[b-hebrew] 1 Sam 5:6 ; devastation

CS Bartholomew jacksonpollock at earthlink.net
Mon Apr 26 05:03:21 EDT 2004

On 4/25/04 11:18 PM, "Brian & Laureen Powell" <PowellBrian at omf.net> wrote:

> I'm currently translating 1 Samuel into one of the minority languages of
> the Philippines and have reached the above verse.
> I am wondering if the word translated in the NIV as 'devastation',
> shamem in the Hebrew, refers to a destruction of crops (which would be
> quite likely if there were a plague of rats which is mentioned in
> chapter 6) or whether this is some other form of destruction, such as
> death by plague.
> I should be grateful if anyone could shed some light on the meaning of
> this word.

Brian & Laureen,

The notion of a plague brought by mice is an addition of the LXX (also
Josephus). Robert Alter (David Story, p.28) notes that the Philistines
complain that they are dying and this suggests a lethal plague not
"hemroids" which are not a plague and not lethal. Alter notes Rashi's
reading  that this was bubonic plauge spread by rats. This seems to be a
logical deduction from the exetended context more than a philological

Not sure you will solve this one with by focusing on #MM (shamem) which has
a wide semantic range. Someone else will certainly fill you in on the
philological issues.

Clay Bartholomew 

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