Dying thou shalt die

Peter Kirk Peter_Kirk at sil.org
Fri Aug 25 07:26:03 EDT 2000

I'm sorry to ask questions about English rather than Hebrew, but what do you
think the English "Dying thou shalt die" means? To me this is almost
meaningless, there are certainly many possible meanings though none fit
nicely. Let's look at some of them.

"Dying" just about could be an adjective qualifying "thou", so the meaning
would be "You who are dying...". Adjectives very rarely qualify pronouns in
modern English, but the use of "thou" signals that this is not modern
English, and it may be that adjectives could qualify pronouns in older

A more likely interpretation is that "dying" is intended as an adverbial
phrase. In that case, it could have one of several meanings including:

Time: "When you die, you will die"
Manner: "In the way you die, you will die"
Place (?): "Where you die, you will die"
etc etc

Which of these do you take as the "common or literal sense [which] makes

In fact all of these are wrong, because the text is written in Hebrew, and
according to the rules of Hebrew grammar the meaning is none of the above,
but is rather more like "surely you will die".

Peter Kirk

----- Original Message -----
From: "Mark Wilson" <emory2002 at hotmail.com>
To: "Biblical Hebrew" <b-hebrew at franklin.oit.unc.edu>
Sent: Thursday, August 24, 2000 12:50 AM
Subject: RE: Dying thou shalt die

> I still prefer the literal reading of this phrase since
> it allows one to take the passage at face value.
> Fancy gymnastics are required to read into this passage
> anything other than the simple meaning. Why seek another
> sense when common or literal sense makes sense  :o )
> To wit:
> "Dying thou shalt die"
> Adam and Eve began "dying" immediately and literally.
> There are some hard things to grasp in Genesis chapters
> 1 and 2, but this does not seem to be one on the surface.
> What am I missing HERE?
> Thank you,
> Mark Wilson

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