[b-hebrew] Attributes of YHWH

George F Somsel gfsomsel at juno.com
Fri Aug 12 10:04:32 EDT 2005

On Fri, 12 Aug 2005 05:41:28 -0700 (PDT) Gene Gardner
<g_gardner1234 at yahoo.com> writes:
Does the text cited say “face”, or
> is it an errant translation. 

>>In light of the above comments, I would like to
>>explore what the Hebrew text actually says in relation
>>to this verse:
>>Genesis 32 JPS 1917
>>31 And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: 'for
>>I have seen God face to face, and my life is

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.


I take it that you don't read Hebrew.  That's fine, but I'll need to try
to keep it as simple as possible

In this verse it states that Jacob named the crossing of the Jabbok
"Peniel."  This is the compound of the word PfNeH which is a hypothetical
form for the word which signifies the front or "face" with )"L signifying
God resulting in "the face of God."  The etymological rationale given is
that he has seen God PfNiM )eL_PfNiM, i.e. "face to face."  Thus, it
really does say that God has a face or front.  It also speaks in other
terms regarding God such as that He is angry, tired (for He rests), etc. 
Does this mean that this is the way God is or is it simply a metaphorical
manner of speaking?  Probably the latter for we are limited by our
experience and language so there is really no other way to speak of God. 
I would be hesitant to take any language which might describe God and
understand it literally -- Does God have feet and walk? -- such would
almost assuredly be to form an image of God which is prohibited (and very
rightly so since it would lock our conception of God into a certain form
which may be very incorrect).


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