Wednesday, April 04, 2018


What Was Isaac Doing in the Field at Eventide?

Genesis 24.63 (KJV):
And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide: and he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, the camels were coming.
Gregory Vall, "What Was Isaac Doing in the Field (Genesis XXIV 63)?," Vetus Testamentum 44.4 (October, 1994) 513–523 (at 515, with notes on 515-516):
(8) Building on R. Marcus's interpretation of 1QS VII 15,15 G.R. Driver understands lāšûaḥ to be a denominative from šûḥâ ("pit"). It thus has the meaning "to dig a hole" and in Gen. xxiv 63 is used euphemistically. Isaac goes out into the field in order to defecate.16 This interpretation initially met with enthusiastic acceptance from certain quarters17 but seems to have fallen out of favor more recently.18

16 "Problems of Interpretation in the Heptateuch", Mélanges Bibliques Rédigés en l'Honneur de André Robert (Paris, 1955), pp. 66-8.

17 Cf. J. Gray, I & II Kings: A Commentary (2nd edn, London and Philadelphia, 1970), p. 398; E. Testa, Genesi: Introduzione—Storia dei Patriarchi (Turin and Rome, 1974), pp. 72, 409. A. van Selms apparently misunderstands Driver's interpretation and somehow arrives at the translation "to urinate" (Genesis deel II [Nijkerk, 1967], p. 46).

18 It is favored by E.M. Maly in R.E. Brown et al. (ed.), The Jerome Biblical Commentary (Englewood Cliffs, 1968), p. 25, but it is not even mentioned by R.J. Clifford in R.E. Brown et al. (ed.), The New Jerome Biblical Commentary (Englewood Cliffs, 1990), p. 27. Similarly, "to relieve himself" is found in the margin of the New English Bible but is absent from the Revised English Bible.
Vall rejects this interpretation, but cf. Gary A. Rendsburg "Lāśûaḥ in Genesis XXIV 63," Vetus Testamentum 45.4 (October, 1995) 558-560 (at 560):
... the word here means "excrete, urinate, defecate" ...


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