[b-hebrew] 2Sam24:1 subjects

George F Somsel gfsomsel at juno.com
Wed Aug 10 11:21:05 EDT 2005

On Wed, 10 Aug 2005 15:45:17 +0100 "Read, James C"
<K0434995 at kingston.ac.uk> writes:
The text literally says that YHWH met him. But did YHWH actually walk
down the street and bump into Moses?
The LXX doesn't seem to think so and translates the text as his messenger
as does Acts. The larger context
of the story helps us to understand that it was a messenger and not Yah
himself because it is unthinkable that
after protecting Moses from his glory on Mount Sinai that he would so
casually appear in front of Moses with
his wife with no similar protective measures.
It is reasonable to assume that the angel is trying to kill Moses as the
family head but people would be equally justified in interpreting that
the angel was trying to kill the uncircumcised boy. How does Zipporah
realise that circumcising the boy will resolve the situation?

Zipporah cuts of the skin and it touches 'his' feet. There are four
possible interpretations here:
1) Yah was literally there and allowed the foreskin to touch his feet
2) Yah's messenger was there and Zipporah threw it to his feet as a
gesture of plea for appeasement
3) She threw at her husband's(Moses) feet in anger
4) After she cut off the skin it fell to her son's feet as it naturally

Personally, I like interpretation number 2 but I couldn't conclusively
prove it to be more right than the others.

'Consequently he let go of him'
Again, maybe yah himself is letting go of the child or Moses. Or maybe
Yah's messenger is doing it. Nothing is
100% certain but I like to think that Yah's Messenger is letting go of
Moses because I find it difficult to
accept that Yah would hold the child responsible for the circumcision.

Anyway, back to 2Sam24:1. Just as it justifiable to interpret Yah's angel
in the example above it is also
perfectly acceptable and more conducive to the context to interpret the
tempter as being a different subject
to YHWH who is the one who gets angry in the first clause. 

In regards to your preference to follow the LXX  in its rendition of this
as "the angel of the Lord", why do you do this?  I have seen nothing thus
far to indicate that you actually read Hebrew since this is not what is
stated in the MT.  There is no shame if you don't read Hebrew, but there
is shame if you don't read Hebrew but act as though you do.  

As regards the touching of the "feet" with the foreskin, it is entirely
possible that this is actually a reference to touching Moses' privates. 
Such euphemisms are not uncommon (see the book of Ruth where she uncovers
Boaz' "feet").

Why would Z know that the act of circumcision (and its symbolic
transference to Moses by touching his "feet" with the foreskin)?  We are
not told.  It would probably be a matter of "common knowledge" at the


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