[b-hebrew] Hb 1:13

Stephen Shead sshead.email at gmail.com
Wed Sep 21 13:18:48 EDT 2011

Hi Pere,

Actually, I'd say it is the other way around. The question is not whether
the wicked person is a little bit righteous, but rather: Can a righteous
person really be 100% totally righteous?

In other words, I think the text presents the R$( in absolute terms: this is
simply a wicked person, period. But the CDYQ is then presented in relative
terms, as "more righteous than he" (or "righteous in comparison with him" -
not much difference). Not necessarily "righteous" in absolute,
perfectionistic terms, but certainly compared with the R$( !!

That kind of variation between absolute and graded construals of polar
opposites is quite common in language (something D. Alan Cruse has explored
in his studies of lexical semantics). That's even the case for opposites
which are not easy to construe as graded properties; for example: "Is he
dead?" "No, he's very much alive!" (again, if I remember rightly, I think
the example is borrowed from Cruse...)

If you want to compare some other comparative ("more than") uses of
"righteous", you could look at:

- 1 Sam 24:18 (24:17 ETT)

- Jer 3:11 - a fascinating example, because neither of them is "righteous"!
yet one is (ironically) more righteous than the other, though using the verb
+ MN

- Job 4:17; 32:2 and 35:2 - much trickier, and in my view these have the
sense of "righteous before God".

Incidentally, following up on Bryant's reply, I agree that CDQ and related
have a very important ethical sense, but in my view, in the Hebrew Bible it
is not *only* conformity to a norm (that norm being YHWH's own character as
expressed in Torah), but it *also* has a relational/interpersonal aspect -
that of relating and behaving rightly toward the other. In the most
theological terms: God relates and acts towards his creation in a way that
conforms to the norm his own nature and character (as revealed in Torah),
and his people should do likewise.

Just my 2c worth.

Stephen Shead
Santiago, Chile.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
> From: Pere Porta <pporta7 at gmail.com>
> To: b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
> Date: Wed, 21 Sep 2011 06:48:12 +0200
> Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Hb 1:13
> Regarding Hb 1:13
> To center the question I paste the version NET for the last part of the
> verse:
> Why do you say nothing when the wicked devour those more righteous than
> they
> are?
> My first question is:
> Does it make sense saying that someone is "more righteous" than a wicked?
> Can someone wicked be (even) somewhat, a little righteous?
> Is the last part of the verse really comparing the righteousness of a
> righteous with the righteousness of a wicked?  Or....... it rather says
> something different?
> And another question (Karl Randolph, do you have, as a lexicographer, an
> answer to it?): what does here BL(  (devour) mean in our today language?
> What does it mean that a wiched "devours" a righteous?
> 1. That the wicked kills the righteous?
> 2. That the wicked in some way oppresses the righteous?
> 3. That the wicked steals from the righteous?
> 4. The precedent concepts taken together?
> 5. Anything else? (other possibilities)
> Pere Porta
> (Barcelona, Catalonia, Northeastern Spain)

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list