[b-hebrew] Duet 6:4
abuian at access4less.net
Mon Jan 3 19:49:01 EST 2005
kgraham0938 at comcast.net wrote:
> I am sure this has been discussed here, but what about Duet 6:4 being translated as a question?
> W: SH:MI ADONAY LO' NODA`:TI LAHEM
> And my name YHWH was I not known to them?
I assume you mean Exod 6:3 :-)
> Since we know that not all questions do not have an interrogative H, I think this is a possible translation.
One question that I think needs to be asked is whether we can generalize
at all about polar (yes/no) questions that are not marked with the h-
prefix. Mitchell, which a century later still seems to be the most
comprehensive study of this construction, concludes essentially
(although he does not use the precise term) that the h- is only omitted
on questions with a mood of contraexpectation (aside from two instances
where it would precede the article). It should be noted that he
considers several instances where a question with lo but no h- has been
suggested and finds that they are probably not questions. If he had
judged otherwise in these cases, his results might have been different.
Still, I think caution is merited. It is too convenient to explain away
a difficult assertion by calling it a graphically unmarked question. If
we assume that a polar question can appear without h- under any
circumstances, we almost never have to deal with anything we don't like.
In this particular instance, I don't get any sense of contraexpectation,
so I'd be hesitant to call it a question. It also seems to make more
sense that he mentions only two names here if we read it as a contrast.
Otherwise, why mention two and only two, especially when the first
doesn't seem to be all that common? And why use two full clauses, when
he could have simply listed the names? We'd almost have to suspect a
poetic structure here to explain the cumbersome repetition, but I don't
know that the passage otherwise calls for a poetic reading. I don't know
that you can definitively rule out reading it as a question, but I don't
think I'd go that way myself.
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