Abstract

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.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1934-3876
Print ISSN
0021-9231
Pages
pp. 465-481
Launched on MUSE
2016-09-21
Open Access
No
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