hoy and 'oy in prophets

c stirling bartholomew cc.constantine at worldnet.att.net
Wed Apr 4 13:56:52 EDT 2001

The one off list response I received from a scholar in Germany suggested
that these words are words of lament. I suspect that this is often the case
but I wonder about the hoy l+substantive pattern when it is used in the
prophets and the referent of the substantive is a city or a community of

Lets illustrate the question from 20th century history.  It is the second
week of February 1945 and  we are listening in (espionage) on a phone
conversation between Churchill and one of top brass of the RAF. During this
conversation Churchill uses the phrase "Woe to Dresden." Is this a lament?
Is this the same sort of expression used by the OT prophets?

In the OT prophets the formula:  hoy l+substantive is often used to
pronounce judgment and destruction on the referent of the substantive. This
would not qualify as a "curse" in the narrow sense of that word, the sort of
thing that is performed by practitioners of magic. However it is not simply
a "lament" when the prophet is either threatening or announcing destruction
of a city.   

Clay Bartholomew

on 4/3/01 11:09 AM, c stirling bartholomew wrote:

> In Isa., Jer. and Ezk. hoy and 'oy seem to be used in what might be construed
> as curse formulas. What does not seem clear to me is the significance of hoy
> or 'oy in these texts. Take for example the pattern:
> hoy l+substantive
> Does this pattern signify a curse being invoked against the referent of the
> substantive?    
> The standard lexical reference books speak of hoy and 'oy being used by the
> prophets in threats but say nothing about curses. Just exactly what is the
> difference?

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list