Construct + Finite = Relative?

Dave Washburn dwashbur at
Fri Sep 8 12:44:18 EDT 2000

A follow-up on the discussion of this matter:

Peter and Liz both objected to the Gesenius-based rendering "In 
the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth" partly 
because there is no Hebrew equivalent of "when" in the text.  I 
pointed out that Gesenius seems to suggest that the combination 
of construct plus finite clause produces a relative-clause kind of 
sense.  Waltke and O'Connor seem to concur.  On p.156 they say

"Relative clauses after prepositionally used constructs are found; in 
these three [sic] examples the relative clause is asyndetic (or 
headless, i.e. lacks a relative pronoun):"

They give the examples of Jer 2:8 and Exod 4:13; the former has a 
finite (yiqtol) clause after )AXA:R"Y and the latter after B:YAD.  

They continue: 

"The relative clause may be used after a construct noun with no 
prepositional force;"

They give the example of Isa 29:1, the "city where" example we 
have already looked at.  Their second example is Gen 39:20 Qere, 
which they acknowledge includes a relative pronoun.  From there 
they go on to illustrate clauses where a construct is used before a 
non-relative, giving Lev 25:48 and 1 Sam 25:15 as examples.  They 
conclude this section with the following:

"It is also possible for a construct of no prepositional force to stand 
before a non-relative clause.  This construction is extremely rare."

They give the example of Hos 1:2, T:XIL.AT DIB.ER YHWH 
B:Ho$"A( which they translate "The beginning *of YHWH-spoke* 
through Hosea."  

This last one seems rather significant for testing this approach on 
Gen 1:1, since it is clearly a construct and involves temporal 
indicators (though obviously it doesn't use R"$IYT...).  I'm not sure I 
agree with their translation, but it does suggest that a construct 
before this kind of finite clause in a temporal setting is possible.  It 
also might have some bearing on the presence of the W at the 
beginning of Gen 1:2, since the next clause in Hosea begins with a 

Again, I'm not sure I buy this approach to Gen 1:1, but it does 
seem to have some material to back it up.

Dave Washburn
"Éist le glór Dé."

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