[b-hebrew] qetseph in 2Ki 3:27

Yigal Levin Yigal-Levin at utc.edu
Tue Jul 1 14:52:28 EDT 2003

Since you folks seem to be more interested in the polemics of software than
in Bible (why don't we send each other good old parchments and leave Bill
Gates and friends without our support?), I'll try to address David's question:

The phrase "qetseph", which means "wrath" or "anger", especially God's, is
mentioned dozens of times, and mostly in connection with God's anger
against Israel, just like here. My trusty old PRINTED (gasp!) Mandelkern
concordance has about 2 columns full. Take a look at Num. 16:22, Dt. 9:19,
Isaiah 64:8, Zach. 1:2. It's also used for human anger, such as in Gen.
41:10 and Esther 2:21.

The problem here is in the story itself. The armies of Israel and Judah
(and Edom), accompanied by the prophet Elisha, attack Moab and are
successful. Then, the king of Moab sacrifices his son, and suddenly, a "big
wrath" comes upon Israel and forces them to retreat.
Huh? Is it Yahweh who answers the Moabite's (human!) sacrifice and pushes
back Israel? Why would he do so? Or is it the Moabite God Chemosh who
answers, and is successful against Israel? Also not likely, in a biblical
context. I remember looking into the story long ago, but I don't remember
the details. Traditional Jewish exegesis looks for a reason that God would
be angry with Israel (their disbelief in Elisha a view verses back). Modern
commentators usually assume a textual problem. i don't remember being
convinced by any explanation I saw.


Dr. Yigal Levin
Dept. of Philosophy and Religion
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
615 McCallie Avenue
Chattanooga TN 37403-2598

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