He arrives at this translation by taking the preposition lf, which usually means "upon," to mean "from." The verb
htH, here translated "heap," Is then translated "remove"
as in the expression dvqym wx tvtHl (“to remove
fire from the hearth”) in Isaiah 30:14. Therefore, lf-htt means the same thing as Nm-htH.37 The
"coals of fire" in this case would be a metaphor for cono- tentiousness just as in Proverbs 26:21.
As charcoal to hot embers (MylHg) and wood to fire (wx),
so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife.
Siegfried Morenz38 has offered a solution to this image from the perspective of the history of religions. He refers to an Egyptian ritual in which a person who had been an enemy approached the one toward whom he had been hostile carrying a tray of coals upon his head. The coals of fire on his head signified that repentance from the hatred had taken place and that the enemy sought reconciliation.
It thus quite certain that the Old Testament saying . . . aims at [the enemy's] change of
37 This is a good example of “emendation” by philology rather than textual criticism. He may, of course, be correct, but he achieves the same effect as a real emenda-
tion from lf to Nm would achieve. Cf. J. Barr,
Comparative Philology and the Text of the Old Testament (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968), pp. 28-29.
38 S. Morenz, "Feurige auf dem Haupt," Theologische Literaturzeitung 78 (1953), col. 187-192.