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Sunday, July 22, 2007

Another Kindness

I have always liked the story of Mephibosheth in 2 Sam. 9. Once again, the word for "kindness" is חֶסֶד hesed.
    And David said unto him: 'Fear not; for I will surely show thee kindness for Jonathan thy father's sake, and will restore thee all the land of Saul thy father; and thou shalt eat bread at my table continually.' And he bowed down, and said: 'What is thy servant, that thou shouldest look upon such a dead dog as I am?' And thou shalt till the land for him, thou, and thy sons, and thy servants; and thou shalt bring in the fruits, that thy master's son may have bread to eat; but Mephibosheth thy master's son shall eat bread continually at my table.' Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants. Then said Ziba unto the king: 'According to all that my lord the king commandeth his servant, so shall thy servant do; but Mephibosheth eateth at my table as one of the king's sons.' Now Mephibosheth had a young son, whose name was Mica. And all that dwelt in the house of Ziba were servants unto Mephibosheth. But Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem; for he did eat continually at the king's table; and he was lame on both his feet. JPS
I like this story but I have always wondered about a detail. Does it literally say that Mephibosheth bowed down. Other translations say, "did homage", "obeisance" "prostrated himself" and so on.


At Tue Jul 24, 08:44:00 AM, Blogger jps said...

I'm coming late to the party, but the Hebrew says he fell at his (David's) feet and yishtachavu, which means to bow down, do obeisance (root is probably H.WH). It is the same word that is used throughout the Hebrew Bible for worship of Baal, YHWH, etc., but also used of paying respect to human rulers. The LXX translates it with PROSKUNEW and the Vulgate uses adoro, to give you an idea of its semantic domain.

Hope that helps,

At Tue Jul 24, 12:30:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Thanks, James, that helps.


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