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ABRAHAM, BLESSING, AND THE NATIONS: A REEXAMINATION OF THE NIPHAL AND HITPAEL OF ברך IN THE PATRIARCHAL NARRATIVES

Benjamin J. Noonan
Hebrew Studies
Vol. 51 (2010), pp. 73-93
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27913964
Page Count: 21
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
ABRAHAM, BLESSING, AND THE NATIONS: A REEXAMINATION OF THE NIPHAL AND HITPAEL OF ברך IN THE PATRIARCHAL NARRATIVES
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Abstract

A long-recognized crux interpretum in Genesis is the diathesis of the Niphal (Gen 12:3; 18:18; 28:14) and Hitpael (Gen 22:18; 26:4) stems of ברן in the different renditions of the patriarchal promise of blessing. Many scholars assume that both stems should be translated the same way, arguing for either a medio-passive ("be blessed" or "become blessed") or a reflexive ("bless themselves") translation. After investigating the functions of the Niphal, Piel, and Hitpael verbal stems in biblical Hebrew, this paper reexamines the Niphal and Hitpael of ברן in the Hebrew Bible and argues that these two stems of this lexeme have different meanings contextually. Despite their different nuances, however, both stems indicate that the nations are blessed by means of Abraham, not that they utter blessings using Abraham's name because they recognize his status as one greatly blessed by God.

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