Saturday, June 24, 2006

Over Translation

E. R. Goodenough claims in his book Jewish Symbols during the Greco-Roman Period (1953-1968) That translating the term Magen David into Shield of David is an over translation; for a regular translation the word protection should suffice.
It is important to understand that in Hebrew "Magen" means both "protection" and "shield". It is a homonym. This is quite an insight. It is so simple that nobody I read seemed to notice it. The meaning of the Magen David is as old as the book of Psalms that was written according to Jewish tradition by King David, who called the lord "my shield". Goodenough's insight adds another theory to the origin of the Star of David. Sometime after the writing of Psalms somebody started spreading the concept of the Shield of David and people liked the new poetic twist so much that they built a legend around it. No wonder that archeologists didn't find any evidence for the physical Shield of David.

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