“All Those Going Out of the Gate of His City”: Have the Translations Got It Yet? -- By: Andrew J. Schmutzer

Journal: Bulletin for Biblical Research
Volume: BBR 17:1 (NA 2007)
Article: “All Those Going Out of the Gate of His City”: Have the Translations Got It Yet?
Author: Andrew J. Schmutzer


“All Those Going Out of the Gate of His City”:
Have the Translations Got It Yet?

Andrew J. Schmutzer

Moody Bible Institute

The phrase כל־יצאי שער עירו (Gen 34:24a, b) is part of the narrator’s summary of the Shechemites’ response to the circumcision proposal. The lexical and semantic evidence supports a military collocation for the phrase. Moreover, the language surrounding Abraham’s transaction at the city gate with Ephron (Gen 23:10b, 18b) is shown to be an inadequate semantic parallel, depending more on culture and architecture. This article argues that the repetition of the phrase in the same verse (34:24a, b) reflects the narrator’s rhetorical skill that “humanizes” a catastrophe, underscoring its distributive and irreversible state. By arguing more for “elders” or “citizens,” the translations have missed the narrator’s association of the circumcised group with a war idiom.

Key Words: versions, circumcision, collocation, rhetorical, translation, city gate

Introduction

Genesis 34:24 employs the cryptic Hebrew phrase: כל־יצאי שער עירו, “all those going out of the gate of his city” (24a, b).1 Though helpful analysis has been done on aspects of the phrase,2 it remains plagued by semantic

uncertainty, on the one hand, and rhetorical ambiguity within the pericope, on the other. While the function of the city gate for the adjudication of legal matters is well established,3 this understanding has not adequately explained the significance of the Gen 34:24 phrase. Following the Masoretic accents, the MT of v. 24 reads:

/וישמעו אל־חמור ואל־שכם בנו

a

So they listened to Hamor and Shechem his son,

//כל־יצאי שער עירו

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