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Rereading Samuel’s Silence in 1 Samuel 7:8

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image of Vetus Testamentum

1 Samuel 7:8 records a request made by the people of Israel to Samuel, asking him to pray to God for them. Although the aim of their request is made clear from the context, some aspects of the Hebrew syntax and word meanings do not easily fit the contextually understood meaning and are therefore often disregarded in the process of translation. The Hiphil verb חרשׁ, for example, which normally means ‘be silent’, is often translated as ‘cease’ and sometimes as ‘be deaf’. In addition, the preposition מן, ‘from’, is often translated as ‘for’ and is understood to indicate the beneficiary of the verb it precedes rather than function as the prepositional object of the verb it follows, as would be expected. I suggest that a very simple adjustment to the interpretation of this preposition may allow for a more straightforward reading and translation of the verse.

Affiliations: 1: University of Oxford


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