(Fwd) Re: Wayyiqtol - comparative Semitic, morphology, phonolo

Dave Washburn dwashbur at nyx.net
Fri Sep 15 22:41:41 EDT 2000

> vayyixtov David Washburn
> >In my schema, had bereshit not been 
> >fronted (or otherwise preceding the bara clause) and the verb was 
> >first, we would have had a wayyiqtol.
> >
> >Boy, is that gonna raise some hackles :-)
> Pas de probleme. 
>        vayyivra elohim et hashamayim vet ha-arets (bereshit). 
> It's OK, but on the border. 

On the border of what?

> However, if the sentence begins with vayyivra, then I would actually prefer
> deleting 'bereshit' and not including it in its default position as an
> adjunct. Retaining the word 'bereshit' in such a rewritten sentence would
> skew the focus and put too much salience on 'bereshit'. 

I'm not sure I agree.  If it were the second or third word I suspect it 
would have had much less emphasis.  As the last word, as in your 
hypothetical sentence above, I agree that attention would be drawn 
to it.  

> Of course, "vayyivra elohim ..." also changes the overall focus or function
> of the sentence since it becomes the grand, marked act/event of the
> chapter. The MT, (reading bereshit as an absolute adverbial phrase and not
> a construct), functions more as a title than a storyline event itself.
> Verse 2, of course, is a setting and second beginning for verse 3. 

This is a good discourse-based analysis, but I'm still back at the 
syntax level.  It seems to me that  B:R"$IYT is fronted to indicate 
that we're starting from the very beginning; as one otherwise rather 
annoying study Bible put it, the Bible begins with God, not with 
philosophical arguments for his existence.  I frankly don't think it's 
a "title" at all; I can't help but wonder if this kind of designation (and 
its presentation as a discourse function) is a tad anachronistic.  I 
think the action begins right there with BFRF).  1:2 is contrastive: 
but the earth was tohu and bohu, however one chooses to 
understand these terms, with darkness on the face of the tehom 
and the Spirit of God hovering over the mayim that apparently cover 
the tehom.  All at once, in the midst of this initial created state, 
God says Y:HIY )OWR and away we go with the formation stage.  
But there are two clear stages here: creation and molding of said 

Dave Washburn
"Éist le glór Dé."

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