[b-hebrew] b-hebrew Digest, Vol 79, Issue 25

Stephen and Rebecca Shead srshead at gmail.com
Wed Jul 22 14:43:22 EDT 2009


I think Karl has a point. I just did a quick scan (nothing like exhaustive
or scientific), and it seems to me that the idiom Alter is describing ("turn
away from" someone) is pretty much always $WB M)XR (e.g. 1 Sam. 15:11), not
$WB )XR as in 1 Sam 15:31. That is, "turn away from" uses the combined
preposition M-)XR.

One of the few places where I came across a construction very similar to 1
Sam 15:31, with the simple preposition, is Ruth 1:15:

And she [Naomi] said, "See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people
and to her gods; return after [$WBY )XRY] your sister-in-law."

Clearly the idea is that Ruth should follow her sister-in-law, not turn away
from her and abandon her. In fact, the other construction -- with M)XR -- is
used in the very next verse with the meaning "turn back/away from", so the
contrast between the two constructions seems pretty clear in Ruth 1:15-16.

i.e. it the difference seems to be:
$WB )XR = turn to follow (someone)
$WB M)XR = turn away from following (someone) =
reject/abandon/leave/withdraw from someone

And although Saul is the only one who "bows down" in v.31, that was all he
was expecting (v.30). It's not an invitation for the both to worship;
Samuel's presence is required for Saul to worship.

Stephen Shead
Centro de Estudios Pastorales
Santiago, Chile

2009/7/22 <b-hebrew-request at lists.ibiblio.org>

> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> From: Jay Frank <jif95 at mac.com>
> To: b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
> Date: Wed, 22 Jul 2009 09:12:21 -0500
> Subject: [b-hebrew] And Samuel turned back after Saul: the meaning of 1
> Samuel 31
> In Robert Alter's "The David Story: A Translation with Commentary of 1 and
> 2 Samuel," Alter renders 1 Samuel 15:30-31 as follows ...
> 30. And Saul said, "I have offended. Now show me honor, pray, before the
> elders of my people and before Israel, and turn back with me, that I may bow
> to the Lord your God."
> 31. And Samuel turned back from Saul, and Saul bowed to the Lord.
> Alter then offers the following comment: "All English versions render this,
> erroneously, to indicate that Samuel nevertheless accompanied Saul to the
> sacrifice. But the expression 'turn back with,' as in verse 30, and 'turn
> back from [literally, after], are antonyms, the latter meaning unambiguously
> 'to abandon.' (It is precisely the latter idiom that we see in God's
> condemnation of Saul in verse 11.) Samuel is completing his rejection of
> Saul hre by refusing to accompany him in the cult, shaming him by forcing
> him to offer the sacrifice without the officiating of the man of God."
> [pg.93]
> While I very much enjoy Alter's work, I find it remarkable that all English
> translations would be in error. Thank you in advance for any light you might
> shed on the matter.
> L'shalom,
> Jay

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