[b-hebrew] Iron sharpeneth iron? (Prov. 27:17)
biblical.languages at gmail.com
Fri Jul 1 07:53:15 EDT 2005
Thankyou for your replies, Karl, Bryan and Peter,
It's exciting to hear that "iron in iron is united and a man is united
to faces of his friend" could be a possible translation of Prov. 27:17
(especially because it was one of my friends who suggested it - I
didn't know he was quite so good at Hebrew!).
You gave the following readings yourselves: -
"iron with iron is welded; [likewise,] a man is inseperable from his
friend" and also " ... this makes sense if we consider the force of
magnetism, which indeed unites pieces of iron in a way comparable to
These are very similar to what was given in the study (or the gist is
the same, anyway): the exposition in the study from the expression
"iron in iron is united and a man is united to faces of his friend"
was actually to do with metal joints, I think, used in the constrution
of Solomon's temple (because this is one of Solomon's proverbs -
25:1): cp. 1 Chron. 29:2 and 1 Chron. 22:3 - the iron here was used to
make joinings, which would've involved iron being welded or hammered
together (kind of like rivets, maybe), and has got the idea of holding
things strongly together.
If you are interested, here is what was written in the study as an
expositional point from "iron in iron is united and a man is united to
faces of his friend" (it's the conclusion of a longer passage, and the
majority of the study so far, so might not make too much sense out of
it's context: -
Proverbs 27:17 places "and a man is united to faces of his friend"
alongside "iron in iron is united". This placement highlights a
similitude between the two expressions; the manifestation meaning of
"iron in iron" is carried into "a man is united to faces of his
friend". So Yahweh, his Christ and the men who are his antitype are
united with the bride and the women in the ecclesias; there is unity
because the similitude of the bridegroom is seen in the bride; the
unity is like the closeness of Jerusalem compacted together [Ps.
The general idea is that God and his people, Christ and the ecclesia,
and, in symbol of this, husband and wife, become one, strongly united
as iron stuck in iron would be, manifesting God's character.
On 29/06/05, Peter Kirk <peterkirk at qaya.org> wrote:
> On 29/06/2005 21:18, B. M. Rocine wrote:
> >Hi Luke, you wrote:
> >>The Hebrew sentence in question, without the vowels, is as follows: -
> >>brzl bbrzl yhd w'yš yhd pny r'hw
> >>The dispute is over the vowel points in Hebrew word that's translated
> >>traditionally as 'sharpens', or possibly as 'united'. Without the
> >>vowel points the Hebrew word is ' yhd ', I think (sorry if that's
> >>not how the MCW puts it).
> >Actually, I don't see what vowels have to do with it. Even with the vowels
> >as in the BHS, the word is ambiguous, meaning "together" or "it (he)
> A closer look shows that there is no ambiguity in BHS. The vowels of the
> first occurrence are ambiguous, but the accent, on the first syllable of
> YAXAD, in both cases implies the adverb (originally a noun) "together",
> with a retracted "segholate" accent, rather than a verb, which would
> always be stressed on the last syllable. Also the second occurrence is
> vocalised with two patahs, which implies the adverb, rather than with
> qamats and patah as for the verb. The first occurrence has qamets and
> patah because the stressed patah has changed to qamets "in pause" i.e.
> on the major sentence accent, by a regular rule. So the Masoretic text
> unambiguously rules out a verb form here, and strongly suggests the
> adverb "together". And this makes sense if we consider the force of
> magnetism, which indeed unites pieces of iron in a way comparable to
> close friendship - a rather more appropriate image than welding, in my
> On the other hand, the LXX OXUNEI and PAROXUNEI "sharpens" suggests a
> reading as a verb form. But this could well be one of the many places
> where the LXX translators misunderstood the Hebrew.
> Peter Kirk
> peter at qaya.org (personal)
> peterkirk at qaya.org (work)
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