bereshit (still)

Ian Hutchesson mc2499 at
Mon Mar 18 11:35:18 EST 2002

>Ezekiel 20:5, NRSV: "On the day when I chose Israel, I swore to the
>offspring...". These translators have taken only the first clause as
>dependent on BYOM and the following clauses as main clauses. 

Ezekiel 20:5-8 is the one sentence. English doesn't 
like long sentences, so the translators have broken 
it down. 

5 On the day when I chose Israel,
        and when I raised my hand to the seed of Jacob
        and when I made myself known to them in the land of Egypt
        and when I raised my hand, saying I am the Lord your God,
6 On that day,
        I raised my hand to them, to bring them out of the land of Egypt
            to the land I had sought for them flowing with milk and honey
            the glory of all the lands
7       And I said to them, man, cause abominations of your eyes to be 
            thrown away
          and on idols of Egypt do not defile yourselves
          I am the Lord your God
8       And they rebelled on me...

V.5 gives the context, vv.6-7 give the event, and v.8 gives 
the what followed -- all tied together in one sentence -- with 
bywm repeated, the first governing four clauses and the second 
for dramatic effect in anaphora, implying all that was 
previously said under the first.

Now can you say it all in one sentence in English that would be 
acceptable to today's reader? I don't think so and neither did 
the translators.

>So, at
>least according to one respected translation team, there is no chain of
>coordinated clauses governed by b-noun. 

This is a translation aimed at modern English, where such a 
clause structure is difficult. You don't want to argue that 
the Hebrew reflects the English language structure, do you?

It is the difficulty of understanding the complexity of 
Gen 1:1-2 that is under question, not what the translator 
does with it in another language.

>I accept that the waw is
>anomalous, and that according to this model Gen 1:1-2 could be
>translated with verse 1 subordinate to verse 2: "At the beginning of God
>creating the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void..."
>with a new sentence starting at verse 3. Actually this is close to NRSV.
>But this is different from what you have been arguing for, the
>subordination of verse 2 to bereshit.
>Ezekiel 24:25: This is irrelevant as there is only one clause here.

The verb has three objects. I took the third to be 
clause fragment, m$' from n$' (the same relationship 
as m`$h "that which is done" from `$h "do, make"), 
implying the underlying clause:

  their souls bear their sons and their daughters


  that which is borne by their souls, their sons and their daughters

  the burden of their souls, their sons and their daughters

(Note the Vulgate:

et tu fili hominis ecce in die quo tollam ab eis fortitudinem eorum 
et gaudium dignitatis et desiderium oculorum eorum 
super quo requiescunt animae eorum filios et filias eorum

... [that] on which your souls rest, your sons and daughters)

It was the complexity that interested me. The arbitrary 
need for there to be more than one finite verb doesn't 
mean too much, for the problem is how much can one load 
into a time phrase governed clause structure.

Hebrew supports complex sentence structures. Our problem 
is that we are bound by the variety displayed by the OT/HB 
which we all recognize is limited linguistically because 
it is a relatively small corpus.

I have shown that time phrases such as bywm and l`t govern 
clauses as well as take nouns in constructs. As Hebrew has 
complex clauses, there is no reason to exclude the fact 
arbitrarily. I have shown ky with a complex clause, but for 
some unknown reason you dismiss the fact out of hand, though 
we are dealing with the same phenomenon, ie the subordination 
of clauses.

>OK, maybe I misunderstood your original goalposts. But wherever they
>used to be, they are in the wrong place now.

Grin. When one is on the bench, one doesn't play the game. 
One just supports one's team and doesn't care if there are 
goalposts or not.


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