This article proposes a new reading of the verb [inline-graphic 01] in 1 Kgs 17:21 which, I argue, is not from [inline-graphic 02] (“to measure”) but from [inline-graphic 03] (“to shake”). I begin by showing that the current understanding of the verb from [inline-graphic 04], which in this verse is usually translated “to stretch,” is problematic. I suggest that the root [inline-graphic 05], which occurs in Hab 3:6, offers a viable alternative to this problematic reading. Finally, comparing this action to Mesopotamian protocols for diagnosing comas, I propose that Elijah shakes himself over the comatose boy in order to determine his condition. This diagnosis then informs Elijah’s prayer for YHWH to return the boy’s [inline-graphic 06], which is exactly what happens in the next verse. In this reading, Elijah’s action is neither therapeutic nor magical; it is diagnostic and a necessary step that enables Elijah to formulate a prayer that is specific to the boy’s predicament. His revival is not achieved through Elijah’s self-measurement or sympathetic magic; rather it is the result of the prophetic word, which has the power to move YHWH to action.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 465-481
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.