Is R)$YT even a "time" word?

Paul Zellmer smdirect at
Fri Mar 22 15:53:28 EST 2002


I am not "redefining time phrases and clauses".  I am questioning whether
R)$YT is considered as a time word in the Hebrew language.  The fact that it
can be tied to (W)YHY, which is clearly a time word in the narratives, does
not make R)$YT a time word just because there are other cases where time
words plus the beth are used in similar situations.  In fact, it weakens the
case, as it makes it an event which the writer felt needed a clear time
qualifier to bring out the time aspect.

Your whole case on associating the clauses Gen 1 with BR)$YT is made on
parallelism between time words which are clearly that (normally day), words
that are by definition a duration of time, and R)$YT, which is by basic
definition the first item in a series.  I would not disagree that generally
BR)$YT refers to time.  I do not agree, however, that dropping off the beth
results in a time word.  Therefore, by your declaring it as such without
clear justification is actually *you* redefining the term "time word".

So I am not asking you to justify that BR)$YT is a time word.  The beth is
common to both sides of your proposed parallel structures.  You still do
need to show that R)$YT is a time word, as is YWM, for your parallelism to
hold forth.  I trust you can see the difference between what I am asking,
and what you have argued below.

I'm afraid that I'm not the one making the stretch here.

I'll probably not get a chance to respond until well into the coming week.

Paul Zellmer

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Ian Hutchesson [mailto:mc2499 at]
> Sent: Friday, March 22, 2002 10:15 AM
> To: Biblical Hebrew
> Subject: Re: bereshit (translations) Paul
> Paul in an attempt to redefine time phrases and clauses
> as something else, responds to the fact that br'$yt is
> used in Jeremiah as a time when phrase, stating when
> the word of God came to Jeremiah in the following
> >> Jer 26:1,
> >> Jer 27:1,
> >> Jer 28:1 (with the wyhy introducing it as with many bywm),
> >> Jer 49:34
> thus:
> >No, Ian, they are of a completely different character.  The
> other instances
> >of "time words" in your list, almost always YWM or its plural form,
> I haven't ever cited a plural form of bywm, have I, Paul?
> You're stretching things in an attempt to make your point.
> >are words describing *duration* of time.
> This simply doesn't reflect the usage of these words.
> There is no sign of an intention to talk of duration with
> phrases such as bywm and b`t, but to locate an event in
> time.
> Look at Jos 9:12 for example and say if you think that
> the writer is thinking about duration, or is the bywm
> clause a time locative? When would Shimei died in 1 Kgs
> 2:42? In Ps. 102:2 does bywm 'qr' indicate duration or
> when the speaker would like a speedy response?
> >R)$YT in the cases you give refers to
> >a *particular point or event*, the beginning of a series.
> Yes, a particular point *in time*, ie a time locative
> phrase, just as is the case with bywm and b`t, as a perusal
> of the uses of these terms indicate. ("It happened that ON
> THE DAY WHEN kings go out [to do battle], something
> happened.")
> >I would say that
> >there needs be a bit more groundwork laid that a "point" word is
> handled the
> >same as a "duration" word before we can lump them together as
> "time" words
> >and then go on to make conclusions, e.g., because YWM is handled
> in such a
> >way, R)$YT can be interpreted the same way.
> I have been arguing that we are not looking at ywm and
> r'$yt, but specifically bywm and br'$yt.
> As your analysis seems not to reflect the corpus, I see no
> reason to contemplate your theory. It appears to me to be
> an unsupported side attempt to dismiss the parallels
> between bywm, b`t and br'$yt, now by saying that they are
> not comparable, when in fact they show similarities in form
> both in context, such as
> yhy bywm ...
> yhy br'$yt ...
> and in qualification
> br'$yt works in constructs just as bym and b`t
> br'$yt apparently takes clauses just as bywm and b`t
> (And hopefully my examples from Isa 30:26b and Oba 11 show
> that there is no doubt that bywm can have multiple cluses.)
> I see no reason why you would want to create the difference
> you are trying to here. In each case br'$yt, bywm and b`t
> answer the question "when?". This is the acid test, and I'd
> say in each case they do.
> Ian
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