[b-hebrew] Iron sharpeneth iron? (Prov. 27:17)

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Mon Jul 4 20:20:45 EDT 2005


On 04/07/2005 22:57, Karl Randolph wrote:

>Luke:
>
>I hate to throw water on you, but .....
>
>The form YXD יחד could come from the following roots: XDD חדד, XDH חדה, XWD חוד, YXD יחד, it is the context that helps us decide which one. All of these roots are expressed as verbs in Tanakh.
>  
>

(Note, Karl, that you cannot use this HTML notation for Hebrew 
characters in plain text e-mail. I don't know if you see any Hebrew 
characters above, but I don't.)

>YXD as a verb occures only twice (there is a third time listed in the concordance, but that is questionable) Genesis 49:6 and Isaiah 14:20. Both cases have grammatical constructs connected with the verb: in Genesis it mentions the locative sense (in their assembly) and in Isaiah the word “with”. Such a grammatical construct is lacking in both uses in Proverbs 27. While that is not proof against your friend’s understanding, it does weaken it.
>  
>

Karl, I don't know quite what you mean by "grammatical constructs" here. 
Not apparently what is usually called the construct state. In Genesis 
49:6 there is a sentence with a subject KBDY, no direct object, but a 
locative adverbial QHLM introduced with B-. In Isaiah 14:20 the 
construction is similar except that the second person subject is 
incorporated into the verb, the locative adverbial with B- is QBWRH, and 
there is an additional adverbial of accompaniment )TM "with them", hence 
"you will not be united to a grave with them". And in Proverbs 27:17 the 
construction is identical in the first half verse: subject BRZL, 
locative adverbial BRZL again with B-; in the second half verse the 
subject is )Y$, but B- is omitted before the locative adverbial PNY-R(HW 
is introduced, presumably for stylistic reasons and perhaps because the 
combination BPNY usually has connotations of hostility which are 
inappropriate here.

So I see no reason in the grammatical construction to rule out the verb 
YXD here. It is the Masoretic pointing which rules it out, as I pointed 
out before, for the verb YXD could not have patah in the first syllable 
(which is stressed), implying that this is not a verb at all but the 
adverb YAXAD "together". But oddly I cannot find a case of YAXAD, or the 
similar YAXDAW, with an adverbial meaning "together with".

>The second word in the Proverb, BBRZL can either be a locative use, or instrumental. Seeing as iron, unlike an assembly, is a solid, the locative use is pretty much ruled out, ...
>

This simply doesn't follow. It is quite possible to be joined or united 
with a solid - as has been suggested before, by magnetism or welding, or 
all kinds of other means of fixing two solid objects together.

>... leaving the instrumental. If the verb has the meaning of to join, where is the instrumental in the parallelism of the second half of the proverb? ...
>

Why does there have to be an instrumental? There is no instrumental in 
Genesis 49:6 or Isaiah 14:20.

>... An implied instrumental use is there if the meaning of sharpen is used. Again that weakens your friend’s understanding.
>
>The other two verbs don’t make any sense when used in this context.
>
>While I am being cautious not to claim that your friend’s understanding is ruled out, I find it weaker than when the verb to sharpen is used.
>  
>

Well, I tried to do a similar analysis for the meaning "sharpen", the 
verb XDD (or possibly XDH). If you are taking Proverbs 27:17 as Qal, the 
only other occurrence of the verb is in Habakkuk 1:8, and there is no 
instrumental adverbial there. The Hophal is found only at Ezekiel 
21:14,15,16, and again no instrumental adverbial. These are the only 
occurrences, except for the doubtful Proverbs 27:17. So your proposal 
that this is the verb in the Proverbs verse is by your own criteria 
seriously weakened (but not ruled out), because it is a unique 
construction of XDD (or XDH) with an explicit instrument.

Perhaps the root XWD makes sense here after all, for clearly this is a 
riddle!

-- 
Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)
http://www.qaya.org/



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