w+x+yqtl in a sequence of weqtl's

David Stabnow dstabno at lifeway.com
Fri Mar 8 10:22:58 EST 2002

Dear Moon R. Jung,

The W-X-YIQTOL is not a subnarrative in this case.  In fact, it is a
literary device to emphasize, rather than to subordinate, the clause.

Note that in the introduction to this paragraph in vv. 1-2 Moses says,
"When you return to God and obey Him with all your heart and soul ..."  At
the end of the paragraph in v. 10 he says (v. 9 says, "He will make you
prosperous"), "... when you obey the Lord, observe His commandments, and
turn to Him with all your heart and soul."  This envelope structure informs
the hearer that the key to the paragraph is obeying God wholeheartedly.
Thus, in v. 8, at the apex of his appeal, Moses empasizes his key statement
in this paragraph by fronting a pronominal subject before the verb: "You
will return and obey ..." or "You will again obey ..."

It is difficult to bring this out in translation.  In English one
possibility is simply to put an exclamation point at the end of the
sentence: "You will again obey the Lord and do all the commands I am giving
you today!"  Another possibility is to rearrange the sentence into
something markedly unusual, so that the hearer recognizes that this is
something special: "It is the Lord, then, whom you will again obey, and all
the commands I am giving you today, you will do."  However, this particular
attempt at marking the sentence puts emphasis on a part of the sentence,
the object, which the Hebrew does not emphasize.  Given more time, I would
attempt to form a sentence marked for emphasis that does not emphasize the
wrong elements.  A third possibility is to add emphatic words: "Then once
again, praise the Lord, you will finally obey the Lord and do all the
commands I am giving you."  Korean must have its own devices for
emphasizing one sentence among others.

Incidentally, a more frequent purpose the writer would have in fronting the
subject is to bring out a contrast.  If in v. 6 the writer had fronted the
subject YHWH, I would have translated, "As for the Lord, He will circumcise
your heart ..."  Then v. 8 would read, "And as for you, you will again obey
..."  But since there is no other marked clause to compare/contrast v. 8
with, I believe my analysis above is correct: emphasis on the key sentence.

Dave Stabnow
Bible Translation Editor
Broadman & Holman Publishers
Nashville, Tennessee
david.stabnow at lifeway.com

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