[b-hebrew] Proverbs 17:8

Harold R. Holmyard III hholmyard at ont.com
Mon May 17 16:13:57 EDT 2004

Dear Reinier and Chris and Liz,

>Many English translations render )EBEN-XEN as "charm" in the sense of a magic
>stone. I wonder why. It is true that XEN can mean "beauty, elegance" and
>therefore translating it with "precious stone" is acceptable. But "charm" in
>the sense of a magical object suddenly jumps into a totally different
>semantic domain. This is possible in English where "charm" has both meanings.
>But is it possible in biblical Hebrew? I wonder about that.

HH: But XN also has the sense of "favor," and a stone that gave favor 
would be a charm. An interesting point here relative to Liz's 
question about intensive plurals is that B(L ("owner") is often 
plural with a singular suffix in a singular meaning. This is the 
judgment of Brown-Driver-Briggs, which also finds an emphatic plural 
for the word which has the meaning of "great lord" or "sovereign 
owner." So it might be possible to translate here "its owner."

HH: Whether, as Chris asks, it is the stone or the owner that 
prospers, it is ultimately the owner. The grammar might favor it 
being the stone that succeeds, since "owner" is in the plural whereas 
the verb "succeeds" is in the singular. One would have to study usage 
of the word B(L in the plural with a singular meaning.

HH: But one has to ask how a gem succeeds wherever it turns. I think 
of a gem being beautiful, but not succeeding. A charm stone, however, 
might succeed wherever it turns (using a pagan analogy).

				Harold Holmyard

>Reinier de Blois
>>The question here centres on the word that is translated as 'gift' and
>>'bribe'; and also on the 'object' of the proverb either as 'the person'
>>who is the recipient of the 'gift/bribe' or the 'it' ie the gift/bribe
>>Personally speaking I favour 'gift' even though this word is often
>>translated as bribe elswhere, this is very much linked to the somewhat
>>esthetical sense of the word 'stone of grace' and its position in the
>>sentence?. Anyway please elucidate me with your grammatical intuitions.
>>I learn good things from these heated debates.
>HH: "Stone of grace" probably implies a jewel (NASB: "precious
>stone") or charm (NRSV: "magic stone"). The verses on either side of
>Prov 17:8, which may not be related to it, concern evil. The Hebrew
>word here, $+D ("gift/bribe"). almost always refers to something
>evil. There's not a completely unambiguous example of a positive
>meaning for the word in the OT, it seems to me. Also, the verse
>suggests a somewhat negative meaning for $+D because it apparently
>aims to bring success to the one who possesses it. A true gift is
>given for the joy that it will bring to the recipient, not for the
>success it will bring to the giver. So I would lean towards the bribe
>Harold Holmyard
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