Tag Archives: Raphael

Fear of my name

My suggestion of exercise of poetical translation for this 33th Sunday on ordinary time goes to a single verse -the second one- of the first reading: a terrifying apocalypse by Malachi (a name which, very appropiately, contains the same semantical Hebrew root of the noun “angel”).

The verse of my choice is Malachi 3:20 (although, please, pay attention to the exact numbering in your own bibles as I have detected different editions that have a fourth chapter) because it contains a “balsamic” effect in the middle of a burning apocalypse, whose therapeutic effect -perhaps- the most of translations do not fully capture.
My personal version -directly from the Masoretic Hebrew text- tries to emphasize the contrast between two poles. In the first half of the verse, we find “Large fear”, litterally “fears” whose plural I have understood like a kind of intensification. That is the first focus. The second one, in the second half of the same verse, could be “medicine”, under the form of a participle with the root “rph’” which is related to the semantical field of “therapy” (the name “Raphael“, for example, means “God healed” and also contains this root).
So, the suspense of the plot is served: On one side, psychological sickness (fear) but on the another one, the remedy, Sdq,  word with a Semitic root that only very approximately can be translated as “justice”. By the way, this very same root is still quite alive in modern Arabic, for exemple in the word صديق , to be read /sadyyq/ and which means”friend“.
As a matter of fact, the second half of the verse is a metaphoric explanation of the expression “My name”, ie YHWH, the most respectful wording for God whose pronunciation was lost for ever because, among other reasons, ancient Semitic inscriptions and writings had not any vowel at all.
So, here it is Malachi under a new/old perspective, only for your eyes:

It will uprise to you a great fear of my name,
a sun of justice bringing medicine on its wings.

The sun with wings is an ubiquous iconographic theme to be find in the whole Ancient Middle East. So, please, pay no attention to mysterical-hysterical interpretations about prophecies to come and so on, because the question is rather about a common cultural background of those remote times and far beyond.

Then,  أصدقاء  /ásdiqaaa/ (friends)  -word, as I have mentioned,  with a root Sdq or, if you prefer in Hebrew,  צדק-  I say you: until next Sunday إن شاء الله

 /in sha Alla / (if God wills so…).