Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Noah I: Idiom

לפני י"י - בכל העולם. וכן ונינוה היתה עיר גדולה לאלהים, בכל עולמו של הקב"ה לא היתה עיר גדולה כנינוה:

Here, Rashbam tackles the puzzling phrase לפני ה' used to describe the hunter Nimrod in 10:9. Does this signify something spiritual about hunting? About Nimrod? Rashbam answers like a classic pashtan: 1) He provides an explanation that flattens this tantalizing phrase into a common idiom, which simply means “in the whole world (which is God’s)”. [Similar to the phrase “God’s green earth” to describe the planet in its entirety.] 2) He gives you an example from elsewhere in Tanakh (in this case Yonah 3:3) to show you this is a common phenomenon and not worth getting too excited about.

These sorts of explanations are simultaneously empowering in their simplicity and deflating for their pedestrian outcome.

2 Comments:

At October 13, 2007 at 9:35 AM , Blogger BZ said...

It seems that the example from Yonah is not accidental, since Nineveh is mentioned in Bereishit two pesukim later.

 
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