[b-hebrew] Was Pharaoh "Touched" or "Plagued" by God at Genesis 12:17?

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Tue Aug 19 11:28:48 EDT 2008

Actually, Jim, you're ignoring the context. In Gen. 32:26 (not 25 in my 
Bible), the angel "vayyiga' " Jacob leg, in the qal, meaning simply "to 
touch". In Gen. 12:17, God "vaynaga' ", in the pi'el (I think), usually 
connoting a stronger action than in the qal. And then, the verse continues 
to state what God "touched" Pharaoh "and his house" with - "nega'im 
gedolim". So you have to look at the noun "Nega'". The most common usage of 
this word in the Bible by far specifically refers to leprosy. In other cases 
it clearly refers to some disease. It does not appear elsewhere in Genesis, 
but it Exodus 11:1 it also refers to something that God is about to bring 
down on Pharaoh and on Egypt - we soon find out that it refers to the death 
of the Egyptian firstborn.

So in my analysis, a "nega'" is (usually) a divinely-incurred disease, 
brought upon a specific person or persons in order to punish them or to warn 
them (remember, this is how leprosy was viewed as well, which is why it was 
"cured" by a priest and not by a doctor).

The word "nega'" is never paralleled by "magephah", which has a meaning 
closer to the English "plague", in that it kills indiscriminately.

An intersting insight, Jim, thank you.

Yigal Levin

----- Original Message ----- 
From: <JimStinehart at aol.com>
To: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Tuesday, August 19, 2008 5:45 PM
Subject: [b-hebrew] Was Pharaoh "Touched" or "Plagued" by God at Genesis 

> David Hamuel:
> You wrote:  “ Very touching.
> nun, gimel, ayin =
> 1. NEga' — plague; disaster; disease etc etc
> 2. naGA  —  touch; reach; touch upon etc etc
> 3. nigGA — defeat etc etc”
> How would you compare and contrast the use of the Hebrew verb NG( at 
> Genesis
> 12: 17 and at Genesis 32: 25?
> My argument is that in both cases, the meaning is that YHWH applies “a
> mysterious, harsh divine  t-o-u-c-h, that has great meaning”.
> As an expert in Hebrew grammar, your opinion of how to compare and 
> contrast
> the Hebrew verb NG( at Genesis 12: 17 and Genesis 32: 25 would be greatly
> appreciated.
> Do you think that the Hebrew author of the Patriarchal narratives wants us 
> to
> perceive YHWH as communicating with first Pharaoh and then Jacob in a
> somewhat comparable manner?  If not, then why did the author use the same 
> Hebrew
> verb, NG(, in both cases?
> Jim Stinehart
> Evanston, Illinois
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