On Opening Eyes

I was looking for something else when I ran across an idiomatic use of Akkadian īnu, “eye,” with petû, “to open.” For example, e-ni-a pì-tí, “make me happy (literally, “open my eyes”); or bēlšu īnāšu ipete, “its (a field’s) owner will be happy (more literally, “its owner will open his eyes”).” See CAD P 351.
Does (can) this inform our understanding of וְנִפְקְחוּ עֵינֵיכֶם, “your eyes will be opened” in Genesis 3:5 and its sequel in 3:7? To be sure, other expressions like this can’t mean “to be happy” in (most?, all?) other Hebrew passages. Still, I should look at them with some care. I also need to check out the actual Akkadian texts to get a better feel for context. This thought may become a footnote in one of my long time and possibly finally ending writing projects. I’ve been working on this paper for nearly three years. I’m sure glad that neither a class grade nor tenure is riding on my getting this thing done.

2 thoughts on “On Opening Eyes”

  1. I know nothing of Akkadian sadly, but this particular locution made me think of e.e. cummings’ happy verse “i thank You God,” in which the speaker’s flight of happiness concludes:
    (now the ears of my ears awake and
    now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

  2. I’m understanding the expression “open one’s eyes” more broadly to refer to receiving illumination, which can naturally also cover spiritual illumination or simply emotional illumination (and hence “happiness”). It could also cover intellectual illumination by becoming wiser. I see no reason to reduce the expression to only one of the above interpretations.
    I think it simply suffices to say that the expression is semantically vague enough to warrant interpreting it, among other things, as joy where contexts permit.

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