I’ve come to very much enjoy the translation effort by those who did the NET Bible. Now having a sense of the languages, I’ve come to appreciate the exhaustive translator notes. It’s a great thing to read the thought-processes of these really smart folks and to understand how it is they come to their conclusions.
Such was the case this morning. Been reading through 1 Samuel. Reading through the interaction with David and Jonathan and Saul’s anger/bitterness.
In the midst of Jonathan protecting David for the umpteenth time, 1 Sam 20:30 in the NET Bible:
Saul became angry with Jonathan38 and said to him, “You stupid traitor!39 Don’t I realize that to your own disgrace and to the disgrace of your mother’s nakedness you have chosen this son of Jesse?
The great part of the NET Bible now comes out. (“tn” stands for translator note) Note 39 down below reads as follows:
39tn Heb “son of a perverse woman of rebelliousness.” But such an overly literal and domesticated translation of the Hebrew expression fails to capture the force of Saul’s unrestrained reaction. Saul, now incensed and enraged over Jonathan’s liaison with David, is actually hurling very coarse and emotionally charged words at his son. The translation of this phrase suggested by Koehler and Baumgartner is “bastard of a wayward woman” (HALOT 796 s.v. עוה), but this is not an expression commonly used in English. A better English approximation of the sentiments expressed here by the Hebrew phrase would be “You stupid son of a bitch!” However, sensitivity to the various public formats in which the Bible is read aloud has led to a less startling English rendering which focuses on the semantic value of Saul’s utterance (i.e., the behavior of his own son Jonathan, which he viewed as both a personal and a political betrayal [= “traitor”]). But this concession should not obscure the fact that Saul is full of bitterness and frustration. That he would address his son Jonathan with such language, not to mention his apparent readiness even to kill his own son over this friendship with David (v. 33), indicates something of the extreme depth of Saul’s jealousy and hatred of David.
I seriously enjoy that they don’t pull any punches. For the person who doesn’t know Hebrew, this kind of info is invaluable. It brings out the subtlety of the languages.