[b-hebrew] barak (bless? curse?) in the Book of Job

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Wed Jan 28 14:00:12 EST 2009


On Wed, Jan 28, 2009 at 10:29 AM, Harold Holmyard
<hholmyard3 at earthlink.net>wrote:

> John,
> > Thanks for all the answers, gang.
> >
> > What about the use of BRK in 1 Kings 21:10.  Parkhurst and others have
> argued that it means "bless" in this context, and that the blasphemy
> committed involved blessing false gods (elohim) and Molech.  Does this
> interpretation have any merit?
> >
> HH: As the text stands, with the Masoretic pointing, it is "blessed God
> and king." Since "blessed" is inappropriate, it is a scribal emendation
> for the same reason as in Job, to avoid the offensive idea of cursing
> God. Also, there is no mention of false gods in the context, so elohim
> should have its normal reference to the Lord. And since Molech is a
> false god, it would be redundant to say that Naboth blessed false gods
> and Molech. Since the critical apparatus offers nothing different for
> "king," the idea that the pointing should indicate Molech is based on
> speculation about a pre-Masoretic text.

Since you know and have acknowledged that the Masoretic points are sometimes
demonstrably wrong, you know you can't rule out readings other than those
based on the Masoretic points. According to the unpointed texts, Melek
(king) and Molek are both possibilities for MLK. So what could have
transpired is that Naboth was accused of syncretism, of worshipping both God
and Molek.

Another possibility I considered is that Ahab was a known idolater,
therefore Naboth could not bless both God and the king without the
"blessing" of one being understood as a curse to the other. In the same way
as some Americans are praying for Obama's failure to carry out his stated
goals because they are "evil", and his conversion to become a Christian (a

I hadn't thought of Molek as a possibility before (thanks, John) but it is a
way out of the difficulty this verse has had for me.

Harold, do you have any evidence for the scribal amendation other than your
presuppositions? I am very uncomfortable with changing the consonantal text
without very good reason. The best reason is textual evidence, such as that
of the Nahal Heber scrap on Psalm 22 that justifies two changes that better
fit the context. But without evidence, to claim that "curse" was changed to
"blessing" is pretty hard to swallow.

> Yours,
> Harold Holmyard
> >
> Karl W. Randolph.

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