Ok I'm fine with that. This is good news actually... Since you are fluent in Hebrew, then please explain to the panel why the Gesenius's Lexicon is giving these usages for the noun "nachash." (Strong's H5175)
Outline of Biblical Usage
1) serpent, snake
b) image (of serpent)
c) fleeing serpent (mythological)
1) a serpent, so called from it hissing (see the root). Gen. 3:1, seq.; Ex. 4:3; 7:15; 2 Ki. 18:4. Used of the constellation of the serpent or dragon in the northern part of the sky. Job 26:13
Next, I want you to explain why the Gesenius's Lexicon is giving these usages for the verb or root "nachash." (Strong's H5172)
Outline of Biblical Usage
1) to practice divination, divine, observe signs, learn by experience, diligently observe, practice fortunetelling, take as an omen.
1) to practice divination
2) to observe the signs or omens
1) unused in Kal, an onomatopoetic word, i.q. to hiss, to whisper, especially used of the whispering soothsayers.
The word nachash
, from the root NCHSH, means "snake." Going back to the root, NCHSH is an onomatopoeia. If you pronounce this using "proper" Hebrew, it's easy to see what that is the case. Heiser's spelling this "nak
ash" makes it difficult to see this. The reason he did it, though, wasn't because he didn't know better. He was just trying to make it easier. Proper Hebrew transliteration is almost as impossible to read as straight Hebrew if you don't know the language. So he substituted "K" for "CH."
Actually, the "CH/K" letter here (heth
) is pronounced like the ch in "loch ness." It is a hissing sound. Further, in all languages you have voiced and unvoiced consonants. Voiced consonants are those that produce a "tone" when you say them, like "b" or "v" or "l." Make the sounds of these letters out loud, and you will here your voice. Unvoiced letters, though, are those that produce no tone--no voice--when vocalized, but instead only the sound of passing air. In English, such letters would be "s" or "f" or "h." Again, make these sounds out loud, and you will find no voice to them.
In Hebrew, the N is voiced, but the CH and SH are unvoiced (unfortunately, though, a K is voiced, so if we pronounced this "naKash" we add a voice in the middle of the word that is not intended). Because of that, the Hebrews took that root, thinking it sounded like a whisper, and used it as an onomatopoeia for whispering. When used in the Qal ("Kal" in the lexicon you are citing) form, this whispering has the idea of hissing or whispering; in the Piel form, it has the idea of divination (because such practice would include a mystical "whispering." We've all seen that before. Or, there actually may be no direct connection with the Piel at all. It may actually be the NCHSH represents two different roots: "whisper" and "diviner").
Back, then, to nachash
. Snakes hiss, so they took that root and made a word out of it to name snakes. This, then, does not say that snakes are not really nachashim (the plural form of nachash); nor does it mean that a nachash isn't really what we call of snake. It means that the thing that you and I refer to by employing the word "snake," the Hebrews referred to by employing the word "nachash." In linguistic terms, "nachash" is the sign and the snake itself is the referent. It doesn't really matter what the sign is. What we are after is the referent. Because God was speaking to a people who spoke Hebrew, He used the Hebrew sign, which is "nachash."
As an aside, this is why it is important not to put TOO much emphasis on roots, although they are certainly very important. Consider, again, the word "nechosheth." It has a root of NCHSH as well, but it has no idea of divination or whispering at all. It means brightness, and actually goes back to the idea of copper or brass. And this is where we start getting too detailed, because the root of Heiser's "nechosheth" isn't even NCHSH, but rather passes through two other changes: from NCHSH to NCHWSH (which means "bronze") to our word. Why, then, is this connection" Allow me to quote the TWOT:
R. Laird Harris wrote:Some scholars think the words are related because of a common color of snakes (cf. our "copperhead"), but others think that they are only coincidently similar. (TWOT, II:571)
The point here is that roots are important, but like anything else in etymology, they are not the end all of lexicography. Overemphasis on a words etymology can lead to improper interpretation.
This is why I keep emphasizing, "Nachash" and "Nechosheth" are two different words. If you want to follow Heiser and take the word in Genesis 3 as "Nechosheth," then fine by me. I have no argument with that. But if you do that, then you can't argue that the word "snake" is a figure of speech, precisely because there is no use of the word snake (in Hebrew) in the text--it is a mistranslation
. Likewise, if you wish to take the word to be "Nachash," then you can drop the "bright one" argument, because the words are not related. You can't conflate the two. That is why I said we can't critique and thus accept or reject your argument until you give us one to work with.
Given the fact that I'm much older than you I think I could come up with a number of sarcastic remarks to this statement, but since I want to take the higher ground on this I won't.
No sarcasm was intended. I don't like to go into Hebrew/Greek grammar lessons in discussions like this, because I feel like it sounds condescending. Sometimes, it is unfortunately necessary, and when that is the case, I want you to be aware that we're not dealing with an advanced syntactical issue that scholars are debating about. This is just standard, first year stuff that absolutely everyone agrees on. Again, no offense intended, much less any sarcasm. I don't expect you've taken Hebrew, so you are using Strong's to get to the underlying words. Hey, glad for it. Strong's is great for what it is, but you have to understand it for what it is. It is a Greek/Hebrew tool for those who don't understand Greek and Hebrew. Things have to be simplified and glossed over. Most of the time, there's absolutely no problem with that. But other times, it can create unnecessary confusion.
Well, if you want to go that route, you cannot make a snake talk or walk either. You are confusing the literal with the symbolic. You simply cannot do that... Unless of course if you want to use animation...
Or I could say that snakes could walk and talk before the Fall. I do believe that they could walk. Talking? That, I don't know. The Bible doesn't explicitly say, so I posit
some scenarios. Regardless, I take what the text says at face value. Sense I take NCHSH in Gen 3 to be a "nachash," I take it that a snake actually spoke. How? I don't know. Maybe it was just a simple as God let it. Maybe Adam and Eve could talk to all animals before the Fall. Maybe all animals could talk. Maybe only snakes could talk. Maybe Satan empowered this one snake to talk, and it didn't freak out Eve because there was no fear before the Fall. Maybe it did freak her out, but that's beside the point of the text. Maybe some of the conversation was left out. Maybe the conversation took place over the course of several days! Truncated conversations are common in Scripture.
All this is not to suggest THE answer. It is only to say that when God says to me, "Yup, Chris, that snake REALLY did talk," that I know that there are one of several possible solutions. Just because I don't know WHICH one doesn't mean that there is no such solution.
1) FYI, I'm not fluent in Hebrew. I've been through a year of it, and I have special interest in the subject as it is where I want to get my Ph.D.
2) With reference to the above, I just want you to tell me if you are taking NCHSH as "Nachash" or "Nechosheth" so that we can continue.