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למה תבעטו בזבחי ובמנחתי אשר צויתי מעון ותכבד את־בניך ממני להבריאכם מראשית כל־מנחת ישראל לעמי

"Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice and at mine offering, which I have commanded in my habitation; and honourest thy sons above me, to make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel my people?" 1 Samuel 2:29 KJV

להבריאכם is a form of בָּרָא (bara) and is usually translated "create". YLT chose "prepare" for most cases, and this seems to be the proper translation.

In a few rare instances, bara is translated "to cut" (Joshua 17:15 and Ezekiel 23:47), but these verses clearly show the men "preparing" something.

It seems 1 Samuel 2:29 could just as easily say:

...and honourest thy sons above me, to prepare for yourselves the chiefest of all the offerings...

Why does להבריאכם mean "to make yourselves fat" in 1 Samuel 2:29?

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The OP questions why translators take the root ברא (brʾ) here in the sense "to be fat" rather than the homonym "to create", which is more common in the Hebrew Bible. I see several good reasons.

  1. The word in 1 Sam 2:29 -- habriʾăkem -- is in the hifil stem. The word brʾ meaning "to create" is only used in the qal and nifil. Therefore, taking it as hifil would entail invoking a new usage.

  2. The hifil is generally a causative stem. If the root was "to create", the most obvious sense of the hifil would be "to cause to create", which doesn't make sense in this context ("honor your sons by causing yourselves to create...."?).

  3. There clearly exists a homonymous root meaning "to be fat". Please see the related adjective בריא (bāriʾ) meaning "fat".

  4. The semantics of ברא "to create" within ancient Hebrew thought are such that, in all 48 Biblical uses, Yahweh is the subject. This is mentioned by all of the major lexicons (e.g. BDB). Thus, this use to describe an action of Eli and his sons would be unprecedented in another way.

All in all, it's best to take the usage of lĕhabriʾăkem "to cause yourselves to be fat", with all major translations.

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  • Very logical and thoroughly satisfying. – Nigel J Oct 2 '17 at 11:58
  • Always enjoy your knowledge of Hebrew, Susan. Very insightful. – Sola Gratia Oct 2 '17 at 13:31
  • Thanks Susan, this is interesting. If you don't mind, I have a question about your translation in parentheses. Could it be understood that because the men were honoring their sons above God, this caused them to prepare for themselves the chiefest of all the offerings? In other words "...honoring your sons above me- causing you to prepare the chiefest of all the offerings.."? – Cannabijoy Oct 2 '17 at 21:44
  • I don't really get the meaning you're aiming at, but the main problem I see with the grammar there is something I considered elaborating in #2 above and decided against: brʾ in the qal is transitive -- it takes an object ("to create x"). As such, if the hifil were derived from that word, it would need two objects ("cause x to create y"). Although your translation makes it seem like "the chiefest..." is a second object (y), it's really a prepositional phrase in Hebrew (lit. "from [among] the chiefest...."), which leaves us without a y, which is incomplete semantically. Hope that helps. – Susan Oct 3 '17 at 5:10
  • Thanks @Susan that helps a lot. This is just something I'm interested in. I'm skeptical when a word is translated a certain way for one particular instance. As you said, the lexicons say bara as "to create" is only used when YHVH is the subject, and I'm investigating whether this is true. – Cannabijoy Oct 3 '17 at 5:27
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I think its from בריאות = health
בָּרִיא mean healthy, robust
But in the Bible its more like obese, since in the past some fat is good sign of health
It's not link to ברא create I think
Also -"להית" in the begin is for "To make it self"-
So להבריא mean to make it self healthy/obese

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As an interesting mental exercise, lets try it your way.

"to create fat for yourselves with the chiefest of all the offerings"

where the grammar is ambiguous between to prepare fat from the offerings for yourselves or to make body fat from the offerings. I have to admit the latter reading makes quite a lot of sense but it's not preferred English.

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Not always lexicographers agreed on the linguistic taxonomy of the headwords (lemmas) of the Biblical Hebrew Lexicon. As regards the root ברא (commonly, 'to create'), and בריא (commonly, 'fat') I think there are more than a simply some assonantic factors in common.

1) The following scholars believe the two terms refer to the same concept: Barker, Brown, Driver & Briggs, Buxtorf, Davidson, Gesenius, Parkhurst, Reineccius, Simonis, and Strong. Then, the idea of a single root from which the senses of 'to create' and 'to fat' are to be considered simply semantic derivations of a basic concept (I will present it after), isn't a far-fetched hypothesis to reject beforehand.

2) Moreover, we can include - in the conceptual 'mother' root we're disserting - also the 'verb' בנה, 'to build, to form, to make children, etc.'. In fact, in Akkadian (the most ancient semitic language we know today), the verb BANU is 'to build, construct', but also, 'to create', or 'creator' (as noun) [CAD II:83-90, 94-95, et al.]. BINUTU was a 'creation, a creature, product, form, structure' [CAD II:243-244].

Parkhurst defined בנה in this manner: "Denotes the production either of substance or form, the creation or accretion of substance or matter [...] to form by accretion or concretion of matter".

For many would be astounding to discover the fact that many so-called IE words (in Greek and Latin languages, for example) remind us, through the consonants B - R - N (not in this order, necessarily), the identical basic concept. A Greek samples: βαναυσος, ‘artisan, workman’; βρεφοω, ‘to form the phoetus, to generate’; βορα/βρωσις, ‘food, meal’. A Latin samples: bruma, ‘to be hungry’; faber, ‘artisan, workman’.

So, to answer to the direct question "Why does להבריאכם mean 'to make yourselves fat' in 1 Samuel 2:29?" we may say: Because this sense is naturally included in basic concept of the root (and the context of the passage confirm clearly this conclusion).

The basic concept we are disserting can be similar to that supposed by Parkhurst: "To compose through assemblage of parts, or forming by accretion".

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  • Errata corrige: the fourth paragraph did must say: "Parkhurst defined ברא in this manner [...]". Sorry. – Saro Fedele Mar 16 '18 at 17:24
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It is extremely inefficient to turn a Hebrew radical over to English or Greek, and then analyse the radical and its derivatives thro English or European linguistics etymological reasoning. Regardless if such analyses are done by "authoritative scholars". DO NOT convert a Hebrew radical into an English radical and then analyse the Hebrew word using the English radical.

It is prone to faux-root-words reverse manufacturing. For example, by presuming that the word {ברא} means {create}. Most probably, {create} is an idiomatic meaning of {ברא}.

How can we allow ourselves to trust those so-called "authoritative scholars" when they do not give any evidence of their head-scratching deduction? And for any evidence that they do provide, then any of us should be allowed to derive alternative analyses using the same degree of LAXITY, those so-called authorities gave themselves in manufacturing such deductions.

Like the derivation of PIE, a presumed virtual predecessor of Sanskrit and European languages, we have to extend the trunk of the tree one level deeper to found the root meaning as a common factor over the various denominators of the derivatives of {ברא}. In that respect, those old "authoritative scholars" are outdated and are less valid and less trustable because they lack the modern mathematical and logical linguistic analysis we use today. We have to renormalize their analyses (or lack thereof) and question how they arrived at their presumptuous meanings.

There is this famous case that we have to consider. Differences in Genesis creation stories .

There was a plan, an architecture. By presuming that {ברא} is implementation, bringing to fruition, making whole, the plan and architecture. Where {create} is merely an idiomatic meaning. As in, I "created" this application in fulfilling the architecture drawn up by the architect. I didn't create the application. "Create" is my presumptuous use of English.

Also, it is a valid question that, why can't Genesis 1:1 {בראשית ברא אלהים את השמים ואת הארץ} be taken to mean

  • At the start of the implementing/creating of-by Elohim of the heavens and earth.
  • {ראש} means "head". So, G'd gave us a head-start in making whole His plans for the heavens and earth.

That is why in Qabbalah, humankind is to complete the creation of the Universe. That is why the Hebrew text of Psalms 8 says that humankind is nearly G'd. just a little lesser than G'd, and empowered with all the glory and power. Note, the phrase in Psalm 8 is {מאלהים = than G'd} rather than {ממאלהים = than (ones)from-G'd}. Moreover {מאלהים = (ones)from-G'd} has no cross-referential occurrence and therefore invalid.

G'd did not "create" the Universe in Genesis account. He gave us a head-start in making-whole the architecture of the Universe. Maybe we should stop using the English word "create" because it is ambiguous and misleading. And prone to aliasing.

Let's also intrigue ourselves with Genesis 1:2:

  • והארץ היתה תהו ובהו וחשך על פני תהום
    • and/so the earth was unformed and empty and darkness upon the face of the crevice.
    • {תהום} is interesting here, because it is used to mean a tearing/break of a surface, that enables water to spring out of the earth, in various parts of the Bible.
    • Why is there a tear/crevice with darkness upon its surface?
    • Is it to mean a tear/break in of a surface/plane/continuum, and there was darkness over the surface/plane/continuum of the break?

To quench the thirst for "authoritative scholars", let me bring in Sforno who opined that there was no time prior to the event of Gen 1:1 but an UNBROKEN continuum. Let me extend his opinion. or perhaps it was already his opinion, there was a tear in this continuum.

The 1st 3 verses of Genesis 2:

  • ויכלו השמים והארץ וכל צבאם ‬
    • and brings to completeness the heavens and the earth and all forces.
  • ויכל אלהים ביום השביעי מלאכתו אשר עשה וישבת ביום השביעי מכל מלאכתו אשר עשה

    • and Elohim brings to completeness on the 7th/fulfillment day His commitment/task which He did and ceased on the 7th/fulfillment day, from all His commitment/task.
  • ‫ויברך אלהים את יום השביעי ויקדש אתו כי בו שבת מכל מלאכתו אשר ברא אלהים לעשות ‬

    • and blesses Elohim the 7th/fulfillment day and hallowed it because on it He ceased from all His commitment/task which Elohim {ברא = brings to wholeness} in doing.

Analyse the phrase {מלאכתו אשר ברא אלהים לעשות}. If {ברא} were to mean {create}, then the phrase would sound illogical as "His task/commitment which Elohim created to do." I mean you could be philosophical about it and say that G'd used JIRA to create a backlog task for Him to do.

Also, Rashi questioned: how could G'd have "completed" His work on the 7th day, if He was supposed to have ceased to rest from His work/task on the 7th day? So Rashi talks about an asymptotic effect (hair's breadth), that would appear as though He completed His work on the 7th day.

In any case, {ברא} is to bring to completion/wholeness {מלאכת = a task/plan}.

So not good in attempting to comprehend the Bible in English by using ambiguous and aliased English words like "create".

The Genesis account is to effect wholeness{ברא} and completeness {יכל} of a task/plan {מלאכת}. Stop using the English word "create" to understand Genesis 1 and 2 or any of its occurrence in the rest of the Bible.

And BTW, there is no such thing as "angels" because {מלאך = (someone)en-tasked}, and {מלאכתו = his being en-tasked, commissioned to a task}. "Angel" is yet another Euro-Persian pagan contamination of turning a Hebrew radical into European radical which then started a whole industry of reverse-manufacturing ideologies and meanings not found in the Hebrew text. An industry which created the justifications for the massacre and persecution of my people for the past 1900 years.

Therefore, {הבריא} which is a causative, from {ברא = making whole}, would be "to enrich". And so then modern Hebrew greeting {לבריאות} = to richness of wholesomeness/health.

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  • Hey I didn't downvote your answer, but I'm a bit confused. I think you're saying ברא means "to make whole". That sounds reasonable, and it's something I'll think about. I also agree that ברא does not mean "create", but there seems to be a lot of unrelated things in your answer. I don't understand why you brought up angels, and most of this has to do with Genesis rather than 1 Samuel. Some of this may be good material for my question In Genesis 1, Did “The Bereshit” Create “God”? – Cannabijoy Oct 5 '17 at 21:35
  • 1st, I'm proudly autistic where I see connections others don/t. 2nd but more importantly, as I explained Genesis 2 starts with G'd ceasing from His {מלאכת = commission to a task}, which is a gerundish for {מלאך}. And therefore I had to explain that {מלאך} does not mean "angel", a concept not found in the Hebrew text of the Bible, because "angel" is a pagan contamination of translations. And opportunistically also used that to show how contaminated the translations are, to further push doubts as to why you cannot trust traditional translations to the meaning of {ברא}. – Cynthia Avishegnath Oct 8 '17 at 7:40

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