[b-hebrew] Isaiah 53: pierced?
Harold R. Holmyard III
hholmyard at ont.com
Wed May 19 16:18:54 EDT 2004
>Just to be sure, let me clarify that I'm speaking of the semantic
>difference between mehulal and meholal (although I would suggest
>that meholal is not poal, but ayn-ayn root).
HH: The verb XLL is an ayn-ayn root. It can still be POAL. By the
way, the lexicons have no trouble with the idea of one verb having
both POAL and PUAL forms.
>For example, consider this instance:
>If Ezekiel's mehulal means the same as Isaiah's meholal, mhll in
>Ezekiel is not killed, because killed is denoted everywhere in Ez32
HH: That does not matter. XLL is an adjective and a verb. Ezekiel
elsewhere uses the adjective but with Ezek 32:36 he uses the verb in
a participle, which can be a verbal adjective.
> The difference is also evidenced by that mhll is employed only
>toward Meshech and Tubal, the only two tribes in the list, not
>described as smashed anywhere in Tanakh.
HH: XLL would indicate pierced, not smashed.
> That Ezekiel also did not consider them dead is clear from his
>continuation, with its sense, Shouldn't they have been among the
HH: They are among the dead. Everybody mentioned is in the pit.
>In Proverbs 26:10, the rendering of mhll as killed is wrong. The
>proverb compares someone who hires a criminal or passer-by with rav
>mhll kol. The correct sense of the latter phrase is not archer who
>kills everyone (which does not have immediate relation to the hire
>of passer-by), but master who empties all, presumably by foolish
>management. The correct translation, therefore, is Like a master who
>empties all is he who hires a criminal or passer-by, meaning that
>such employer would be emptied of his wealth.
HH: Proverbs 26:10 is recognized as a proverb difficult to
understand. There are many suggested interpretations. However,
"empties" does not suit the context well even by your interpretation.
A verb like "loses" might. And what verb are you taking it from to
get the idea of "empty"? The idea in the normal translation is that
an archer shooting passers-by would be exceedingly thoughtless and
hurtful. So somebody who hires fools is thoughtless and hurtful,
because the people he hires will bring harm to everyone around.
>And more complicated argument below:
>Isaiah's use is modeled upon Job 26:13, "His hand holelah the
>serpent." Serpent here is the traditional nahash, copper colored
>snake, the tempter, with no implication of the mythical monsters
>Tiamat or Leviathan. Is27:1 tells the same story in the same words,
>distinguishing nahash from the sea serpent. After successfully
>tempting Eve, the serpent was cursed, deprived of the covenant God
>gave to living beings. The serpent's life was made miserable, and he
HH: Note that the contest in Job is mythological. The gliding serpent
is another way to describe Rahab. And piercing is parallel to cutting
Job 26:12 By his power he churned up the sea; by his wisdom he cut
Rahab to pieces.
Job 26:13 By his breath the skies became fair; his hand pierced the
>Isaiah 51:9 "Are not you [the arm of God] the one cutting the
>monster [Egypt], meholelet the crocodile [pharaoh]?" The next verse
>clarifies the meaning by mentioning the passing through the Reed
>Sea. The Torah is explicit that Pharaoh did not die pursuing the
>Israelites. He was what could be described as emptied, losing his
>chariots: the cream of his army.
>(Cutting, incidentally, is incorrect, because the word has a
>positive, creative connotation, like cutting stone, but not
>destruction. The correct meaning is made the one who cut the stone
>[made the pyramids], showing that God can give power to the pharaoh
>and empty him of it.)
HH: The imagery is the same here in Isaiah as in Job 26. Again there
is Rahab, a sea monster, cutting to pieces (or striking), and
piercing. The verb XCB ("hew") can certainly speak of destructive
action. See the first verb in Hos 6:5:
Hos. 6:5 Therefore I cut you in pieces with my prophets, I killed you
with the words of my mouth; my judgments flashed like lightning upon
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