tive. Again, it is the same idiomatic use of N which springs to the lips
in those times of crisis when one is brought face to face with the issues
of life and death in their most urgent form..." (p. 18) Johnson,
therefore, did notice that an intensity was associated with N as a personal
pronoun. However, the intensity characteristic of N also colours other
times N is used. For example, the stranger's status in Israel suggested
a certain intensity to the ancient Hebrew. His basic need for food sustenance
and safe keeping were not met until the Hebrews received him hospitably.
Pedersen commented on the 'feelings' of the stranger
more accurately than Johnson, but he too did not make any reference to
the fact that being in the position of vitally needing hospitality
was peculiar to N. Pedersen began with primitive man's view of soul
and understood the Hebrew view accordingly. The all-pervasive soul
as totality governed his understanding of N, ruah (breath-wind-spirit)
, and leb (heart). The terms "suggested different nuances to soul
but nonetheless have a greater likeness than difference". (p. 102)
Though he did see differences between the terms (see p. 102-107,
145ff.) and did want "to examine what the psychic term mean in their
context" (p. 99), Pedersen's concept of soul, more primitive than
Platonic, shaped his interpretation of N. Johnson, while appreciative
of Pedersen's masterpiece, appears to have supported this criticism for
he commented that Pedersen and those that followed him (Becker, Murtonen,
Lys) had a questionable use of the word 'soul'. (p. 3, n. 4)
Wolff translated the passage in question with 'soul'
of a stranger. "This is the place where we could translate N by 'soul'
for the first time. For the writer is thinking not only of the stranger's
needs and desires but of the whole range of his feelings, arising from
the alien land and the danger of oppression in his state of dependence."
(p. 17) Here Wolff further demonstrated his sense of the theme of danger
and deliverance. However, assuming the original German edition uses seele
in cases where the English translation has 'soul', Wolff also demonstrated
that he used the term without being clear about the definition he employed
The stranger was not the only one whose status
was peculiar to N. Prov. 12:10 reads, "A righteous man has regard
for the N of his beast." The beast and the stranger were both viewed
to be dependent upon care from another just as mankind, as N, was dependent
upon the care that God expressed through His acts. Slaves were subject
to their master for safe keeping and were thereby termed N as well. Lev.
22:11 reads, "if a priest buys a N as his property for money, the
slave may eat of a holy thing." Jer. 34:16 records that slaves “set
free according to their N desire" were again brought into subjection.
N was subject to more than just danger in the
form of others seeking one's N. Being a creature made from dust, N was
vitally dependent upon nourishment and sustenance in the form of basic
provisions such as food, water, and air. Not only did N face the threat of peril at the hand of
another, N could go hungry and thirsty and even starve. Several OT passages
picture N lacking or receiving daily sustenance. During Passover, the
Hebrew could eat only according to his status as N. "No work shall
be done on those days but what every N must eat, that only may be prepared
by you." (Ex. 12:16) During this week the Hebrews were mindful about
a basic fact of existence -- they were indeed N. Furthermore, to eat as
N was to eat 'before God' knowing that He had concretely provided and
thus sustained in a world where N needed to eat -- or else! A N that did
not eat would perish since it was through bread though not bread alone
that N was sustained.
Here too, an emotional aspect is connected to
N, only this time it is feelings of hunger, thirst, and suffocation. As
one might now expect of the synthetic thinking that typified the Hebrews,
these feelings were applicable to N only if they participated in an experience
that reflected the status of a N creature. Hunger, thirst, and suffocation
could occur in the context of a yearning which N experienced while waiting
for God's deliverance in the form of food, water, and air.
The righteous person was nourished through food
that God provided, but the wicked remained unsatisfied. "The righteous
has enough to satisfy his N, but the belly of the wicked suffers want."
(Prov. 13:25) The Preacher warned, "Apart from God who can eat or
who can have enjoyment. There is nothing better for a man than that he
should eat and drink and his N find enjoyment in them all." (Eccles.
2:24-25) "All the toil of man is for his mouth yet his N is
not satisfied." (Eccles. 6:7) Jeremiah lamented the state of Jerusalem.
"All her people groan as they search for bread; they trade their
treasures for food to revive their N." (Lam. 1:11) The Israelites
grumbled while in the wilderness because they no longer had meat as they
had had in Egypt. "But now our N is dried up, and there is nothing
at all but this manna to look at." (Num. 11:6) Therefore, "The
anger of the Lord blazed hotly" (v. 10) because the people were not
satisfied with His method of providing nourishment for N.
Fasting had implications for how the Hebrews
were treating themselves as N creatures. To not eat was to purposefully
cut off nourishment that N always needed. To 'afflict N' in this
manner meant the Hebrews were abstaining from the very thing upon which
N was critically dependent. For the day of atonement the Israelites were
commanded to "afflict their N and do no work". (Lev. 16:29)
They abstained from food to demonstrate that N was dependent upon their
God for sustenance. Quite appropriately, they were asked to fast on the
day of atonement because it was N that was atoned for through the shedding
of blood and it was the providential God that sustained N despite the
sin of N. Becoming clean despite sin through the ritual of atonement was
of life and death importance to the Hebrews. "Whoever [N] is not
afflicted on this same day shall be cut off from his peoples. And whoever
does any work on this same day, that N I will destroy from among his people."
(Lev. 23:29-30) Perhaps the people were so involved in the events of this day that they actually lost their appetite.
A N that took the day of atonement seriously may not have felt like eating
and may have experienced, consequently, a natural affliction of N. Unfortunately,
only one verse in the Revised Standard Version connects afflicting and
fasting. "I afflicted myself [N] with fasting." (Ps. 35:13)
Even in this instance the English is unable to relate either afflicting
or fasting to the significance that N had for the ancient Israelites.
The theme of danger and deliverance with respect
to basic nourishment as well as life perils can now aid one toward grasping
the relation that N had to the throat, neck, breath, and blood.
Throat, neck, and breath all participated in imagery
regarding vital nourishment and sustenance that N needed. While it is
true that 'throat' and 'neck' are probably the best English equivalents
for N in some instances, N was not really synonymous with the throat or
neck. For translation purposes N may denote the throat or neck on occasion,
but this is not to suggest that today's understanding of throat or neck
communicates the full meaning of N in these instances. Denoting N as throat
without involving the need for vital nourishment fails to reveal the synthetic
'mind' of the Hebrews. The throat was only the organ that served as a
vehicle for N sustenance. N and the organ through which it was
nourished are not to be viewed as synonymous.
Though Wolff was perhaps too concerned with finding
the precise anatornical organ which N denoted in a given passage, his
continued sensitivity to the theme of 'Needy Man' is evident in the following
In its very function as the organ that feels hunger and thirst N is
also the seat of the sense of taste (Prov. 27:7):
A sated N stamps on honey with his feet,
but to a hungry N everything
bitter is sweet.
The hungry N (v. 7b) that tastes everything bitter as sweet is of course
the throat, with which the root of the tongue and the palate are associated
as organs of taste. But it is not the throat (v. 7a) that 'stamps';
it is the man whose behaviour is determined by the throat's satiety.
The parallelism of the satisfied and the hungry N (which ismade
possible by synthetic thinking) must be differentiated in translation because
of the differing statements: 'the sated man' must be set over against
the 'hungry throat'(Prov.16:24):
Pleasant words are like a honeycomb,
sweetness to the N
and healing to the body.
N side by side with the body and with the experience of sweetness is
again designed to point clearly to the organ of taste, and yet in the
simile for the 'pleasant words' the needy man as a whole is clearly envisaged, with the hint at his
sensitivity and vulnerability. (p. 12)