[b-hebrew] Re: Malachi 2:16

Harold R. Holmyard III hholmyard at ont.com
Mon Sep 1 10:37:48 EDT 2003

Dear Peter,

>Are  you in effect suggesting that we have indirect speech in the first
>line of v.16 [Malachi 2]? After all, if the line read "'amar yhwh 'elohey
>kiy-sane' shallax", then we would have no qualms about translating as
>indirect speech, "the LORD God of Israel says that he hates divorce".
>And the first two lines of this verse seem to be poetic parallels, which
>may explain the departure from the normal word order.

Some translations offer the first line of Mal 2:16 as indirect speech, and
HCSB will offer it that way as an alternative reading, I think.

>Are there any unambiguous cases of an indirect speech introducer like
>'amar XXX following the speech?

I don't know offhand, but I mentioned that God speaks of Himself in the
third person in Mal 1:9, and the verse closes with "'amar yhwh tseba'ot."
Also, God speaks of Himself in the third person in 3:1, again closing with
"'amar yhwh tseba'ot." My understanding of Mal 3:2-4 is that it continues
divine speech, since God refers to Himself in the third person in 3:1, and
3:5 continues as divine speech. Malachi 3:2-4 speaks of Yahweh in the third

I take many places in the OT as God speaking of Himself in the third
person. And a number of such verses have speech attribution phrases like
"thus says the Lord." So whether the words in Mal 2:16 are direct or
indirect speech seems less important a distinction to me than whether God
speak of Himself or a person who divorces.

I pointed outCynthia Miller writes "the frame of
>indirect speech necessarily appears only initially since the quotation
>is syntactically subordinate to the frame" ("Introducing Direct
>Discourse in Biblical Hebrew Narrative", p.203 of R.D. Bergen (ed)
>"Biblical Hebrew and Discourse Linguistics", SIL 1994), but this is a
>non sequitur as it is by no means necessarily always true that
>subordinate clauses follow their main clauses.

I do not really understand the term "frame." Does that mean that words
introducing indirect speech are a frame for it? For example, in the
sentence, "John said that he went to town," "John said" would be the frame
for the indirect speech. It does seem less likely that the frame, if I have
understood it correctly, would follow the indirect speech, since that is a
less natural way to express indirect speech. But in a novel I would not be
surprised to see something like:

He went to town, he said.

So yes, it seems possible for words introducing indirect speech to follow
the indirect speech.

				Harold Holmyard

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