[b-hebrew] 2 Kings 18:16 - Pillars??

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Thu Mar 31 16:00:06 EST 2005

On 31/03/2005 19:57, Jim West wrote:

>> 2 Kings 18:16  --  Pillars, doorpost (in Niv)
>> Since this word carries with it the concept of support (as well as 
>> being the
>> root behind trust and faithfulness) I was wondering if there might be an
>> explanation as to why the writer has employed this word instead of 
>> the more
>> frequent word that is used for pillar.  It is the ONLY occurence in the
>> scripture.  Any suggestions please?
> Variety of presentation.  When good writers write, they don't use the 
> same words over and over again, they make use of a variety of words.  
> Surely the Deuteronomist had at hand any number of words in his 
> vocabulary but to vary the presentation he coined his own.  The 
> context makes it's meaning clear enough.
Not necessarily. The word as written may well be a participle of 'MN 
"support", and so would suggest something like "supports", rather than 
"doorposts" which support only doors. But there are many other concepts 
which could fit the context. The BHS margin notes a Latin version 
"clypeos", meaning "shields"; the suggestion there is that this is a 
textual error for MAGINNOT - not the French defensive line, but the 
Hebrew equivalent, "shields" - but quite possible 'OMEN could mean 
"shield", as an extension of "what is relied upon". And from 1 Kings 
14:26-28 we have evidence of gold shields associated with royalty and 
the temple - replaced with bronze by Rehoboam, but it is quite plausible 
that Hezekiah had restored gold or at least gold-plated shields.

There was no reason for the author to avoid the normal words for 
"pillar" for variety, as the normal words are not used in the nearby 
context. Of course the same applies to the normal words for "shield". 
But the fact remains that we have a word whose meaning can only be 
guessed at, and the context gives us no good reason to prefer "pillar", 
"doorpost", "shield", or perhaps other suggestions.

LXX, by the way, translates with a passive participle, "strengthened 
things", although in Hebrew the participle is passive.

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

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