_live_ vs. _XYH_

Peter Kirk Peter_Kirk at sil.org
Thu Dec 7 03:30:57 EST 2000

Dear Bryan,

I checked the references to XYH in Psalm 119 as I had a feeling they might
be relevant:

PSA 119:17,25,37,40,50,77,88,93,107,116,144,149,154,156,159,175

(Most of these are Piel.) As the psalm is so much about how to conduct one's
life, I suspected that these occurrences of XYH might give that meaning,
your (b). But no, the context in each case seems to be preserving the person
alive, your (a), and this is how NIV consistently translates this (the Piels
are always "preserve my life") in this psalm (but not in Habakkuk). Some
instances could be interpreted in either way e.g. v.25 which could mean "let
me conduct my life according to your word", but "preserve my life according
to your word" fits better with the context as well as with the unambiguous
meaning of XYH elsewhere in the psalm. If we follow BHS bidrakeka, v.37
works better as "let me conduct my life according to your way(s)", though it
could mean "preserve my life in your way" (can "derek" mean "way" in the
sense of "means"?), but the alternative reading (2 MSS plus DSS) bidbareka
(preferred by NIV) is the same as v.25.

So this study supports your hypothesis that the Habakkuk means something
like "The righteous one stays alive by his faith".

Peter Kirk

-----Original Message-----
From: Bryan Rocine [mailto:brocine at earthlink.net]
Sent: 07 December 2000 04:02
To: Biblical Hebrew
Subject: _live_ vs. _XYH_


The twenty or so English translations of Hab 2:4b that I
checked translate the Hebrew _YIXYEH_ as some form of
_live_, *but*...

English _live_ can mean not only a.) to have life ("the man
that had the heart attack still lives") but also b.) to
conduct one's life ("he lives righteously" or "he lives like
a bum").  I suspect that BH _XYH_ does not have this range
of meaning, the Hebrew root meaning only a.) to have life.
I think the meaning b.) to conduct one's life, is expressed
by BH _HLK_ and perhaps some other words or idioms.  I
notice that in English, to express that something has life
we usually opt for the adjective _alive_ rather than the
verb _live_.  This preference might be further indication of
different semantic ranges for the English _live_ and the BH

This distinction between _live_ and _XYH_ would have impact
on our understanding of, for instance, Hab 2:4 VETSADYQ
BE'EMUNATO YIXYEH "But  the righteous one lives by faith."
The meaning of the sentence is that the righteous one is
sustained in life by his faith, that is, as he has faith.
The sentence is not saying directly that the righteous one
*conducts* his life by faith.  I think we might translate
the notion of the Hebrew more precisely "But the righteous
one is sustained by his faith."

I would appreciate your feedback!  thanks!


B. M. Rocine
Associate Pastor
Living Word Church
6101 Court St. Rd.
Syracuse, NY 13206

(office) 315-437-6744
(home) 315-479-8267

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