[b-hebrew] Iron sharpeneth iron? (Prov. 27:17)
peterkirk at qaya.org
Wed Jun 29 18:48:42 EDT 2005
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 at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)
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