Indirect volitives in Genesis 1?

Bryan Rocine 596547 at
Fri Sep 25 14:23:09 EDT 1998

Hi Trevor and Paul,

W and O'C's comment relates to either the sequence 
(a)  <volitional form - weqatal>  or 
(b)  <imperative - (vav)yiqtol>, not 
(c)  <jussive/cohortative - (vav)yiqtol>.  

I agree with
what they say about these sequences (a) and (b), and I would add that it is
helpful in many cases to note a shift in subject from the first clause to
the second.  I believe this shift in subject aided in the identification of
the meaning of sequence (b).  E.g.  Exo 8:4  

ha(tiyru )el yhvh v:y at s"r

(You 2nd m. s.) Pray ... that He (3rd m. s.) may...

Here the shift is from 2nd person to 3rd. As I said, a shift of this
sort is often a helpful signal that the
second clause is relaying purpose for the first clause.  This is not a
rule; that is, the shift in subject is not required for the weqatal clause
or the yiqtol clause to give a purpose for the command.  It is merely quite
common and therefore helpful. 

In Gen 1, where we have the <jussive - (vav)jussive> sequence like (c)
above, I believe we
have successive volitions.  E.g., v. 26 "let
us make...and may he..." and v. 6 "may it be...and may it be dividing"  are
successive volitions(in v. 6, just because the _r at qiya(_ *is* does not
necessarily in its dividing the waters.  God exercises His direct intention
and cntrol
that it do both).  In vv. 14 and 15, where we have
the sequence <jussive - weqatal>, the jussive represents the volition and
the weqatals the purpose.  

To clarify this meaning of the (c)-type sequence, we can compare, as
Niccacci does in sect. 61, a (c)-type in 2 Ki 6:2 

"Let us go(cohortative) to the Jordan, and may each of us
take(vav-cohortative) a log from there" 

and an (a)-type in Num 13:30

"A going up may we go up(cohortative), and thus we may possess(weqtal)

Then there's one more possiblity, a (c)-type sequence that has a shift in
subject as in Gen 1:26.  An instructive example may be 2 Sam 3:21

"And let me go(vav-cohort) and let me gather(vav-cohort) to my lord the
king all Israel.  And may they cut(vav-yiqtol 3rd person) with you so you
may be a reigner(weqatal) over all..."

Take the sequence of four clauses a pair at a time

<cohort - cohort - 3rd yiqtol - weqatal>  =

<cohort - cohort> = successive volitions
             <cohort - 3rd yiqtol> = successive volitions
                           <3rd yiqtol - weqatal>  = purpose

We can see that even though there is a shift in person from the cohort to
the 3rd yiqtol, the cohort does not bear a causative force in the 3rd
yiqtol.  The shift in subject does not imply causation as we might have
inferred from my helpful hint about subject shift.  The sense of causation
is stronger between the yiqtol and weqatal than between the cohortative and
the 3rd yiqtol.

Trevor wrote:

> Normally I'm just a lurker on this list, but I have a question about
> indirect volitives.  First, is it *possible* to take the jussives with a
> waw conjunction in Gen 1:6,9,26 as indirect volitives, instead of simple,
> coordinating conjunctions?  Second, is it *more likely* that they should
> be taken this way?  At first, I was just trying to figure out whether v.
> 26 should be translated as an indirect volitive ("let us make man in our
> image . . . , that they may rule . . . ").  But then I got to looking at
> other constructions in Genesis 1, and I realized that there are a few
> other passages that would also make sense if translated that way. 
> Furthermore, I noticed that vv. 14-15 have a waw-consecutive perfect
> instead, which to my thinking tends to imply that there's a different
> purpose in mind for the two different types of construction.  Also, v.
> 20, although it appears quite similar to vv. 6,9,26 in English, actually
> places the waw with the noun, so that there is no question that the birds
> are a different group.
> Anyway, maybe I'm really off base here, but it seems like the best way to
> give a unique force to these constructions where volitives are joined
> with a waw is to take them as indirect (at least in this passage).

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