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חי ה'

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Chapter Summary

The most frequent biblical oath formula is the oath which is introduced by the word חי. An analogous oath formula is commonly found in Ancient Near Eastern literature. Ancient Egyptian oaths nearly always involve an oath sworn by the life of the ruling Pharaoh. Arabic oaths also employ a formula, "by X's life." The origin and precise meaning of the oath formula 'חי ה' remains something of an enigma. Biblical usage suggests that there is a distinction between the oath formula 'חי ה and the self-imprecatory כה יעשה formula. The oath formula חי ה' וחי נפשך may be introduced by the biblical narrative in order to convey a conscious expression of deference.

Keywords: חי ה; ancient Egyptian oaths; biblical narrative



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