Construct + Finite = Relative?

Studium Biblicum Franciscanum sbfnet at
Thu Sep 14 01:32:31 EDT 2000

On Tue, 12 Sep 2000 Liz Fried wrote:

>Dear Alviero,
>The examples you gave in a previous post on sentences which were 
>protasis and apodosis were construct + finite + wayiqtol.
>Unless I missed it, none was construct + finite + wa+ sentence 
>subject + qatal. People on this list have seemed to reach a 
>concensus that SVO presents an adverbial aside, a parenthetic 
>comment, outside the main action. One example given was Gen. 44:4. 
>hm yaC)w ...weyosef )amar... *When* they had not traveled far out of 
>the city,
>Joseph said to his steward. The two parts of this sentences are to 
>be understood as simultaneous.
>What is your opinion?

Dear Liz:

	1) For examples of waw + sentence subject (or other) + qatal 
(or yiqtol) see my reply to Peter Kirk, Re. Construct + Finite = 
Relative? (dated today).

	2) It is correct that SVO presents--in your terms--an 
adverbial aside, a parenthetic comment, outside the main action. (I 
do not like, though, the label SVO because what precedes a finite 
verb need not be the subject; it can also be the object, an adverbial 
phrase, an adverb, or even a subordinating conjunction. Similarly, 
what comes after the verb need not be the object; that is why I 
prefer to speak of x-qatal or x-yiqtol.) However, this is not always 
the case. Other functions are attested, e.g.

- Deut 1:6 YHWH 'elohênû dibber [x-qatal] 'elênû bexoreb "The Lord 
God said to us in Horeb" -- This is the beginning of an ORAL 
narrative set in the past; x-qatal is the usual way of starting such 
an oral narrative (in addition to simple, sentence-initial qatal), 
while wayyiqtol is not attested at the start of a direct speech.

- Gen 1:27 (1) wayyibra' 'elohîm 'et-ha'adam becalmô [wayyiqtol, 
mainline in historical narrative], (2) becelem  'elohîm bara' 'otô 
[x-qatal, offline in historical narrative], (3) zakar ûneqebâ bara' 
'otam [x-qatal, offline] "So God create man in his own image--it is 
in the image of God that he created him; it is male and female that 
he created them."

	In Gen 1:27 (one of the most remarkable passages in the 
Hebrew Bible, BTW !) the two x-qatal sentences (2-3) emphasize, or 
specify details of the previous information communicated in general 
terms with wayyiqtol (1). Sentences (2-3) are marked, offline, while 
sentence (1) is plain, mainline.
	Differently from this case, no emphasis falls on the 'x' 
element in the following sentence type waw-x-qatal (2):

- Gen 1:5 (1) wayyiqra' 'elohîm la'ôr yôm [wayyiqtol], (2) welaxo$ek 
qara' laylâ [waw-x-qatal] "God called the light Day, while the 
darkness he called Night."-- In this case, simultaneity, or contrast, 
or relationship between the two pieces of information (the naming of 
the day and that of the night) is expressed. The same is true of Gen 
44:4, the example you quoted, and many others.

	Therefore, x-qatal and x-yiqtol are ambiguous constructions. 
One needs to evaluate them according to their syntactic setting 
(i.e., the relationships with other constructions related to them in 
the text) and interpretation. (Note that interpretation is needed as 
a controlling factor; however, it cannot be the basis of syntactic 
analysis, i.e. this verb form or construction plays this or that 
funciton BECAUSE it is translated in such or such a way--a very very 
common mistake among grammarians.)

Peace and all good.
Alviero Niccacci

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