[b-hebrew] Isaiah 53: pierced?

UUC unikom at paco.net
Thu May 20 14:52:13 EDT 2004

Dear Harold,

>The verb XLL is an ayn-ayn root.
Not necessarily. hll can be either a whole root, or ayn-ayn root. The latter
designation applies if one letter is weak, and is dropped. ayn-ayn root
would make
mholal in pual.
The binyan poal, which you mention, is someone's (I think, Gesenius') error.
The form poal is actually gizra of the ayn-ayn roots, with few deviations.

Why I'm insisting on this technical issue? Because the root of meholal is
either ayn-ayn or another root with the same behavior, hol, which makes
meholal into shock or tremble. Consider:

Job26:13 his hand shock the wriggling serpent

Ps29:9 voice of God makes deer tremble and strips forests bare

Job26:5 refaim will tremble [in Sheol]

Prov26:10: like a master who shocks (or, possibly, empties) all, is the one
who hires a fool or a passer-by

Is51:9: are you not the one who... made the crocodile (pharaoh) tremble

This is my preferred translation of Is53:5:

but he is shocked because of our crimes, depressed because of our iniquities

However, if you prefer to derive meholal from hll, consider:

hll never means "pierced" (in the Christian sense "pierced with nails or
spear," right?). Killed (with sword) -
yes, but why "pierced?" Is there any clue which eluded me? Or is it yet
another pure conjecture?

Now let's turn to Meshech and Tubal in Ezek32. Why other tribes are hll, and
only these two are mhll? The difference is surely not incidental.
Unlike other enemies, Meshech and Tubal are predicted to lay dead in the
future tense.
Elam and Assyria are already in Sheol. Then it is stated that Egypt would be
there. Then - about Meshech and Tubal, thus also in future.
Ezek32:27: and they [Meshech and Tubal] won't lay with the mighty, [those
who] dropped from the [ranks of] uncircumcised
Ezek32:28: but you, among the uncirmcised you will be broken
Overall, Meshech and Tubal are not dead yet.
More significantly, every dead nation is said to be noflim beherev, while
M&T: meholal herev. Thus, if anything, meholal is akin to nofel, laid,
emptied - but different from killed.

Serpent in Job is not rahab, but nahash, which is not a monster. Isaiah was
a native Hebrew-speaker and knew nahash as a minor snake, not a monster. The
tempting nahash was not killed, as you know. Rahab is altogether another


Vadim Cherny

> >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
> >with hll.
> 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
> >dead, too?
> 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
> >was emptied.
> HH: Note that the contest in Job is mythological. The gliding serpent
> is another way to describe Rahab. And piercing is parallel to cutting
> to pieces:
> 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
> gliding serpent.
> >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
> you.
> Yours,
> Harold Holmyard
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