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Vayechi-Body Language in the Bible

Body Language in the Bible

In his parting words to his children, Yaakov admonishes Shimon and Levi for having killed the inhabitants of Shechem after Dina was defiled. Yaakov prays that his soul not been associated with them because BE’APAM HARGU ISH (Genesis 49, 6). The word APAM which here means anger can have a double meaning. It is the plural of AF which means “nose”.  The sentence can also be translated as ” they killed with their nose ” Yaakov in describing the slaughter of the wicked Shechemites by his sons Shimon and Levi was, of course, using the word to mean, “in their anger they killed men”. However the expression BE’APAM HARGU ISH can be used in its literal sense, meaning “nose”. By “turning one’s nose up” or “looking down one’s nose”, one shows signs of scorn, contempt and disgust. And one can deal a ‘killing blow” to someone demonstrating your rejection of what he/she is, has, or stands for, thus ‘destroying” him/her by the use of ones nose.

 A person need not speak evil about another individual to cast him/her into disrepute.   Sometimes the shift of the nose silently expressing condescension, derision and disdain can be as murderous as evil speech or a dagger.

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