Part I of the SimHebrew Bible project is complete.
What began last September with the conversion of one chapter a day, starting with Genesis 1 (based on the Masoretic version in ktiv malé), the SimHebrew Torah (Pentateuch) is now, with the conversion of Deut. 34, has been concluded:
An excellent question, because the agonizing and linguistic contortions surrounding this word among non-Hebrew speakers have always puzzled me.
The traditional translation—lovingkindness—is totally inapt on several grounds: it’s a made-up word, cloyingly sentimental, semantically wrong, and rhythmically horrible, wreaking havoc on the meter of any verse in which it is present.
John Steinbeck (and following him, the TV series Hell on Wheels) got it wrong: the Hebrew word is actually timshol, not timshel, and it means “thou shalt rule over” or “thou shalt control”—not “thou mayest.”
The context is what God says to Cain (Gen. 4:7), who is disheartened by the fact that God had preferred Abel’s offering of the “firstlings of his flock” over Cain’s offering of “fruit of the ground”:
The Talmud (Tractate Gittin 57:2) distinguishes between ger tzedek (a ‘righteous alien’)—a foreigner who has fully converted (i.e. accepted the teachings of the Torah) and ‘is a Jew to all intents and purposes’, and a ger toshav (‘resident alien’), who has merely joined the community and has accepted the Noahide commandments.