[b-hebrew] Vocalization of wnr)h 1Sam 1:22

Karl Randolph kwrandolph at email.com
Mon Sep 15 13:32:32 EDT 2003

Dear Clay Bartholomew:

Upon further reflection, it appears that the verb in the phrase “to see the face of YHWH” is in Qal form, not Niphal. Here is where we need to separate how the word is used in Hebrew from how to translate it into another language.

For example, Exodus 34:24 and Deut. 31:11 is a Qal infinitive in reading an unpointed text. Examples of the Niphal infinitive include Judges 13:21, 1 Sam. 3:21, 2 Sam. 17:17 and 1 Kings 18:2. It is noticeably different.

Did the people actually expect to see YHWH’s face? I don’t think so. It has the meaning that they went to God’s temple to worship. It appears to be an idiomatic phrase with no equivalent in any other language I know.

As for translation, I would render it as “to appear before” which has a passive meaning. But that does not mean that in the original language it is passive.

Karl W. Randolph.

----- Original Message -----
From: CS Bartholomew <jacksonpollock at earthlink.net>

> Karl,
> Note the following places where r)h is followed by )t pny yhwh
> Ex. 34:24 
> Deut. 16:16 
> Deut. 31:11 
> 1Sam. 1:22 
> Do you see r)h as a qal here? No, they are all nifal. I could not find any
> examples of r)h in qal followed by pny yhwh.
> Also note that the Vulgate supports the MT:
> 1Sam. 1:22 ... et appareat ante conspectum Domini et maneat ibi iugiter
> The vulgate uses the active form appareat to render the niphal r)h where the
> LXX uses the passive ophthesetai. Both render the sense of the MT but of
> course the MT didn't exist so we can push the date of this "reading" back a
> long time before the MT. Robert Alter seems to imply that the MT
> vocalization can be set aside here because the MT is late. But the reading
> in question isn't late.
> greetings,
> Clay Bartholomew 
> On 9/12/03 3:38 PM, "Karl Randolph" <kwrandolph at email.com> wrote:
> > When I read the passage in an unpointed text, I read it as a qal impf. first
> > plural. The context is that Hannah is planning not to go alone, but that she
> > will bring Samuel with her, so we are dealing with a plural of people. The
> > first word after WNR)H is )T indicating the accusative, so where is the
> > subject of the verb if it is not Hannah and Samuel?
> > 
> > Changing it to a niphal form seems somewhat contrived, and in the end it
> > doesn’t get around the anthropomorphism. This is reading )T as meaning “with”.
> > 
> > Verses 1:15 and 2:18 also have the same problem with anthropomorphism as 1:22,
> > but they provide extra contextual clues.
> > 
> > Karl W. Randolph.
> > 
> > ----- Original Message -----
> > From: CS Bartholomew <jacksonpollock at earthlink.net>
> > 
> >> Robert Alter (David Story, p.7) suggests that wnr)h in 1Sam 1:22 was
> >> originally vocalized as a qal impf. first plural and later changed to a
> >> niph. perf. third sing. to avoid an apparent anthropomorphism.
> >> 
> >> What sort of evidence, specific to this passage, is there to support Alter
> >> on this? Rahlfs' LXX supports the MT with a indicative future passive
> >> singular ophthesetai. Are there other sources that suggest a change of
> >> vocalization in the MT here?
> >> 
> >> 
> >> greetings,
> >> Clay Bartholomew
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