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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

Yahweh’s Emergence as “Judge” among the Gods: A Study of the Hebrew Root Špt
Mafico, Temba L. J.

Lewiston, N.Y.: Mellen, 2007 pp. ix + 197. $109.95

Description: This book attempts to answer questions about the meaning of the Hebrew root špt; the status of a šopet; and how Yahweh could be called a šopet. An examination of past research shows that several scholars have argued against assigning špt (or its cognates) the basic meaning “to judge.” Semitic texts (Mari, Ugaritic and Punic) themselves reveal that the root is used in relation to diverse functions of the king’s deputy. In these texts, the superior ruler appointed the tapitu/šapitu to serve in various capacities of administration. Therefore, špt is multifarious; its various meanings are determined by the contexts in which it is used. In the Book of Judges, the šopetim were deputies of Yahweh. They governed or delivered the Israelites from their enemies by Yahweh’s authority (ruah). If Yahweh was Israel’s king, how could he also be šopet ? A study of Yahweh’s status in relation to the 'elohim of Israel indicates that Yahweh was, after all, the deputy of the council of the gods.

Subjects: Bible, Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Literature, Methods, Linguistics, Hebrew

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Review by Robert Wafawanaka
Published 2/14/2009
Citation: Robert Wafawanaka, review of Temba L. J. Mafico, Yahweh’s Emergence as “Judge” among the Gods: A Study of the Hebrew Root Špt, Review of Biblical Literature [] (2009).

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