[b-hebrew] barak (bless? curse?) in the Book of Job
oldearther at yahoo.com
Thu Jan 29 00:24:31 EST 2009
"The functional meaning of a word does not change from context to context."
Maybe I don't know what you mean by "functional meaning", but when a word has different meanings, then context determines what meaning is in view. If BRK is indeed used euphemistically to mean something like "renounce" or "blaspheme", then your criticism does not apply.
Great discussion, fellas.
From: K Randolph <kwrandolph at gmail.com>
To: "b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org" <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Wednesday, January 28, 2009 11:49:32 PM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] barak (bless? curse?) in the Book of Job
On Wed, Jan 28, 2009 at 5:35 PM, Harold Holmyard
<hholmyard3 at earthlink.net>wrote:
> > As far as scribal amendations, you have given me references to seven,
> > two of which I recognize what the claimed original text was. Is there a
> > of all the scribal amendations and how they changed the text?
> HH: Here is a list of the 18 tiqqune sopherim:
> Gen 18:22
> Num 11:15
> Num 12:12
> 1 Sam 3:13
> 2 Sam 16:12
> 2 Sam 20:1
> 1 Kgs 12:16
> Jer 2:11
> Ezek 8:17
> Hos 4:7
> Hab 1:12
> Zech 2:12
> Mal 1:13
> Job 7:20
> Job 32:3
> Lam 3:20
> 2 Chron 10:16
Thank you. But now I'll have to find how the Masoretes changed the text.
Well, I have a printed "dead tree" copy of Biblia Hebreica sitting around
somewhere, I'll have to find it. (While writing this, I see you sent another
message giving the proposed translations of those changes, but not the
Hebrew. I'll still have to look them up. I don't read English translations
for my personal readings, why should I read English for my scholarly
> Job 1:11 and 2:5 are not among this list but are judged to be deliberate
> changes. I have already given several reasons for seeing them as
> deliberate changes.
And there are reasons to deny that they were deliberate changes.
1) There is no record that a change was ever affected.
2) Words don't have one meaning, and its opposite.
3) Comparing the use of the idiomatic phrases in the verse with their use in
other verses gives no compulsion for a change. In other words, it makes
perfect sense as written.
4) The earliest translation of Job 1:11, 2:5, the LXX, has bless.
5) The functional meaning of a word does not change from context to context:
that in one context it is difficult to understand is not an excuse to allow
for different meanings.
> HH: Here's an article on the subject with more reasons. I think the
> parallel use of "bless" as a euphemism in 1 Kings 21, as John earlier
> mentioned, is one of the strongest reasons to accept the widely held
> view of scholars:
> Apparently, for the biblical writer the combination of the verb "to
> curse/blaspheme" and
> "God" ("to curse God") was offensive to his or her religious
> sensitivity, making it necessary to
> paraphrase the concept using one that sounded less offensive. The result
> was the substitution of
> the verb "bless" for the verb "curse."
See above, where is the evidence of a change?
> Euphemistic expressions are common in all languages, and Hebrew is no
> exception. The
> question is whether in some cases the verb "to bless" is used
> euphemistically. Let's examine
> some texts.
> 1. Euphemistic Usage Outside Job: The number of passages in which we
> find the
> phenomenon just described is very limited. One of the best examples is
> recorded in 1 Kings
> 21:10, 13. Jezebel asked for false witnesses to testify against Naboth
> saying that they heard him
> "cursing [blessing]" God and the king. On that basis Naboth received the
> death penalty.
> Obviously, no one is to be stoned for blessing God; therefore the verb
> "to bless" is used here as a
Not necessarily. Did Naboth "bless" both God and the king? Or did his
"blessing" for the king turn out like that friendly encouragement of the
prophet Mikiyahu in the next chapter? Or in 1 Kings 21:13 was this an
imperative, and when Naboth was unable to fulfill the command completely,
i.e. the "blessing" for the king stuck in his throat, that he was then
executed for civil insubordination? Where is the necessity that the only way
to understand this verse is through claiming that it is a euphemism?
> 2. Euphemistic Usage in Job: It was Job's practice to offer sacrifices
> on behalf of his
> children because, he thought, "Perhaps my children have sinned and
> cursed [blessed] God in
> their hearts" (Job 1:5, NIV). No sacrifice is needed for blessing God.
> Job moves from sin in
> general to the most radical expression of it in cursing God.
Are you not taking this out of context? Does not the context indicate that
this is an improper blessing due to error?
> Next we find Satan saying to God, "Stretch out your hand and strike
> everything [Job] has,
> and he will surely curse [bless] you to your face" (Job 1:11, NIV; see
> also Job 2:5). This is not a
> sarcastic expression"He will surely bless you!" but an expression of
> certainty. The phrase "to
> your face" expresses open contempt. The euphemistic use of the verb
> "bless" seems to fit the
> context very well.
And there are a few reasons that this is not true, among which:
I already mentioned that (L PNY in none of its other uses has the concept of
"to your face" in the English sense of the phrase. To give it that meaning
only here is bad linguistics.
The sentence here is not in the context of an oath or promise, rather a list
of actions. In a list of actions, the phrase )M L) has the meaning of "if
not [action] then [action]" where in these verses the first action is
assumed from the context.
In view of the phrases used in these verses, how does a euphemistic changing
of "blessing" to "curse" fit?
> 3. Euphemistic Usage in the Speech of Job's Wife: Did Job's wife say
> "Curse" or "Bless God
> and die"? Job's answer seems to support the idea that "bless" is being
> used here as a euphemism for "curse." If she is encouraging him to bless
> God and die, why did Job say to her "You are talking like a foolish
> woman" (Job 2:10, NIV)? Whatever she was trying to say, Job found it
> inconsistent with devotion to God. We know very little about this woman,
> and the tendency has been to consider her an evil woman. Undoubtedly
> Job's suffering caused her to suffer as well. Losing all her wealth was
> painful, but even more emotionally and psychologically devastating would
> have been losing all her children. Her pain may have been even more
> intense than her husband's. Yet in the story she bears her pain quietly.
> She loved Job. It must have been extremely painful for her to see her
> husband going through excruciating physical, psychological, and
> spiritual pain and be unable to do anything to bring relief.
> There seems to be only one way left for her. She speaks to Job from the
> depth of her love and
> concern for him. She doesn't realize that, like Peter, she is echoing
> Satan's words. No, she is not
> a foolish woman, but that day she spoke "like" one.
> Job realizes her deep pain and says to her, "Shall we accept good
> from God, and not
> trouble?" (verse 10). He seems to be saying, "God has given us good
> things to administer for
> Him, and we did it joyfully; now we have become stewards of pain for
> Him; hold on to your
> faith." It may be that at that moment she embraced him and they both
> cried together.
Spoken like a true, 21st century, sensitive American male. But is that the
way Job and his wife interacted? The LXX added extra verses here bringing
out some of this idea, but I understand it more in the sense of accusatory
I already gave my translation, showing why there is need neither for a
scribal amendation nor a euphemistic rendition.
> Harold Holmyard
As part of my individual responsibility before God as to how I performed my
craft, I am not to be swayed by the majority, what Thomas Gold called the
"herd mentality", rather I am to call the shots as I see them, even if that
means that I stand alone. So far you have failed to give reasons that I can
see as convincing.
Yours, Karl W. Randolph.
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