May a man take fire to his breast without burning his clothing?
Can you build a fire in your lap and not burn your pants?
Can a man take fire to his bosom, And his clothes not be burned?
Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?
Can a man carry fire in his lap without burning his clothes?
Can a man hold* fire* against his chest* without* burning his clothes?
6:27 Can a man hold527
tn The Qal imperfect (with the interrogative) here has a potential nuance – “Is it possible to do this?” The sentence is obviously a rhetorical question making an affirmation that it is not possible.
sn “Fire” provides the analogy for the sage’s warning: Fire represents the sinful woman (hypocatastasis) drawn close, and the burning of the clothes the inevitable consequences of the liaison. See J. L. Crenshaw, “Impossible Questions, Sayings, and Tasks,” Semeia 17 (1980): 19-34. The word “fire” (אֵשׁ, ’esh) plays on the words “man” (אִישׁ,’ish) and “woman” (אִשָּׁה, ’ishah); a passage like this probably inspired R. Gamaliel’s little explanation that what binds a man and a woman together in a holy marriage is י (yod) and ה (he), the two main letters of the holy name Yah. But if the Lord> is removed from the relationship, that is, if these two letters are removed, all that is left is the אֵשׁ – the fire of passion. Since Gamaliel was the teacher of Paul, this may have influenced Paul’s advice that it was better to marry than to burn (1 Cor 7:9).
against his chest529
tn Heb “snatch up fire into his bosom.”
tn The second colon begins with the vav (ו) disjunctive on the noun, indicating a disjunctive clause; here it is a circumstantial clause.