Daniel 7:1 reads, “In year one of Belshazzar king of Babel, Daniel saw a dream and a visions of his head upon his bed; then, the dream he wrote a head of words, he said…” This is a very wooden translation for the sake of noting the odd word play that I don’t quite understand. Now, the dream and vision that he saw “of his head” (ראשׁה) is idiomatic for something like “in his head/mind,” so don’t be confused when the dream recorded in vv. 2-8 has nothing to do with Daniel’s noggin. It is the second mention of “head” is the one that confuses me.
It says that Daniel wrote “a head of words (ראשׁ מלין),” which the NASB interprets to be “a summary,” the NIV as “the substance,” and a footnote for the NRSV as “the beginning of words.” I am inclined to go with the NRSV’s footnote. A “head” can be a beginning. It may be that there is a play on words mixed with a conceptual rhythm: the “beginning” of Belshazzar’s reign corresponds with Daniel seeing visions in his head of which he provides the “head/beginning” words describing the vision?
For what it’s worth, the LXX does not have corresponding words. Rather, it reads, “…and the dream he wrote (καὶ τὸ ἐνύπνιον ἔγραψεν).” My inclination is to presume that the author(s) of Greek Daniel preferred to avoid the quirky wording rather than that the Hebrew text from which it was translated did not include the words, which were added later. It makes more sense that difficult wording was removed than added.
Anyone have another take on this Aramaic idiom?
Brian, what translation are you citing here (if any). It’s an odd sense in which that phrase was translated (wooden as you say). It seems you’re asking about the use of the second re’sh. The portion you’re reading at is missing from the Dead Sea Scrolls so I wasn’t able to see what was written there – I guess we’ll have to take the Mesoretic text at face value.
Regardless, the re’sh is not by itself. It’s used with millah as ‘רֵאשׁ מִלִּין‘. Though re’sh appears frequently as ‘head’ look at how it is used in [Eza 5:10] to mean ‘chief’ or ‘principle’. Likewise מלה (millah) can be taken as ‘concern’ or ‘matter’ (though translators tend to favour ‘thing’).
So when Daniel uses it in [Dan 3:22] he is saying something like “Therefore because the king’s concern was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.” So it’s not unreasonable to read “כְתַב רֵאשׁ מִלִּין אֲמַֽר” as “conveyed the chief concern by writing” (“אָמַר” is to avow or convey).
That re’sh is frequently ‘head’- which is where dreams take place – is mis-leading exegetically.
I forgot to mention that ‘רֵאשׁ מִלִּין‘ idiomatically is ‘dream’ – for what do we dream about except our ‘chief concerns’.
I’m not citing a translation. I am aware that resh has a semantic range (as noted by my allusions to the NASB, NIV, and NRSV). I’m not saying that resh must be one-for-one with the English word “head,” but rather than there does seem to be play on concepts here using words that depict top, source, beginning, chief, principle, or head. That is the context within which I am asking the question.
Which interpretation are you proposing: “chief concern” or “dream”? Are you recommending a translation such as “he wrote down a chief concern saying” or “he wrote down a dream saying”? I’m a bit lost by your second suggestion since חלם has been being used for “dream.” Are you suggesting that this is a idiomatic restatement?
Brian, your awareness of semantic range is not lost on me – even if didn’t appreciate that that translation was yours. I agree that there is a play on concepts here. Daniel could have plainly said ‘dream’ as חֵלֶם (chelem) – as in “I wrote down the dream”.
However, a play on words is more likely given his use of an idiom to mean dream, rather than a word to mean dream. Yes – I am saying that use of “chief concern” is an idomatic restatement that would have been understood to mean “dream”.
That seems a tad repetitive, though possible, I guess. That would make v. 1c read something like, “then the dream (חלמא) he wrote a dream (ראשׁ מלין) saying…”
The way you’ve written it is still pretty wooden.
I’d take it something like this, “…then the dream he wrote, relating (or conveying) the chief concern …” or “the dream’s chief concern he conveyed (in) writing”.
Idiomatically, the chief concern can either be the entire dream or the dominate theme of the dream. Translating idioms is problematic.
OK, that makes more sense. This is basically what the NASB (“summary”) and NIV (“substance”) as saying: the main point of the dream.
I like the choice ‘substance’ (NIV). That fits well (and it’s terse).
I saw that! That style looked nice.
I can’t figure out the header options quite yet so that it would retain the pic and the title text.
I suspect beneath the veneer of WordPress are Cascading Style Sheets – so I sense you are struggling with the foo of CSS attributes.
I wish I could pretend to be that advanced. I’m not. My limitations are those of the basic WordPress.com variety.
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