[b-hebrew] Genesis 1:5

Frank Polak frankha at post.tau.ac.il
Fri Jul 25 06:15:09 EDT 2003

I n my view the cardinal )xd serves as ordinal (the ordinal for 'first' 
varies extremely in all semitic languages, in sharp contrast with the 
toher ordinals and the rather fixed mode of the cardinals). My 
reference is to:
S. E. Loewenstamm, “The Development of the Term “First” in the Semitic 
Languages,” Comparative Studies in Biblical and Ancient Oriental 
(AOAT 204; Kevelaer: Butzon & Bercker; Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener 
Verlag, 1980), pp. 13-16.
Loewenstamm notes that  [a] in the string ‘the first day, the second 
day’ Ugaritic [Kirta epic] has ‘ym wTHn’, without the first ordinal; 
[b] for the phrase ‘on the seventh day’ Ugaritic uses the cardinal ‘mk 
b$b( ym’ [order being indicated by the cardinal].
Hence the phrasing of Gen 1.5 is an instance of poetic language in 
Gen.1. For those interested, the view of the Creation Account as a 
prosaic revision of a hymn is urged in my paper “Poetic Style and 
Parallelism in the Creation Account (Gen. 1.1-2.3),” in: Creation in 
Jewish and Christian Tradition (ed. H. Reventlow and Y. Hoffman; 
JSOTSup 319; London: Sheffield Academic Press, 2002) 2-31.
Frank Polak

On Friday, Jul 25, 2003, at 00:59 Asia/Jerusalem, Bearpecs at aol.com 

> I'll need to check some references (I think Speiser addresses this), 
> but my off-hand recollection is that using the cardinal number "one" 
> in an ordinal sense ("first") when it's in the context of a list is 
> known in other Semitic languages. (Anyone have the Ugaritic handbook 
> handy?)
> Cf. English: "He's been on this email list since Day One" means "He's 
> been on this email list since the first day."  It does not mean "He's 
> been on this emmail list since one day."
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