notes on 4:7-8 (2nd disaster)

Form

Just as for the previous unit, though the description of the disaster is slightly longer. The stressed "I" is a variant form providing a slight change of sound (אָנֹכִי 'anoki rather than אֲנִי 'ani).

Drawing of the "Gezer Calendar"

Language and Imagery

Lack of rain is the most common cause of famine.

"Three months to harvest" - counting as the Bible often does inclusively - is about March and April - the barley and wheat harvests take place in May and June (see entry calendar). The failure of the expected rain at this time would risk ruining the year's crop.

"Rain to one city", but not another, is unnatural (the hiphil verb suggests an ongoing, rather than a one off, action). This arbitrary selectivity - no reason for the choice is indicated by the text, and God does not claim to have sent rain to the "good" (cf. Mt 5:48) - is heightened by the next line where the unnatural selection operates even between "plots". As Paul (144-145) says, this underlines the divine origin of the drought.

That the inhabitants of the drought-stricken cities stagger is another fine, but sharp, use of irony. Elsewhere נוּעַ nuach can be used of drunkards (Ps 107:27; Is 29:9), here it describes the gait of those suffering lack of even water to drink. ("Wander" inherited by NRSV from KJV and the over-simple "go" of CEV miss this irony.)

 


 

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© Tim Bulkeley, 1996-2005, Tim Bulkeley. All rights reserved.