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The Intentional Use of Polysemy: A Case Study of דבר סתר (Judg 3:19)

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Chapter Summary

This chapter addresses symptomatic approach by analyzing the mechanisms of polysemy in the text on the one hand and its effect on the interpreter on the other hand. It argues that the ambiguity became an interpreter's tool that generates many, even opposite readings. It is in the context of the story that the double polysemy becomes interesting for interpretation and that it proves its true functionality. On a metaphorical level, the confrontation between Ehud and Eglon represents an Israelite-Moabite conflict. The three approaches discussed in the chapter illustrate that a negative assessment of Ehud's language, which naturally evokes a negative evaluation of the character, asks for an adapted interpretation in order to prevent a moral rejection of the same character by the audience. The ambiguity in Ehud's story has a double role to play. It serves both the characters in the story and the interpreters outside the narrative world.

Keywords: Eglon; Ehud's language; Hebrew; polysemy

10.1163/9789004258563_008
/content/books/b9789004258563_008
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