[b-hebrew] watered ground & forming dust

Gerry Folbre gfolbreiii at gmail.com
Tue Nov 10 13:37:12 EST 2009

K Randolph:

With all due respect, Karl, how do you know with any certainty the thinking
the original author used when composing these lines?

The original author may have been composing a creation narrative unlike any
other throughout the ancient Near & Middle East.  The author may have been
striving to insure that the Deity would not be anthropomorphized—thus,
עפר{dry, loose dust} is a natural substance of the earth that does not
itself to being formed by human or human-like hands.

As to your second point:  Gen. 2:7 specifically states, עפר מן־האדמה {dust
from the ground}.  This context tends to weed out the idea of “dried mortar
or dried plaster” of a human dwelling (Lev. 14).  The “dust” that was
consumed by the Deity’s fire was “dry” because of the Deity’s fire; all the
water had been consumed.  Consequently, עפר מן־האדמה {dry, loose, dust from
the ground} is only used to describe “dry, loose dirt”.  When this dirt
becomes wet, the Hebrews called that “wet dirt” by a completely different

I look forward to your response.

Gerry Folbre

On Tue, Nov 10, 2009 at 10:08 AM, K Randolph <kwrandolph at gmail.com> wrote:

> Gerry:
> There are two areas where I think you have it wrong.
> First of all, I agree with Yigal that you apply a different way of thinking
> to the text than what the original author used, and as such you
> misunderstand the text.
> Secondly, the use of the word עפר is not limited to dry, loose dust. It is
> used in Leviticus 14 to refer to the dried, hard mud that was (and in some
> places still) used as mortar between stones in construction. In 1 Kings
> 18:38 for dirt that had just been soaked with water. Many times it is used
> synonymous with “dirt” that could be either wet or dry, most likely damp.
> Its use in Genesis 2 therefore can refer to damp soil that can be formed,
> just not burned and made into pottery as can clay.
> Karl W. Randolph.
> On Mon, Nov 9, 2009 at 9:23 PM, Gerry Folbre <gfolbreiii at gmail.com> wrote:
> > In Gen. 2:7 the author could have used the feminine noun terminology
> > מן־האדמה {from the ground}, as used in Gen. 2:19 and there would be no
> > contextual anomaly.  But that terminology was not used in Gen. 2:7.  Or,
> in
> > Gen. 2:7 the author could have used the masculine noun חמר {clay} and
> again
> > there would be no contextual anomaly. In stead, however, the author
> > specifically used the masculine noun עפר {dry, loose earth} thus creating
> > the contextual anomaly.
> >
> >
> >
> > Did the author intend to create this anomaly?  And, if the author did
> > intentionally create this anomaly; why?
> >
> >
> >
> > Gerry Folbre
> >
> >
> >
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