Eveline van Staalduine-Sulman. The Niphal of the Hebrew Verb נחם and Its Reception in Early Jewish Sources

The Niphal of the Hebrew Verb נחם and Its Reception in Early Jewish Sources

By Eveline van Staalduine-Sulman

(VU University Amsterdam )

Source: Judaica Ukrainica 4 (2015): 5-17

Publication date: December 1, 2015

Publication type: article

Language: English

Full text:

 

Abstract

The Niphal of ‫נחם‬ refers to a change of attitude, either after mourning or after rage. The verb refers to inner feelings or considerations, but it is also used to express verbal statements or explicit actions. Three basic translations can be used to cover the nuances of the Niphal: to be comforted, to regret, or to soothe one’s feelings.
Within the range of regret, the verb can have both a negative and a positive connotation. Negatively, it is used as a synonym of “to lie.” Positively, it is used as a synonym of “to have compassion” or “to be slow to anger.” The positive and negative connotations are never used within one chapter, except in 1 Sam. 15. The narrator tells twice that God feels regret concerning Saul’s kingship. Still, he has the prophet Samuel say that God does not regret. The ancient versions tend to harmonize the two meanings by various renderings (LXX) or by referring to different situations (LXX, Targum). It would be wise in modern translation processes to consider that one verb can have various nuances, even within one chapter.

 

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DOI 10.14653/ju.2015.01