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

david.kimbrough at charter.net david.kimbrough at charter.net
Thu Jul 8 19:42:55 EDT 2004

This exchange raised a question me, why do you need to use 
a single word?  Obviously it would be neater and cleaner to 
do so but if there is no single word that has the same or 
even similar meaning, why not use more than one word, a 
phrase.  Maybe you can explain it a bit.

As an example, in Tagalog (a related language to Monobo I 
am guessing) there is a verb *naglilihi* which has not 
English equivalent.  It describes the symptoms of early 
pregnancy, strange food cravings, mood swings, morning 
sickness, etc.  It does not describe pregnancy per se 
(which is "buntis").  It would be impossible to translate 
the sentence "Naglilihi ako" with a single English verb, 
noun, or adjative.  It would require some significant 

> From: Peter Kirk <peterkirk at qaya.org>
> Date: 2004/07/08 Thu AM 09:28:14 GMT
> To: Brian & Laureen Powell <PowellBrian at omf.net>
> CC: b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
> Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] 'Prophesying' 1 Samuel 18:10
> On 07/07/2004 03:13, Brian & Laureen Powell wrote:
> > Dear Peter & Harold,
> > Thank you for your helpful comments, though it has to 
be said that I 
> > am still just as confused now as I was when I posted 
the question!
> >
> > There seem to be two different, though related, 
problems here.
> > First, is the question I originally raised as to the 
meaning of the 
> > word NB) in the Hithpael in this verse.
> > Secondly, we have the problem of 'an evil spirit from 
the Lord'.
> Sorry to complicate things! But there is no easy answer.
> >
> > In relation to the first problem, I am looking to find 
a word in 
> > Manobo (the Philippine language that I'm trying to 
translate into) 
> > that carries the idea of ecstatic speaking in the style 
of a prophet. 
> > At present I have not found a suitable word that really 
fits this 
> > idea. I will try to research if there is another word 
when I next 
> > return to the village where I can ask several language 
> > The words that I have as options so far are;
> > 'tagna' which means to prophesy with the basic idea of 
predicting an 
> > outcome.
> > 'tagna-tagna' which means to pretend to 'tagna', or to 
predict without 
> > any real certainty of the outcome being fulfilled.
> > 'babansagon' which means to shout / rage
> > 'pabailan' which means to act like a spirit priest
> > 'nangon-nangon' which means to give a discourse / 
> >
> > Any ideas of how I might use one of these?
> This is really a translation issue, and suitable for one 
of the 
> specialist Bible translation lists. My first impression 
would be not to 
> use babansagon or nangon-nangon. I would want to ask in 
more detail 
> exactly what pabailan refers to and whether it is 
necessarily something 
> evil - although I realise it might be rejected by 
churches at least 
> where "prophesying" seems to result from the activity of 
the Holy 
> Spirit. As for tagna-tagna, it might be possible (and 
would work well 
> for some of the references in later books e.g. Jer 
29:26,27) but I 
> wouldn't want to limit the activity to prediction of the 
> >
> > In relation to the second problem of 'RUAX RA`AH ME'ET 
YHWH' I am 
> > struggling with the concept of this (as have scholars 
> > generations). In the 'Bible Speaks Today' commentary on 
Samuel, Mary 
> > Evans sees this as a way of expressing 'episodes of 
bleak depression' 
> > which God sent to Saul, seeing God as the ultimate 
source of 
> > everything that comes into our lives whether good or 
bad. ...
> I am surprised at this from Mary Evans, but I see this 
'episodes of 
> bleak depression' explanation as a way of explaining the 
> within a modern (but not post-modern) western worldview. 
This was not 
> the worldview of the original Hebrew authors, who saw the 
activity of 
> spiritual beings, and it is not the worldview of the 
Manobo people who 
> have spirit priests. Imposing western non-biblical 
worldviews on your 
> target audience is not part of your job as a translator.
> > ... In Manobo, there is no generic word for a spirit. A 
person has a 
> > spirit or 'spiritual double' as it is described in some 
> > anthropological textbooks, which is what leaves the 
body when one 
> > dies, and is what is seen in dreams. There are also 
demons, and there 
> > is God's Spirit.
> > On the other hand, the seat of emotions in Manobo is 
the breath, where 
> > in English it is mostly seen as being the heart.  So, 
if one were to 
> > translate the idea of a depression sent by God to Saul 
into Manobo it 
> > would read something like 'a bad breath sent by God'. 
(Nothing to do 
> > with halitosis!)
> > So far in my translation I have been using such a 
phrase, with a 
> > footnote explaining that it could also be interpreted 
to mean  'a 
> > demon from God'. I don't know though whether this is a 
> > translation. I was influenced unduly perhaps by the 
similarity of 
> > 'RUAX' in Hebrew meaning both 'breath' and 'spirit' and 
the Manobo 
> > word which means both 'breath' and 'emotions'.
> > Any suggestions?
> This comes back to a Hebrew exegesis question, and a good 
one. Can RUAX 
> refer simply to human emotions? I think it must be at 
least broader than 
> just emotions, "the entire immaterial consciousness of 
man... the 
> principle of man's rational and immortal life... [it] 
possesses reason, 
> will and conscience" (J.B. Payne in TWOT, "man" obviously 
> inclusively). But when this is the sense, can it be said 
to come from 
> God, and can it be associated with prophecy? I don't 
think so, nor do 
> Payne or BDB who list 1 Sam 18:10 as referring to "a 
> angelic being" and "spirit of God" respectively.
> -- 
> Peter Kirk
> peter at qaya.org (personal)
> peterkirk at qaya.org (work)
> http://www.qaya.org/
> _______________________________________________
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David Kimbrough
San Gabriel

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