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

CS Bartholomew jacksonpollock at earthlink.net
Mon Sep 15 16:24:05 EDT 2003

On 9/15/03 12:07 PM, "Peter Kirk" <peterkirk at qaya.org> wrote:

> On 15/09/2003 11:19, CS Bartholomew wrote:
>> ...
>> Robert Alter translates it as an active QAL, "We will see the LORD's
>> presence ... 
>> ...
> I wonder if the key issue here is not so much the form of the verb as
> the meaning of pene-YHWH. Of  course this is "literally" "the face of
> YHWH", but as everyone knows (certainly now, not so sure about Samuel's
> time) God doesn't have a literal face but only a metaphorical one. And
> it seems that in biblical Hebrew panim, when referring to YHWH and to
> important humans, tends to refer not so much to the physical face as to
> the presence. Thus to "see the face" of a king is to be admitted into
> his presence or his audience chamber. So similarly to "see the face" of
> YHWH may simply mean to come to the tabernacle, which is the place of
> his presence and his audience chamber. See BDB sense I 2b of panim and
> the list of references there, as well as sense II 2.


Yes, the idiom is a common one in the MT, but Alter only unpacks the idiom
about halfway in keeping with his translation philosophy which we have
already discussed.

My question isn't really about translation, however, my curiosity is
directed toward the question: what kind of evidence can be used to support
the vocalization of the MT at this point? Aside from ancient versions what
kind of evidence is there to support reading nr)h as a nifal or qal or qal

Also, the qal passive is an intriguing issue. What does it really solve to
call nr)h a qal passive in 1Sam 1:22.

Clay Bartholomew 

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