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Hebrew Language/Translation of a word I read



My name is James Pfluger and I am an 18 year old living in Portland, Oregon in the USA. I have a few questions on the accuracy of a translation of a Hebrew word I found in a book I am reading. I have read online you may be able to help me with this.

The book is called East of Eden by John Steinbeck. In it, one character is describing how different translations of a word appear in different versions of the bible.

The word is “timshel” which, according to the book, has the meaning of “thou mayest” and is used in the context of conquering sin. Steinbeck writes that the word is not about sin ruling over you, or you ruling over sin, but rather you having the choice to do so.

For me, this choice of sin overcoming me in my life or not has been highly important in the past 4 years of my life (high school). I would like to paint it in its original Hebrew text on a wall in my room as a reminder of where I have been the last 4 years and my future choices as well.

However, if Steinbeck was wrong in his translation I don’t want to commit to this paint job and I will choose something else. So my questions are as follows:

1. Does “timshel” actually mean “thou mayest” and is there a context it can be used in with the conquering of sin?

2. Is this how it is written? I have heard that is how it is written without vowels but I am not certain. I don’t know how to write Hebrew with a keyboard so I am left with images.

Thank you for your time, both reading and (hopefully) responding!

With love,
James Pfluger


Believe it or not, this question has been asked in this forum twice before. Here is the answer:

1. The Hebrew pronunciation is not Timshel, but Timshol.

2. Steinbeck only got it partially right: it means "Thou may govern..." or "Thou may have control over...". So yes, it can be used in the context of conquering sin.

The JPEG is correct.

All the best,


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I am a columnist for a Hebrew-language newspaper, and a graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary.

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