Constructs with finite verb.

Liz Fried lizfried at
Tue Sep 5 18:28:11 EDT 2000

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Dave Washburn [mailto:dwashbur at]
> Sent: Tuesday, September 05, 2000 1:19 PM
> To: Biblical Hebrew
> Subject: Re: Constructs with finite verb.
> Liz,
> > Last night I found a relevant section in Gesenius
> > on this topic. There it said that in these cases the
> > whole rest of the sentence (or maybe he meant the clause
> > which began with the finite verb) was in a dependent
> > genitive relationship to the noun in construct.
> > There was no elaboration and I'm not sure how to undersand
> > what is being said. What does that mean exactly?
> > Does that mean we translate it as if it were a verbal noun?
> > Is that what Rashi meant? Rather than emend it
> > you read these as if they were verbal nouns?
> What section of Gesenius are you looking at?  The only one I could
> find is 130d (p. 422 in GKC) where he says that the construct can
> govern independent sentences and gives the example of Exod 4:13
> and others.  He also refers there to section 155, where he says
> much the same thing.  It is interesting that he doesn't mention Gen
> 1:1 in either of these sections, though he spends about half the
> paragraph talking about this construction with time indicators.
> Considering the examples he gives, such as Isa 29:1 QIR:YAT
> XFNF DVWID which he renders "the city where David encamped," I
> doubt that he has a verbal noun sense in mind here;
But there is no "where" there. That's interpolated.
This is what Milgrom does in the Levitcus quote Byran cites.
Is it not literally "in the city of the encamping of David"?

it looks more
> as though he would be likely to suggest for Gen 1:1 a more relative-
> clause type sense: "In the beginning when God created the
> heavens and the earth etc."
Why not express the construct?
In the beginning of the creating? I thought that was Gesenius' point,
the construct governs the whole sentence.

At least that's how I read it.  I quite
> agree that he doesn't say much that is of interpretive value, but this
> is more or less how I read what he does say.  Considering the
> quote that was given earlier by someone, the verbal noun idea may
> be what Rashi had in mind; however, I don't see any indication that
> Gesenius is going in the same direction.  At the same time, it
> seems to me that if B:R"$IYT is actually a construct, Gesenius'
> approach has real possibilities: "In the beginning, when God
> created the heavens and the earth, the earth was formless and
> empty etc."  I could live with this :-)

I thought Gesenius was agreeing with Rashi.
What does it mean to say a construct governs a sentence
when there is a finite verb???

It seems to me there are two separate issues here:
1) a construct with a finite verb,
2) a second VSO clause.

It is (still) my understanding that VSO's in the course of a narrative
are to be translated as concurrent or previous in time to that of the
main verb.
"At the time when God created the heavens and the
earth, the earth had been barren and empty, and darkness covered the face
of the ocean ...

I think much hinges also on the definition of tohu v bohu, because I don't
think it means unformed at all.
This was the description that Jeremiah gave to the midbar.
It is barren, empty, and devoid of life.
What God does is create  light and life.

> Dave Washburn
> "Éist le glór Dé."
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