stupid question of the year

Peter Kirk Peter_Kirk at
Tue Aug 29 19:16:30 EDT 2000

No, a very good question, but it was already discussed in some detail a few
months ago. To be very literal, this could be "In a beginning" (absolute
without article) or "In the beginning of" (construct, which never has the
article). But see the separate posting I have just made.

I would actually lean towards the phonological argument I mention there. I
suggest that the original was baaree'shiyt (absolute with article), with
three long vowels. The Samaritan pronunciation apparently supports this. But
the rather anomalous qamets two syllables before the stress (a position
where it is usually replaced by a schwa) became shortened, in the Jewish
pronunciation tradition of this obviously well known word, to a schwa.

Peter Kirk

----- Original Message -----
From: Jeremy Sasser
To: Biblical Hebrew
Sent: Tuesday, August 29, 2000 7:45 PM
Subject: stupid question of the year

I had wondered about this before when reading Genesis 1:1 in Hebrew - I
don't know if you guys have already discussed this, but anyway:

Why is 'bereshit' translated as 'in THE beginning' when there's a schwa and
not that 'a' thingy which indicates definite article? Shouldn't it be like
"in A beginning" (yeah, I know it sounds weird in English, but still...)

Please enlighten me...


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