[b-hebrew] labo' lepaney and Gen 6:13

Isaac Fried if at math.bu.edu
Tue Apr 24 22:32:04 EDT 2007


I would freely translate Genesis 6:13 thus: Then God said to Noax: I  
am contemplating (considering?) putting an end to all (KOL) life  
because the land is replete with their rapacity; here now I am going  
to destroy them (MA$XYITAM) all, completely (ET HA-AREC).

On the face of it, the rest is not very logical, however the net  
result is the astounding promise of permanence, stability and  
continuity given us in Genesis 8:21-22.

I admit that I am adding some literary padding of my own to this  
tersely recounted event. Verses 5-7 of chapter 6 make it clear that  
God truly regretted (VA-YI-NAXEM) having created life. Things got out  
of hand, so to speak, post creationally. The immense complexity of  
the intelligent, insatiable, self-sustaining, self-preserving life  
turned out to give it a dark and ugly shade. Life has some  
astoundingly positive manifestations, but there are plainly also some  
that are on the negative side. God had to bribe man with a sense of  
pleasure, but also give him pain, exacting thereby a steep price for  
being alive. God apparently did not "foresee" the, possibly  
nefarious, far reaching consequences of man's indispensable complex  
corporal-emotional setup. Admittedly, God gave him the  
counterbalancing gifts of love, justice and compassion, to act as  
restraining forces to the syndromes of rapacity and desire, but their  
check, we know, is not absolute. So God asks himself now "who needs  
life", and he wants to do away with it. It is all His initiative. Man  
does not have the wherewithal (nor the desire) to wipe himself out of  
existence. The fact of the matter is that man as a whole, with all  
his failings, is doing surprisingly well these days.

But it so happens that He can not do it---life is inevitable. By  
creating the physical conditions needed to support life, God,  
"unwittingly" and ab initio created life itself. Moreover, it is  
possible that man really represent the ultimate of all biological  
possibilities, and that God could not improve on him in the context  
of his own creation. Man was, after all, created in the ultimate  
shape and image.

BTW I find the here displayed range of meaning of the root $XT [T =  
TAV] interesting. In verse 12 HI$XYIT is 'spoiled', but right in the  
next verse it is 'destroy'.

Isaac Fried, Boston University

On Apr 23, 2007, at 11:27 AM, B. M. Rocine wrote:

> Hi Isaac,
> Do you realize that you did not send the post below to the b-hebrew  
> list?  Just thought I'd mention it since the "reply" system is a  
> little quirky.
> Let me press you for a little more precision.
> I see these as distinct:
> a  "starts to question"
> b  "learns now post factum"
> c  "seriously contemplating to put to an end"
> Does one of these correspond precisely to kets kol basar ba'  
> lepanay?  I think b.  Most modern Eng translations think c.
> Shalom,
> Bryan
> Isaac Fried wrote:
>> Bryan,
>> I think that BA LePANAY (as in Genesis 6:13), means just what it  
>> says: "appeared against my face", so as to be grasped by the  
>> senses: the eyes, the ears, the nose.  A thing can actually be  
>> seen by the "outer" eye, or it can be seen (imagined) by the  
>> "inner" eye (it can rise or appear before the inner eye).  
>> Apparently God starts here to question the wisdom and purpose of  
>> allowing life, that is inevitably beset, he learns now post  
>> factum, by the ill side-effects of pain, misery, cruelty and  
>> rapacity, and he is seriously contemplating to put an end to his  
>> previous grand experiment of Day Six. Yet Noax is a good man, and  
>> the beasts are innocent, and the fishes are dumb, and are anyway  
>> hiding deep inside the waters etc..
>> God has a problem there; life may be evil but creation consisting  
>> of just rocks and water is not very thrilling. He is actually  
>> confronted by an acute post-creation dilemma: to allow pain or do  
>> away with life.
>> Isaac Fried, Boston University
>> On Apr 20, 2007, at 11:44 AM, B. M. Rocine wrote:
>>> B-Haverim,
>>> Gen 6:13  kets kol basar ba' lepanay
>>> "an end of all flesh has come before me"
>>> Generally the idiom "labo' lepaney" refers to having an audience,  
>>> as with a king or YHWH.  Occasionally it refers to leading a  
>>> military force into battle.  Gen 6:13 is different in that it is  
>>> the only time the idiom has a thing rather than a person as  
>>> subject, specifically _kets kol basar_.
>>> So I take it to mean *the idea* of annihilation gained an  
>>> audience with YHWH, that is "came to his mind," right?
>>> I note that the cause of annihilation is not specified.  Might  
>>> the expression leave open the possibility that annihilation was  
>>> about to be caused by man's own violence (apart from the flood)?   
>>> In other words, there is a *possibility* that the clause quoted  
>>> above refers to YHWH's intuition that all life was about to end  
>>> as a result of man's violence.  Is that right?
>>> I think it's an interesting question because the supplicant who  
>>> gains audience before a great power typically does so as a means  
>>> of gaining salvation.  Perhaps the Hebrew gives greater voice  
>>> than our extant English translations to the idea that YHWH was  
>>> intervening in an emergency.
>>> Shalom,
>>> Bryan
>>> -- 
>>> B.M. Rocine
>>> Living Word Church
>>> 6101 Court St. Rd.
>>> Syracuse, NY 13206
>>> W:  (315) 437-6744
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> b-hebrew mailing list
>>> b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org <mailto:b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
>>> http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/b-hebrew
> -- 
> B.M. Rocine
> Living Word Church
> 6101 Court St. Rd.
> Syracuse, NY 13206
> W:  (315) 437-6744

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