lationship between b-nouns and clauses

Paul Zellmer smdirect at
Tue Mar 19 17:32:24 EST 2002

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Ian Hutchesson [mailto:mc2499 at]
> Sent: Tuesday, March 19, 2002 4:42 PM
> To: Biblical Hebrew
> Subject: Re: lationship between b-nouns and clauses
> >I do not see "b-nouns" governing clauses (or absolute nouns, for that
> >matter) at all.  "Governing" does not describe the relationship
> at all.  The
> >"b-noun" is not the most important aspect of such a structure,
> nor does it
> >limit the action of any associated activity.  If anything, what is
> >associated with the "b-noun," whether expressed or implied, governs the
> >"b-noun," as it does limit and control the application of that word.
> That's what subordinate clauses are all about, I would have
> thought. Nevertheless, we talk about the words being limited
> by them as governing under normal circumstances.

It is you that call these subordinate clauses.  I have maintained that they
are not.

Is not the governor the one that limits?  I believe that the limiter in my
description above is what goes with the "b-noun," and it's the "b-noun" that
is limited.

> >I have looked at your examples and have found any focus of
> attention on the
> >"b-noun" is misplaced.
> What is the grammatical relationship which exists between the
> time phrase (such as those I've posted, mainly in the form
> b-noun, though I have posted an example of l-noun) and the
> clause which follows it?

The syntactic relationship between the two, IMO, is that the "b-noun" is
notifying the reader that the writer is focussing on the time element of the
entire action.  From our western way of looking at this, this looks like the
"b-noun" is limiting.  But ISTM that the logic in Hebrew goes something like
this:  In the day.  In what day?  The day that such-and-such is true.  When
that was true, this also was true.  This type logic seems to fit those cases
where "the day that such-and-such is true" precedes the time word + affix,
in which cases a definite form of a demonstrative pronoun [e.g. HFHW.)] is
used as the limiter.  To put it a slightly different way, a general day is
thrown out there, and then it is made specific by the limiter.

I don't really believe there is a grammatical relationship between the two,
as we normally define grammatical relationships.  Different languages may
use different grammatical relationships to do this type function, but we
must be careful not to impose how another language would do this function on
the Hebrew text.  This is what you are doing when you declare these clauses
to be subordinate--you are imposing how English does this type function on

> In each instance we find an apparent qualification of a time
> phrase (or as you put it a limit or control of the
> application of it).

I would not disagree with this statement.  But, again, just because English
and other indo-european languages do this function with subordinate clauses
(if clauses are used) does not give us the right to force either that
terminology or that relationship on the Hebrew.

One more thought on your BR)$YT: how sure are you that R)$YT here is even a
time word, such as is YWM?  The word, coming from R)$, seems to describe
*what* that starts a series, not the *time* that the series starts.  Could
you possibly be imposing a Babylonian definition of a word used in a similar
phrase on the Hebrew text?


Paul Zellmer

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