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

Liz Fried lizfried at umich.edu
Thu Jul 3 14:35:41 EDT 2003

Dear Bryan,

> Dear Liz,
> Oh, you're a psychologist!  that explains it all!  ;-)
This made me laugh.
> I think explaining qetseph `al yisra'el as a writer's Freudian slip is
> unlikely due to its collocation with Elisha's prophecy, the fortuitous
> misinterpretation of the Moabites of the water, and the victories 
> of Israel
> in the field.
> If we can explain the text within the constraints of a Deuteronomistic
> ideolgy, we should.  It is not difficult, after all, to imagine 
> the narrator
> having a consistent perspective because of this little verse, is it?
> Much simpler than the Freudian interpretation is the "political" 
> explanation
> that I offered in my last post.  Again: Israel was simply 
> unwilling to force
> tribute from a king for whom paying tribute was so odious as to 
> precipitate
> the sacrifice his son and the heir to the throne. 
This may all be true.

 Israel remains noble
> rather than paganly money-grubbing. 
I don't think this is the mood the author is creating tho.

> The Deuteronomist narrator remains
> mentally and emotionally whole.  ;-)
This had me roaring!

I still think the simplest explanation is the plain reading of the text:
A "wrath" [from Chemosh] came upon them [because of the efficacy
of the sacrifice], and they left.
I tend to stick to the peshat and to the literal meaning of texts.

After all, a qetsaf is a theologically loaded term. 
It is sent out by gods. Every instance of the term in the Hebrew Bible
except once in Esther suggests a divine origin. What is interesting tho
is that in many places this qetzaf is the subject or there is no subject.
I.e., "there was a "wrath" upon," yehi qestaf al.
You almost get the feeling that "wraths" exist separately as divine beings,
separate from YHWH I mean, with an independent existence.
These tend to break out at liminal occasions, when people get too close
to the divine. 
It may be that "wrath" is the wrong translation. Perhaps it is just
a power, er Power.

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