[b-hebrew] "Salt" Statue: Lot's Wife
JimStinehart at aol.com
JimStinehart at aol.com
Fri Oct 19 10:15:45 EDT 2007
As an expert in Biblical Hebrew, could you tell us whether the reference to
Lot's wife being turned into a "salt" statue at Genesis 19: 26 could possibly
be clever Hebrew wordplay, involving puns on the Hebrew words for "king",
"queen" and "messenger"/"message"?
In order to allow people who do not know Hebrew to follow my argument, (i) I
will refer to Strong's, and (ii) I will use my own way of transliterating
Hebrew letters into English letters.
1. Here are the possible puns. We are looking at Biblical Hebrew, before
any pointing was added.
(a) In Hebrew, "salt" is M-L-Kh. (Mem-lamed-het; Strong's #4417.)
(b) "King" is M-L-K. (Mem-lamed-kaf; Strong's #4428.)
(c) "Queen" is M-L-K-H. (Mem-lamed-kaf-he; Strong's #4436.)
(d) And "messenger" (which can sometimes in context mean "angel"), and by
slight extension "message", is M-L-a-K. (Mem-lamed-aleph-kaf; Strong's
#4397.) If we ignore the vowel-type sound aleph, "messenger"/"message" becomes
2. We can tell how the author of the Patriarchal narratives does puns by
looking at the multiple puns on the names of Jacob's 12 sons, and the puns on
the wells named by Isaac in chapter 26 of Genesis. Based on those models, in
punning in Biblical Hebrew (i) the true consonants must be either identical
or similar, but (ii) the vowel-type sounds, including aleph and ayin, do not
need to match at all.
3. Could a Hebrew in Biblical times, such as the author of the Patriarchal
narratives, see M-L-Kh (salt) as being a possible pun on M-L-K (king) and
M-L-K-H (queen) and M-L-K (messenger/message)?
4. One possible interpretation of the real reason why Lot's wife dies
during the destruction of Sodom, though not expressly so stated in the text, would
be as follows. Lot's wife bore Lot four daughters (the oldest two of whom
marry men of Sodom). Lot's wife then unrighteously refused to try to get
pregnant again, even though Lot had no son, on the selfish grounds that having a
fifth child might be prejudicial to her own health. For this unrighteous
behavior (which contrasts so sharply with the righteous behavior of Sarah, who
is buried with full honors at Hebron), Lot's wife does not escape the fiery
destruction of Sodom.
Instead of perishing in the same way as the other people of Sodom, however,
Lot's wife dies a special way. Lot's wife is turned into a "salt" statue. In
my controversial view, that unusual mode of death involves clever Hebrew
wordplay, and is a deliberate attempt by the author to portray Lot's wife as
being analogous to a famous historical queen. This queen (M-L-K-H) was in
effect turned into a statue (in that she was confined to her quarters and never
seen in public again, yet all her iconography remained intact) by her husband,
the king (M-L-K), in order to send a message (M-L-K) that the most
unrighteous thing a woman can do is to fail to try to bear her man a son. The fact
that the woman bears four daughters who grow to be teenagers is no excuse. In
the view of the author of the Patriarchal narratives, a woman must go on
trying to bear her husband a son, or else she deserves to be turned into a "salt"
(M-L-Kh) statue: a statue of a queen (M-L-K-H) created by a king (M-L-K) in
order to send a message (M-L-K) that the queen (M-L-K-H) had been unrighteous
in failing to continue trying to bear her husband, the king (M-L-K), a son,
after the queen (M-L-K-H) had borne the king (M-L-K) only daughters.
5. I am not asking you to agree to my overall theory of the case, which
admittedly is very controversial. Rather, I am only asking a Hebrew language
Is the foregoing a possible series of Hebrew puns at Genesis 19: 26,
constituting clever Hebrew wordplay in the Patriarchal narratives?
************************************** See what's new at http://www.aol.com
More information about the b-hebrew