Academic journal article Jewish Bible Quarterly

VA-YAFOGLIBBO (Gen. 45:26) WHEN JACOB WAS INFORMED THAT JOSEPH WAS ALIVE

Academic journal article Jewish Bible Quarterly

VA-YAFOGLIBBO (Gen. 45:26) WHEN JACOB WAS INFORMED THAT JOSEPH WAS ALIVE

Article excerpt

When Jacob is informed that his long-lost son Joseph is alive, the Bible uses the phrase va-yafog libbo (Gen. 45:26). The JPS translates this as and his heart fainted, while the NJPS renders it as his heart went numb. Artscroll translates va-yafog as but his heart rejected it. This is based on a metaphorical reading by Rashi and Rambam, where being revived (in the next verse) refers to a return of the Divine spirit which had left Jacob during Joseph's absence. A similar approach is reflected in the Septuagint, which translates the phrase as Jacob's mind was confounded (NETS). However, other classical Jewish commentators give a literal interpretation: a heart attack. Indeed, the Brown-Driver-Briggs lexicon links the Hebrew root P-U-G with the Arabic "grow cool" and the Syriac "be cold", translating the word as "cease, be helpless."

Thus, Sforno's translation is "missing a few heartbeats", Rabbenu Bahya renders it as "heart movements ceased", while Ibn Ezra takes it to mean the heart "ceasing to function." Samson Raphael Hirsch likewise construes the term as "heart stopped. …

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