FW: Cover your feet, please!
Dan.Wagner at datastream.net
Fri Mar 2 20:35:08 EST 2001
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Leeroy Malachinski [mailto:Leeroy at cool.dk]
> Sent: Saturday, February 17, 2001 18:21
> To: Biblical Hebrew
> Subject: Re: FW: Cover your feet, please!
> >Some commentators have attempted to explain the etymology of
> "cover your
> >feet" by saying that a man's long robes would literally
> cover his feet
> >when he squatted down to do his business.
> This explanation could suffer from the problem of assuming that people
> would have pants or at least one kind of clothing for the
> upper body and
> one for the lower.
"Feet" may also be euphemistic for genitals. This is the case elsewhere:
Ezk. 16:25 (female "spreads her feet"); Isa. 7:20 (shaves feet of a male);
and thus here also perhaps. (I think there's another example, can't find it
> In that case
> they would actually "uncover their feet".
Yes, this still applies; thus it's a doubly euphemistic. Rather that
"uncover the genitals" (for the purpose of excretion), it's "cover the
feet"! (Perhaps, i agree, we conjecture here.)
>In Ruth 3 we hear that Ruth
> should go and uncover Boaz' feet.
Possibly relevant, but don't be too quick on that one. The word for feet is
different, and based on a similar alternate form for "hands" as used in the
image in Daniel (=upper body), Block's excellent new commentary on Judges &
Ruth (NAC) takes it as the entire lower region, but as an intentionally
different word to avoid the sexual connotation that "uncovering [Boaz']
feet" might bring.
> Now, if to uncover the feet
> is the exact
> opposite of covering the feet, these passages might in fact throw some
> light on the passages in question. It seems to me that also here it is
> unclear what exactly is going on. :( Certainly, she is not
> waking him up.
> While it could be understood that the purpose would be to
> know him - in
> the biblical sense - again it does not seem to be what is going on.
I agree. Sex here just does not seem to be the case. Daniel Block has a good
discussion of it.
> A case for sleeping should not be rejected a priori, however. For
> instance, whatever the expression in Ruth means, sleep is
> indeed present.
> Another detail in the 1 Sam 4 story says that David secretly
> cut off the
> corner of Saul's robe. The word for secretly is "lat" (24:4). In Judg.
> 4:21 Yael is also secretly ("lat") sneaking up on Sissera who
> is sleeping
> or at least lying down. And again in Ruth 3:7, Ruth is
> sneaking secretly
> ("lat") up on the sleeping Boaz. So perhaps "lat" has
> something to do with
> sleeping, although not all occurrences include the theme of
> sleep. What is
> also interesting is that the root "lot" can mean "to cover",
> so perhaps it
> is a wordplay in all these instances.
> None of this, however, is conclusive (not to say highly
> speculative) and
> the expression might easily mean to relieve oneself or something else.
> Here one could note that in both the Judg. 3 and 1 Sam 24
> Saul and Eglon
> seek to (or are thought) "to cover their feet" in a cool place and in
> privacy. This meaning is how tradition seems to have
> understood it (Some
> versions, and Jewish commentators).
> It would be interesting to hear if anyone know of a similar
> expression in
> a cognate language.
YES! Me too. Anybody????
Good observations. I appreciate your reply. I'm going to post separately on
the Judges passage.
> I too would love to hear other interpretations.
> All the best,
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