Iron and Bronze. The tribe of Dan

Ian Hutchesson mc2499 at
Tue Sep 17 08:56:39 EDT 2002

David Stabnow comments on my statement:

>If we look at BDB's range of meaning for k-, they
>list three basic categories, of which the second
>involves repetition of the k- and the third involves
>the k- preceding an infinitve, so we can happily
>rule them out and look only at the first category.
>1.a. deals with number estimation (so is scratched).
>1.b. deals with likenesses...
>1.c. basically "according to" (so is scratched).
>1.d. "kaph veritatis", translation into something else

>DKS: As you have correctly pointed out, we should not base arguments on
>nuances of the English that are not part of the meaning of the original
>Hebrew.  Thus taking "as a tribe of Israel" to mean "functioning in it
>position as a tribe of Israel" would be erroneous if in fact the nuance of
>the Hebrew behind the English "as" is comparison or likeness rather than
>identity.  You are also correct that likeness is one of the most frequent
>meanings of k-, statistically.

Thanks for your post, Dave S. The acknowledgement of 
likeness as one of the most frequent meanings of k- I 
think is a very important point. In fact, I think it 
is the only fundamental significance. With numbers 
the writer is making a comparison: it's like fifty, 
to say that the person couldn't or wouldn't give an 
exact number. "According to" gives a model from which 
to construct the result -- which is very similar to 
1.d. above. BDB were attempting a description of the 
language as they could observe it. 

>However, I think you too quickly dismiss "according to."  Perhaps you
>dismiss it because of the meaning of "according to" in English, rather than
>because of the nuance in Hebrew that stands behind it.  It is a nuance that
>is difficult to express in English.  Williams (Hebrew Syntax, paragraph
>259) calls this nuance "Norm, meaning 'in accordance with'."  BDB says,
>"expressing conformity to a standard or rule."

I considered that the object 'xd $b+y y$r'l is an 
extremely unlikely one for that described in 1.c. 

There is no doubt in the examples they give as to 
the significance they extract:

1.  according to my heart, k-lby, Jer 3:15
    ie do something as indicated by my desire

2.  according to our likeness, k-dmwtnw, Gen 1:26
    ie God made humans based on his image

3.  according to what was established, k-m$p+, Jos 6:16
    ie the same way (they went around Jericho)

4.  according to the book, k-ktwb, Jos 8:31
    ie as indicated. Etc.

The standard or model is transparent in each case. As 
no-one else seems to have considered the interpretation 
you give here, I can only conclude that such an idea is 
definitely not transparent, so we are left wondering 
how one could come to understand the text as you have 
proposed, important speculation, because a language 
attempts to signal meaning and I see no signal here for 
the meaning you have proposed. I therefore consider that 
the argument for Dan judging "accordance with the norms 
of judgment applied by one of the tribes of Israel" is 
out on a limb, though you have made a logical case for 
arriving here.

>Thus linguistically one could argue that the meaning is, Dan will judge his
>people in accordance with the norms of judgment applied by one of the
>tribes of Israel.  That is, prophetically speaking, Dan will judge
>according to the Torah.  

However, with this last "prophetic" idea, I think the 
argument has taken a leap off the limb, ie there is no 
logical way to extract such a meaning from the text as 
is, so I can only take "prophetically speaking" as an 
indication of eisegesis.

>This does not state explicitly one way or the
>other whether Dan is a tribe.  

If such an interpretation of k- were valid here, one 
would have to conclude differently, I think. In each of 
the examples cited above there is no direct relationship 
between the topic and the object of k-, ie Dan would not 
be a tribe of Israel.


>However, that Dan is included in this
>chapter among other sons of Jacob, I would say implies that the writer
>considered him one.

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