[b-hebrew] 'Prophesying' 1 Samuel 18:10

Harold R. Holmyard III hholmyard at ont.com
Tue Jul 6 20:17:25 EDT 2004

Dear Peter,

>>HH: All that you wrote seems good to me. Yet if 
>>one is possessed by an evil spirit, he is not 
>>prophesying in the normal sense. So "rave" or 
>>"act like a prophet" might be the way to 
>>translate. I said that the Hithpael can 
>>suggest: "He may present himself as something 
>>either truthfully or not truthfully." 
>>Specifically Waltke and O'Connor said that one 
>>esteems or presents "oneself in a state, 
>>sometimes without regard to the question of 
>OK. But "act like a prophet" sounds like 
>deliberate deception on behalf of the "prophet", 
>but this is not necessarily true of later false 
>prophets and almost certainly not of Saul.

HH: The precise connotation of the Hithpael does 
not have to be the same in every context.

>  More likely they genuinely believed they were 
>passing on a message from a spirit, but in the 
>view of those who opposed them that spirit was 
>an evil or lying spirit and the message was not 
>from God - especially when that message was a 
>spear tip speeding towards David. But in the 
>Hebrew Bible even the lying spirits are from 
>God, see also 1 Kings 22:21-23.

HH: The circumstance with Saul was not 
necessarily characteristic for false prophets. 
The penalty for false
prophecy was death. They were culpable to the 
extreme. I feel confident that they knew they 
were doing
wrong. And "pretend to do something" is 
definitely one of the meanings possible with the 
Hithpael. That does not mean I was recommending 
it when I mentioned it but rather just stating 
the possibility.

HH: There is a sense in which a false prophet is 
prophesying. He is going through the motions. But 
in another sense he is not prophesying, since 
it's not the real thing, which comes from God.

>I don't like "rave" either because it implies 
>something about the physical manifestations 
>which we don't really know.

HH: BDB doesn't give "rave" as a gloss for NB) 
like the Dictionary of Classical Hebrew does, but 
it does indicate that NB) in the Hithpael can 
involve frenzy, excitement to violence, and an 
ecstatic state. Webster's Dictionary says that 
"rave" involves talking with extreme enthusiasm, 
moving or advancing violently, or uttering in 
madness or frenzy. Other ideas for rave include:

To speak or write with wild enthusiasm (American Heritage)

To talk in a noisy, excited, or declamatory manner (One Look)

HH: This last is quite broad and would probably 
include a situation of prophesying of almost any 

>This may fit 1 Samuel 18:10, and it may be a 
>suitable pejorative term for false prophecy, or 
>for true prophecy from a king who rejected it 
>e.g. Jer 29:26, but I don't think it can be used 
>more generally.

HH: Every translation of a word must look at the 
context of the particular usage.

>Indeed, reviewing the verses you gave earlier, 
>"rave" could be used properly only at 1 Samuel 
>18:10 and 1 Kings 18:29, but I wouldn't 
>recommend it in either place because it loses 
>the theological link. In Jer 29:26 "rave" might 
>be used for MESHUGGA` but not for MITNABBE'.

HH: I can see your reasoning. The HCSB translated 
with "rave" at 1 Sam 18:10. I was not involved 
with that book and did not make any final 
decisions of any sort on the translation. NET 
Bible uses "prophesying" at 1 Sam 18:10. The NLT 
has "rave." NIV has "prophesying." Amplified has 
"raved" and adds "madly" in brackets. ESV has 
"raved." CEV has "began acting like a crazy man." 
NRSV has "raved."

HH: David played the lyre to soothe the mental 
disturbance of the king, which amounted to mental 

KJV: 1Sam. 16:15 And Saul's servants said unto 
him, Behold now, an evil spirit from God 
troubleth thee.
1Sam. 16:16 Let our lord now command thy 
servants, which are before thee, to seek out a 
man, who is a cunning player on an harp: and it 
shall come to pass, when the evil spirit from God 
is upon thee, that he shall play with his hand, 
and thou shalt be well.

NIV: 1Sam. 16:14 ¶ Now the Spirit of the LORD had 
departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the 
LORD tormented him.
1Sam. 16:15 ¶ Saul's attendants said to him, 
"See, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you.
1Sam. 16:16 Let our lord command his servants 
here to search for someone who can play the harp. 
He will play when the evil spirit from God comes 
upon you, and you will feel better."

HH: I think that "rave" can used today of people 
claiming divine speech, if they manifest wildness 
or mental illness. So I don't find "rave" bad at 
1 Sam 18:10, and "prophesy" strikes me as a bit 
flat or odd. The reader knows that Saul has been 
possessed or harassed by an evil spirit. You 
might say that the whole situation was odd. 

				Harold Holmyard

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