The metaphor of lifting the poor from a dunghill (Psalm 113:7, 1 Sam 2:8) or sending the proud to the dunghill (Lamentations 4:5) is quite the visual. In most verses, אַשְׁפֹּת seems to be used more to create the visual than to refer to a specific farm or sewer or person or event, but do we have any information or background about how this metaphor came into common usage?

Is it a mistranslation of rubbish heap or some other word? (that makes sense in context, and has been claimed, but does anyone have a good source for it other than google searched websites that reference each other circularly? And how to reconcile that with the usage in Nehemiah? Is there a clue that נְוָלוּ is the word in Ezra and Daniel but that some English translators translated them into the same word?)

Is it suggesting that a beggar would take any job, including slinging manure, which is the lowliest of professions? (doesn't make sense to me in the context of an agrarian society that would value those who work or care for livestock, or in the context of some of the verses that use this word)

Is there some benefit to a dunghill that the lowliest would find appealing? (dung provides warmth in cold nights, a tall enough heap could shelter from winds or driving rains in a place where no one will bother or try to drive away the person who has been cast out everywhere else... any suggestion from the text or the history that this reading is justified?)

Or is it like memes today, that its origin is lost to the mists of time?

  • If you've ever been poor, you'll know what is meant by "dunghill". Nov 13 at 7:36

Prior to the "The-Dung Gate" | Shaar Ha-Ashpot שַׁ֥עַר הָֽשְׁפֽוֹת in [Nehemiah 3:14], the worth $ of Dove's Dung דִּבְיוֹנִ֖ים was = חֲמִשָּׁה־כָֽסֶף Chamesh (5) shekels of Kesef (Silver), based on [2 Kings 6:25]. -- The needy could sell Dung!

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.