styles of Hebrew script in which y and r might be
confused,34 he suggests reading vwx-ylf ("upon his
fire") instead of vwxr-lf ("upon his head"). The
meaning of the verse would then be, "if you heap coals from your own brazier upon his fire,"35 then Yahweh will reward you. Thus, there would be three positive steps recommended: feeding, giving to drink, and helping to rekindle a fire.
He also points to the custom observed in villages of Africa and the near east of helping a neighbor rekindle his fire by taking coals from one's own hearth to the neighbor. Such a custom must be universal where there are no arti- ficial means of starting a fire. In Ramaroson's judgment, Proverbs 25:22a refers to this neighborly consideration.
Mitchell Dahood suggests that this line should be translated, "you will remove coals of fire from his head."36
34 He points to two documents in particular: 4QSamb and Papyrus Nash; see F. Cross, "The Oldest Manuscripts from Qumran," JBL 74 (1955), 147-172; W. Albright, "A Biblical Fragment from the Maccabean Age: The Nash Papyrus," JBL 56 (1937), 145-176. With MT, the critical apparatus of BH 3
suggests confusion of y and r at Gen. 49:28; I Sam. 1:15;
22:8, 13; II Sam. 22:44; 23:21; Isa. 14:21; 24:15; and Psalms 39:2b; 69:27. J. Kennedy, An Aid to the Textual Amendment of the Old Testament (Edriburgh: T. and T. Clark, 1928), p. 81, offer examples of this confusion at Exod. 15:2; Psalms 72:9; 78:61; and Prov. 13:7.
35 "Si tu apportes toi-meme des braises pour son feu," Ramaroson, p. 234.
36 Dahood, "Two Pauline Quotations from the Old Testa- ment " 22.