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Heaping Coals Of Fire On Someone's Head


sparkyone
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Well, I've been thinking about this little thing that shows up a few times in the Bible. Actually, I'm too lazy to drag out my Strong's Concordance (or it's because I'm all achy from a cold) and see where it's used. Anyway, I do remember one verse where it says to feed and give drink to your enemy when he's in need because in so doing you're heaping coals of fire on his head and the Lord will reward you. I can understand most of that, but why this about the coals of fire? Anybody know more about the cultural context or something?

Thanks,

Sparkyone

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I looked around at quite a few places and this is what I thought was the best answer (from the Jewish Encyclopedia):

 

while in Prov. xxv. 22 kindness bestowed upon an enemy is called "heaping coals of fire upon his head," since it tends to waken his deadened conscience and help him to realize his wrong.

 

There were quite a few people spreading stories about a kid running around a village with embers on his head to help people light fires and things like that but none of them made any sense for both Proverbs and Romans (they wanted to defend Romans and make Paul's god look nice...not realizing Paul probably took the saying from Proverbs and his Jewish roots).

 

mwc

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We can assume that the Xian interpretation follows the Jewish one mentioned above, but the words seem to indicate that if we're nice to our enemies, we set them up for God to get back at 'em for us.

 

Paul certainly makes no effort to explain the meaning of the verse, if it's not to be taken literally, but if he was writing only for a Jewish audience, that might not have crossed his mind.

 

However, it's more proof that an all-knowing god couldn't have been behind the Babble to begin with, because an all-knowing god would have realized that people without any background in Jewish metaphors would naturally interpret the passage literally.

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An all knowing god knows that people with his glorious spirit within them will just know what it means. And since no one I came across looking for the answer just knows what it means... ;)

 

mwc

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