bereshit and mereshit.
moon at sogang.ac.kr
Sun Mar 17 10:14:18 EST 2002
I do not clearly understand why some scholars consider "reshit" in
"bereshit" in Gen 1.1 to be in the construct state. This is a technical
question about the terminology of "construct state".
(1) Consider the following two verses:
(a) Gen 2.4 BYOM ASOTH [Inf Construct] YHWH ELOHIM ARETS WSHAMAIM
(b) Ex 6.28 BYOM DIBER [Perfect] YHWH EL-MOSHE
Is BYOM in (a) in the construct state?
IS BYOM in (b) in the construct state?
I would surely say NO to the first question, because we do not have
a construct chain. To be a construct chain, the end item should be
in the absolute state, which we do not have in (a). In (a) we have an
infinitive clause which modifies the noun YOM [which is in the absolute
I would also say NO to the second question. In (b), we have a finite
clause which modifies the noun YOM [which is in the absolute state]. That
clause can be best described to be a "relative clause" from the general
linguistics point of view.
If (b) is similar to Gen 1.1, I wonder why scholars consider bereshit in
Gen 1.1 to be in the construct state.
(2) We have MERESHIT in Isa 46.10. It has no modifiers. So,
RESHIT in MERESHIT is in the absolute state. So, the form RESHIT
itself does not require a modifer which is in the absolute state.
Although we can talk about whether the BARA ELOHIM clause modifies
RESHIT, it is not because RESHIT is in the construct state.
(3) My working grammar of Biblical Hebrew is that of Hatav, which
is quite similar to that of Niccacci. According to this grammar,
the X+QATAL introduces a background or setting to the narrative.
I thought of the following rendering:
In the beginning, God had created the heavens and the earth.
The earth had been without form and void. The darkness had been
on the deep and the spirit of God had been hovering over the waters.
Then God said: let there be light. ...
How about this?
Moon R. Jung
Sogang Univ, Seoul, Korea
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