[b-hebrew] Human Sacrifice - Qal, Hiphil, Hophal

Karl Randolph kwrandolph at email.com
Mon Oct 24 21:15:31 EDT 2005


> So, this ol' dog ain't quite ready to give up his bone just
> yet.


Was that listing in the concordance for both verbal and 
noun constructs, or verbs only? I noticed that Lisowski 
counted 51 verbal uses, 29 noun uses, then there are 
another 9 noun uses that refer to some sort of fish 
catching apparatus (net? trap?).

We could go through each use of the word, but a few 
should be sufficient:

Exodus 22:19 it is forbidden to sacrifice to gods except to 
YHWH alone.

Leviticus 21:18 we are guessing as to its meaning, but the 
context is not one of destruction, just to some sort of mark 
or deformity.

Leviticus 27:21 refers to a field, which becomes the 
property of the priest, marked out and forbidden from 
other uses.

Leviticus 27:28 ff this refers to things well before standing 
at the altar, when there is still time to sell or exchange that 
which is XRM. This is one of the reasons I believe that 
XRM does not refer to the destruction itself, but to the 
designating of that which is to be destroyed.

Numbers 18:14 everything consecrated to the Lord, i.e. 
forbidden for other uses, goes to the priest.

And so forth.

While it appears at times that XRM refers to the actual 
destruction, e.g. 1 Samuel 15, even there it can be argued 
that the destruction follows the designating, the marking, 
that they should be destroyed, as the destruction is also 
mentioned separately.

I think it is clear that there is no single word in English that 
has the same meaning as XRM in Hebrew, but to say that 
it refers to destruction itself is contradicted by the above 

Another thing I think that needs to be recognized is the 
indirect speech that is common in Tanakh. We have all 
heard in English about when a person "assumes room 
temperature" which only happens when one is dead, 
hence "to assume room temperature" means "to die". Job 
and Jeremiah especially have a lot of indirect speech, 
that's what makes those books somewhat challenging to 
read. That's what I notice in 1 Samuel 15 is that the 
context already mentions that all of Amelek is to be 
destroyed, with the command that all are designated to 
that fate, thus some of the verses merely mention "they are 
designated" with the context finishing the sentence. But a 
translator into English often has to make explicit what is 
implicit in Hebrew, just to make it clear. So for example, 
verse 8 "they designated all the people to the bite (mouth) 
of the sword" but in verse 9 the prime of the flocks "were 
not so designated" while lesser animals "were so 
designated." Can you imagine how confusing a literal 
translation of these verses would sound in English? 
Hence a translator's dictionary will give glosses that are 
aids to translations, not what the words mean in their 
original uses. Your friend's concordance sounds like a 
translator's dictionary.

When I look at the span of meaning for XRM (other than 
for the fish catching apparatus) there is the concept of 
marking, such as to forbid other uses, with derivative 
meanings of designation, consecration and banning.

Karl W. Randolph.

----- Original Message -----
From: tladatsi at charter.net
> My posting was based on a concordance some fellow had
> prepared.  It included a list how the root XRM was used in
> the OT. He had two main definitions with some sub-
> definitions with different stems.  I included some examples
> of those that I could find.
> 1) to ban, devote, destroy utterly, completely destroy,
> dedicate for destruction, exterminate
> a) (Hiphil)
> 1) to prohibit (for common use), ban (1 Sam 15:9)
> 2) to consecrate, devote, dedicate for destruction (Mic
> 4:13)
> 3) to exterminate, completely destroy (Num 21:2 ? 3)
> b) (Hophal)
> 1) to be put under the ban, be devoted to destruction (Lev
> 27:28)
> 2) to be devoted, be forfeited (Ez 10:8)
> 3) to be completely destroyed (Ex 20:22)
> 2) to split, slit, mutilate (a part of the body)
> a) (Qal) to mutilate (Lev 21:18)
> b) (Hiphil) to divide
> There are 52 instances in the OT where XRM is the root of a
> word.  Here is how two other groups of translators put
> those words into English.
> King James Version - accursed, 1; consecrate, 1; destroy,
> 34; devote, 2; flat nose, 1; forfeited, 1; slay, 1;
> utterly, 10; utterly to make away, 1;
> New American Standard - annihilate, 1; covet, 1; destroy
> them utterly, 1; destroy utterly, 1; destroyed them
> utterly, 1; destroying, 1; destroying them completely, 2;
> destruction, 2; devote, 2; disfigured, 1; forfeited, 1; set
> apart, 1; sets apart, 1; utterly destroy, 11; utterly
> destroyed, 22; utterly destroying, 3;
> Almost all of the destroyed and utterly destroyed words are
> either hiphil or hophal.  If the qal is to mutilate (as in
> Lev 21:18) then the hiphil could be caused mutilation and
> hophal could be caused to be mutilated - both of which
> would be an adequate description of a sacrifed animal - or
> a slaughtered civilian.
> So, this ol' dog ain't quite ready to give up his bone just
> yet.
> Jack Tladatsi

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