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I realize there are debates about whether how this commandment should be interpreted. My question is about how it should be translated. My Hebrew is far from fluent, so can someone help me understand the meaning of the text itself, as opposed to its interpretation?

The Contemporary Torah, JPS, 2006

You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against members of your people. Love your fellow [Israelite] as yourself: I am יהוה.

The Five Books of Moses

You are not to take-vengeance, you are not to retain-anger against the sons of your kinspeople— but be loving to your neighbor [as one] like yourself; I am YHWH!

Metsudah Chumash

You shall not take revenge or bear a grudge against the children of your people. You shall love your fellow [Jew] as yourself, I am Adonoy.

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  • The first seems most accurate to me, but it depends how literal you want to get. Which words are you trying to clarify?
    – shmosel
    Commented Nov 28, 2023 at 22:56
  • I'm particularly interested in "neighbor" vs "fellow". Growing up in a secular family I am familiar with the usual translation in bibles produced by Christians, which universally say "neighbor" - conforming to the question asked in the parable of the Good Samaritan. Commented Nov 29, 2023 at 2:39
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    רעך doesn't mean "neighbor" in the literal sense. That would be שכניך. I think the most literal translation would be "friend," but it generally means "fellow."
    – shmosel
    Commented Nov 29, 2023 at 2:44

1 Answer 1

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The first and third translations look basically identical to me.

The second one looks like it has three significant differences:

  • but be loving - that's an interpretation that tries to more explicitly connect the two halves of the verse. It seems reasonable.
  • neighbor as opposed to fellow - not sure why they chose this word, fellow or friend seems more accurate to me.
  • [as one] - I have no idea what this is supposed to mean, it's not (in my experience) the typical understanding of the verse.
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  • About the first and the third versions...technically the command was given to Israelites not yet Jews. Commented Nov 28, 2023 at 18:28
  • @DanFefferman Why do you say that?
    – shmosel
    Commented Nov 28, 2023 at 23:00
  • @shmosel As far as I know the word "Jew" is first used by Ezra or Chronicles. Before that I see "Israelites" and "Judeans" or "Judahites" etc. But again, I'm not reading Hebrew. Commented Nov 29, 2023 at 2:43
  • @DanFefferman There used to be a distinction, but when we say "Jews" today we mean what the Torah calls "Israelites."
    – shmosel
    Commented Nov 29, 2023 at 2:54

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