[b-hebrew] Ambiguous Reference

C. Stirling Bartholomew jacksonpollock at earthlink.net
Mon Oct 4 13:11:31 EDT 2004

On 10/4/04 5:12 AM, "Lira" <rosangelalira at terra.com.br> wrote:

> One ambiguous reference I was reading about the other day is in Genesis 14.
> Scholars have varied in opinion concerning the account of Abraham and
> Melchizedek. The Scripture merely states that "he gave him tithes of all."
> Some interpreted this to mean that Abraham gave tithes to Melchizedek, while
> others maintained that it was Melchizedek who gave tithes to Abraham. The
> author of Hebrews supplies Abraham as the subject, but the Hebrew text itself
> is ambiguous.


This is a good example. Abraham is the global VIP in the story. He has
recently been active as an agent. In the Melchizedek preicope, Melchizedek
is the agent from Gen 14:18-20a. So on the basis of most salient agent,
Melchizedek would be the logical choice as agent in 14:20b.

Gen. 14:18 wmlky-cdq mlK $lM hwcy) lxM wyyN whw) khN l)l (lywN
Gen. 14:19 wybrkhw wy)mr brwK )brM l)l (lywN qnh $myM w)rC
Gen. 14:20 wbrwK )l (lywN )$r-mgN cryK bydK wytN-lw m(&r mkl

However, the cognitive framework of priests, blessings and tithes points the
other direction. Do we have any record of a priest offering blessings and
giving a tithe to the same person? Also the division of the booty from the
battle is a salient topic. We have no evidence that Melchizedek had any of
this booty to give. But in the immediate context we see Abraham and the king
of Sodom engaged in discussion of how to divided the spoils of war.

So this is a case where the most salient agent is not referenced but no real
ambiguity exists. 

Thank you,
Clay Bartholomew 

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