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

Ben and Jo Crick ben.crick at argonet.co.uk
Thu Jul 3 06:33:54 EDT 2003

 I posted this to b-hebrew on Wed 2 Jul 2003 (12:15:22 +0100), but it seems
 to have gotten lost in cyberspace: so here's a re-post.

On Wed  2 Jul 2003 (10:09:42 +0100), david_gray at sil.org wrote:
> Thank you for your helpful answer. Do you think qetseph can ever mean
> 'fear' - as some have suggested that a fear fell upon Israel as a
> result of seeing this terrible human sacrifice.

 The English Versions differ in their rendition of this verse, so you could
 be right. The root QCP normally means to be angry with ('eL or `aL); and the
 Aramaic cognate Q:CaP means "was angry"; so it seems to me that the anger of
 the Moabites against (`aL) Israel was raised to fever pitch by their forced
 sacrifice of their heir-apparent to Chemosh on the town wall in full view of
 both armies.

 JJ Bimson writes
 "Joram and his allies defeated the Moabites, fulfilling Elisha's prophecy.
 However, when the king of Moab sacrificed his firstborn son on the wall of Kir
 Hareseth (27) the Israelites withdrew and did not pursue their victory. The
 exact reason for Israel's withdrawal is not clear from the text. Was there
 fury against Israel among the Moabites because their king had been forced by
 desperation to do such a dreadful thing?  In other words, did the sacrifice
 renew the Moabites' determination to fight?  Or did the fury (or possibly
 'strife') come 'upon Israel' (RSV)? That is, were the Israelite troops so
 overwhelmed (with horror or superstitious dread) at the sight of a human
 sacrifice that they renounced the whole venture?  Either interpretation is
 possible. The final outcome of the campaign is left in doubt; if Israel
 withdrew, did Moab remain free?  The Moabite Stone celebrates a successful
 rebellion, but that does not settle the present issue as it could have been
 inscribed before Joram's campaign took place." (New Bible Commentary, ad loc)

 It is still not clear why Joram withdrew from Moab, "snatching defeat from
 the jaws of victory" as some would say. Maybe the Israelites thought that
 the death of the heir apparent was sufficient victory, and called it a day.

 Jerome translates in the Vulgate:
 27 arripiensque filium suum primogenitum qui regnaturus erat pro eo obtulit
 holocaustum super murum et facta est indignatio magna in Israhel statimque
 recesserunt ab eo et reversi sunt in terram suam.
 (IV Regum 3:27 Biblia Sacra Vulgata)

 so he thinks that the abhorrence of Israel at the human sacrifice perpetrated
 in their full view caused the Israelites to withdraw in disgust.

 Kings Ahaz and Manasseh of Israel later turned themselves to the worship of
 the "abomination of the Moabites", causing their sons to pass through the fire
 (obtulit holocaustum) to Molech (2 Kings 16:3; 17:17). This caused YHWH to put
 an end to the Ten Tribes (2 Kings 17:18). So did this sacrifice of the
 heir-apparent win the spiritual battle, and turn the Ten Tribes of Israel to
 the worship of Chemosh/Molech?

 Ben (only asking questions) 
 Revd Ben Crick BA CF, and Mrs Joanna (Goodwin) Crick
 <ben.crick at argonet.co.uk>
 232 Canterbury Road, Birchington, Kent, CT7 9TD (UK)

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