[b-hebrew] Face of God, was: Attributes of YHWH

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Fri Aug 12 09:25:03 EDT 2005

On 12/08/2005 13:41, Gene Gardner wrote:

>... Does the text cited say “face”, or
>is it an errant translation. Do other texts say head
>or feet in the Hebrew, or are they errant as well.
>These are my questions, and they are based strictly on
>the Hebrew text and what it says. Maybe the title of
>the thread could be better, but my questions are based
>solely on language, and not religion.

Gene, you asked quite properly about texts which refer to the "face" of 
God. Well, there are surely hundreds of places in the Hebrew Bible which 
formally refer to the face, PANIM, of God. For LIPNEY and similar are 
used very regularly of bringing people, offerings etc into the presence 
of God, and LIPNEY is of course the construct state of L- + PANIM. But 
does that mean that the authors thought that God had a literal face, to 
which offerings etc were brought? Probably not. But then does Peniel 
"face of God" really mean any more than a place where offerings were 
brought LIPNEY God? Maybe not. However, distinguishing literal from 
metaphorical language here is potentially rather tricky - and is 
certainly a linguistic question.

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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