[b-hebrew] Proverbs 16:27

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Mon Dec 10 08:36:22 EST 2007

Dear Karl,

There is no difference between the Massoretic dots and the consonantal text,
as far as questioning them.  Both come from the same source, both were
transmitted by the same people, and both were susceptible to similar
textual problems, and linguistic developments.  Maybe you believe for some
reason the "consonantal text" has a special status.  In that case, that is your
own belief.  The fact is that the accuracy of both must be evaluated
after a full understanding of what the text conveys in the current
form is achieved.

The spelling of KWR as KR stands out in the Bible, and in the DSS apparently
as well.  This may have been one reason why KR was not read as KWR but was
redivided with the following word HR(H as KRH R(H.  Nevertheless, we do have
some understanding of the development of spelling conventions, and it seems
that until the Persian period, long vowels were not always marked.  This
orthography may have even survived by some into the Persian period.  The
phonetic reconstruction of this word based on related cognates appears to be
*ku:r already in very early times so that the vocalization did not change even
until the Massoretic period.  Specifically, the -w- was not at any
time consonantal,
but rather served as a vocalization marker.  This means that a spelling KR is
consistent with the spelling conventions of this word until the Persian period.

The verse as it stands does not make a whole lot of sense.  Compared to the
imagery provoked by the interpretation of Kenneth, it definitely lacks
a lot.  Only
Kenneth's reconstruction of the verse restores the imagery and connection
between the two parts of the verse.  Thus evil burning like fire on
the lips of the
evil person does make the evil person himself seem like a furnace of evil.  We
thus have several considerations:
1) The restoration is based on orthographic conventions consistent with Persian
and earlier orthography.
2) The restoration provides a powerful image that connects the two parts of the
verse perfectly.
3) The current reading stands in stark contrast that it does not provide such a
clear image or reasoning of why the two parts are connected or what the burning
on the lips has to do with digging.

It should be considered unlikely that a chance repartitioning would
create such a
powerful image in the verse.  It is more reasonable that this powerful image was
there intentionally to begin with, and the current obscure connection between
the two parts of the verse is only a result of misunderstanding the proper verse

I have no idea what you mean about an adjectival noun in this case.  There is no
problem that I can see in the use of the definite article, nor is it
clear to me which
particular definite article you are contesting.

The reading of the verse, following Kenneth, is:

A man of wickedness is the furnace of evil;
  Which, on his lips, burns as fire.

Yitzhak Sapir

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