci·ple
A form of a verb that in some languages, such as English, can function independently as an adjective, as the past participle baked in We had some baked beans, employed as a substantive. This suggests that all types of substantives follow the principle that "male" nouns are gender-inclusive by default when they point to a class.
Further confirmation of the validity and extent of this principle is that it accounts for what GKC ([section] 122f ) considered to be an anomalous "epicene ep·i·cene
1. Belonging to or having the characteristics of both the male and the female: an epicene statue.
2. Effeminate; unmanly.
3. Sexless; neuter.
4. " (common-gender) use of a male noun where they expected a feminine form, namely, in Genesis 23--the story of the burial of Sarah. (20) Eight times in that episode, the narrator and various characters refer to her via the male noun [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.], as in Gen 23:3 (rather than the feminine form [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]; cf. Gen 30:1):
[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]
Again, this is not a "real" noun; it is a stative participle employed as a substantive. How is it that a "male" term can be employed with regard to an individual female? The answer is that it actually refers to a class--the class defined as "dead bodies in Abraham's household." (In this particular case, the class has only one member. But if a plague had killed several persons in his household, the term used to refer to that class would not change. Alternatively, one could say that it is a singular collective term.) When a "male" substantive refers to a class (so says the principle), the referent's social gender is automatically unspecified. The so-called male term temporarily sheds its gendered meaning-component. And in contradiction to GKC, I would argue that in the Bible such usage occurs frequently and across the board--although it is not epicene, strictly speaking Adv. 1. strictly speaking - in actual fact; "properly speaking, they are not husband and wife"
properly speaking, to be precise . (21)
4. THE GRAMMAR OF SOCIAL GENDER: RULES AND SUMMARY
Here, all together, are the rules that I have distilled:
1. Readers can assume that 2 masc. address rules out solely female social gender, yet we cannot assume that it specifies solely male social gender. (Women may be in view.)
2. Readers can assume that 3 masc. language rules out solely female social gender, yet we cannot assume that it specifies solely male social gender. (Women may be in view.)
3. Regarding personal nouns that have female counterparts:
a. When they point to a particular individual, these nouns indicate that the person's social gender is not female--for the writer or speaker has chosen not to employ specifically feminine terminology--provided that the reference is literal rather than figurative. (Women are not in view.)
b. When they point to a class of persons, these nouns function as socially gender inclusive--except that they are not used when pointing to a solely female class. (Women may be in view.)
SUMMARY: Grammatically masculine inflections or pronouns and socalled male nouns bear little correlation to the social gender of the persons they point to. Such language eliminates the possibility of a female-only referent, yet otherwise it does not necessarily exclude women from view. Whenever masculine wording or a "male" noun points to a class, its reference is to be construed as socially gender-inclusive by default. In those cases, readers can determine the referent's social gender only from nongrammatical clues in co-text and context.
5. IMPLICATIONS FOR TRANSLATION AND EXEGESIS
These principles have radically affected how I talk about, teach about, and edit other authors' discussions about Biblical Hebrew. Due to time constraints, I can state only three of the implications, with little elaboration. (22)
1. Literal English translation is often more "male" than the Hebrew original. For those Biblical Hebrew grammatical constructions that leave the social gender unspecified (regardless of the connotation con·no·ta·tion
1. The act or process of connoting.
a. An idea or meaning suggested by or associated with a word or thing: ), if I represent 3 masc. sing. inflections via the English pronouns "he/his/him/himself," or if I translate or gloss the nouns [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.], [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.], [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.], and [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] with "man," "father," "brother," and "son"), then I am over-representing the "maleness" of the Hebrew wording. (This is because those English words convey a maleness that the constructions in question have suppressed in the Hebrew words.) Unless I as translator or glossator GLOSSATOR. A commentator or annotator of the Roman law. One of the authors of the Gloss. avoid--or at least disclose--the male-amplifying impact of such a rendition, the Bible will come across in English as being more androcentric an·dro·cen·tric
Centered or focused on men, often to the neglect or exclusion of women: an androcentric view of history; an androcentric health-care system. (male-oriented) than the ancient Israelites themselves actually perceived it. (23)
2. Our discernment of the Bible's social-gender ascriptions is grammatically driven to a lesser extent, and in a different way, than interpreters have often assumed. The task of interpretation is challenging because the Bible's composers often used grammatically masculine language to refer to a generic individual or group. (24) Furthermore, they often used generic language to refer either to an individual man via a group classification or to a men-only group. (25) In all such cases, if a specific social-gender ascription as·crip·tion
1. The act of ascribing.
2. A statement that ascribes.
[Latin ascr was necessarily in mind, it went without saying--it was presumed to be clear to the audience, given the context of the situation. Unfortunately, nowadays we cannot always be so sure what the audience would have assumed about social gender in a given textual situation. That being said, it does sometimes help to recall the procedure followed by the ancient Israelite audience, due to the grammatically based presumption of non-exclusion. The question is not "How do we know that women are in view?" but rather "How do we know that women are excluded from view?"
3. When both genders are mentioned, it serves to underscore The underscore character (_) is often used to make file, field and variable names more readable when blank spaces are not allowed. For example, NOVEL_1A.DOC, FIRST_NAME and Start_Routine.
(character) underscore - _, ASCII 95. women's inclusion in a situation of potential doubt. We have seen that when a legal text discusses classes of persons and mentions only the male half of a malefemale dyad dyad /dy·ad/ (di´ad) a double chromosome resulting from the halving of a tetrad.
1. Two individuals or units regarded as a pair, such as a mother and a daughter.
2. , that absence of the explicit mention of women paradoxically tells us that women may well be in view. Conversely, where the text does mention both male and female dyads (such as [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] or [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]) yet employs only grammatically masculine language to carry the argument, it appears that, given the particular circumstances of the situation under discussion, the text's composer(s) imagined that its ancient audience had some reason to think that women might be excluded from consideration, and so the female party was mentioned to prevent such a misreading MISREADING, contracts. When a deed is read falsely to an illiterate or blind man, who is a party to it, such false reading amounts to a fraud, because the contract never had the assent of both parties. 5 Co. 19; 6 East, R. 309; Dane's Ab. c. 86, a, 3, Sec. 7; 2 John. R. 404; 12 John. R. . (There may also be literary structural reasons for the inclusive phrasing.) The grammar of social gender, as I have described it, undermines the effort by historically minded scholars to construe the text's mention of a female party as evidence of diachronic di·a·chron·ic
Of or concerned with phenomena as they change through time. development in that text. (26) Indeed, our supposing that there has been a "secondary" editorial alteration does not explain the fact that the grammatically masculine language is still treated as gender-inclusive after that alteration.
APPENDIX TABLE: Applying the Schema to [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] Social gender Social gender Deixis Referential per grammar per context (pointing) function (denotation) (connotation) Definite Class Unspecified Male Inclusive Indefinite Generic Unspecified Male Inclusive Examples: Social gender [TEXT NOT Deixis Referential per context REPRODUCIBLE (pointing) function (connotation) IN ASCII.] Definite Class Male Gen 32:10 [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] Inclusive Ezek 18:4 [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] Indefinite Generic Male Esth 2:7 [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] Inclusive Ezek 18:20 [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] Social gender Social gender Deixis Referential per grammar per context (pointing) function (denotation) (connotation) Definite Class Unspecified Male Inclusive Indefinite Generic Unspecified Male Inclusive Examples: Social gender [TEXT NOT Deixis Referential per context REPRODUCIBLE (pointing) function (connotation) IN ASCII.] Definite Class Male Exod 1:22 [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] Inclusive Ezek 18:4 [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] Indefinite Generic Male Exod 21:31 [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] Inclusive Deut 25:5 [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] Social gender Social gender Deixis Referential per grammar per context (pointing) function (denotation) (connotation) Definite Class Unspecified Male Inclusive Indefinite Generic Unspecified Male Inclusive Examples: Social gender [TEXT NOT Deixis Referential per context REPRODUCIBLE (pointing) function (connotation) IN ASCII.] Definite Class Male Exod 21:5 [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] Inclusive -- [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] Indefinite Generic Male Exod 21:32 [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] Inclusive Deut 23:16 [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] Social gender Social gender Deixis Referential per grammar per context (pointing) function (denotation) (connotation) Definite Class Unspecified Male Inclusive Indefinite Generic Unspecified Male Inclusive Examples: Social gender [TEXT NOT Deixis Referential per context REPRODUCIBLE (pointing) function (connotation) IN ASCII.] Definite Class Male Gen 39:20 [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] Inclusive 1 Sam 12:14 [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] Indefinite Generic Male 1 Kgs 11:37 [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] Inclusive Gen 36:31 [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] Neh 13:26 [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]
(1) This paper is a written version of my presentation to the National Association of Professors of Hebrew session at the Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature The Society of Biblical Literature is a constituent society of the American Council of Learned Societies with the stated mission to "Foster Biblical Scholarship". Membership is open to the public, including 7200 individuals from over 80 countries. on Nov. 19, 2007. The opening question was at the heart of my translation work during the past three years; I thank the other members of the translation teams--Adele Berlin, Ellen Frankel, Carol Meyers, and Hara Person--for their encouragement as I inferred and delineated de·lin·e·ate
tr.v. de·lin·e·at·ed, de·lin·e·at·ing, de·lin·e·ates
1. To draw or trace the outline of; sketch out.
2. To represent pictorially; depict.
3. the principles discussed herein, and I thank Edward L. Greenstein, an early reviewer. In slightly different form, the question was the starting point Noun 1. starting point - earliest limiting point
terminus a quo
commencement, get-go, offset, outset, showtime, starting time, beginning, start, kickoff, first - the time at which something is supposed to begin; "they got an early start"; "she knew from the for Phyllis Bird's applicationoriented essay "Poor Man or Poor Woman? Gendering the Poor in Prophetic Texts" (1996), reprinted in her collection Missing Persons and Mistaken Identities (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1997), pp. 67-78. I will have occasion, below, to comment on Bird's observations at points where the foci of our work intersect In a relational database, to match two files and produce a third file with records that are common in both. For example, intersecting an American file and a programmer file would yield American programmers. .
(2) For example: Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar This article or section needs copy editing for grammar, style, cohesion, tone and/or spelling.
You can assist by [ editing it] now. (ed. and enlarged by E. Kautzsch; trans. A. E. Cowley; 2nd ed.; Oxford: Clarendon, 1910); C. L. Seow, A Grammar for Biblical Hebrew (rev. ed.; Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1995); B. K. Waltke and M. O'Connor, An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1990; 2004 printing); P. Jouon, A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew (rev. T. Muraoka; Rome: Editrice Pontificio Istituto Biblico, 2006); C. H. J. van der Merwe et al., A Biblical Hebrew Reference Grammar (New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of : Sheffield Academic Press, 1999; 2006 printing).
(3) Treating Biblical Hebrew as a single linguistic system is an approach that Robert Holmstedt has rightly called into question ("Issues in the Linguistic Analysis of a Dead Language, with Particular Reference to Ancient Hebrew," Journal of Hebrew Scriptures Hebrew Scriptures
The Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings, forming the covenant between God and the Jewish people that is the foundation and Bible of Judaism while constituting for Christians the Old Testament. 6.11 : 2-21). Yet an assumption of uniformity is reasonable in a first pass through the biblical data. Further, it seems to me that the grammar of social gender is a basic enough feature of the language that it is not likely to change significantly across time and from one local area to another.
(4) The other five cases (Exod 20:10; Lev lev-,
pref See levo-. 10:14; Num 18:11; Deut 5:14; 12:18) involve a listing of household members in which one must account for the wife's conspicuous absence. Ironically, in those constructions and situations, it is by the very lack of explicit address to women that one can demonstrate that they are present in the mind of the speaker who employs 2 masc. language.
(5) More precisely, the audience was expected to construe the 2 masc. address as gender inclusive except where the topic by its nature was restricted to men, as in Deut 28:30. Moses is addressing the entire people in his speeches. However, because certain topics do not pertain per·tain
intr.v. per·tained, per·tain·ing, per·tains
1. To have reference; relate: evidence that pertains to the accident.
2. equally to everyone, the meaning of "you" shifts fluidly as he speaks. In Deuteronomy, Moses shifts his address (without marking the shift) among various groups of those present--warriors only, householders only, non-priests only, Transjordanian tribes only, etc.--quite apart from the question of women's inclusion. The convention must have been to construe 2 masc. address in a "to whom it may concern" fashion. Unmarked shifts were apparently natural in Biblical Hebrew (as in contemporary English) when addressing a group or crowd of people.
Marc Zvi Brettler similarly observes that Deut 28:68 is "incorporating women into the chapter" at Deut 27:16 (M. Z. Brettler, "Women in Covenant Curses," in Women in Scripture: A Dictionary of Named and Unnamed Women in the Hebrew Bible, the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books, and the New Testament [ed. C. Meyers, T. Craven, and R. S. Kraemer; Boston: Houghton Mifflin Houghton Mifflin Company is a leading educational publisher in the United States. The company's headquarters is located in Boston's Back Bay. It publishes textbooks, instructional technology materials, assessments, reference works, and fiction and non-fiction for both young readers , 2000], p. 235); cf. his more tentative proposal at Exod 20:8, "Women in the Decalogue" (p. 192), that the 2 masc. sing. address there "could also be used as a neuter neu·ter
1. Having undeveloped or imperfectly developed sexual organs.
2. Sexually undeveloped.
A castrated animal.
To castrate or spay.
1. , thereby including the adult woman." Also D. A. Carson, without treating the gender aspect, points out that singular address can have group-wide application: "If the prohibition has been in the singular, but written in a context of moral constraints for a general audience and not to a named individual, then the singular form Noun 1. singular form - the form of a word that is used to denote a singleton
descriptor, form, signifier, word form - the phonological or orthographic sound or appearance of a word that can be used to describe or identify something; "the inflected nevertheless applies to all who fall within the general audience" (D. A. Carson, "The Limits of Functional Equivalence in Bible Translation--and Other Limits, Too," in The Challenge of Bible Translation [ed. G. G. Scorgie et al.; Grand Rapids Grand Rapids, city (1990 pop. 189,126), seat of Kent co., SW central Mich., on the Grand River; inc. 1850. The second largest city in the state, it is a distribution, wholesale, and industrial center for an area that yields fruit, dairy products, farm produce, , Mich.: Zondervan, 2003], p. 87). In the present instance, a source-critical scholar can hardly object that perhaps the confusion of grammatical number is the result of sloppy redaction (in which a piece of plural language has been awkwardly tacked onto a singular passage by a later editor), for in that plural clause is embedded the word [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] with its singular address. The wording is not accidental.
(6) Eckart Otto presents a more oblique argument: "In Deut. 15:12 men and women were equally called [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.], brother and sister, so that both of them were embraced by the concept of a brotherly and sisterly solidarity, which should be interpreted inclusively.... Since for the Deuteronomic author men and women were equally [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] they were also equally addressed by 'you'" (E. Otto, "False Weights in the Scales of Biblical Justice?" in Gender and Law in the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East [Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1998], pp. 142-143).
Meanwhile, Georg Braulik constructs a far-reaching and persuasive argument from the syntax of Deut 12:12: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.], And you shall rejoice ... you [masc.] with your sons and your daughters). Because the male householder's wife is conspicuously missing from the list of household members, Braulik explains that the resumptive Re`sump´tive
a. 1. Taking back; resuming, or tending toward resumption; as, resumptive measures s>. syntax fixes the gender sense of many masculine-inflected verbs and pronouns thereafter: "all masculine singular forms of the corresponding laws on sacrifices and feasts textually-pragmatically have to be applied to both men and women. Owing to owing to
Because of; on account of: I couldn't attend, owing to illness.
owing to prep → debido a, por causa de the 'you' referring to the woman, and her being missing in the actual list, she is singled out from the 'house' and authorized for the corresponding sacrificial sac·ri·fi·cial
Of, relating to, or concerned with a sacrifice: a sacrificial offering.
sac acts like the man" (G. Braulik, "Were Women, Too, Allowed to Offer Sacrifices in Israel? Observations on the Meaning and Festive Form of Sacrifice in Deuteronomy" [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] 55.4 , pp. 909-942, 937-939).
Similarly, Jeffrey Tigay concludes: "the text can hardly expect wives to remain at home; it must include them in the 'you' to whom the law is addressed" (J. Tigay, JPS JPS Jewish Publication Society
JPS John Peter Smith (Hospital; Texas)
JPS Justice & Public Safety
JPS Jean Piaget Society
JPS Juvenile Polyposis Syndrome
JPS Joint Planning Staff Torah Commentary: Deuteronomy [Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1996], 12:7). And Carol Meyers concludes: "Wives are not designated apart from the masculine 'you,' which thus is being used in a neuter sense to designate the senior male-and-female conjugal Pertaining or relating to marriage; suitable or applicable to married people.
Conjugal rights are those that are considered to be part and parcel of the state of matrimony, such as love, sex, companionship, and support. pair of a family group" (C. Meyers, Women in Scripture at Deut 12:12; similarly, with regard to the singular, in T. C. Eskenazi, ed., The Torah: A Women's Commentary [New York: Union for Reform Judaism The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), formerly known as the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC), is an organization which supports Reform Jewish congregations in North America. The current President is Rabbi Eric H. Press, 2008], p. 445). So also T. Frymer-Kensky, "Deuteronomy," in C. A. Newsom and S. H. Ringe, eds., Women's Bible Commentary, (expanded ed.; Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox, 1998), p. 59, with regard to Deut 5:14. By such reasoning, I render hD;tAa as "you [and your wife]" in Lev 10:14, and as "you [and your wives]" in Num 18:11; cf. my endnotes at Exod 20:3 and Deut 5:6 (D. E. S. Stein, revising ed., The Contemporary Torah: A Gender-Sensitive Adaptation of the JPS Translation [Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 2006]). So the commentary in The Torah: A Women's Commentary by Elaine Goodfriend at Exod 20:10 and 21:2; the editors at Lev 10:14; and Shawna Dolansky at Num 18:11.
My analysis contradicts the interpretation of 2 masc. sing. language in works such as the following: A. Brenner, "An Afterword af·ter·word
See epilogue. : The Decalogue--Am I an Addressee?" in A Feminist Companion to Exodus to Deuteronomy (ed. A. Brenner; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, 1994), pp. 255-258; H. C. Washington, "'Lest He Die in the Battle and Another Man Take Her': Violence and the Construction of Gender in the Laws of Deuteronomy 20-22," in Gender and Law, p. 199; Judith Plaskow Dr. Judith Plaskow is Professor of Religious Studies at Manhattan College. Her scholarly interests focus on contemporary religious thought with a specialization in feminist theology. Dr. Plaskow has lectured widely on feminist theology in the United States and Europe. (Standing Again at Sinai and again in The Torah: A Women's Commentary, p. 423); and Drorah Setel ("Exodus," The Women's Bible Commentary, regarding the Decalogue, p. 37).
The rule that I have described subsumes a point in GKC ([section] 122h): 2 masc. address can have a genderinclusive force when syntax and context of situation together point to the most impersonal sorts of reference. Thus in Gen 13:10, the narrator who is describing the extent of a visible area of land can say: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] in which the last phrase is literally "until you (2 masc.) come to Zoar." GKC correctly construes the intent as being regardless of the audience's gender--that is, "as far as Zoar" or "all the way to Zoar."
(7) See also Gen 35:25-26, 29 and 36:6. Reinforcing the explicit statements in the story of women's participation is the historical reconstruction of ancient Israel society, such that an Israelite audience would have taken it for granted that certain of the materials would have come primarily from women. See, e.g., T. C. Eskenazi, ed. The Torah: A Women's Commentary, 467, 560.
(8) Interpreters differ as to whether the character of the midwife speaks in this passage. If so, then both she and the narrator employ 3 masc. language, implying that such is the normal way to refer to a particular person whose gender is unknown.
(9) It could be argued that the fetus's maleness is prospectively assumed by the narrator, due to the later genealogical ge·ne·al·o·gy
n. pl. ge·ne·al·o·gies
1. A record or table of the descent of a person, family, or group from an ancestor or ancestors; a family tree.
2. Direct descent from an ancestor; lineage or pedigree. importance of these births, such that the outcome of the story is already known to the reader. (But see the previous note.) Even less likely is the possibility that the Torah is so male-oriented that a fetus's maleness is simply assumed until proven otherwise. (Lev 12:2 provides counterevidence, for it specifies rather than presumes maleness. Also the midwife's notice in Gen 35:17 and the attendant's notice in 1 Sam 4:20 appear to suggest that maleness is not assumed, although gender may not be at issue in those utterances; cf. Jer 20:15.)
(10) On the categories of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] (hermaphrodite hermaphrodite (hərmăf`rədīt'), animal or plant that normally possesses both male and female reproductive systems, producing both eggs and sperm. ) and Mwfmwf (indeterminate That which is uncertain or not particularly designated.
INDETERMINATE. That which is uncertain or not particularly designated; as, if I sell you one hundred bushels of wheat, without stating what wheat. 1 Bouv. Inst. n. 950. sex), see t. Bik. 2 (= m. Bik. 4 in some editions); b. Yebam. 83a-b; Moses Maimonides, Mishneh Torah The Mishneh Torah (משנה תורה), subtitled Yad ha-Chazaka (יד החזקה), is a code of Jewish law by one of the most important Jewish authorities, Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, better known as , Hilkhot 'Ishut [section] 2.24-25. I adduce To present, offer, bring forward, or introduce.
For example, a bill of particulars that lists each of the plaintiff's demands may recite that it contains all the evidence to be adduced at trial. post-biblical usage under an assumption of historical uniformity of the grammar of personal reference.
(11) If the reference is figurative, then masculinity in the vehicle does not necessarily match the social gender of the tenor except where the context makes gender germane by drawing some contrast with femininity. See further Part 1 of my article "On Beyond Gender: Representation of God in the Torah and in Three Recent Renditions into English," Nashim 15 (Spring 2008): 108-137.
(12) Carolyn Pressler discusses this passage in arguing (mostly on the basis of factors other than grammar) that in ancient Israel, masculine legal language was sometimes construed gender inclusively (C. Pressler, "Wives and Daughters Wives and Daughters is a novel by Elizabeth Gaskell, first published in the Cornhill Magazine as a serial from August 1864 to January 1866. When Mrs Gaskell died suddenly in 1865, it was not quite complete, and the last section was written by Frederick Greenwood. , Bond and Free," in Gender and Law, p. 169). She also adduces Lev 25:39, where [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] functions in a gender-inclusive sense as confirmed when viewed in light of 25:44. Meanwhile, Jer 34:14 provides counterevidence to J. Tigay's reasoning that the noun [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] in Deut 25:5 means "son" because "in a legal passage ... had the text meant to include daughters, it would probably have said so explicitly" (J. Tigay, Deuteronomy, at 25:5).
(13) Technically, such utterances are "gender non-exclusive," but for simplicity I prefer the term "gender inclusive," which is effectively the same thing, particularly when one distinguishes it from "gender neutral," as I do below.
(14) This analysis seems to challenge P. Bird's insistence that in Deut 15:12, 17 the specification of females were later "editorial additions ... [that] seek to redefine the 'brotherhood' to include women" (P. Bird, "Poor Man or Poor Woman," p. 73). Rather, the word [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] is gender inclusive in such grammatical situations, while the repeated specification of females is warranted because the application of the laws to female slaves and male slaves might otherwise be thought to differ, for the law sometimes does differentiate between them as the result of gender asymmetry Asymmetry
A lack of equivalence between two things, such as the unequal tax treatment of interest expense and dividend payments. in Israelite society's sexual mores.
My analysis also contradicts P. Bird's claim that "in Leviticus the terms describing the Israelite bondsman bondsman n. 1) someone who sells bail bonds. 2) a surety (guarantor or insurance company who/which provides bonds for performance. (See: bail bond, bond, bail bondsman) [namely, [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]] are exclusively male" (P. Bird, "Poor Man or Poor Woman," p. 73, n. 23).
(15) For example, V. Poythress and W. Grudem, The Gender-Neutral Controversy: Muting the Masculinity of God's Words (Nashville, Tenn.: Broadman & Holman, 2000), p. 247; D. A. Carson, The Inclusive Language Debate: A Plea for Realism (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 1998), pp. 120-128; M. Strauss, Distorting Scripture? The Challenge of Bible Translation and Gender Accuracy (Downers Grove Downers Grove, village (1990 pop. 46,858), Du Page co., NE Ill.; settled 1832, inc. 1873. Downers Grove has undergone population growth and commercial development that include the construction of new office complexes. , Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1998), pp. 104-112; D. J. A. Clines, personal communication; E. Greenstein, personal communication; S. A. Kaufman, personal communication; R. Alter, personal communication.
(16) Such cases account for most instances of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] in the Bible. Alison Grant's lexical study ("'Adam and 'Ish: Man in the OT," ABR (1) (AutoBaud Rate detect) The analysis of the first characters of a message to determine its transmission speed and number of start and stop bits.
(2) (Available Bit R 25 : 2-11) shows that more than 80% of the Bible's instances of vyIa or [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] point to a class (or genus). See the discussion in my article D. E. S. Stein, "The Noun Cya ('is) in Biblical Hebrew: A Term of Affiliation," Journal of Hebrew Scriptures 8.1 (2008).
(17) This contradicts P. Bird's claim that "Hebrew has no gender-inclusive term for 'slave'" (P. Bird, "Poor Man or Poor Woman," p. 72, n. 22).
(18) For some personal nouns with a female counterpart (such as [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] or [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]), there probably are not enough biblical attestations for us to fill in a table completely.
As for the personal noun [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.], both of its semantic meaning-components are male-only by definition, which makes that word rather useless for gender-inclusive expression. But I do not consider [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] to be an exception to the rule, because it can be said that in terms of grammar alone, the social gender is still unspecified. All of its biblical instances point to generic or class referents.
As for the common noun [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.], scholars have recently debated whether it is gender neutral (e.g., J. Barr, "One Man, Or All Humanity?" in Recycling Biblical Figures: Papers Read at a NOSTER Colloquium col·lo·qui·um
n. pl. col·lo·qui·ums or col·lo·qui·a
1. An informal meeting for the exchange of views.
2. An academic seminar on a broad field of study, usually led by a different lecturer at each meeting. in Amsterdam, 12-13 May 1997. [Studies in Theology and Religion 1; ed. A. Brenner and J. W. Van Henten; Leiden: Deo, 1999], pp. 3-21; David J. A. Clines, "The Hebrew for 'Human, Humanity': A Response to James Barr James Barr may refer to
1. A direct ancestor.
2. An originator of a line of descent.
ancestor, including parent.
stem cells. of humankind. Of the Bible's 532 remaining occurrences of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.], A. Grant (see above, n. 16) cited just one other instance, Josh 14:15, as referring to a particular individual, but it is a class reference to a progenitor; see further Dictionary of Gender in the Torah, The Contemporary Torah, s.v. 'adam.
(19) Trible herself notes that "the masculine tender of these terms is a standard grammatical usage that by itself does not identify either species or sex" (P. Trible, Texts of Terror: Literary-Feminist Readings of Biblical Narratives [Philadelphia: Fortress, 1984], p. 97). My point is that this very narrative is a proof text for what the "standard grammatical usage" was! And it is not a trivial example. The Israelite audience of the text surely presumed that the precise wording of Jephthah's vow mattered, because the audience was supposed to presume that God holds people accountable for their vows, as the Bible reiterates in numerous cases (Num 30:3; Deut 23:22; 2 Sam 15:7-8; Eccl 5:3-4, etc.).
Although standard grammars do not mention the gender-inclusive force of 3 masc. language as presumed by Jephthah's vow, GKC [section] 144.2-3 does say that when the Bible refers to an indefinite personal subject, it usually employs grammatically masculine language, typically couched in the singular--for instance, Josh 5:9:
[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]
In such situations, English translators often use a passive construction: "So that place was called Gilgal." In effect, my observations from Exodus 35 and Judges 11 incorporate GKC's point, for an indefinite personal subject is a type of class reference.
(20) GKC [section] 122f mentions one other supposedly anomalous usage of a "masculine" noun in place of an expected feminine form--in Prov 8:30, where Wisdom, personified as female, refers to herself: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] The principle that I have described accounts for this usage, too: The noun's reference is to a class--the class of "master artisans," and therefore the so-called male noun [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] functions as a gender-inclusive term.
(21) Regarding the common singular nouns that possess (attested or theoretical) female counterparts, the standard grammars reserve the term "epicene" for substantives that are attested as pointing to evidently female animal referents. See, e.g., GKC [section] 122b, e-g; IBHS IBHS Institute for Business and Home Safety
IBHS International Barbershop Harmony Society [section] 6.5.2; and C. H. H. van der Merwe et al., A Biblical Hebrew Reference Grammar, [section] 23.3(ii). (Let me note that all of the examples that these grammarians cite--Gen 33:13; 2 Sam 19:27; Jer 2:24; Hos 13:8; Ps 42:2; 144:14; Job 1:14--are class references.) With regard to human beings, the corresponding phenomenon is not found in the Biblical Hebrew corpus. Apparently, female nouns were the terms of choice when referring specifically to female human beings. In that respect, while m7ale nouns do not themselves exclude women when they are employed so as to point to a class (or genus) of human beings, such nouns are not truly epicene.
(22) See also Part 1 of my article "On Beyond Gender"; and "The (In)adequacy of 'Man' as an English Equivalent of the Biblical Hebrew Noun 'ish" (paper presented to the Bible Translation section of the Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, Boston, Mass., November 2008).
(23) This statement both refines and expands a point that Mark Strauss See also: Mark Strauss (Marek Mann), Jewish artist and author
Mark Strauss is a U.S. journalist. He has recently become editor of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. makes about the word "he" (M. Strauss, "Current Issues in the Gender-Language Debate," in The Challenge of Bible Translation, p. 130).
(24) An English analogue is the word "actor," which has a feminine counterpart yet is often used generically, as discussed above in Section 3.
(25) An English analogue is the generic term "basketball player," which is often used to refer to an athlete who plays in the men-only National Basketball Association.
(26) Michael Fishbane Michael Fishbane is a scholar of Judaism and rabbinic literature. Formerly at Brandeis University, he is the Nathan Cummings Professor of Jewish Studies at the Divinity School, University of Chicago.
Fishbane (Ph.D. holds that legal formulas that mention women explicitly are "pleonastic ple·o·nasm
a. The use of more words than are required to express an idea; redundancy.
b. An instance of pleonasm.
2. A superfluous word or phrase. " or "secondary" when the rest of the language in the passage presumes a grammatically masculine antecedent ANTECEDENT. Something that goes before. In the construction of laws, agreements, and the like, reference is always to be made to the last antecedent; ad proximun antecedens fiat relatio. , as in Lev 13:29; Num 6:2; and Deut 15:12; M. Fishbane, Biblical Interpretation in Ancient Israel (Oxford: Clarendon, 1985), pp. 169, n. 12; 171; 211, n. 99. He believes it significant that in the cases he cites, "the singular masculine noun is followed by a singular masculine verb, [whereas] usually the verb precedes if it is singular and followed by plural subjects (as especially in Arabic)" (personal communication, June 18, 2008).
David E. S. Stein
Freelance Judaica Editor